Shrimp and grits from Reese Witherspoon’s book

“Whiskey in a Teacup,” the first book by actress/designer/entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon, is a charming mash-up — equal parts memoir, cookbook and lifestyle advice.

The title is credited to Witherspoon’s grandmother Dorothea, who said that it was the combination of beauty and strength that made Southern women like “whiskey in a teacup.” Witherspoon describes her grandmother as one of the important influences in her life, an advocate of civil rights and women’s rights, and one of the first women to earn a master’s degree at Vanderbilt University.

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Witherspoon offers tips on starting a book club and how to “hot-roller” your hair, along with dozens of classic Southern recipes, from cheddar biscuits to mint juleps.

Witherspoon says her recipe for Shrimp and grits is “comforting and hearty, but in an elegant serving bowl it can also be a perfect meal to serve at a dinner party.”

Shrimp and Grits

Serves 6 to 8

For the grits

1 1/2 cup grits (not quick-cooking; preferably stone ground)

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

For the shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14 ounces) can diced tomatoes with liquid

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (the author recommends Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 pounds medium-large raw shrimp, peeled

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt to taste

Chopped fresh green onions for garnish

To make the grits: In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil over high heat and stir in the grits and salt. Bring back to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to low, stir in the butter, and simmer for about 15 minutes. The grits will absorb all the water, so you will need to stir them occasionally, and you can add more water if they become too thick. The grits are easy to keep warm on very low heat, just adding water when needed, but you must stir them every now and then to keep them from sticking to the bottom or clumping.

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To make the shrimp: In a large skillet or sauté pan, combine the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Add the onion and green pepper and sauté until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the tomatoes and their liquid, the Cajun seasoning, and the tomato paste. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and add the shrimp, stirring for about 2 minutes, until the shrimp turn pink. Add the water and Worcestershire sauce and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until heated through but not boiling. Taste for seasoning, and add salt if needed. Serve immediately over the warm grits and garnish with chopped green onions.

From “Whiskey in a Teacup” by Reese Witherspoon. Excerpted with permission by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon &Schuster Inc.

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