Sunday, August 07, 2011

Cookbook Give-away and Two Great Recipes

It's been much longer than I intended to review the third cookbook from Thomas Nelson Publishers. It's amazing how house projects, summer visitors, the garden and work have all conspired to keep me too busy to try out new recipes. Fortunately I found some time this week to cook a couple of recipes from Second Helpings with Johnnie Gabriel.

These are true Southern recipes and also modern ones, making good use of things like packaged shredded cabbage for Coleslaw the Easy Way and packaged stuffing mix for things like the Squash Casserole and Chicken Salad Casserole. Biscuit mix and Ritz crackers and Morton's Nature's Season also find their uses, along with canned corn, peas and carrots, jarred pimento and lots of cream cheese, sour cream and whipping cream. Many of the recipes, like Sauteed Talpia with Lemon-Peppercorn Sauce would make a lovely entree for a dinner party.

I chose to make two recipes that sounded different and delicious...Wild Rice and Corn Salad and Mocha-Frosted Chocolate Chip Cookies.

The salad was indeed wonderful. Since this is fresh corn season I replaced the canned white shoepeg corn with 4 ears of freshly husked sweet white corn which I cut, uncooked, from the cobs.

I didn't have any water chestnuts, so I substituted 1/2 cup each thinly sliced English cucumber and uncooked fresh thin green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces. Both came directly from my garden and added a nice crisp crunch to the salad. Otherwise I followed the recipe and found it very enjoyable. Sweetie had second helpings, just like the book's title promised.

The cookies had a somewhat lackluster description in the book: "Chocolate and coffee team up in another taste treat fro Susan Johnson's collection." I wasn't expecting them to be more than 'nice'.

Imagine my surprise when I found them to be some of the best chocolate cookies I've ever made. We liked them better without the frosting, but if you like very sweet desserts, go for the frosting, too. Not only did these merit a second helping, it was difficult to resist a third or fourth helping! We gave some of them away to friends to avoid the temptation of eating them all up at once.

There are lots more recipes to try...for example Lemon Ice Cream Pie with crushed pretzels in the crust and frozen lemonade in the filling, or maybe Sweet Potato Fries that get tossed in a brown sugar and butter coating after being fried in deep fat. There's an intriguing recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits and one for Smoky Chipotle Grilled Baby Back Ribs with both a rub and a barbecue sauce.

This isn't the best book to choose if you are cutting calories but if you are planning a party or want to make something more complicated and flavorful than tater tots you'll love this book. Many of the recipes are fairly easy and make use of convenience foods, so complicated doesn't mean difficult.

As always I want to stress that, other than use of the book, I am not receiving anything from the publisher or author of the book and am free to say just what I think about it. Although I won't often have reason to make some of the more full fat recipes with liberal use of whipping cream, I do like the book and look forward to making more recipes from it.

If you would like to win a copy of this book, just leave a comment. There will be a random drawing and the publisher will send three copies to the three lucky winners, as long as those winners either leave an e-mail address with the comment or are linked to a place where an e-mail address can be found or where I can ask for one if you are a winner.

And now for a gentle rant: The recent demise of Borders Books saddens me. Although I know how easy it would be to order this book on Amazon, please consider asking your independent bookseller to order a copy for you from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Supporting your local bookseller means that there will be bookstores for our children and grandchildren to browse entirely different experience than 'browsing' online. Besides, your local bookseller usually lives in your town and often contributes to the local economy...want fewer potholes? your local businesses. (This may or may not be the opinion of Thomas Nelson Publishers but is absolutely my own.)

Wild Rice and Corn Salad - A really easy salad

1 cup wild rice, cooked according to package directions (Not a wild rice mix).
2 (11-oz) cans white shoepeg corn, rinsed and drained, or 4 ears fresh white corn, husked and kernels cut from the cob.
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I would use 1/3 cup next time)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 (8-oz) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped, or 1/2 cup each uncooked fresh thin green beans cut into 1-inch pieces AND thinly sliced (and diced if large) fresh cucumber, seeds removed and discarded
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl mix the cooked wild rice, uncooked corn, mayonnaise, green onions, water chestnuts (or beans and cucumbers), salt, and pepper.

Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Keeps well in the refrigerator 2-3 days. Serves 8 - 10.

Mocha-Frosted Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa which makes the cookies a nice deep dark chocolate color)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder or granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips (Yes, TWO cups!)
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Make the cookies: In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended. Add the egg, eater, instant coffee, vanilla, chocolate chips, and nuts and blend well, but do not beat. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Drop dough by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the lined cookie sheet. Bake for 13 minutes until firm. (The recipe says 'and no longer shiny' but mine were still a bit shiny...we like them soft). Cool on the sheets for 10 minutes, then move to a rack or tray to frost them.

Make the frosting: In a medium microwavable bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 1-minute intervals (I use 1/2 power), stirring after each minute until the chocolate is soft and melted.

In a small bowl mix together the whipping cream and instant coffee and add to the chocolate mixture. Using an electric mixer add the butter, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar. Frost the cookies.

Store cookies in the refrigerator. Makes 3-4 dozen


  1. The book looks great. Would love to win.

  2. Not in the giveaway but...

    The corn salad looks excellent. I miss having lots of corn on the cob for salads; I know it must be grown here somewhere, but haven't found it.

    Also, I second your Borders rant; that was all we had, near the house where I grew up. You have to drive quite a ways now to find a bookstore.

  3. Sounds like a nice cookbook; thanks for a chance to win. The corn and rice salad looks great, I'd like to try that.

  4. Yum! I'd love to try the mocha frosted cookies!

    something frugal at yahoo dot com

  5. Oh wow, southern cuisine! That is right up my alley. I would love and cherish this cookbook. Thank you for the opportunity to enter my name.

    I am shocked over that white shoepeg corn. I have never seen that before, but it is gorgeous and really compliments that salad.