We are sharing excerpts from our chat with Virginia Willis, talented writer, chef, food stylist, television producer, cooking teacher and author of Bon Appetit, Y'all.

Tell us about your next book.
It will be published in late September and is titled Basic to Brilliant Y’all − 150 refined southern recipes and ways to dress them up for company. For example, one recipe is a pan-fried Kale omelet for the simple version; but to dress it up, I recommend placing the omelet in the center of carved out bread and baking it.

What are your must have kitchen gadgets?
A Chef knife, 6-inch offset spatula, and a microplane grater.

What about electric gadgets?
The Cuisinart Food processor and the Kitchenaid mixer.

Tell us something people don’t usually know about you:
When I was growing up my grandparents had a pond on their property and I loved to go fishing. I still fish, to relax! I am also a supporter of the Monterey Bay aquarium.

If you were planning a delicious but simple southern supper, please suggest a menu from your book:
Virginia’s Simple Summer Southern Supper includes Meme’s Biscuits, Butterbeans, Fried Chicken with Gravy and rice, Sliced summer tomatoes, Peach Cobbler or Mama’s pound cake, and lightly sweetened tea.

What is your absolute favorite recipe in Bon Appétit Y’all?
Chicken Fricassee with Red Wine Vinegar

Please share some kitchen secret and tips for our readers.
I like to think about the science of cooking. For instance, tomatoes contain flavors soluble in alcohol only. If making a tomato dish, it helps to add a touch of alcohol. Even sliced tomatoes, if spritzed with white wine, the flavor will be heightened.

To clean a spice grinder just grind some raw rice or piece of bread. It helps absorb the old flavors.

August 17, 2011