Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fun weekend.


Earlier this year I met my good friends Cynthia and Anne-Murray in Oxford, Mississippi for the initiation of Anne-Murray's daughter, Mary Lant, into our sorority's chapter at the University of Mississippi. I had never visited the Ole Miss campus before and was completely ready to go back to college after spending a weekend there! The campus itself is beautiful, with gorgeous old buildings and lots of school spirit and tradition, and the town of Oxford is utterly charming, with an historic town square filled with darling shops and fabulous restaurants. We had a wonderful time and are plotting another weekend there soon!

Crossing the Mississippi River as I flew into Jackson. My friend Cynthia picked me up and the airport and we drove the 3 hours north to Oxford

Dinner at Bouré on the square

Mary Lant sporting the Lilly Pulitzer Chi Omega scarf that Cynthia and I brought her

The fabulous bakery where we ate breakfast both mornings we were in Oxford

Look at all of these wonderful pastries!

Luncheon in Mary Lant's honor on initiation day. These Mississippi girls know how to present a delicious and beautiful spread of food!

Darling Chi Omega cookies and cake

Mary Lant's dorm room. Isn't it precious?

The Square

Me, Anne-Murray, Mary Lant and Cynthia at the Chi Omega house for initiation

Initiation Luncheon at the house on Sunday

The parlor at the Chi Omega house

Mary Lant and Anne-Murray

"The Grove" on the Ole Miss campus. Anne-Murray tells me I need to come back and see the fabulous tailgating here before football games in the fall

Monday, March 26, 2012



Just over a year ago, I asked you to pray for my childhood friend Ellen who had been diagnosed with Stage IV endometrial cancer. I am sad to report that Ellen died on Saturday after a brave and valiant battle. That Ellen lived much longer than her original prognosis indicated is a testament to the strong, determined person she was. Ellen's only sister, Leslie, gave birth to her first child just two weeks before Ellen died, and Leslie and the baby were able to travel to Atlanta from Washington, DC to see Ellen last week. I truly believe that Ellen held on long enough to meet her precious nephew.

Ellen (second from right) and me (third from left) at my birthday party (c. 1973)

Ellen and I grew up together in a small neighborhood in Atlanta, and to my memory we were the only girls from our grade in that area. We rode bikes, played at each other's houses and attended one another's birthday parties. I moved to Texas after high school and only saw Ellen at high school reunions after that. But after Ellen became sick, we had several long phone conversations and talked and laughed like no time at all had passed since we'd seen each other. We also exchanged emails and commented frequently on each other's blogs.

Quite a few friends from my blog followed Ellen's story on her blog, and she told me several times how much their support meant to her. Ellen was especially grateful for the encouragement and empathy she received from those who had trod a similar path.

I will miss my friend Ellen and her humorous, wry outlook on our childhood and on life in general. I'm thankful for Ellen's friendship and grateful that the message of Easter offers the assurance that I'll see her again.

Ellen (third row, just right of center in a green jacket) and me (second row, far right) in those lovely middle school days

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Valentine Luncheon 2012: recipes.


Elegant Shrimp and Artichoke

1½ pounds medium shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
1 10-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, steamed, drained and coarsely chopped
6½ tablespoons butter
4½ tablespoons flour
¾ cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup dry sherry
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
pepper to taste
¼ pound sliced mushrooms
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Make a white sauce by melted butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and stir. Slowly add milk, then cream, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Add Worcestershire sauce, sherry, salt and peppers; stir until well combined. Layer artichoke hearts, shrimp and mushrooms in a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese then pour white sauce over all. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve over wild rice.

Serves 8.

from Food for Thought by the Junior League of Birmingham

***Eloise's note: I made this according to the recipe, and it was delicious but very rich. When I make it again for my family, I am going to Google for a lighter white sauce. Also, I doubled the amount of shrimp and stretched it to serve 10.

Ina Garten's Arugula with Parmesan

½ pound fresh arugula, washed and dried
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
½ cup good olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼-pound chunk very good Parmesan

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour enough dressing on the arugula to moisten. Toss well and place the salad on individual plates. With a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan into large shards and arrange them on the arugula.

Serves 6.

***Eloise's note: The dressing goes a long way!

Tea Room Rolls
From Compliments Of by the Women’s Exchange of Memphis
Makes 3-dozen+ rolls

2 envelopes dry yeast (I use Rapid-Rise)
⅓ cup warm water (slightly warmer than your body temperature – around 110°)
1 cup shortening, melted and cooled to 110°
⅔ cup sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1⅓ cups warm water (110°)
5 cups all-purpose flour (I used a cup or two more to get the dough not to be too sticky)
melted butter

Dissolve yeast in ⅓ cup warm water. Combine shortening and sugar and mix well. Stir in yeast, eggs and salt. Mix in remaining water. Add the flour and stir until a soft dough form, adding more flour as needed.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to coat the surface. Let rise, loosely covered, for two hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough. Roll ¾” thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into desired size. Arrange one-inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 325° for 25 minutes.

***Eloise's note: This recipe makes a LOT of rolls. It is easily cut in half.)


Stilton Tart with Cranberry Chutney
from The Gourmet Cookbook

Pastry dough
1 cup heavy cream
1 whole large egg
2 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
5 oz. chilled white Stilton cheese, rind removed and cheese crumbled

Make tart shell:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 17- by 8-inch rectangle and fit into 13 x 4 x 1 tart pan with removable bottom. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang inward and press against side of pan to reinforce edge. Lightly prick bottom and sides all over with a fork. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Line pastry shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes, then carefully remove foil and weights and bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Cool shell in pan 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Make filling:

Whisk together cream, whole egg, yolks, salt, and pepper until combined.

Put tart shell (still in pan) on a baking sheet and scatter cheese evenly in shell. Slowly pour custard into shell and bake in middle of oven until golden around edge and custard is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool tart completely in pan on a rack. Cut tart into 32 rectangles and serve at room temperature, topped with chutney.

Cranberry Chutney:

2 large shallots (3 oz), coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (12-oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries (not thawed)
⅔ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
½ teaspoon salt
generous pinch dried hot red pepper flakes

Cook shallots in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, just until berries pop, 10 to 12 minutes, then cool.

(This makes more chutney than needed for the Stilton Tart. Leftover chutney keeps well for several weeks in refrigerator and is delicious on turkey sandwiches.)

Tomato-Basil Rounds

3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup mayonnaise
Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
fresh basil, chopped
fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh baguette, sliced thin

Mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, and basil. Add a little salt and pepper. Spread onto a piece of baguette. Top with a slice of tomato then sprinkle with Parmesan. Can broil or serve at room temperature.


Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake

See Farmgirl Gourmet: My Mother's Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake

***Eloise's note: I don't think mine turned out as pretty as hers and I cheated on the chocolate hearts and used store-bought in the interest of saving time. They were delicious at any rate!

I used these molds for the cheesecakes. They were very high quality and worked really well.