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Black America CooksBeta

Celebrating the Soul of Southern Recipes,

Cooks, Cookbooks and Traditions

Soul to Keep Salute of the Week is like a Cooks Hall of Fame
B. Smith, TV Personality, Entrepreneur, Restauranteur, Cookbook Author, Former Model

"Whatever you do, do it with style…"

"I have the memory of good flavor to go by…" B. Smith


Born:August 24, Western Pennsylvania
Cooking Style: "Elegant, Soulful and Southern Influences

Memorable Quote: "Fear of failure will only limit you. Don't be afraid to take risks.

Mistakes are part of the fun…I wouldn't think twice about making some dramatic gesture like stacking up a pyramid of classes and making a champagne fountain. There are far worse things than broken glasses and spilled champagne.

Special Honors:

BET Entrepreneur Award; American Library Association (ALA) Honor Award (Black Caucus, 2000) for Rituals & Celebrations.

Why we cherish Barbara "B." Smith:

She encourages us to entertain family and friends by breaking bread at home with delicious recipes, and away from home with dishes from one of her gracious and stylish restaurants. (In D.C. and Manhattan).

Because she's just as beautiful on the inside as on the outside, B. Smith inspires us to smile, serve thoughtful menus …and also comb our hair… before guests arrive.


B. Smith's Entertaining and Cooking for Friends, 1995

B. Smith Ritual's & Celebrations, 1999

B. Smith Cook's Southern Style, 2004


Recipe Highlights:

B. Smith's Red Velvet Cake recipe easily comes together as a layer cake or cupcakes with mini-loaf pans. The buttercream icing couldn't be easier or more delicious.


Weiss and Jews;

Skillet Diary

Happy Birthday Cupcakes

Long before the craze, cupcakes were my "birthday pastry of choice" based on the surprise chocolate "velvet" cupcakes my dad brought to my 5th grade classroom to celebrate my birthday in the 1960s. At that time, I had never heard of red velvet; neither had anyone from my Alabama family, including my grandmother, a Creole, Southern and Soul Food expert.

Others, from my generation and before, attribute the movie, Steel Magnolia's, for claiming red velvet (created at Manhattan's Waldorf Astoria) as an heirloom southern cake. This cookbook collector has come to appreciate merits of this movie theory after not finding red velvet recipes in any pre-1970s southern cookbooks. I've found velvet cakes, not red velvet, and no mention of armadillo cakes in a region where everybody knows southern groom's cakes are fruitcakes.

B. Smith's red velvet recipe was the first one I baked, weeks after receiving her second cookbook, in 1999. The next year, I adapted the layer cake to cupcakes with two mini loaf cakes made from the remaining batter.

Since then, red velvet cupcakes have become part of my birthday ritual, along with round-the-clock (some say desperate) replaying of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young."

Four "girlhood friends" (that term from another southern film, A Trip to Bountiful,) Deni, Carol, Lynne and I celebrate birthdays each year between March 23 and April 9, while the sun is in Aries. Happy birthday to anyone else blowing out candles this spring.

"May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung…
May you stay forever young


Forever Young written by Bob Dylan, who celebrates his 70th birthday on May 24th.







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Scrolling Photo Credits from Page Top, including Julia Child, Marcus Samuelsson, Art Smith, Leah Chase and more…

Counter-Clockwise Beginning with Wedding:

1. Donna's parents (Muriel & Eliot Batte) w/ Mobile, Alabama wedding party, June 28, 1950. ( Eliot Battle & flower girl, Peggy Cooper Caffritz, 2009.)

2. Donna with Art Smith.

3. Donna's paternal great aunts (c.1890)

Wilson, North Carolina.

4. Donna with Julia Child, Greenbrier Hotel, 1997.

5. From private photo collection, unknown Boone County Missouri Couple/WW1.

6. Donna, Donna's Father, Eliot Battle, Sr., Chef Marcus Samuelsson.