No matter where you live, whether you're across the street or across the world from where you grew up, nothing will ever quite taste like home. There is a certain familiar whimsy that burrows into our taste buds after the first bite of mom’s mac and cheese, something we cannot shake. That beloved sense of familiarity doesn’t come from upscale restaurants; it is born in home kitchens across the nation.
That is part of the reason why Taste of Home created Recipes Across America, a cookbook featuring more than 735 recipes submitted by real home cooks around the country. The cookbook is divided into five regions — Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, and West — and is loaded with great recipes, regional facts, and food folklore from across the country. One of the cooks representing the South just so happens to be Birmingham, Ala., native, country star, and American Idol alum Taylor Hicks
"Music and food hand in hand," explains Hicks.
The American Idol season five winner has been flexing his culinary flare with the recent opening of Saw’s Juke Joint in his hometown.
"I have always grown up around restaurants and grew up performing on the road. I was always around kitchens and establishments," explains the singer. "Saw's Juke Joint is an extension of that. I am always throwing ideas around the kitchen."
For Recipes Across America, Hicks contributed some of his favorite recipes from the restaurant (and by extension, his home kitchen). The Jalapeño Poppers and Baked Oysters with Tasso Cream, which are available in the book, are two of his all-time favorites and ones that remind him a lot of home.
"Both of the recipes are easy to make," he assures. "It is a good representation of what we are all about. Though, my ultimate comfort food involved fried chicken and big 'cathead' biscuits.'"
For the past year and a half, Hicks has been living out of a hotel room due to his long-term resident show at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. While Hicks in excited to be in the Vegas limelight, he says he does miss cooking fresh vegetables in a big kitchen.
But he isn’t exactly complaining.
"I have turned into quite the Vegas 'foodie,'" he laughs. "It is an honor to be part of the history, watch the live shows... it has been awesome to experience the culinary life here."
In fact, some of his favorites include Gordon Ramsay’s steakhouse, the Freakin' Frog, and the Whiskey Attic. And the country star doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, especially with a new album on the horizon.
As for more involvement in food, that is something that will always pique his interests.
"I always am looking to expand," he shares. "I just know I gotta keep it Southern. You gotta go with what you know."
You can bring Taste of Home’s Recipes Across America to your kitchen today! Sign up here for the Entertain Newsletter for a chance to win a copy autographed by Hicks, and be sure to check out his recipe!