Martha Pearl Villas has served meals to everyone from Pierre Franey to Craig Claiborne, and her son James is food and wine editor at Town and Country and a cookbook author (French Country Cooking; not reviewed, etc.). They team up here to offer classic southern cuisine with homespun anecdotes and inventive twists. In the introduction, James admits that his family doesn't ""pay any mind to diets, fats, salt, and cholesterol,"" and that's obvious in recipes for dishes like cheese and eggs (with ten eggs, one and a half cups of milk, and a pound and a half of cheddar to serve six to eight people) and the turkey roasted with bacon slices, served with giblet gravy and a cornbread dressing that requires a stick of butter and four eggs. And often side dishes that could have been light feel heavy (the summer tomato pie, while thoroughly delicious with its savory blend of fresh herbs, also includes a cup of mayonnaise, two cups of cheddar, and half a cup of Parmesan). Luckily, an unflagging commitment to taste also translates into many more healthful dishes as well, from the wonderfully loopy cold shrimp and wild rice salad to the succulent paper-bag roasted chicken. The recipes are generally well written, but the occasional use of mise-en-place (how many onions make up one cup of chopped onions?) and failure to provide detailed information (how many people know that for a salmon mousse to ""chill till firm,"" it must set overnight?) prove irritating in an otherwise charming and sophisticated effort. Comfort food at its best.