Virginia Willis’s legion of fans love her knack for giving classic French dishes a down-home Southern feel and reimagining homey Southern favorites en Française. In Basic to Brilliant, Y’all Virginia builds on her signature style, offering 150 soul-satisfying recipes and accompanying each with a new preparation technique, fresh presentation style, or creative recipe variation that transforms an already wonderful dish into an all-out show stopper.
In Virginia’s hands, a cozy Kale Omelet becomes sophisticated brunch fare when it’s baked in a sourdough boule; rich Gruyere Flans elevate a rustic red wine-infused Roasted Tomato Soup; and Spiced Skirt Steak with Shallot Marmalade is enhanced with just a few simple changes into a gorgeous roulade. Peach Dijon-Crusted Pork Tenderloin goes from elegant continental entrée to the pride of Dixie when it’s cradled between Chive Cornmeal Griddle Cakes, and a country dessert like Sweet Biscuits with Stewed Blackberries is kicked up a notch when served topped with Blackberry Fool.
Throughout Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Virginia paints a vivid portrait of growing up in Louisiana and Georgia, spinning tales of close family and friends—and unforgettable food—interwoven with vignettes from her years living in and visiting France, drawing you in with vibrant accounts of cooking and eating at La Varenne in Burgundy.
Whether you choose the Basic or the Brilliant approach, this bounty of Southern flavors dressed up with time-honored French techniques delivers meals that will keep you and your kin coming back for more.
About the Author
Virginia Willis is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all, which was nominated for the IACP Best American Cookbook award and voted the Comfort Food Book of the Year by the Chicago Tribune. She has been featured in Cooking with Paula Deen, House Beautiful, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, and San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. Willis has appeared on Real Simple Television, Martha Stewart Living, Paula Deen’s Best Dishes, and numerous local television shows across the country.
A graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, Willis has served as a television producer for Turner South and Shirley Corriher, was the kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living Television, and the executive producer of The Discovery Channel’s Epicurious. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more at www.virginiawillis.com.
“She's just a brilliant cook, y'all.” —The Austin Chronicle, 10/21/11
“This is a fabulous book. If you love authentic southern cooking prepared in a refined way then this is the book for you.” —Babble.com, Family Kitchen blog, 10/5/11
“Virginia Willis is like the Southern cousin you wish you had. . . Virginia's latest book, Basic to Brilliant, Y'all, is all about the "something extra special." Each recipe has a simple component--like the seared trout, and an optional brilliant flourish--like the topping of smoked trout salad. It's what makes this cookbook a real keeper (even if you have other Southern cookbooks). The recipes are fresh and modern and reflect both Virginia's Southern roots and her French training.” —Cooking with Amy, 9/26/11
“As Willis demonstrates with this vibrant, informative guide to Southern cuisine, great cookbooks can offer a window into their author's life. . . . By turns inspiring and appetizing, this work is a valuable resource for anyone interested in regional American cooking.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW, 7/11/11
“The genius of Atlanta-based cookbook author Virginia Willis lies in her ability to weave together the distinct culinary worlds of France and the American South. . . . In this captivating book, she offers vivid tales from her life in food and a collection of mouthwatering recipes that can be approached two ways: basic and brilliant. Each basic recipe is followed by an endnote—often a clever presentation idea or recipe tweak—that lets you easily elevate the dish to brilliant so that it suits a special occasion. Whichever route you choose, chances are you’ll return to these recipes time and again.” —Fine Cooking Magazine
“Virginia Willis could cook a memorable meal from a sock and some twigs. Whether she's making southern food (her home turf) or French country dishes -- or helping you get ready for company as she does in this treasure of a book, Virginia is someone you want by your side in the kitchen.” —Amanda Hesser, co-founder of food52.com and author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook
“A charming, gorgeous, and thoroughly practical guide to the best fundamental French techniques mixed with Willis’s uniquely American saucy Southern style. An instant classic.” —Kathleen Flinn, author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
“Virginia Willis is a natural teacher, a gift that shines in each of her carefully crafted and doable recipes. In Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Virginia gives us a fresh, bright, beautiful book that beckons us into the kitchen to cook—daily, happily, and very well.” —Dorie Greenspan, author of Around My French Table
“Virginia Willis creates a refined Southern cuisine in Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, bringing you into her world through the pages of this gorgeous and inspiring book. A fellow Southern chef, she blossomed during her years in France and New York and returned empowered with culinary knowledge. Virginia has hit a home run with this exciting and wonderfully articulate book. It is destined to become a classic for anyone’s culinary library—north or south of the Mason-Dixon line.” —Frank Stitt, chef-owner of Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega, and Chez Fonfon
“Virginia Willis is amazing at putting that finishing polish on down-home Southern specialties that will fill your home with automatic hospitality.” —Bobby Flay, chef-owner of Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, and Bobby Flay Steak
“Virginia Willis has married some of the most beloved Southern dishes with flawless technique. It is a match made in heaven. Home cooks who desire a collection of recipes for any day of the week will find just what they need. And those who want to put on some party clothes will be overjoyed! This book will spend plenty of time on my kitchen counter—and by my favorite reading chair. Really, y’all are going to love it!” —Martha Foose, author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
“Virginia Willis has done it again—created a totally unique, mouth-watering book of recipes, wisdom and charm. This is a book you will savor reading as well as cooking from.” —Nathalie Dupree, author of New Southern Cooking
“As a busy mom, I truly appreciate Virginia’s Brilliant tips that accompany every recipe; many of them take only a few minutes more to transform ordinary family favorites to extraordinary, company-worthy centerpieces. From these tips, I’ve learned so many clever techniques, short recipes, and presentation ideas!” —Jaden Hair, author of The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook