Review: Denise Gee’s Southern Appetizers

I’m a big fan of all flavors Southern. That’s why I picked up Denise Gee’s Southern Appetizers: 60 Delectables for Gracious Get-Togethers. Now, truth be told, I didn’t get the book thinking about tablescapes or entertaining a crowd. Me, I’m after the food. But, that being said, this book has a lot more than just recipes. There are tips for planning for parties and being the perfect host. The book is well-written, clear, easy to follow, and packed with fantastic photos.

From there we get into the food, starting with the easy-to-eat handheld dishes. There are recipes for all of the classics, such as deviled eggs and finger sandwiches. The fanciful cheese straws looked so great that I made them that day. They came out fantastically!

Next up are spreads, including, of course, a great version of pimento cheese, Anita’s favorite. From salsas, to dips, to great spreads for crackers, this section of the book has great recipes that really are not difficult to make at all. I bookmarked a good many of the pages in the spreads!

The next part of the book is a bit more serious. It’s the grab a plate, some utensils, and sit-down-and-eat section. There is lighter fare, such as salads, tarts and soups. But then there are also (my favorites) meaty dishes. Wings, riblets, brisket, and baked ham, for example. And the peppered beef tenderloin just makes me drool. It is on my short list of dishes to make, along with the crawfish beignets

Next up: the drinks. And lots of awesome drinks. The book covers everything you need to throw a party, and that means drinks too of course.

This brings us to the last chapter, party themes. Denise Gee does all the work for you, whether you want to throw a New Year’s Eve get-together, a Mardis Gras-themed event, or just having a casual tailgating party. Every recipe you need for the party is listed, all designed to work together in a cohesive theme.

All in all I was quite happy with Southern Appetizers: 60 Delectables for Gracious Get-Togethers. I found it easy to follow, with accessible recipes and with great photos. Many of the dishes make me think of a great Sunday brunches or get-togethers in the South. My only wish is that there were more pictures because they really were fantastic.

Southern Appetizers: 60 Delectables for Gracious Get-Togethers rates high on my ‘Mater Rater.


For more of my reviews of cookbooks available for the Amazon Kindle readers, visit Kindle Thyme.

Bread Machine Southern Biscuits

Only 1 in every 5 of my attempts to bake from scratch comes out successful. That’s up from 1 out of 6 a few years ago, but still not anything to brag about. So, the more I can use my bread machine, the better. And it’s even better when what I make comes out fantastic, like these southern biscuits. They have a great buttery flavor, light texture and smell absolutely divine. Now, they aren’t super light and flaky like dough you’d make by hand (if you weren’t me that is) but they are a great substitute for those biscuits you get in a tube, that’s for sure!
You can substitute maple syrup for the honey and end up with the perfect biscuit for a sausage breakfast sandwich. And of course, bread machine southern biscuits are perfect for the best thing ever made, deep fried biscuits. Oh yes!

Bread Machine Southern Biscuits
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-14 biscuits
 
Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons yeast
Instructions
  1. Place in the ingredients into your bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. For mine, I begin with the wet ingredients and then add the dry.
  2. Process on the dough cycle until done.
  3. Remove dough from bread machine and roll out until 1/2" thick. Try to not over-work the dough.
  4. Cut into desired sizes and transfer to a buttered sheet pan.
  5. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  7. Bake biscuits for 15 minutes or until lightly golden in color.

Southern Fried Shrimp

These southern fried shrimp are darned good shrimp. I love shrimp, cooked any way you can imagine, but fried or boiled are my favorites. These little beauties can be eaten one-by-one or my favorite way, on a po boy sandwich. They’re tender with just a bit of coating and plenty of spicy flavor.
Southern Fried Shrimp

If you can’t find Tony Cachere’s fish fry in your grocery store you can use other fish fry mixes or just substitute all-purpose flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.

I served these southern fried shrimp with Frog Bone Bayou Cocktail Cajun sauce. Cocktail sauce with a great kick!

Southern Fried Shrimp
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 pounds
 
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds large raw shrimp, shelled, deveined. Leave the tails on if desired, but remove the tails if using for po boys.
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun mustard
  • 1 (10 ounce) package Tony Cachere's Seasoned fish fry mix, or substitute 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (or more) cayenne pepper
  • Vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Place shrimp into a resealable container or baggie.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the buttermilk and mustard.
  3. Pour mixture in with the shrimp, seal, and shake gently to coat.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Whisk together the fish fry mix and cayenne.
  6. Heat 3" of oil in a Dutch oven to 325 F.
  7. Working in batches, remove shrimp from container. Shake off excess marinade then transfer to the fry mix. Roll and coat. Shake off an excess coating and place in hot oil.
  8. Fry shrimp 1 1/2 minutes per side then transfer to a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool.
  9. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce or on a po boy.


Delta Dippin’ Sauce

I’m always on the lookout for a good sauce for dippin’. Ya know, dippin’ chicken tenders… or fries… or onion rings… or corn dogs… or shrimp! Something with some kick. Like this Delta dippin’ sauce.

Delta Dippin' SauceThis sauce is nice and creamy smooth. Not too thick so you don’t get a big gloppy mess on whatever you’re dippin’. It’s a little thin for burgers, but so tasty, so if you want to make a batch for burgers (and you will want to), leave out some if not all of the vegetable oil.

This sauce is a copycat of a sauce by the same name that was available at Popeye’s, but it was discontinued back in 2011 (it was a regional thing). I wouldn’t have taken it off the menu, that’s for sure!

Delta Dippin' Sauce
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 1/2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) hot sauce (I used Louisiana Hot Sauce)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

 

Southern Fried Okra

I grew up eating a lot of okra. My dad is from Arkansas, and okra is quite popular in our family. It was almost always prepared the same way: into a frying pan with oil, cornmeal, salt and pepper. No dredging, just into the pan. And it came out crunchy good. I loved it.

Southern Fried OkraSo, I was a little skeptical when I ran across this recipe for frying okra in flour. I was thinking there might not be as much crunch as I remembered from all those times make okra. Well, I have to say my skepticism was completely unwarranted. This southern fried okra came out absolutely fantastic. Light, crunchy, delicious. I served it as a side, but it was better than fried pickles so I’d not hesitate to serve it as an appetizer (with a nice southwestern dipping sauce, perhaps).

I also love my okra grilled. Just brush them with a bit of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss them onto the grill until done!

Southern Fried Okra
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound okra, ends cut off, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon spicy Cajun seasoning
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
Instructions
  1. In a pie plate, combine the flour and seasoning.
  2. In another pie plate, whisk the egg with the milk.
  3. Heat 1" of oil in a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet to 375 F.
  4. Working in batches, place okra into the egg mixture and stir to coat well.
  5. Shake off excess batter and place okra in flour mixture. Toss to coat well.
  6. Shake off excess flour and add okra to oil. Do not overcrowd.
  7. Let cook until golden brown on one side. Flip and cook until browned on the other side.
  8. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and continue cooking remaining okra.
  9. Serve warm.

 

Southern Green Beans

There’s no way to go wrong with these southern green beans. Sure, they’re decadent. They’re supposed to be. They’re sweet, smoky, and tender (and with a little kick if you opt to add a bit of red pepper flake). They aren’t meant to be crunchy or healthy.

Southern Green BeansThese are what canned green beans want to be when they grow up.

Southern Green Beans
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped into one inch pieces
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder (or less, to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • Red pepper flake, to taste, optional
Instructions
  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the bacon and cook until done (but not crisped). Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Remove all but two tablespoons of the bacon drippings.
  4. Add the beans and stir to coat. Cook for about a minute.
  5. Add the bacon back to the pot, along with the broth, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and red pepper (if desired).
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and continue simmering until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes.
  7. Add butter and stir until melted.
  8. Serve hot.

Southern Toasted Pecans

I’m mighty partial to my dad’s pecans. They’re the best in the world as far as I’m concerned. I’m always ready to dig into a bowl of them.Southern Toasted PecansThis recipe for southern toasted pecans is a little different than your usual sweet or hot pecans. These are quite savory, and highly addicting to boot. If you have fleur de sel on hand I recommend using it over large-grained kosher salt – the flavor boost is amazing.

Prefer walnuts instead of pecans? Try my cheddar walnuts.

Southern Toasted Pecans
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-12
 
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning (or more)
  • 1 pound fresh pecan halves
  • Fleur de sel
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 300 F.
  2. Combine the butter, Worcestershire, kosher salt, and seasoning in a medium bowl.
  3. Add in the nuts and toss to coat.
  4. Pour nuts out onto a sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring and flipping every 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fleur de sel.