Let's Do Brunch

Silver Service Salad Bar with Cucumber-Dill Dressing 

Here’s a pretty, fancy way to serve up a flavorful first course that’s easy prep for the hostess.

1 head of lettuce (romaine or Bibb work best.)
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 (10-ounce) package cherry tomatoes
yellow wax beans
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped into sticks
1 (4-ounce) package blue cheese crumbles
Cucumber-Dill Dressing (see below)

1. Arrange fresh, washed vegetables in mint julep cups and silver containers. Serve with Cucumber-Dill Dressing alongside.

Cucumber-Dill Dressing

1/2 English cucumber
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 green onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper

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1. Peel, seed, and finely chop cucumber. Gently squeeze out liquid. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, combine yogurt, milk, mayonnaise and vinegar just until smooth. Add in cucumber, green onion, garlic, dill and pepper. Pulse twice. May be prepared ahead. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups. Serves 4. (Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 1 week.)

Regina’s Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing 

Locals love to frequent Regina’s Kitchen in Midtown, in part because of the famous fruit salad. Here, owner Regina Florey shares the popular recipe.

1 honeydew melon
1 cantaloupe
1 fresh pineapple
1 medium-sized container strawberries,  tops removed and berries halved
1 medium-sized container blueberries
Poppy Seed Dressing (see below)

1. Peel and chop melons and pineapple into bite-sized pieces.
2. In a large bowl, toss all fruit. Drizzle Poppy Seed Dressing over top.

Poppy Seed Dressing

1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons of dry mustard
2 teaspoons of salt
2/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons grated onion
2 cups vegetable oil
3 tablespoons poppy seeds

1. In a food processor with a steel blade, or blender, place sugar, dry mustard, salt, vinegar and onion. Blend thoroughly. With the machine running, gradually add oil. Continue processing until thick. Add poppy seeds and blend quickly. Makes 3 cups. Serves 4. Keep refrigerated.

Tacky Jacks Shrimp and Cheese Grits

9 tablespoons butter, melted
3 1/2 pounds (70 – 90) raw shrimp, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
Cheese Grits (see below)
1/2 cup chopped green onion

1. Heat butter in sauté pan until melted. Add shrimp and sauté over medium heat. Add lemon pepper and cook for about 6 minutes, until shrimp are pink.
2. Immediately ladle over warm Cheese Grits. Garnish with chopped green onions on top.

Cheese Grits

9 cups water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup Crystal Hot Sauce
1/4 teaspoon chicken base
1 cup butter blend
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound quick grits
4 cups shredded cheddar-Jack cheese blend

1. Add water to large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add salt, hot sauce, chicken base, butter blend and garlic to boiling water. Stir well.
2. Stir in grits slowly, continuing to whisk until all grits are incorporated. Decrease the heat to low and cover.
3. Remove lid and whisk frequently, every couple of minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes or until mixture becomes creamy.
4. Remove from heat, and gradually whisk in the cheese a little at a time. Serves approximately 9. 


Cheesy Beer Muffins

Mobilian Penny Copeland is known for her superb culinary skills. These are crowd-pleasing favorites from her personal recipe box.

4 cups baking mix (Penny uses Bisquick.)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (12-ounce) can beer
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine the baking mix, cheeses and sugar and mix well. Add the beer and butter and stir until combined.
3. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups. Brush the top with the egg mixture. Bake 15 -18 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pans and cool on a rack. Makes 16 muffins.


Triple Chocolate Cookie Pie

This beautiful, decadent dessert is another of Penny Copeland’s masterpieces. Airy, fluffy chocolate filling, combined with a crispy cookie layer and fresh, sweet berries, makes this a grand finale for a springtime soiree. 

1 (7-ounce) package Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 (6-ounce) packages Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies
3 cups heavy cream, divided
6 ounces Ghirardelli Semisweet Chocolate Baking Bar, chopped
6 ounces Ghirardelli White Chocolate Baking Bar, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla, divided
Fruit Glaze (see below)
1 medium-sized container fresh raspberries
1 medium-sized container fresh strawberries, tops removed and berries halved

1. Crush 10 – 15 Chessman cookies to equal 3/4 cup crumbs. Combine with the melted butter. Sprinkle in bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan and press down. Arrange Milano cookies around the sides to make the sides of the crust.
2. Microwave 1/2 cup heavy cream on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until hot. (Do not boil.) Place semisweet chocolate in a large bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate. Stir until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, repeat step 2 with 1/2 cup heavy cream and the white chocolate.
4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to each mixture. Stir to combine.
5. Beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with an electric mixer until medium peaks form. Gently fold 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cooled semisweet mixture. Repeat until completely combined.
6. Beat remaining 1 cup heavy cream until medium peaks form. Gently fold 1/4 of this whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture. Repeat until completely combined.
7. Spread half of semisweet mixture over crust. Adjust side cookies as needed to make them stand up. Spread all of the white chocolate mixture over semisweet layer.
8. Crush remaining Chessman and Milano cookies and sprinkle over the white chocolate layer. Spread remaining semisweet mixture over the cookies. Cover and chill for 8 – 24 hours.
9. When ready to serve, prepare Fruit Glaze. Gently toss fresh berries in glaze to coat.
10. Remove sides from the springform pan, and mound the fresh fruit on top. Serve immediately. Serves 10 – 12. 

Fruit Glaze

3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 teaspoons water

1. In a small glass bowl, combine raspberry jam and water. Microwave on high for 10 – 15 seconds or until smooth.

Carafe, $30, available at Claude Moore Jeweler

Strawberry-Orange Mimosa

This luscious, fresh cocktail is perfect for a spring morning soiree.

1 quart strawberries, tops removed and fruit halved
1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, slightly thawed
1 bottle champagne
fresh strawberries and orange slices, for garnish

1. Puree strawberries in blender until smooth.
2. Scoop frozen orange juice into blender a little at the time. Puree until smooth and slushy.
3. Pour strawberry-orange mixture into champagne glasses. Top with champagne. Stir gently to keep bubbles in tact.
4. Garnish glass with a strawberry and orange slice. Serves 6 – 8.

Blue Rents • 1601 E. I-65 Service Road S.,
Claude Moore Jeweler • 3700 Dauphin St., 380-9400. 
Regina’s Kitchen • 2056 Government St., 476-2777.
Tacky Jacks • 1175 Battleship Parkway, Spanish Fort. 621-8988.

Styling by Leslie Largue and Linda Mangold, photos by ashley rowe

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