Vicksburg is home to a variety of caterers, each bringing their own specialty and flair to events.
The locals are lucky enough to have plenty of professional options, but the River City isn’t without a host of talented amateurs.
These men and women can cut, dice, glaze, grill, poach, mash, sauté, simmer and whip all kinds of things. And very often the recipes used come from the treasury of local cookbooks.
Many of these tasty dishes, along with some from publications outside the Vicksburg collection, became the gold standard at cocktail parties and are still popular today.
The annual Heart Fund Ball, held years ago, was one of those events. Dressed in their finery, locals could dance the night away at the party while also dining on delectable snacks prepared by volunteers in charge of the event.
It was the same with Miss Mississippi parties. In recent years, celebrations have been held in the homes of locals after the parade preliminaries, and attendees could expect not only Vicksburg Tomato Sandwiches, but other hors d’oeuvres that had also become popular at cocktail events.
Vicksburg natives Betty Penley and Harley Caldwell recalled a few of these favorites, including Tuzzi Dip — found in the Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg’s cookbook “Ambrosia.”
The name, Caldwell said, reflected its creator.
“It’s named after Tuzzi Swan,” Caldwell said. “She was the second child in the family and that’s why she was named Tuzzi and it was her recipe.”
Caldwell said “salad molds and shrimp molds” were also popular — namely, the Bacon-Cheese Mold submitted by Jean Blue and printed in JAV’s “Vintage Vicksburg” cookbook.
Blue said she first tasted the appetizer while attending a 50e birthday party 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 eager to get the recipe, Blue said, but unfortunately it had been brought to the party by an out-of-town guy who wasn’t willing to share it.
But Blue was determined, so she tried to mimic it.
“I just kind of made it up,” Blue said of her attempt, then took her rendition to an event.
Carolyn Hall, who was one of the co-editors of the JAV cookbook at the time, loved the recipe, Blue said — so much so that it was included in the publication.
Page 25 of the Junior League of Jackson’s cookbook, “Southern Sideboards,” features a recipe that Vicksburg resident Betty Penley said was also prepared for many local occasions.
The “Monroe Pizza Appetizers” are easy to prepare and are also enjoyed by the 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 nice presentation because the chocolate chip cookie is sprinkled with a thin layer of powdered sugar.
Ambrosia Crunch, which can be found in JAV’s “Ambrosia” cookbook, is also a favorite — but be warned, it can be a little addictive.
Vicksburg is known for its tomato sandwich recipe, but man can’t live on bread (and tomatoes) alone, so if there’s a party on your periphery, maybe a few of these recipes can help round out the menu.
1 pound hot ground sausage
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green peppers
2 (8-ounce) packs of cream cheese
Brown sausage and drain. Heat the tomatoes in a pan and add cream cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. Add sausage. Mix well. Serve in a chafing dish with tortilla chips for dipping.
Monroe Pizza Appetizers
1 pound ground beef
1 pound hot bulk sausage
1 pound Velveeta cheese
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
2 loaves of festive rye with seeds
Sliced or whole green olives with pimiento, pitted ripe olives or small mushrooms
Cook beef and sausage in a heavy skillet until tender; drain fat. Add cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, and oregano. Stir over low heat until the cheese has melted. Divide the mixture over the rye wedges and garnish with green olives or mushrooms. Place them on baking sheets and heat in a 350 degree oven until hot. Can be frozen on baking sheets until firm and stored in a container. Can be prepared in advance. Yield 50 slices.
1 pound bacon
1 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 bunch green onions and half of the tops, sliced
1 (3-ounce) package slivered almonds
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 (10-ounce) jar of strawberry preserves
Fry the bacon crispy and crumble. Mix bacon with cheese, onions, almonds and just enough mayonnaise to hold the mixture together. Spray a ring mold with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the mixture in the mold, cover and refrigerate overnight. Loosen the edge of the cheese mold with a knife and unmould. Spread the strawberry jam over it. Serve with butter crackers.
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups of Cheerios
2 cups stick pretzels
1 (12-ounce) bag of regular M&M’s Brand candies
1 (12-ounce) bag peanut M&M’s Brand candies
1 (12-ounce) bag of white chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients except white chocolate in a large bowl. Melt white chocolate according to package directions. Pour white chocolate over the mixture and toss well. Spread on wax paper and let stand until the white chocolate hardens. Store in an airtight container.
Note: Using the Holiday M&M’s variety makes this a fun seasonal treat.