2017 Best Dishes

Last year took me to 19 states.  I was fortunate to cook, design or be the guest for a plethora of delicious meals. We celebrated birth…newborn…70 years beyond and some in between. We enjoyed hosting our Supper Club, friends visiting from near and far and chosen family. I was honored to produce a wedding joining two wonderful families. And, along the way we visited several dining establishments which we would gladly visit again. I’ll share some dishes and a few recipes which I found memorable in taste, presentation, creativity or all the above. I apologize if you gain a pound or two after reading.


I’m not much of a baker but I enjoyed doing this for a spring brunch.  It was light, yet flavorful and could be an appetizer or an accompaniment to an entree.  Here’s the recipe link at Food Network.


Brandt has a March birthday and last year both numbers changed.  We had a fun party on the farm but for his actual birthdate he and I enjoyed one of his favorites.  Seared duck breast with mango and tuxedo orzo.  Sometimes simple is really wonderful.


We welcomed friends both local and from out of town for dinner after celebrating the Terquasquicentennial of Byhalia United Methodist Church.  The fish monger at Memphis Farmers Market makes a delicious Smoked Tuna Dip.  You see that in the “endive boats”.  I borrowed a recipe from our friends Robert and Delia and one from our friend Joannie Franklin King.  Both of these will be hits with your guests.

Spuma di Mortadella (we lovingly call it Baloney Spread)

Ingredients and Directions:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup of poultry/meat stock
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon plain gelatin soaked in 3 tablespoons of stock
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces mortadella (get one thick piece at the deli)
  • ¼ cup finely minced onion (use a food processor for best results)
  • Sliced bread for serving

Note: Prepare the mousse up to 24 hours ahead of serving. It must chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Remove the mousse from the refrigerator about 40 minutes before serving.

  1. Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spatula until smooth. Cook several minutes, until bubbly. Keeping the heat at medium-low, slowly stir in the stock and ¼ cup of cream with a wire whisk.
  2. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Then whisk constantly 5 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling, thickened and all the raw flour taste has cooked away.
  3. Thoroughly blend in the gelatin mixture and let simmer for 1 minute. Season with the nutmeg and pepper.
  4. Roughly chop the mortadella and purée into a smooth paste using a food processor. Turn the purée out into a bowl and blend in the flour-gelatin mixture.
  5. Using a stand or hand-held mixer, whip the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream. Using a spatula gently fold the whipped cream and the minced onion into the mortadella mixture.
  6. Put the mixture into small crocks, cover and chill.
Lovan’s IGA Dip (a dip from the deli of a local grocer in Joannie’s hometown)
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 pint Hellman’s Mayonnaise 
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley 
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons Parmesan Reggiano 
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup grated mozzarella 
Pepper to taste
Blend in food processor until smooth. 
Chill.  Serve with crudite and crackers…or stuffed in tomatoes as seen above.
Memorial Day weekend was really special.  It was the culmination of a year’s work on a wedding for design clients who have become our chosen family.  We spent a week in our nation’s capital and enjoyed visiting with friends who live in the District, as well and produce a “nice small wedding”.

I highly recommend The Oval Room.  This goes in the column of “all the above”…delicious, beautiful and creative. I couldn’t get past the first courses.  I chose three….Yellowfin Tuna Crudo with watermelon, green strawberry, local cucumber, purple ninja radish, basil seed and yuzu emulsion….Foie Gras Torchon, Maple-Pecan Granola, Onion Jam, Red Wine Apple Butter, Brioche Tuille…Grilled Squid Salad, Grilled squid and radicchio on squid ink emulsion with mixed greens and flower petals.

The stars of the weekend were the newlyweds but the wedding cake was a strong second.
Buttercream Bakeshop did a masterful job in creating a cake inspired by the bride’s gown and her bridesmaids dresses.  The cake featured Earl Grey Tea Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache and Buttercream as well as Elderflower soaked Lemon Cake with Blackberry Jam and Vanilla Buttercream. The cake was served during the dance party.
A few weeks after the wedding we gathered again for the Christening of the newest addition to the family…a precious boy which has stolen all of our hearts.  This time the venue was Hendersonville, North Carolina….what a find.  This little hamlet is a jewel in the North Carolina crown.  We had an amazing meal at Season’s at Highland Lake…and a good time was had by all.

Cornmeal-crusted select Oysters; lemon-infused
South Carolina Low Country Grits, Micro Greens, Country Ham Crisp
and Lemon-Lusty Monk Mustard Aïoli

The dessert is not longer on the menu but it’s a cake,  a semifreddo with honeycomb stamp, local honey, gelato and tuille…FABULOUS!!!

We had house guests in August and I was in the Italian mood.  Our favorite place in Rome is La Taverna di Monti.  They do Frutti di Mare which I dream about.  I made fresh pasta and my version as I remember theirs.

Brandt asked friends to help him do a birthday dinner for me in late September.


This pair of soups topped with crab salad was a spectacular beginning to an evening full of love, laughter and life.

The following week, I helped a client with a wine dinner in their home. While everything about the event was really special AND delicious…this dessert might have stolen the show…IMO.


Croissant Diplomat with Caramel Gelato and Caramel Sauce…one of my favorite desserts; EVER!!!

Finally, our Christmas and Anniversary trip to Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont.  It started with an amazing lunch and ending with a spectacular anniversary dinner.


Our first lunch was: Mixed Greens on Pistachio Butter with Citrus Supremes and Hazelnut Dust, then Sesame Seared Tuna with Tempura Mushroom on Soba Noodles in Dashi Broth, then Chestnut Beignets on Mango Foam with Green Tea Crema, Huckleberry Compote and Brazil Nut dust.


And the Grand Prize winner of 2017…the first course of our 20th anniversary dinner.  Lobster with French Style Eggs and Haricot Vert AND Shaved White Truffles.

It was the best of times and it was…well…no really…it was the BEST of times…and a good time was had by all!!!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Bucky Farnor says:

    What a wonderful story you are going to tell me. I am so happy you had such a grand year! I am very proud of you. Love you both! B

    Sent from my iPhone


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