How to Hack Your Holiday Party Menu

For starters, there's no shame in store-bought anything.

Here's how Chef Mashama Bailey (of obsessed-over restaurant The Grey in Savannah, Georgia) avoids party fouls in the kitchen.

Think Salty, Not Sweet: “What you want at a party is something crunchy and savory, all in one bite.”

Follow the 2:1 Ratio: “I like to do two of everything per person. You want guests to leave satisfied, and if they have a little too much to drink, you have enough to soak up the alcohol.”

There's No Shame in Store-Bought Anything: “If you are not a cook, now isn’t the time to try to start your cookbook. Add a homemade twist to something store-bought. Buy piecrust, or add a little fresh lemon juice to store-bought hummus. People won’t lose any sweat over it.”

RULES? WHAT RULES? “There’s nothing you should avoid. That’s part of having fun and introducing interesting things to people who wouldn’t normally try something. If you love it, serve it.”


4 c. cornmeal (finely ground)

3 c. dried shrimp

4 eggs

2 c. buttermilk

2 ½ c. sour cream

6 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tbsp. salt

1 c. grated onion

16-18 oz. frying oil

Note: When choosing a pot/pan to fry in you want it to hold between 2-4 quarts of liquid.


In the bowl of a food processor with the S-shaped blade, add the dried shrimp and pulse until completely ground.

In a large mixing bowl add the ground dried shrimp along with all of the other dry ingredients. Whisk together and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients. Whisk wet ingredients together until well combined.

Fold wet into dry being careful not to overwork the batter. Set the batter aside. (This batter can be made up to 24 hours in advance.)

In a heavy bottomed pot or cast iron pan preheat a high temperature cooking oil to 325°. [Use a deep fry thermometer to measure the temperature.] With a tablespoon portion out 8-10 hushpuppies directly into the oil. When the outer edges of the hushpuppies turn golden brown (about 2-3 minutes) rotate on the other side.

Continue to fry for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the hushpuppies from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.

Lightly season with salt and black pepper and serve immediately, at room temperature, or hold in a warm place until you are ready to eat.

Note: This recipe can be made with broccoli or cauliflower as an alternative to shrimp. Rice flour can be substituted for a gluten-free version.