Curtis, formerly a Food Network celebrity chef, gathers with family several times a year to enjoy the kinds of home-cooked meals he so fondly remembers from his childhood. He was kind enough to share some of his favorite recipes, which we showcase here. Try one (or all!) of them at your next family get-together. Learn more about Curtis's shows, books, and appearance schedule at www.curtisaikens.com
Curtis has never lost sight of his Southern upbringing and the tremendous influence his family has had on his career. "My mom is probably my biggest culinary influence, followed closely by both of my grandmas," Curtis says. This fried chicken recipe is about as good as it gets–a breaded skin crisped to perfection and the juiciest meat you'll ever try. Plus, with just six ingredients, it's easy to fix!
Curtis's home state of Georgia is famous for its incredible peach crop, so he added a little homegrown flavor to this Southern beverage staple. Peach nectar, brewed tea, sugar, and lemon are all you need to create this tasty iced beverage. Pour it into a drink cooler with a spout for easy serving at your reunion gathering.
One of Curtis's passions is using fresh fruit and vegetables as much as possible–like those found at produce stands and farmer's markets around the country. Barbecue Eggplant is an incredibly simple vegetable dish that can be either broiled or grilled. Plus, minimal prep means more time to spend visiting with family!
For Curtis, food is more than–well, food! It's a basic part of community, and that is never more evident than at a family reunion. "It's that social interaction and breaking of bread that makes preparing and eating food so much fun," he says. This Chocolate Zucchini Cake is a marvelous finale to a home-cooked spread. It's easy to make and earned five stars from MyRecipes reviewers, who say it is "very moist and very chocolatey" and "a great cake to bring with you if you're asked to bring dessert."