Roll out the red carpet! The 11th annual Beaufort International Film Festival is in full swing with filmmakers, directors, screen writers, movie stars and lots of film-loving fans. Food has always been a key ingredient on the big screen. The recipes this week celebrate filmmaker Julie Dash’s critically acclaimed movie, Daughters of the Dust, and feature Gullah-Geechie inspired dishes from our own South Carolina sea islands. It’s not too late to purchase your golden ticket! For more information about the Beaufort International Film Festival and to purchase movie and event tickets visit I’ll be catering the Awards Ceremony Cocktail Hour on Sunday, February 19th. Hope to see you there!

p.s. Thank you, Susan DeLoach, official photographer for the Beaufort International Film Festival, for taking these beautiful photos of my Daughters of the Dust-inspired culinary creations!

Gullah-Geechie Gumbo
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
1 pound spicy smoked sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock, heated
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10-ounce) package frozen seasoning blend (onion, bell pepper & celery), thawed and drained
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups frozen sliced okra
1 cup white rice, cooked
Tabasco sauce
Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken and sausage until browned and cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to hot pot and stir to melt. Sprinkle melted butter with ¼ cup flour and whisk for about 2 minutes until smooth and cooked through. Add hot chicken stock, whisking constantly, until smooth. Add worcestershire sauce, garlic, seasoning blend and tomatoes. Season with bay leaf, cayenne pepper, thyme leaves and oregano. Bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and cook until just pink. Stir in frozen okra. Return cooked chicken and sausage to the pot. Stir in cooked rice and heat through. Remove and discard bay leaf. Season with salt, pepper and tabasco sauce. Serves 8 to 10.

Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens Soup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large celery rib, diced
5 cups chicken stock
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 smoked ham hock
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 pound collard greens, ribs removed and thinly sliced
2 (15.5-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, undrained
½ pound ham, cut into ½-inch cubes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Diced hot pickled peppers, optional
Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and celery and saute until soft and translucent. Add the chicken stock, shredded carrot, ham hock, thyme leaves, bay leaves and collard greens. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, partially cover with pot lid, and cook for 45 to 60 minutes or until the collards are tender. Remove the bay leaves and the ham hock. Pull any meat from the ham hock and chop into bite-sized pieces and return to the pot. Stir in black-eyed peas and diced ham and warm through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cider vinegar. Serve with diced hot pickled peppers. Serves 6 to 8.

Sweet Potato Cornbread
1 (8.5-ounce) package cornbread mix
1 egg
⅓ cup milk
½ cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until center is set. Cool for 5 minutes before cutting. Serve warm with butter. Serves 6 to 8.

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of two cookbooks, Gold Medal Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi’s website address is She may be reached at 525-0350 or by email at