Much like her cousin (first once removed) Paula Deen, Johnnie Gabriel got her start selling her goods from home. But hers were desserts, and if you recall from the Deen biography, Paula was the sandwich lady.
I'm hooked on southern cooking. It can't be beat. Don't you love what you grew up eating best of all? Sure, I like a variety of cuisine, but southern style is my standard approach to anything. Fry it. Or cook it with butter. And throw some sugar in there, too.
When I saw this new southern cookbook was nearing publication, I knew I had to have it. However, aren't all those recipes covered in other southern cookbooks? Probably. Gabriel's book features standards like cheese straws, toasted pecans, she-crab soup, barbecued pork ribs, grits, greens, and fried okra. And then the desserts? The proverbial red velvet cake is there, but the photo shows her cake to be a bright cherry red, rather than the deep red, almost a velvety burgundy that I associate with authentic red velvet cake. I'll compare her recipe to others I have and see how it differs.
She features many salads, and that's something Ian was bummed about: "Why so many salads," he said after browsing through the book. I've gotten him in that habit, too. I leave new cookbooks out on our gathering table and he pages through them while waiting on something to cook. He does most of the cooking these days with me being so round and big and tired.
Besides typical salads you expect from a southern cookbook (macaroni, tuna, chicken), she offers something called Sumi salad, which is an asian-slaw inspired concotion. Her leafy lettucy salads almost all include fresh fruit, which is nice.
Two pound cakes caught my eye immediately: Coconut Pound Cake and Peanut Butter Pound Cake. It's safe, maybe considered boring by some, but always a classic standard, and pound cake is probably my favorite cake....or is it red velvet? Naturally I couldn't wait to see the dessert section. Again, lots of great standards. Ian noticed the lack of a peanut butter pie recipe. And that is a travesty. But what to do?
Anyway, I needed to bake cookies for an event on Saturday and thought about making my standard gingersnap cookie recipe that I've used for 15 years or more. Gabriel has a soft ginger cookie recipe that I decided to try instead.
Boy, was I glad I did that. I cannot stop eating them. Sopping them in milk, or falling-apart-hot off the cookie sheet straight from the oven. They're delicious. And soft. My gingersnaps... well, they're snappy and crisp. But these ginger cookies stay chewy and moist.
Perhaps the difference is butter. My gingersnap recipe calls for shortening. And Gabriel's calls for either. Butter is always better, right? That's what I did. The cooking time may have something to do with it also, just 10 minutes in the oven. Whereas, if memory serves, my gingersnaps remain in there about 15 minutes or so.
As pleased as I am with the success of my soft ginger cookies, you can bet that I'll try more of her recipes.