Family Gatherings and Recipes with Daphne Maxwell Reid

Some of my favorite memories were made in the kitchen of my Grandmother’s home. Everything from simple meals to big Holiday spreads meant that I was learning something new from this amazing woman. I loved everything about being with my Grandmother in the kitchen, and now I love being able to share her recipes with my children. I would venture to say that memories made in the kitchen are some of the favorites among most people.

That is certainly true for Daphne Maxwell Reid; most of us know her as Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. In her new cookbook Grace, Soul and Motherwit: A Cookbook Spiced with Personal Memories, Daphne shares some of her favorite memories and family recipes.


The title of her book has special meaning, as well.

Grace:   The prayer before a meal

Soul:   Black tradition of emotional fervor and love.

Mother Wit:   Intuitive common sense by a traditional upbringing

I am thrilled to be able to share some of the fantastic recipes in Daphne’s Cookbook, that are absolutely perfect for the Holidays, along with a memory about that particular dish. You will find those recipes below, but in the meantime, I highly suggest procuring a copy of this cookbook and making your own family memories in the kitchen.


Daphne Maxwell Reid Recipes


Mom’s Cheese Biscuits




Holiday dinner gatherings at Mom’s house always started with cheese biscuits, chicken liver pate, and a glass of cream sherry as we waited for all the other “fixin’s” to cook. I finally got the recipe!! Hopefully, the tradition will continue at my house now.

  • ¼ lb. of butter (one stick)
  • 2 tbs. walnut oil
  • ¼ lb. Sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • pecan halves

Set out the butter to soften. Grate the cheese and let it stand to warm up. Add the salt to the flour and the cayenne pepper and when butter and cheese are room temperature, mix them together well. When well mixed, place on a piece of waxed paper and roll into a log about 1 inch thick. Let the log sit in the refrigerator for about ½ hour to firm up. Remove the waxed paper and slice the log into ½” thick rounds. Place the rounds on a baking pan and place a pecan half atop each one.

Bake in a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes or until they start to brown. Remove from pan and store in an airtight jar. Enjoy with the beverage of your choice or as a wonderful starter to a dinner party. Utensils you will need; grater, bowl, fork, measuring spoons, measuring cups, chef’s knife, cookie sheet.




As the years go by, the number of friends and acquaintances increases. With new friends, come new recipes. The Billings’ live in one of my favorite cities, New Orleans. They obviously feed a large crowd with this recipe.



3 tbs. olive oil
3 tbs. butter
2 c. cooked ham, diced
2 lbs. smoked sausage, cut in rounds
6 cloves garlic, pressed
5 c. onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
¼ c. parsley flakes
2 Bay Leaves
2 tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 c. rice

1 28 oz. can tomatoes, chopped
6 c. beef stock
3 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled
4 c. cooked chicken, cubed






Heat the oil and butter in a large pot and sauté the ham and sausages. Add onions, peppers, garlic, and seasonings and sauté until the mixture starts to brown. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the mixture from sticking to the pot. Next, add the rice and continue to sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock, mixing gently.

Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and then lower the heat to cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add the shrimp and chicken. Continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients are all slightly moist. Remove the Bay leaves and serve with a crisp salad and some great bread.

If you don’t finish eating it all, it freezes wonderfully and keeps for several months. I would suggest freezing serving-sized portions to reheat individually for future jambalaya enjoyment.
Utensils you will need;  a large covered pot, Chef’s knife, and cutting board, wooden spoon.


Lamb Roasted with Garlic

My mom taught me this basic recipe. I added the liquor! What more can I say?!



  • 6-pound leg of lamb with or without the bone
  • 2 tbs. virgin olive oil
  • 5 firm heads of garlic separated and peeled (about 60 cloves)
  • 3 tbs. Cognac
  • 1 & ¼ c. of sweet red wine, such as Orange Muscat
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Fill a large enameled cast-iron casserole with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully add the lamb and boil for 15 minutes. Drain the lamb and pat it dry. Dry the casserole pot. Heat the oil in the casserole until sizzling. Add the lamb and cook over moderate heat until it is nicely browned on all sides. Pour off the fat in the pan and add the garlic cloves.

Add the Cognac and carefully light with a long match to burn off the alcohol. When the flames die down, add the wine and season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Cover with a crumpled sheet of wet parchment paper and a tight-fitting lid. Bake the lamb in the oven for about 6 hours, turning it over halfway through. Remove the casserole from the oven, uncover it and let it stand for 30 minutes.

Transfer the lamb to a serving platter. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and arrange the cloves around the lamb. If there is a lot of liquid left in the casserole, boil
it down until it thickens a little. Serve the lamb with the juices. Utensils you will need: Chef’s knife and cutting board, large cast iron casserole with lid, long match, parchment paper


Sweet Potato Soufflé

For as long as I remember, this was the traditional accompaniment to our Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey dinner. I have continued to serve this dish.




4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

1 stick of butter softened to room temperature

3 eggs

1/3 c. honey or maple syrup
1/3 c. packed, light brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. grated orange peel

a small bag of mini marshmallows (optional)









Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil the sweet potatoes in a pot of water about 30 minutes, until a fork pierces into them easily. Allow them to cool until you can peel the skin off without burning our fingers.  Process the potatoes through a sieve or ricer into a bowl (get the strings out of them any way you can). This can be done a day ahead.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, butter, honey or maple syrup and brown sugar together with a small hand mixer until smooth. Add the spices and mix everything together with the potatoes. Pour the mixture into a tall sided baking dish and bake for about one hour, or until firm in the center.

When we were children, my mother used to dot the top of the soufflé with mini marshmallows and brown them during the last five minutes of cooking. I don’t use marshmallows anymore. Utensils you will need; Chef’s knife and cutting board, tall sided baking dish, sieve or ricer, 2 mixing bowls, electric hand mixer.


Peach Cobbler

North meets South in this compromise to Tim’s southern-style taste and my northern-style cooking. We both enjoy this one.


  • 1 c. unbleached white flour
  • 2 tbs. raw sugar
  • 1 &  ½ tbs. baking powder
  • 3 tbs. soft shortening (Crisco)
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 5-6 ripe Georgia peaches
  • ¼ c. raw sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. grated orange peel
  • ½ c. water
  • ¼ c. cornstarch
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • raw sugar

To make the soft dough for the cobbler, mix the first three ingredients in a small bowl and cut the shortening into the mixture with a pastry cutter until it resembles cornmeal. Add the milk and form a soft smooth ball. Divide the dough in half. With half of the dough, cover the bottom of the casserole dish or baking pan. Fill a medium pot ½ full of water and bring to a boil.

Carefully place the peaches in the boiling water and roll around with a large slotted spoon for about 3 minutes, until the skin is easily removed from the peach. Drain the boiling water and run cold water over the fruit while removing the skin. Slice the peaches into a medium pot. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange peel and place over low heat.

Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and add to heated mixture. Spoon the hot peaches over the dough in the casserole dish or baking pan. Roll out the remaining dough and place over the hot peaches. Dot with the butter and sprinkle with some raw sugar. Place the dish on a cookie sheet covered with foil. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Try to let it cool before you spoon it into your bowl.


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