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You already know Johnnie Gabriel.
She’s in your Tuesday night Bunco group. You’re in the same Sunday school class. Your families tailgate together during football season. She’s that friend who always has the perfect recipe for every occasion. Second Helpings draws from Johnnie’s personal collection of tried and true favorites, alongside the menu mainstays of her closest friends, family members, and fellow restaurant industry pals. With more ...
You already know Johnnie Gabriel.
She’s in your Tuesday night Bunco group. You’re in the same Sunday school class. Your families tailgate together during football season. She’s that friend who always has the perfect recipe for every occasion. Second Helpings draws from Johnnie’s personal collection of tried and true favorites, alongside the menu mainstays of her closest friends, family members, and fellow restaurant industry pals. With more than 20 years of professional bakery and restaurant experience, this Georgia lady knows a thing or two about pleasing a crowd of hungry Southerners.
Want a meal that’s sure to keep ‘em coming back for more? Get things started with Johnnie’s Black Eyed Pea Spread. Offer up her Shrimp Creole or Smoky Chipotle Grilled Baby Back Ribs next; but make sure to save some room for the finishing touch—cool slices of Strawberry Layer Crème Pie. These recipes weren’t concocted in a glass-walled test kitchen. These are the time-tested meals that have nourished and comforted families at tables across the South for decades. Second helpings all around? Inevitable!
Cheddar Ham Cups
This recipe is from Dot Downing, a Sunday school class member. When Dot makes these we can count on our bodies and souls being fed on Sunday morning. You might want to make a double batch, because they disappear quickly.
1 tube (10.2 ounces) large refrigerated flaky biscuits 2 cups (8 ounces) finely shredded cheddar cheese 2 packages (21/2 ounces each) thinly sliced deli ham, chopped 3/4 cup mayonnaise 1/3 cup real bacon bits 2 to 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Horizontally split the biscuits into thirds, peeling the layers apart. Press one layer into the bottom and up the side of each ungreased miniature muffin cup and set aside while you prepare the filling.
In a medium bowl combine the cheddar cheese, deli ham, mayonnaise, bacon bits, and Dijon mustard. Fill each biscuit with about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture.
Bake at 450 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing from the pans. Serve warm.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen.
Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Rolls
Adapted from "Come on In" recipes from the Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi cookbook. My Sunday school class loved these when I made them. They are often guinea pigs for my recipe testing.
2 packages crescent dinner rolls 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/3 cup sweet onion, chopped 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature 1 (4-ounce) can mushrooms, stems and pieces, drained and chopped 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt 1/2 teaspoon tarragon 1 egg, beaten poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lay out the crescent roll dough and press the perforations to seal.
In a small sauté pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté until caramelized and golden in color (about 15 minutes). Drain the onions on a paper towel to absorb the oil. Cool.
In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the cream cheese, mushrooms, onions, salt, and tarragon. Spread over the dough all the way to the edges.
From the long side of the pastry, roll up jelly roll-style. If the dough has become too warm to hold its shape, refrigerate it for 30 minutes prior to slicing with a serrated knife into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces. Reshape the dough into a circle if necessary after cutting, and place on a cookie sheet 1- to 1 1/2-inches apart. Brush the top and sides with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
The rolls may be prepared ahead to this point and frozen or covered with plastic wrap and held in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before baking. Overnight refrigeration inhibits the rising of the dough when baked.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot.
Makes 24 rolls.
Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Cranberry Wrap
I served these at Taste of Atlanta, where they were a huge hit! Serve these at your next party, ladies luncheon, or tailgating event. They'd also make a great after-school snack.
1 (11-ounce) package goat cheese 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted 2 tablespoons honey 1/3 cup Craisins, chopped 2 tablespoons whole berry cranberry sauce 1 (14-ounce) package lavash flat bread 12 ounces sliced deli maple glazed chicken or roasted chicken 1/2 cup spinach leaves or arugula
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lay the goat cheese out for about 15 minutes prior to mixing so that it softens a bit. Meanwhile, lightly toast the chopped walnuts on a baking sheet in the oven for 4 to 8 minutes. Stir halfway through to toast evenly.
In a medium bowl use an electric mixer to beat the goat cheese and honey. Add the walnuts, Craisins, and 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce and mix with a spatula.
Place three pieces of the flat bread on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes, just enough to soften the bread for rolling. Remove the bread from the oven and when it is just cool enough to handle, spread the goat cheese mixture over the bread to the 4 edges. Cover the goat cheese with the chicken slices and spinach.
Starting on the long side of the bread (if there is one longer than the other), tightly roll up the bread, jelly roll-style. The goat cheese spread will seal the rolls. Wrap the rolls in plastic wrap and place them seam side down and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, unwrap and slice into 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch slices. Skewer them horizontally with a toothpick to serve.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes 48 to 72 pieces.
Tip: This recipe can easily be prepared up to twenty-four hours ahead of time.
Mediterranean Cheese Spread Dip
Growing up in the South and in a Greek household, Mary Miltiades got a double dose of the love for preparation and serving of good food. Her mom and dad, Dee and Evans Nichols, loved to entertain and show the rest of us the magic of the Greek touch added to a dish. Mary sure inherited that talent and then embellished on it. She caters a lot of parties and is often catering right up until Christmas Eve. Then she prepares a huge Christmas meal for family, friends, and anybody else she finds out doesn't have another place to be on Christmas Day. This cheese spread will make you want to be on Mary's guest list!
5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 8 eggs 1/2 pound feta cheese 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons dried parsley 2 teaspoons garlic powder 1 tablespoon dried basil 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1 (6-ounce) jar sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped 1 bunch green onions, chopped (white and green portions) 1 stick butter, melted 1 (1/2-pound) box phyllo dough Fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Add the feta and parmesan cheeses, the parsley, garlic powder, basil, and oregano. Blend in the tomatoes, artichokes, and green onions. Set aside.
Using a pastry brush dipped in melted butter, butter 5 to 6 sheets of phyllo and fold each in half. Drape each sheet over the side of a 9-inch springform pan, overlapping all the way around. Butter 2 to 3 sheets and fold in half to cover the bottom. Butter 5 to 6 sheets and fold in half. Put the sheets up the sides and in the bottom. Butter 4 to 6 sheets and fold in thirds and place around the sides. Fold the draped sheets back over to seal the "crust."
Pour the cream cheese mixture into the phyllo crust. Bake 11/4 to 11/2 hours or until golden brown on top. The sides of the top will crack when done. Garnish with fresh parsley sprigs and serve with toast rounds or pita chips.
Serves 60 to 70.
Black-eyed Pea Spread
Gail Ré, my good friend and talented artist, gave me this recipe. Gail has played an integral role in my life and Gabriel's Desserts over the years. She not only encourages me, but also used her amazing artistic ability to guide the decorating both times Gabriel's has expanded.
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 envelope dry Ranch salad dressing mix 1 (16-ounce) can black-eyed peas 1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 (14-ounce) can artichokes, drained and chopped 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium skillet sauté the onion in butter until tender.
In a medium bowl whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and dressing mix. Gently fold in the peas, beans, and artichokes. Add the sautéed onions and spoon the mixture into an 11-inch round baking dish or any dish of comparable size that has been sprayed with a nonstick spray.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with the crackers of your choice.
Serves 8 to 10.
Tip: This dip is especially good when served with sesame crackers.
Black Bean and Feta Dip
Black beans are so healthy and just one of my favorite comfort foods. Lindy Jones has combined them with one of my other favorite flavors ... feta cheese. Enjoy another convenient and easy dip for family or entertaining from Lindy.
2 (11-ounce) cans shoepeg corn, drained 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained 1 bunch green onions, chopped 2 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup olive oil 4 ounces feta cheese chopped cilantro, optional
In a medium bowl combine the corn, beans, green onions, tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, oil, feta cheese, and cilantro. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for up to one day before serving. Serve with tortilla chips.
Serves 10 to 12.
Another good recipe from Liz Cole.
1 pint grape tomatoes, chopped and drained 5 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese 1 clove garlic, halved 1 teaspoon olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 30 phyllo cups, prebaked
In a small bowl, toss the chopped tomatoes with the basil leaves. Slice the cheese into 1/4-inch slices and rub both sides of each slice with the cut edge of the garlic half. Dice the cheese slices into little cubes and toss with the tomatoes. Stir in the olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon 1 teaspoon of the tomato mixture into each phyllo cup. Serve immediately.
Makes 30 pieces.
One thing in life that Southerners pride themselves on is our appreciation of good food. Tom McEachern serves this very special appetizer at Ray's on the River. This is not exactly a Southern recipe, but it is good food.
1 (5-ounce) hanger steak 2 teaspoons blackening seasoning 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 cup balsamic vinegar pomegranate-flavored syrup or a balsamic vinegar reduction** 1/2 to 1 cup micro greens or any small chopped greens 2 to 3 ounces thinly sliced Reggiano cheese 1 pomegranate, cut in half and seeds removed sea salt for garnish (optional)
Dry the steak with paper towels and evenly and thoroughly rub the blackening seasoning all over the steak. Rub all sides with the olive oil. Heat a dry, cast-iron skillet on high to very hot temperature, hot enough to quickly sear the meat 30 to 45 seconds on each side and the ends, forming a "crust" on the meat. The center will still be cool. Thinly slice the meat and place on the serving plate. Drizzle the sliced steak with the balsamic syrup. Scatter the greens over the top, along with several pieces of the cheese. Scatter pomegranate seeds over the greens and meat. If desired, lightly scatter sea salt over the meat. Serve with small, thinly sliced bread or crackers.
Serves 2 to 3.
Alternate cooking method: You can sear the meat over a hot grill instead, if you prefer.
Cheese and Apple Spread
When I was a child, my mom melted a slice of cheddar cheese on top of my dad's piece of apple pie. I gave my own children apples and cheese for a snack. But I had never put apples and cream cheese in an appetizer together until Liz Cole brought this unusual combination to our Sunday school class. Guess what? Mixed all together, they really complement one another.
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 cup mayonnaise 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1 cup finely chopped apple, with peel, (1 large apple)
In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, and apple together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve with apple slices or Triscuits.
Note: Use low-fat cream cheese and/or mayonnaise if you like.
Tip: If you have the time to make this the day before, the flavors will develop nicely.
This is such a good appetizer and so easy to put together at the last minute.
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese 2 teaspoons mayonnaise 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 small onion, finely chopped 1/2 cup chopped celery dash of salt and pepper 2 cups small shrimp, cooked and drained
In a medium bowl combine the butter, cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, onion, celery, and salt and pepper. Mix until smooth. Add the shrimp and stir.
Serve with crackers.
Serves 6 to 8.
Claire Francis, a good friend and tennis buddy, shared this recipe with me. The consistency is like a cheese straw, but this doesn't have cayenne pepper. It has sugar. You'll want to share this with all of your friends.
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 1/2 cup pecans, chopped 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
In a mixing bowl combine the cheese, butter, sugar, pecans, and flour. Mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon. Shape into a log and wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate at least an hour before slicing.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the cheese into 1/4-inch slices and place on a cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Cheese Wafers with a Twist
Mary Gillis took Paula Deen's recipe for Pecan-Date Cheese Wafers and added sausage and some brown sugar. What a delicious twist! This is an example of starting with a great recipe, tweaking it, and making it your own!
1/4 cup light brown sugar 11/2 cups butter, softened 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated 1 cup finely chopped pecans 1 cup finely chopped dates 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper 41/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 pound sausage, browned and drained turbinado sugar
In a large mixing bowl use an electric mixer to beat the brown sugar with the butter until well blended. Add the cheese, pecans, dates, and red pepper. Beat at medium speed until well combined. Gradually add the flour, beating until just combined. Add the sausage and mix thoroughly. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Pinch off portions of the dough to roll into 1-inch round pieces and place the balls 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Using a flat-bottomed glass or your fingers dipped in flour, flatten the balls to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let the wafers cool on the pans for 2 minutes. Place the wafers on cooling racks and allow them to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 30 days. Bring to room temperature when ready to serve.
Makes 9 dozen.
Layered Cheese Terrine
This hors d'oeuvre is one of my favorites. It is not inexpensive and it does require preplanning, but it is so worth it. Two very good cooks, Betty Burnside and Cindy Dye, contributed this recipe. They keep it in the "favorites" section of their collection and serve it on special occasions in their home.
1/4 cup butter 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 clove garlic 1/2 cup pistachios, rough chopped 1 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced, divided 1 cup pesto, purchased or homemade 1/2 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, chopped and divided thinly sliced baguette or crackers
In a mixing bowl or in a food processor, combine the butter and cream cheese and blend. Add the garlic and blend again. Fold in the pistachios (I like the texture of the chopped pistachios instead of pureeing them in the processor with the cream cheese). Set aside.
Line a 4 x 8-inch loaf pan with waxed paper. Place a layer of provolone on the bottom and around the sides and end of the pan, slightly overlapping each slice.
Spread 1/2 cup pesto over the cheese and place another layer of provolone over the pesto.
Sprinkle half of the chopped tomatoes over the provolone and spread the garlic mixture over the tomatoes.
Sprinkle the remaining tomatoes over the garlic mixture.
Add another layer of provolone over the tomatoes. Spread the remaining pesto over the provolone and finish with a final layer of provolone. You should have 9 separate layers when finished.
Fold the provolone over the top to seal. Tap the loaf pan on the counter to settle the terrine. Fold the waxed paper over the dish to cover the cheese. If the waxed paper doesn't cover the cheese, add a piece of plastic wrap. Lay a brick on top of the terrine to press the ingredients together. The terrine should be made at least one day in advance. Serve with thinly sliced baguette or crackers.
Serves 12 to 18.
Note: Terrine can mean an earthenware dish for cooking or, when used loosely, can be applied to the food that is prepared therein. A terrine is merely components of a recipe that are layered in an oblong dish and pressed together for a time. This dish is then turned out onto a plate and served in slices. The components not only make a colorful presentation but are delicious to eat.
When complete this dish will have one layer of garlic cream, two layers of sundried tomatoes, two of pesto, and four layers of cheese. If you get some of the components out of order, no harm done, as long as you begin and end with cheese.
Tip: If you don't have a brick you can use a bag of sugar wrapped in plastic wrap.
Excerpted from SECOND HELPINGS by Johnnie Gabriel Copyright © 2010 by Johnnie Gabriel. Excerpted by permission.
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