On Thursday nights, you can find Sheridan Hinton standing over an indoor turkey fryer at Haberdasher bar in downtown Mobile. Inside are her fresh and fried-to-order hand pies.
Hinton, a native Mobilian and St. Paul’s grad, commands attention with her radiant smile and fierce, quick-witted sense of humor. After graduating from Rhodes College, she spent eight years in New York before returning to Mobile. She worked in the wine business for years, cultivating relationships with merchants and restaurants along the Gulf Coast.
No stranger to the kitchen, Hinton grew up in a home where entertaining was elevated to a fine art. “I love the way that Southerners eat soulful, comforting dishes cooked with love and family and friends in mind, ” she says. The name of her line, Arabelle, is an homage to her mother and grandmother, the women who taught her about hospitality and cooking.
A yearly visit to New Orleans for Jazz Fest inspired her pies. “I eat a sinful amount of Mrs. Wheat’s Natchitoches Meat Pies when I’m there. A few years ago, as I sat enjoying well beyond my first one, I thought, ‘Why couldn’t I put any yummy filling – preferably Southern – in this and fry it?’ And so, Arabelle pies were born.” When you bite into one of Hinton’s signature empanadas, the remarkably thin pastry crust gives way to decadent surprises inside: fillings such as buffalo chicken with a side of buttermilk dip or mac ’n’ cheese and bacon with her signature Cajun ketchup. She makes 20 varieties on a regular basis.
Hinton also has developed a line of pickles, preserves and jellies at her commercial kitchen in Daphne. “All my life, I have never met a condiment or accompaniment I didn’t like: pickles, fig or peach preserves, pepper jelly, chow chow. Pickled anything, really, ” she says. “I often eat them straight out of the jar.”
The recipes are a mix of old family favorites and recent inventions. “For example, my Bread and Butter pickles are my Mississippi family’s recipe from a time when a pickle company leased land from my family’s dairy farm, and gave my family the excess cucumbers, ” she explains. “The recipe was written on a brown paper bag and given to my mother by my aunt.” The Pepper Jelly with Miso and Spices is a creation she developed with her mother.
Currently, there are four Arabelle products being sold
by retailers in the area: Bread and Butter Pickles, Dilled Onions, Pepper Jelly with Miso and Spices and Candied Jalapeños. Hinton plans to expand to an interested retailer in New Orleans. One of the greatest compliments she received was when Dauphin Street restaurant The Bull began incorporating her products into their menu. Their fried oysters, a customer favorite, are topped with Arabelle’s Pepper Jelly crème.
The most gratifying part of the experience has been watching customers enjoy something that she created with love. “Arabelle is good food intended to make people feel a little better for having eaten it, ” adds Hinton. “Experiencing on some level the soulfulness and love that went into making it.”
Here, find an assortment of homemade recipes incorporating delicious, gourmet Arabelle offerings.
>> Hinton’s delicious condiments can be found at Food Pak on Old Shell Road in Mobile and Southern Napa on Highway 98 in Daphne. arabellefood.com
The Ara-best Dip Ever
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons Arabelle Dilled Onions
1 tablespoon Arabelle Dilled Onion juice
1 cup grated Colby jack cheese
8 Ritz crackers, crumbled
1/2 jar Arabelle Pepper Jelly with Miso
16 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
crackers, for dipping
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix first 6 ingredients together, and pour into a 9-inch greased pie pan.
3. Top with crumbled Ritz crackers, and bake for 15 minutes.
4. Pour Arabelle Pepper Jelly over top, and sprinkle with bacon crumbles.
5. Serve warm with extra crackers. Serves 6 – 8.
The Naughty Belle
In some circles, this cocktail goes by the name, “Dirty Gibson, ” but Arabelle’s version adds a little something special.
dry vermouth, for rinsing glass
2 ounces gin (preferably Plymouth)
1/2 ounce Arabelle Dilled Onion juice
onion sliver, for garnish
1. To prepare glass, rinse the inside of a chilled martini glass with dry vermouth, then pour it out.
2. Pour gin and onion juice into a cocktail shaker over ice, and gently shake or swirl.
3. Strain and pour cocktail into prepared glass. Garnish with onion sliver rolled onto a toothpick. Serves 1.
The Deviled Mistress
1 dozen large eggs
5 tablespoons mayonnaise (Sheridan prefers Duke’s.)
2 tablespoons Arabelle Candied Jalapeños, minced
1 teaspoon Arabelle Candied Jalapeño syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
pinch of pepper
Arabelle Candied Jalapeño rings, for garnish
paprika, for garnish
1. Place eggs in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and cover in cold water and ice. Drain again and crack egg all over. Peel egg under running cold water.
2. Halve eggs lengthwise. Gently spoon out yolks into bowl. Set whites aside.
3. Mash yolks and combine well with all remaining ingredients. Spoon mixture back into egg halves. Garnish with jalapeño rings and paprika. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes 24.
text by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder • photos by Kathy Hicks