Bruschetta Bar


Hint From Ken


It is typically chopped fresh tomatoes with garlic, basil, olive oil, and vinegar, served on toasted slices of French or Italian bread. This is a great example of a recipe for bruschetta but you can put whatever you like on your bread and mix it up a bit.


I came up with the idea of doing a sort of do it yourself “Bruschetta Bar” while trying to think of good ways to accommodate a group that includes vegetarians, carnivores and a few food allergies here and there… This is a good way to have something for everybody and a fun way to do something a little different for dinner or just to put something out for a party that is a little more substantial than chips and salsa. Use whatever accoutrements you like. Here is my version for Hillbilly Supper Club. Cooking can be very therapeutic. Get yourself a sharp knife and a cutting board, put on some good music, pour yourself a nice glass of wine and enjoy putting all of this together for your friends and family.

1. Just prepare each item (as listed) one at a time and place on table or counter in it’s own dish. Put out small plates and forks. Your guests can prepare their own plate however they like.

2  loaves of rustic French or Italian bread sliced into 3” x 3” or so pieces… (drizzle with sea salt and olive oil and toast in 350 degree oven for 15 min and set aside)

1 lb of  grilled filet mignon sliced thin (room temp is fine)

1/2 lb of thin sliced prosciutto or chopped sliced crispy bacon

1 lb chopped bruschetta tomatoes (marinate in 1/4 cup of olive oil , a tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 5 chopped basil leaves, 1/4 onion chopped, 1 garlic clove chopped and a 1/2  tspn salt

2 cups of Hillbilly Supper Club Basil and Kale Pesto (for recipe visit


1 red onion halved and sliced thin marinated for at least one hour in olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice…

1 cannellini beans prepared for crostini – (drain beans… in skillet heat olive oil and saute garlic then add beans till broken apart and add salt to taste…)

1/2 cup chopped kalamata and green olives

1 lemon cut into 8ths

1/2 cup of crumbled blue cheese

1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese

2- 4oz balls of fresh mozzarella sliced thin and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil

1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Fresh parsley chopped


Fresh chopped garlic and rosemary on my Selma Drye by Kellie Pickler Tennessee cutting board…

*The cannellini beans may seem a little out there to some but don’t skip… It may be the best thing on toasted bread out of all of the others listed! Try spreading on toast and sprinkling with salt, fresh chopped garlic and rosemary and drizzle with olive oil. We learned of this while taking cooking classes in Tuscany where it is a staple.


The fabulous ladies of CMT’s “I Love Kellie Pickler” at Hillbilly Supper Club with fabulous friends…from left…Donna Montana, Naomi Cooke, Kellie Pickler, Allison Baker, Andi Zack-Johnson and Jen Wayne

©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2016

Blue Crab Fritters with Corn and Jalapeño


Hint From Ken:

When I make this for Hillbilly Supper Club I like to use the freshest crab meat possible. In Rosemary Beach filming CMT’s I Love Kellie Pickler last year we caught our own crabs to do just that!


crab trap

They can be hard to come by inland though so if you need to use canned crab you can still do so with good results. You can also substitute 1 lb of fresh grouper, snapper or scamp or even mahi and it works great. Just bake or steam fish plain till flakey and pull apart till it has appearance of crab meat and let cool then add to mix instead of crab. Kellie doesn’t eat meat besides fish and shellfish and Kyle is allergic to shellfish so when I am doing the cooking I will usually make both. I like to serve this dish with with red skin smashed potatoes, remoulade sauce and a light salad with lemon and olive oil. Save leftovers and add a little mayo, bacon, lettuce and tomato with crusty french bread and make crab cake sandwiches.


1 lb of jumbo lump crab meat

2 jalapeño peppers (seeded and finely diced)

1/4 quarter red bell pepper diced

1/2 cup chopped scallion/green onion

1 fresh ear of corn cut from the cob

1/2 cup of Ritz brand cracker crumbs

1 egg (beaten)

1/4 cup of mayonaise

1 & 1/2 tspn of salt

dash of garlic powder

dash of onion powder

dash of paprika

dash of red or cayenne pepper

2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup of flour

1/4 cup of corn meal

Peanut oil

Fresh parsley chopped

crabcake prep



1. Mix all of the ingredients except for corn meal, flour and peanut oil in a bowl.

2. Mix flour and corn meal in a bowl.

3. Heat enough peanut oil to cover bottom of skillet on medium heat.

3. Form patties one at a time and lightly coat with flour and corn meal mixture.

4. Place in hot oil and cook a few minutes on each side flipping only once…

crabcake cooking


5. Place on paper towel for 3 minutes, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve.

Crabbing is a lot of fun when you are on the coast. We like to use a flashlight with a net and a bucket and walk the beach just after dark or leave a trap out in the bayou over night. It takes about 10 blue crabs to produce 1 lb of meat so if we don’t have at least 10 we let them go.

Sometimes you find out you are getting let go because you are the only crab in the trap and not worth fooling with, so you put your pinchers in the air and praise Jesus because you are going back to the bayou.

Crab Praise God 2

©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2016

Truffled Mac & Cheese with Basil and Kale Pesto



Hint From Ken:

The truffle oil should be a quality brand and can be found at higher end grocery stores or online. It is expensive but a little goes a long way and it is worth it and not something you wanna substitute or omit in this dish. Creme fraiche is a kind of a fancier better version of sour cream. It has a lower viscosity and a higher fat content and is no doubt decadent. If you can’t find it in the store look online for very simple recipes to make your own. It takes only a few minutes to make but does have to sit in the refrigerator for about 24 hours before using.

1 lb of elbow macaroni

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

3/4 cup fresh grated Vermont cheddar cheese

1/2 cup of goat cheese

1 1/2  cups of creme fraiche

1/2 cup of cream cheese

1 cup half and half

1 tbsp. truffle oil

salt and pepper

Breadcrumb mixture for topping

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup crushed Ritz brand crackers (place in a zip lock bag and lightly hammer till crushed fine)

1/4 stick of butter

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon of white or black truffle oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Start by preparing the topping and combine all BREADCRUMB MIXTURE ingredients except butter and parsley.

2. Melt butter in skillet on medium heat.

3. Add breadcrumb mixture to melted butter and toast while stirring consistently for a few minutes with a wooden spoon.

4. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley to mixture. Set Aside…

1. In a large pot, boil salted water and prepare pasta. Identify al dente cooking time on box or package and let it boil 1 min longer then that.

Drain and immediately return to empty pot while pasta is still hot.

2. Add goat cheese, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, creme fraiche and cheddar cheese… Stir into hot pasta till melted and well blended.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of truffle oil and half and half (add more if necessary to make creamier).

Salt and pepper to taste. Add more truffle oil if preferred.

4. Add 3/4 cup of HillBilly Supper Club Basil and Kale Pesto (see recipe HERE) and stir in to pasta mixture.


5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a casserole dish with butter or cooking spray…

6. Transfer pasta mixture to greased casserole dish. Cover w tin foil and bake for 15 minutes

7. Remove from oven and discard tin foil. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top and return to oven for 15 minutes.


8. Remove and let sit for 5-10 minutes then serve.

The cast of CMT‘s “I Love Kellie Pickler” at one of their Hillbilly Supper Clubs

Pictured left to right: Ken Johnson, Kellie Pickler, Dave Baker, Cale Dodds, Allison Baker, Kyle Jacobs & Andi Zack-Johnson

©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2016

Hillbilly Supper Club Basil and Kale Pesto


Hint From Ken:

Be sure to use decent olive oil and fresh basil and kale which can usually be found in the store even when out of season. I like to make plenty in the summer when Andi and Kellie’s garden is producing like crazy.


It’s fun to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends listening to music, sipping on something and canning…


We can tomatoes, squash, okra or pickles, beets etc and my pesto. Canning is worth learning about. It is very rewarding and It’s nice to still be able to enjoy the bounty of the garden later in the winter months.

2 cups fresh packed basil leaves

2 cups packed chopped FRESH kale

4 average size garlic cloves

1/2 to 3/4 cup of walnuts

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano, Parmesan or Romano cheese

Juice of a half of lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste.

1. Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth. Store in air tight container. Keeps in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Chickens Laverne & Shirley and Goldie in The Champagne Garden

©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2016

Grilled Shrimp and Scallops with Angel Hair Pasta and Roasted Tomato Gravy

serves 8


Hint From Ken:
Pay attention to the scallops, the shrimp and the pasta… All of these ingredients are easy to overcook… Cook the angel hair and remove 1 min before “al dente” (see box for time)… It will continue to cook a bit after removed…
Try to find “dry packed” scallops because they need to be dry when they are cooked. Many places soak them in a liquid solution to preserve their color.
They are fine but will need to be patted dry with paper towels before preparing. They have a small muscle on the side of them called an abductor muscle or “foot”. This needs to be removed because it is chewy. If it’s still there you can’t miss it – just tear it off.

What you’ll need:
1 lb fresh medium shrimp…
16 Scallops (abductor muscle removed)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 fresh garlic cloves chopped
4 tomatoes quartered
1 pint canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil divided
1 tsp sugar


To make tomato gravy…
Preheat oven to 400
Toss fresh quartered tomatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper and chopped garlic and half of basil…
Place in oven for 40 minutes…
Remove from oven and transfer to pot on med low heat… Add chopped tomatoes and sugar (to cut acidity) and stir. Let simmer.

Peel and devein shrimp with a small knife under cold running water… Make a small incision in top and bottom and remove vein from under cold gently running water.
Place prepared shrimp in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil… add salt, pepper and stir. Set aside…
Very lightly salt and pepper scallops and set aside…
Boil a BIG pot of salted water
Prepare grill… bring to medium heat…
Add scallops and shrimp on a wooden skewer or grate where they won’t fall through… close grill lid. Cook 2 min.
Add pasta to boiling water…
Flip scallops and shrimp and cook 2 more min then set aside with a loose piece of foil over top…
Drain pasta and add to tomato gravy and toss…
add fresh basil and parmesan reggiano cheese…
Place scallops and shrimp on top of pasta and serve.


©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2015

Grilled Wild Salmon with Fresh Herb Pesto Aioli

Grilled Salmon w Fresh Herb Pesto Aioli1
serves 8
Hint From Ken:

Try to find the freshest WILD salmon you can and buy when in season from a reputable source. Responsibly farmed salmon can be found when wild is unavailable and is worth doing your homework to get. Make sure to use fresh herbs in pesto aioli for it to work.

 What you’ll need:

-3 lb. Fresh Wild Salmon (cut in 6 oz fillets)

-Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

-1/4 cup grated grand padano or parmesan reggiano cheese

-Juice of 1/2 lemon

-1 garlic clove
-1/4 cup of walnut pieces
-1/4 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley
-1/4 cup of fresh rosemary leaves
-1/4 cup of fresh thyme leaves
-1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
-1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt
-1/8 teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper
-1/4 cup of dry white wine


 Lay salmon skin side down on pan and lightly brush with olive oil and dust with freshly cracked pepper.

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit while preparing grill.


In a small food processor…combine 1/2 cup of olive oil with cheese, lemon juice, garlic, walnuts, salt, pepper and herbs and blend into a pesto.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet on medium heat…add wine and whisk…spoon in pesto mixture and whisk together…reduce to low heat…

Grilled Salmon w Fresh Herb Pesto Aioli2


Brush a clean grill grate with olive oil to prevent sticking…

Grill Salmon Skin side down for 2 to 3 minutes with grill top open.

Then gently slide metal spatula between skin and fish and carefully flip.
(With a fork remove grilled skin and discard.) Grill for 2 more minutes with grill top closed…(based on a 3 inch thick filet…maybe a minute longer if thicker but do not over cook or will be dry…Try not to flip more than once)

Transfer fish to pan and loosely place a sheet of tin foil over…

 Let rest for 5 minutes.

Spoon pesto aioli over warm fish filets and brush on evenly.

Fettuccine and Roasted Vegetable Cream Sauce with Fresh Grilled Wild Mahi

Fettuccine and Roasted Vegetable Cream Sauce with Fresh Grilled Wild Mahi and Oregano Lemon Butter and Sautéed Asparagus

Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 14

serves 8

Hint From Ken:
It’s a good idea to plan on putting pasta in boiling water about the time you put the fish on the grill so that everything ends up ready together…

The texture and temperature of food will be more on point as well as the appearance. This dish may seem like a lot of work but is actually quite simple if you have your ingredients out and ready and someone to share a glass of wine with while you cook. Might be helpful to give the recipe a good read through first to familiarize yourself with the process.

As always…Buy the freshest and best ingredients you can afford. Note that this recipe serves 8 so adjust accordingly for fewer servings. Serve with fresh crusty bread and *salted rosemary butter…

Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 2

This dish is a favorite at Hillbilly Supper Club.

What you’ll need:

-3 lb. of Fresh Wild Mahi (Ask ahead of time to find out when it comes in to your local market to buy at it’s freshest)
-Good extra virgin olive oil
-Balsamic vinegar
-1 lemon
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-1 stick of butter
-Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
-32 oz fettuccine pasta
-1 large red bell pepper
-1 large green red bell pepper
-2 pints of cherry tomatoes (Any kind will do but pick
what ever is freshest)
-1 large red or white onion (A white onion tends to be
milder if you prefer)
-6 peeled garlic cloves
-2 peeled shallots
-1 cup of half and half
-1 cup of fresh grated parmesan – reggiano
-1 handful of fresh oregano (about 2 tablespoons of
leaves separated from stems)
-1 handful of fresh basil (about 15 Leaves)
-1 large bunch of fresh asparagus
-1 tablespoon of sugar

Sauce for pasta:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large cutting surface, slice peppers and onions into about 1 inch pieces and place in large bowl. Next, slice shallots and garlic cloves in half and add to bowl along with tomatoes. Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over vegetables then sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper and and equal amount of kosher salt. Using 2 wooden spoons, toss everything in bowl together with and pour contents onto a flat baking pan layered with a sheet of parchment paper…

(Can use a non-stick pan if you don’t have parchment paper but parchment makes for a no stick easy clean up)
Bake for 40-45 Min…(set aside bowl)
Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 3

When vegetables are roasted and nicely browned transfer from oven back to bowl…

 Add 1/2 of oregano and all of basil and toss…

Next, spoon vegetables in to food processor or blender along with half and half and 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar…

Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 4 jpg

Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 5


Puree mixture into a cream sauce. Transfer to stovetop in a pan and add salt and pepper to taste…


Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 6
Keep on low to medium low heat until needed stirring occasionally.


 Prepare grill…(Preferably wood or charcoal fire but a clean, evenly heated gas grill is fine)
 Lay fish out on a flat baking pan skin side down. Very lightly drizzle olive oil over the fish…and then rub over meat to coat with clean hands.

Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 7.jpg

 Add fresh ground pepper and Kosher salt but use sparingly. (You want to taste the fish not the salt.)

Next, grill 6 to 8 inches over hot coals skin side down with grill top closed for about 2 minutes. (Monitor for flare-ups because of olive oil.)

 Next, gently slide metal spatula between skin and fish and carefully flip.

(With a fork remove grilled skin and discard.)

Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 8

Grill for 2 more minutes with grill top closed…(based on a 3inch thick filet…Maybe a min longer if thicker but do not over cook or will be dry…Try not to flip more than once)

Transfer fish to pan and loosely place a sheet of tin foil over…

Let rest for 5 minutes.

Sauce for fish:

In a skillet melt butter on medium heat and add juice of fresh squeezed lemon, white wine and other half of fresh oregano. Whisk together and keep warm on medium low heat.

Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 12


Wash asparagus and gently bend one at a time until they break. Discard tough ends. In a deep enough bowl, mix sugar and cold water…soak asparagus for at least 30 minutes to return fresh taste. Remove and pat dry. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pat of butter on medium/high heat…


Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 9Fettucine Mahi Asparagus 11
Sauté asparagus for 5 minutes stirring often and reduce to low heat.


Squeeze a lemon over top of asparagus and salt lightly…


Prepare al Dente in large pot with lots of well salted water. Strain and drain pasta and then transfer servings to wide shallow bowls or plates…add a scoop of vegetable cream sauce over top of pasta…

In a skillet melt butter on medium heat and add juice of fresh squeezed lemon, white wine and other half of fresh oregano. Whisk together and heat.

Next plate fish with salt and peppered side up on side of pasta and vegetable sauce…Sprinkle parmesan – reggiano over top of cream sauce and spoon lemon butter sauce over fish and serve hot. Accompany with fresh crusty bread and salted rosemary butter.


Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Okra and Tomatoes


serves 8

Hint From Ken:

Try to find “dry packed” scallops because they need to be dry when they are cooked. Many places soak them in a liquid solution to preserve their color.

 They are fine but will need to be patted dry with paper towels before preparing. They have a small muscle on the side of them called an adductor muscle or “foot”. This needs to be removed because it is chewy. If it’s still there you can’t miss it – just tear it off.

What you’ll need:

 16 Fresh Wild Sea Scallops (adductor muscles removed)
Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 lb of fresh okra

 1 pint of cherry tomatoes

1 shallot sliced

 1/2 medium sweet onion

2 cloves of garlic chopped

 1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon of herbs de Provence

 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper

 1/4 tsp Kosher salt

1 pat of butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees


Lightly apply Kosher salt to both sides of DRY scallops and set aside.

Cut okra and onion into 1 or 2 inch pieces and combine in a mixing bowl with tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, herbs de provence, 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper and 1/4 tsp Kosher salt.

Toss together to coat evenly with oil and herbs…

Pour onto a shallow, parchment paper covered baking pan and bake…set timer for 30 minutes.


With 15 minutes left on timer heat iron (or regular) skillet to medium high heat with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.

 Make sure to evenly coat bottom of skillet. With tongs, place scallops one at a time in skillet.

DO NOT TOUCH them for two minutes. Otherwise you won’t get that golden brown crust. After that turn for two more minutes then remove to a plate to rest and loosely cover with a piece of tin foil just set on top of it.

Do in batches of five or six at a time so as not to over crowd the pot…otherwise you will steam them instead of searing them.

It’s important not to over cook them or they will be rubbery. They should still be a bit translucent in the center. Remember they will continue to cook a bit once you remove them.


Continue reading “Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Okra and Tomatoes”

Baked Stone Ground Cheese Grits

serves 8

Baked Stone Ground Cheese Grits3

Hint From Ken: The quality of grits does make a difference! Cooking with the chicken broth instead of water adds a richer flavor as well.

If you are cooking for vegetarians just substitute vegetable broth for chicken. Sharp cheddar cheese is good as well if gruyere is not an option.

What you’ll need:

2 cups of good quality stone ground grits

6 cups of chicken broth

1 stick of unsalted butter

2 eggs beaten

1 1/2 cups of grated gruyere cheese

1/2 cup of grated parmesan

1/2 cup half and half

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped green onion


Preheat oven to 425 degrees

With a cold stick of butter rub a 4 quart casserole dish to grease.


Prepare grits… Bring broth, garlic powder, salt and pepper to a boil.

Put grits in a bowl of cold water and stir. Scrape off floating hulls and such that float on top.

Discard excess water and gently add grits, whisking into boiling broth and reduce heat to low… Stir often until grits are ready… between 25 and 40 minutes.

Add milk a little at a time along the way if gets to thick.

Baked Stone Ground Cheese Grits1-2


Add gruyere cheese, butter, half and half and green onion… stir.

then add eggs and stir till well blended…

Pour grits into casserole dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly over the top…

Bake uncovered at 425 for 40 minutes.

Baked Stone Ground Cheese Grits2

©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2015