Weddings steeped in tradition and good taste

Published 12:29 pm Monday, June 20, 2022

A wedding day is such a sweet spot in life.

The month of June has always been favored – brides clamor to the altar to tie the knot. The event’s so anticipated that save-the-date cards are customary so guests can make plans to attend months in advance. Nowadays, a bride and groom’s big day includes some of the most opulent parties to follow – splendid affairs. With no stone unturned – the big day is quite the spectacle.

For me, there’s true elegance – a quiet luxury in the understated. So I opted for a more intimate and refined affair. In the early 80s, I married on a Saturday morning in the sanctuary of my hometown church – a simple, no frills, ceremony with family and close friends present.

Following the wedding, guests were invited for an elevated dining experience. The sit-down, plated brunch was held at The Hermitage Hotel, a historic hotel in downtown Nashville. I chose the multi-award-winning hotel not only for its Michelin star dining – but for the history. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the hotel first opened in 1910. With much to boast about – the hotel quietly and warmly delivers – the kind of charm southerners know best.

Food fare was simple in nature and steeped in southern tradition. I’m proud of my down south heritage. For the entrée, I selected a hot, open-faced sandwich of sliced turkey, tomatoes, and a roux-based béchamel sauce with added cheese called Mornay sauce. Known as the Kentucky Hot Brown – this iconic dish was created in 1926 by a chef at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky. Don’t let the idea of a sandwich fool you, as this legendary, high-comfort entree is a hearty and delicious dish.   

The chef was given artistic license for gourmet twists on grits, potatoes, a green, and fruit to compliment the meat. An assortment of pastries and sweet breads with bowls of honey and jams rounded out the meal. The menu was chosen to allow for judicious use of seasonal fresh fruits and veggies.

An American classic was served for dessert. The decadent Lady Baltimore Cake is the lady with a past – she’s got a history. While her past is debatable, the lovely confection is said to have originated in a tea room in Charleston, S.C. A perfect wedding cake representing love – it’s definitely a labor of love to make. Light and fluffy cake layers are filled with favorite fresh or dried fruits and toasted nuts nestled between layers. Cake love measures high here, so I’ve shared two recipes.

Of the two icings offered, one is from an old recipe – a boiled icing found in vintage cookbooks. There’s a good reason for it – the icing’s one of vanilla marshmallow flavor that whips up into a scrumptious fluffy cloud. The concoction lives up to the adage of only getting better – as the icing on the cake. Take culinary artistic license and combine your favorite fruits and nuts.

I hunger for anything rooted in history – in nature and taste. And there’s a charm and elegance to simplicity – a quiet, approachable luxury – the kind of luxury where all guests feel at home and whatever passes their lips tastes delicious.

Our best food is the nourishment God offers – the kind that feeds our soul when calling out to Him. Just like we would die without physical food – we would starve spiritually without God.

Isaiah 55: 1-2 reads, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Without money and without cost, Why spend money on what is not bread, And you labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (NIV)


2 cups sour pitted cherries

5 cups water

½ cup sugar

1 thinly sliced lemon

1 stick cinnamon

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

½ cup water

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. almond extract

½ tsp. red food coloring

1 cup sour cream

In a saucepan, mash cherries. Add water, sugar, lemon slices, and cinnamon. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook 30 minutes. In a bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water. Add dissolved cornstarch, salt, almond extract, and coloring to the cherry mixture. Cook on low until soup begins to thicken. Soup is served cold with a generous dollop of sour cream on top.


2 slices toasted English muffin/sliced artisan bread

6 oz. sliced, roasted turkey

2 sliced tomatoes

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup Mornay sauce

2 slices of crisp-fried bacon

2 Tbsp. freshly grated Romano cheese

Nutmeg, paprika

Parsley sprigs

The ingredients listed are for 1 open-faced sandwich for 1 person. Remove crusts from toast. Place entire square of toast in center. Cut another toast into 2 triangles. Place 1 triangle on each side of square toast. Spread sliced turkey over the toast points. Add 2 slices of tomato over turkey. Salt and pepper. Cover entire sandwich with Mornay sauce. Sprinkle with grated Romano cheese. Place entire dish under broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from oven. Lay 2 pieces of bacon across the top in a criss-cross fashion. Sprinkle with nutmeg and parsley with a few sprigs of parsley on top. You can make more than one at a time in a 13 x 9 baking dish.


2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

2 Tbsp. chopped onions

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 ½ cups hot, whole milk

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. white pepper

Pinch of grated nutmeg

1/3 cup grated Swiss cheese (for Mornay Sauce)

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or onions begin to soften. Stir in flour until a paste or roux forms. Stir in milk gradually and cook, constantly stirring until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes while occasionally stirring. Keeps 2 weeks in refrigerator. For a Mornay Sauce, add 1/3 cup of grated Swiss cheese after the milk and heat until melted and smooth. Makes 2 cups of cheese sauce. You can also use another favorite cheese, such as grated sharp cheddar, as long as it melts down into a smooth sauce.


1 lb. cooked, drained, thick-sliced bacon

1 lb. peeled, grated baking potatoes

½ lb. grated cheddar cheese

1 chopped onion

4 oz. sliced milk green chilies

8 beaten eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut bacon into small square pieces. In a skillet, fry bacon until crisp, and drain on paper towels. In a bowl, combine grated potatoes, grated cheese, chopped onion, chilies, and bacon pieces. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add all other ingredients to the eggs. Pour mixture into a well-greased baking dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until eggs are cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve this recipe with the toasted cheese and tomato open faced sandwich.


2 lbs. refrigerated hash brown potatoes

½ cup finely chopped green onions

4 oz. chopped mild green chiles

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

16 oz. sour cream

10 oz. grated sharp Cheddar cheese

¼ cup melted salted butter

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly grated black pepper

In a mixer bowl, combine hash browns, green onions, chiles, soup, sour cream, cheese, melted butter, salt, and pepper. Pour into a butter-greased baking dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour.


20 oz. cooked, drained, frozen chopped broccoli

½ cup chicken broth

2 beaten eggs

2 cups well-drained regular cottage cheese

½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 beaten eggs

2 tsp. minced green onion

1 tsp. salt

Dash of freshly ground black pepper

Cook frozen broccoli in chicken broth. Drain well. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add well-drained cottage cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, minced onions, and salt and pepper to the eggs. Gently stir in the cooked and drained broccoli and mix well. Bake in a well-greased 2 ½ quart casserole in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, or test knife in the center comes out clean.


4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 cut ¼-inch medium zucchini

2 minced cloves garlic

1 chopped onion

3 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly grated black pepper

¼ cup tomato paste or sauce

3 slices of Swiss cheese

In a skillet, heat oil. Add zucchini that’s been cut into rounds, garlic, and onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add fresh parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and toss lightly. Transfer to a pregreased 1-quart casserole. Brush top with tomato sauce. Cover with thin slices of Swiss cheese. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese melts and dish heated through.


6 fresh ripe peaches

6 Tbsp. Maple syrup

6 Tbsp. Brown sugar

1 tsp. melted, salted butter



For each serving, place two peach halves in a baking dish. Add 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and 1 tsp. melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes. When serving, heat brandy and pour over peaches. Serve alongside meat entrée, or you can top with ice cream or whipped cream and serve alongside cake as dessert.


1-gallon sugar

1-gallon ground pears

51 oz. or 5 ¾ cup crushed pineapple

In a saucepan, cook sugar, pears, and pineapple until it turns golden brown. Put in jars and seal.


1 stick salted butter

1 cup Crisco shortening

2 ½ cup sugar

6 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup self-rising flour

2 cups plain flour

1 cup whole milk


1 cup sugar

4 Tbsp. cornstarch

18 oz. drained crushed pineapple

Sm. jar maraschino cherries

1 cup chopped toasted pecans


1 box confectioner’s sugar

8 oz. cream cheese

Pineapple juice

In a mixer bowl, cream butter, Crisco, and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla extract. Beat in flours while alternating with milk, and add vanilla extract. Mix well. Bake in 3 well-greased and floured round cake pans in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until tests done. For the filling, Bring sugar, cornstarch, and pineapple to a boil. Remove from heat and fold in cherries and nuts. Fill between the layers. For the icing, in a mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners sugar together. Add pineapple juice until spreading consistency. Spread on top and sides of cake.


¾ cup softened, salted butter

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup whole milk

½ tsp. each cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg

Filling and Icing

3 beaten egg whites

2 cups sugar

7 Tbsp. water

2 tsp. white corn syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup raisins

½ cup cut citron

½ cup toasted chopped almonds

1 small grated coconut

1/8 tsp. salt

½ cup reserved grated coconut

For the cake, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour, baking powder, and salt while alternating with milk. Beat until smooth. Pour 2/3 of mixture into 2 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Add cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg into the remaining 1/3 of batter. Mix well. Pour into the 3rd prepared cake pan. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until tests done. Cool completely before filling. For the filling, combine egg whites, sugar, syrup, water, and salt in a double boiler. Mix well. Place over boiling water and cook 7 minutes while constantly beating with electric mixer until icing stands in peaks. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, fruits, and nuts. Reserve some coconut to sprinkle on top. Stir until cool enough to spread on cooled cake. Use half of icing with fruits and nuts between layers of cake. Assemble with spiced cake layer in center. Cover top and sides with remaining icing and sprinkle generously with extra grated coconut.



6 large ripe tomatoes

4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

Garlic powder to taste

Cream Sauce

5 Tbsp. melted butter

3 Tbsp. All-purpose flour

¾ tsp. salt

1 ½ cup whole milk


Loaf of artisan bread

open-faced toasted cheese sandwiches

dash of paprika

chopped parsley garnish

Cut tomatoes into thick slices. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic. Coat tomatoes with mixture. In a skillet, saute tomatoes in butter on both sides. Remove slices and drain on paper towel. To the same skillet, add flour to remaining butter to make a paste. Add salt and garlic powder to taste. Slowly stir in milk to flour mixture and cook until creamy and smooth. Make open-face toasted cheese sandwiches using artisan bread slices. Add fried tomatoes and cover with cream sauce. Dash of paprika and parsley garnish adds color. The open-faced sandwich is so delicious – I had to add it.