Héritage: Holiday Cooking

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, collectively making up the holiday season, evoke a myriad of sentiments. Those who love to shop will jump right into the frey of holiday shopping by scoping doorbusters, new releases of the latest technical gadgets and other Black Friday “to-dos.” For others, the holidays are a time to gather with friends and family to eat, drink and be merry. 

Since its inception, the Junior League of New Orleans has embraced the spirit of the holiday season through its Christmas Marketplace, support of Kingsley House’s Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bell Rock and Shop ‘Til You Drop, and many holiday soirees featuring some of the most revered food and drinks in the city. And we are not talking Baked Alaska! 

As we take a look back through the annals of Lagniappe magazine, JLNO’s loyalty to holiday entertaining à la food and drink, becomes evident. We begin with Sandy Messersmith’s recipe for Bourbon Balls published in the December 1969 issue of Lagniappe. 

Coconut Cherry Chews were among the holiday favorites shared in the December 1968 issue of Lagniappe. 

Coconut Cherry Chews

  • 10 candied cherries 
  • 2 cups moist shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract 
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • red and green cherries

Chop 1 cup coconut in blender. Empty into bowl. Put milk, the other cup coconut, cherries and almond extract into blender. Cover and blend until cherries are chopped. Add to other coconut, drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 325 degrees. Decorate by placing half of a cherry in center of cookie.

Pic 10 Heritage Winter 2020
A special favorite of mine is Oyster Pate’. Each Christmas, my maternal grandmother would make her celebrated rendition of this New Orleans favorite.  Photo by Shanelle Joseph. 

Oyster Paté

  • 6 fresh oysters (Gulf or Pacific)
  • 15 phyllo shells
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup minced onions
  • ¼ cup of shallots
  • ¼ cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • 1 pinch Creole seasoning
  • ½ cup of Italian breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place phyllo shells onto a cookie sheet or baking pan. Place butter into a skillet with burner set to medium. Allow the butter to melt, then add fresh vegetables. Stir gently and allow fresh seasonings to sauté for 3 minutes. Add black pepper and Creole seasoning. Stir for 30 seconds. Add oysters one at a time, preserving the oyster liquor.  Stir oysters into seasoning blend. Allow to cook for 5 minutes. At the end of five minutes, stir once more. Add oyster liquor followed by the Italian breadcrumbs. Combine mixture by gently stirring for 30 seconds. Spoon entire contents of skillet into a food processor. Blend until a uniform appearance is observed. Transfer mixture into bowl or remove blade and simply scoop pâté into phyllo shells; bake for 10 minutes or until the edges of phyllo shells are crisp. Bon appetit!

Pic 2 Heritage Winter 2020 Copy

Pic 4 Heritage Winter 2020

Sandy Messersmith’s recipe for “Bourbon Balls” was published in the December 1969 issue of Lagniappe magazine. Powdered sugar and bourbon make for a decadent desert sure to complement a glass of nutmeg and reminiscent conversation. Cover of Lagniappe magazine, December 1969. Sourced by Shanelle Joseph from JLNO archives.

Bourbon Balls

  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup black walnuts, chopped finely

Mix well – chill – form into balls – chill again.

Melt 4 squares unsweetened chocolate with 1/3 stick paraffin. Dip each ball into chocolate and place on wax paper to harden. Store in covered container in refrigerator. 


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