Southern Hospitality
Party food with a drawl

By Amelia Rasmus

If there’s one thing every Southern belle loves, it’s the arrival of spring. If there’s another, it’s a good party.

Whether it’s a family reunion, a garden gathering or a ladies’ luncheon, no get-together is complete without some down-home eats.

So chill a pitcher of sweet tea, lemonade or mint juleps and be the queen of the covered dish with party favorites from four recent cookbooks:

Spinach-Basil Cheese Ball From Dry Comal Creek Vineyards
Susan's Texas Pizza (From Fall Creek Vineyards) Web Extra!
Cheese Straws
BLT Dip Web Extra!
Deviled Eggs for Heavenly Ladies
Ham Biscuits Web Extra!
Pickled Shrimp
Spiced Pecans Web Extra!


“Under the Texan Sun: The Best Recipes From Lone Star Wineries”
By Rhonda Cloos
Published by Taylor Trade

Spinach-Basil Cheese Ball
From Dry Comal Creek Vineyards


8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces goat cheese
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts or almonds, roasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries or sundried tomatoes packed in oil


Place the spinach leaves, basil, olive oil and garlic in a food processor. Mix until smooth.

Add the Parmesan cheese and pepper.

Blend the cream cheese and goat cheese together in an electric mixer until smooth.

Line a small 5-inch bowl with plastic wrap. Spray inside the wrap with nonstick cooking spray and line with half of the cream cheese mixture.

Add the entire basil mixture as well as the pine nuts and cranberries.

Top with the remaining cream cheese mixture.

Cover the lined bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (preferably several hours).

Unwrap and serve upside down on a plate with lavash crackers.

Makes one 5-inch cheese ball.

Susan's Texas Pizza (From Fall Creek Vineyards)


1 (9- to 10-inch) flour tortilla
1 tablespoon minced poblano chile
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups eggplant cubes (3/8-inch cubes, without skin)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded, skins removed
1 teaspoon minced, fresh oregano
4 teaspoon minced, fresh cilantro
6 ounces Texas goat cheese
1 avocado, sliced or chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

With a pizza cutter, score the tortilla into 10 equal wedges. (Do not cut all the way through. This will allow the tortilla to be broken easily into wedges prior to serving.)

Place the tortilla in a pie pan so that the edges barely curl up the sides of the pan. Bake until light brown, about 10 minutes.

Saute the chile, garlic and eggplant in butter.

Puree the tomatoes, salt, oregano and cilantro in a food processor.

Add tomato mixture to the eggplant mixture. Continue to cook until the mixture thickens and the moisture evaporates.

Crumble the oat cheese evenly on the tortilla and spoon hot tomato mixture on top of the cheese.

Garnish with avocado slices or chopped avocado.


“You’re Cookin’ It Country”
By Loretta Lynn
Published by Rutledge Hill Press

Cheese Straws


2 cups grated, sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup melted butter
4 eggs, beaten


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the cheese, flour and butter. Stir thoroughly.
Combine the eggs with the cheese mixture. With a rolling pin, roll out the mixture to about 1/2-inch thick.

Cut into 1/2- X 3-inch strips.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place the strips on the sheet and bake 10 minutes, or until brown.

Let the straws cool before serving. Keep them stored in an airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen.



1 pound bacon
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
1 head lettuce
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes


In a skillet over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir in the bacon and salt and pepper to taste.

Line a serving bowl with lettuce leaves. Spoon the dip into the lettuce-lined bowl and top with the chopped tomatoes.

Chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour, and serve with crackers.

Makes 12 servings.


“Puttin’ on the Grits: A Guide to Southern Entertaining”
By Deborah Ford
Published by Dutton

Deviled Eggs for Heavenly Ladies


6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks.

In a small bowl, mash the yolks well, and add the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir well and taste for consistency and flavor. (If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more mayonnaise.)

You can pipe the filling into the whites with a pastry bag, or just spoon it in.

Sprinkle the eggs with paprika.

Note: Spice up the recipe by adding a few dashes of cayenne or Worcestershire sauce, substituting cider vinegar for the prepared mustard, or sprinkling fresh chives on top instead of paprika. Or, you can add a bit of smoked salmon, relish or cheese to the yolk mixture.

Makes 12 egg halves.

Ham Biscuits


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or lard
2/3 cup buttermilk
Very thin slices of country ham or prosciutto


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the shortening or lard into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like course meal.

Stir in the buttermilk.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times.

Roll out the dough to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.

Cut rounds with a small biscuit cutter and place them on a cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

When the biscuits are done, split them open and place a slice of ham inside.


“Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions From Highlands Bar and Grill”
Published by Artisan

Pickled Shrimp


3 pounds boiled, small to medium shrimp, peeled
2 medium onions, quartered and very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 lemons, thinly sliced
14 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 dried hot chile peppers
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice


Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss thoroughly.

Pack everything into a large glass jar, cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to come together.

Serve as an hors d’oeuvre with toothpicks and napkins.

Makes 15 to 20 servings.

Spiced Pecans


4 cups pecan halves
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 heaping teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and season the pecans with the salt, pepper, cayenne, sugar, rosemary, butter and oil.

Toss together until the pecans are thoroughly coated.

Return the pecans to the oven for another 2 to 3 minutes, until toasted and fragrant, but be careful not to overcook.

Makes 4 cups.