Scotty Scott, whose first cookbook, Fix Me a Plate, comes out March 15, became an author by taking the long way around. The Fort Worth–based recipe developer and food blogger learned to cook as a kid—he tells a story in the book about smoking out his parents’ kitchen after he forgot to turn off a pot of ham hocks as a nine-year-old— but cooking was mostly a hobby for Scott as he went to college and, later, law school. As an adult hosting increasingly ambitious dinners for friends, he’d laugh off suggestions from guests that he should open a restaurant of his own. Eventually, though, the cooking bug got the better of him, and he launched a personal chef service. And it was in promoting the business on social media that I found his true calling him: coming up with brilliant, creative dishes and sharing the recipes with the world.
“I fell in love with [social media], because it pushed my creativity,” Scott says. “Prior to that I had my ten staple dishes I would roll out, but on social media you always have to be new and fresh and creative.” By early 2016, Scott launched Cook Drank Eat, a blog where he posts his recipes. He soon gained nearly 30,000 followers on the blog’s Instagram, where people eat up his fun riffs on comfort food and Southern staples like gumbo, cinnamon rolls, shrimp and grits, burgers, pancakes, and chicken wings. He describes Cook Drank Eat as “my funky spin on classic dishes. . . people always want something fresh.”
In September 2020, Massachusetts-based Page Street Publishing got wind of Scott’s work and reached out about the possibility of him writing a cookbook. Two years later, the result is Fix Me a Plate: Traditional and New School Soul Food Recipes From Scotty Scott of Cook Drank Eat, a collection of sixty dishes that play with flavors from South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Written in a chatty, informal, and often humorous voice that Cook Drank Eat fans will instantly recognize, the book includes dishes like smothered turkey wings, shrimp and sausage gumbo, and his great-grandmother’s (and therefore world’s best) recipe for sweet potato pie .
Of course, working with recipes that have been in your family for generations—or adapting some of your mom’s recipes, as Scott does in the book—comes with a bit of pressure to get things right. And that pressure only increases when you expand your focus to an entire tradition like soul food: “These recipes are time-honored classics passed down through the generations,” he writes at the beginning of his “Soul Remix” chapter, in which he puts his personal twist on soul food. “They were here long before me and will be here long after I’m gone.”
It’s important, Scott says, to give each dish “its due credit and not trivialize”—and to let people know when you’re going off-script. Some of the recipes in Fix Me a Plate hew closer to tradition, like the stewed okra and tomatoes or cornmeal-breaded catfish, but others are 100 percent Scott’s vision, like his recipe for roasted collards with fried oysters, or leftover red beans and rice mashed into Cajun-spiced burger patties. And in his Almost Momma’s Mac and Cheese, adapted, as the title suggests, from his mother’s recipe, he offers both a firmer version and his own saucy take. He jokes of the latter, “don’t post that version on the ‘Gram . . . baked mac and cheese purists will shame you for it being too runny.”
Scott selected his friend Rambo Elliott, an acclaimed Fort Worth-based photographer known for her portraits of musicians, to shoot the book. She has served as tour photographer for Leon Bridges and shot national fashion campaigns. “I ca n’t waste her talent by just [shooting] me holding a bowl of soup,” Scott says. Elliott’s participation in the project reinforced his idea that the book should be “as funky as it can be,” and the resulting photos are vibrant and stark and dynamic—far more stylized than those often seen in cookbooks. See Scott spinning a waffle like a deejay would spin an album, triumphantly throwing flour across his kitchen, dousing a newspaper-lined picnic table with a pot of boiled shrimp during the golden hour, and pouring honey over an absolute tower of blueberry pancakes without even looking. The book looks like its recipes taste: approachable yet stylish, quirky, substantive, and above all, to quote Scott, funky.
The recipe below is emblematic of Fix Me a Plate’s modern classics: Scott takes his mom’s recipe for classic blueberry cobbler and thickens it with tapioca granules before turning out handheld personal pies. “In case, you know, you need to eat a couple of pies on the go,” Scott says.
Blueberry Hand Pies
Reprinted with permission from Fix Me a PlatePage Street Publishing, Co. 2022.
1 cup salted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup ice water
5 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons ground tapioca granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten with 2 teaspoons water, to seal the pie
1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons cream, to brush the top
For the pie crust:
- Cut the butter into ¼-inch cubes and place in the freezer. Add the flour and salt to a food processor and pulse for 8 to 10 seconds. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the processor running, add the water a couple of tablespoons at a time until the dough begins to clump. Cut in half, and then form each half into a ball. Flatten each ball into a 4- to 5-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
- Preheat the oven to 375.
For the filling:
- Place the blueberries in a medium stockpot and heat until the released juices come to a boil. Once they’re boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, and butter, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for 1 minute. Add the tapioca and stir to combine. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up any tapioca clumps that might form. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and let cool for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll out one dough ball until it’s about ⅛ inch thick. Cut out rounds with a large cookie cutter. Brush the outer edge of the rounds with the egg and water wash. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of the dough. Fold in half, and press the edge with a fork to seal. Place on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling and place the baking sheet in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
- Brush the feet with the egg and cream wash. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a baking rack to cool. Once cooled, place in your shirt pocket, purse, or anywhere you might desire to have a walk.