Vicksburg is home to a variety of caterers, with each bringing their own specialty and flair to events.
Locals are fortunate to have many professional options, but the River City is not without its fair share of talented amateurs.
These men and women can slice, dice, glaze, grill, poach, puree, sauté, simmer and whip up just about anything. And quite often the recipes used are from the treasure trove of local cookbooks.
Many of these tasty dishes, along with some hailing from publications outside of the Vicksburg collection, became the gold standard at cocktail parties and are still popular, today.
Held years ago, the annual Heart Fund Ball was one of these events. Dressed in their finery, locals could dance the night away at the party while also dining on delectable finger foods prepared by volunteers who were in charge of the event.
It was the same with Miss Mississippi parties. In years past, patron parties were held following the pageant preliminaries in the homes of locals and attendees could expect not only Vicksburg Tomato Sandwiches but other hors d’oeuvres that had become popular at cocktail events as well.
Vicksburg residents Betty Penley and Harley Caldwell recalled a few of these favorites, one of which is Tuzzi Dip — found in the Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg’s “Ambrosia” cookbook.
The name, Caldwell said reflected its creator.
“It was named after Tuzzi Swan,” Caldwell said. “She was the second child in the family, and that is why she was named Tuzzi and it was her recipe from her.”
Caldwell said “salad molds and shrimp molds” were also popular — namely the Bacon-Cheese Mold submitted by Jean Blue and printed in the JAV’s “Vintage Vicksburg” cookbook.
Blue said she first tasted the appetizer while attending a 50th birthday party held in honor of the late John Wayne Jabour. The party was at Lakemont, the home of Jabour and his wife, Becky, and Blue said, the Bacon-Cheese Mold “was just the rave.”
Everyone was dying to get the recipe, Blue said, but unfortunately, it had been brought to the party by an out-of-town guest who was not willing to share.
But Blue was determined, so she tried her hand at replicating it.
“I just sort of fabricated it,” Blue said of her attempt, and then took her rendition to an event.
Carolyn Hall, who at the time was serving as one of the co-editors of the JAV cookbook, thought the recipe was delish, Blue said — so-much-so it was included in the publication.
Page 25 of the Junior League of Jackson’s cookbook, “Southern Sideboards,” is home to a recipe that Vicksburg resident Betty Penley said was also prepared for many local functions.
Easy to prepare, the “Monroe Pizza Appetizers” are also enjoyed by little ones.
No party is complete without something sweet, and Former First Lady Pat Fordice’s Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, found in “Vintage Vicksburg,” are delicious. They also make a beautiful presentation since the chocolate cookie is sprinkled with a light layer of powdered sugar.
Ambrosia Crunch, which is found in the JAV’s “Ambrosia” cookbook, is also a favorite — But be warned, it can be a bit addictive.
Vicksburg is known for its tomato sandwich recipe, but man cannot live by bread (and tomato) alone, so if a party is in your periphery, maybe a couple of these recipes can help round out the menu.
1 pound hot ground sausage
1 (10-ounce) can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese
Brown sausage and drain. Heat tomatoes in a saucepan and add cream cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Add sausage. Mix well. Serve in a chafing dish with tortilla chips for dipping.
Monroe Pizza Appetizers
1 pound of ground beef
1 pound hot bulk sausage
1 pound Velveteta cheese
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
2 loaves of party rye with seeds
Sliced or whole green olives with pepper, pitted ripe olives or small button mushrooms
Cook beef and sausage in a heavy skillet until done; drain off fat. Add cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and oregano. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Spread mixture on party rye slices and garnish with green olives or mushrooms. Place on cookie sheets and heat in a 350-degree oven until hot. May be frozen on cookie sheets until firm and stored in a container. May be prepared in advance. Yields 50 slices.
1 pound bacon
1 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 bunch of green onions and half of the tops, sliced
1 (3-ounce) package of sliced almonds
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 (10-ounce) jar of strawberry preserves
Fry bacon crisply and crumble. Mix bacon with cheese, onions, almonds and just enough mayonnaise to hold the mixture together. Spray a ring mold with non-stick spray. Spread mixture in the mould, cover and refrigerate overnight. Loosen edge of cheese mold with a knife and unmold. Spread strawberry preserves over top. Serve with butter crackers.
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Cheerios
2 cups stick pretzels
1 (12-ounce) bag of plain M&M’s Brand candies
1 (12-ounce) bag of peanut M&M’s Brand candies
1 (12-ounce) bag of white chocolate morsels
Mix all ingredients except white chocolate in a large bowl. Melt white chocolate according to the package directions. Pour white chocolate over the mixture and toss well to coat. Spread on waxed paper and let sit until the white chocolate hardens. Store in an airtight container.
Note: Using the Holiday M&M’s variety makes this a fun seasonal treat.