About 20 members of the FoxTale Book Shoppe book club came together last Thursday for their annual December meeting and members made dishes out of Marietta baker and restaurant owner Johnnie Gabriel’s latest cookbook “Second Helpings” to share and sample.
Gabriel herself was on hand to judge the dishes, with winners chosen for preparing the best savory and sweet dishes.
“We always have a massive feast each December,” said bookstore co-owner Jackie Tanase. “We chose a winner in the savory and dessert categories and gave them each a $25 gift card.”
“Roasted Eggplant Lasagna” – out of “Second Helpings,” was judged the best savory dish, and the cook was Anita Buice from Carrolton.
Woodstock resident Laurie Wild prepared “Jam Squares” and took home dessert bragging rights.
“January to November, we are a book club, we don’t have snacks, they come in and we talk about the book,” Tanese said. “In some clubs the books take a back seat, but not here. But in December we take time to socialize and the ladies love it.”
The book club has about 50 members with an average attendance of about 20 to 25, she said.
This was the second time Gabriel came for the December feast, which has been going on for about four years.
Gabriel is cousin of renowned cook Paula Deen, and has authored two cookbooks featuring delectable Southern dishes from her Atlanta restaurant and bakery, Gabriel’s, located off Whitlock Avenue and recipient of numerous accolades and awards.
The restaurant and bakery was opened in 1996 and since 2003, Gabriel’s has tripled in size and expanded its list of desserts and savory foods, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner six days a week.
The latest cookbook, “Second Helpings with Johnnie Gabriel,” is a follow-up to “Cooking in the South,” and contains more than 150 delectable Southern recipes, including: “Crown Pork Roast with Maple” and “Cranberry Rice,” “Pecan Tassies,” “Sweet Potato Bread Pudding” and “Cornbread Salad.”