Caterer always ready to meet challenges in the kitchen | cook of the week

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NETTLETON — When Kim Taylor and her first cousin were little girls, they would go into the kitchen all the time and experiment.

“We used to eat food and try different things,” Taylor said. “We would scramble the pancakes because we didn’t know how to flip them. We were doing the biggest damage, but it was good food.”

Taylor has come a long way since then. Today she has Graceful Catering by Kim Taylor in Nettleton.

“I stay booked pretty much every weekend, even if it’s the little things,” Taylor said.

The restoration somehow fell in the 36-year-old’s lap. She started baking cheesecakes, chess pies and chess squares to share with friends and family, but word spread quickly.

“People kept wanting them,” she said. “I couldn’t keep them in stock. I wasn’t cooking for the public, but people were asking for them all the time.”

After starting her restaurant business, she decided to open The Coffee Mug in downtown Aberdeen in 2019.

“We had truffles, trifles, stuffed muffins, cobbler cookies, parfaits, fudge,” Taylor said. “But I was the only cook, the only baker. It was a seven-day-a-week job, and I wanted to spend more time with my family. So I closed it in November 2021.”

When Taylor returned to catering, she found the game had changed.

“It’s a new world out there now,” she said. “The pasture tables are the new thing. The tables used to be rustic, with lots of tin. Now they’re pasture tables with charcuterie boards.”

Taylor’s first cousin, Amanda Joy Taylor, helps her with many of her events.

“She looks more like my sister than my cousin,” Taylor said. “And she’s my biggest supporter.”

Taylor grew up in Pontotoc and went to schools in the town of Pontotoc, but now lives in Nettleton. She and her husband, Anthony, share five children and are the adoptive parents of three others.

“We’ve been taking in kids since about 2015,” she said. “At one point I thought we were done, but the Lord sent us more to take care of.”

Some of the kids play baseball, so the family is only home two or three nights a week for supper. Taylor could make homemade chicken strips with mac and cheese and green beans, or baked chicken Alfredo with a side salad.

“I don’t watch TV much, but I like to read cookbooks and magazines,” she said. “I will try a new recipe at least twice a week. I like a good challenge in the kitchen.”

DO YOU KNOW A GOOD COOK? Send your entries to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, PO Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can call (662) 678-1581 or email them to [email protected]

BUTTER PIE

1 stick of butter, melted and cooled

1 (9 inch) regular pie crust, unbaked

Beat sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add the cooled butter and beat again. Add salt and cornstarch. Add the buttermilk last and beat well for 2-3 minutes until foam forms on top. Immediately pour the batter into the pie crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until golden on top.

CAKES WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS

Cream the sugars, eggs and vanilla. Add the butter and beat until fluffy. Gradually add the flour by hand. Add the chocolate chips. Shape the dough into a round sausage and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to bake, cut out the cookies and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes for soft cookies or 12 minutes for crispy cookies.

JALAPENO CHEESE BALL

2 blocks (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 medium jalapeno, chopped

1/2 cup real bacon bits, plus more for garnish

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Combine cream cheese, garlic powder, poppy seeds, white pepper, chopped jalapeño, 1/2 cup bacon bits and 1 cup cheese. Form a log. Roll the log in the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle with additional bacon bits. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

GREEN TURNIP SOUP

2 bunches of turnip greens, washed and chopped

1 package Knorr Mixed Vegetables

1 can cannellini beans, undrained

1 can pinto beans, undrained

1 package of smoked sausages, cut into pieces

In a large saucepan of boiling water, cook the green vegetables with a stock cube until tender. Add the vegetable mixture, beans, celery and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add sausage and cook for 1 hour.

Recipe courtesy of Amanda Joy Taylor.

SALMON PATTIES

2 cans pink salmon, undrained

Mix the salmon with the juice, onion, bell pepper, cornmeal, egg, salt and pepper. Roll into balls, then flatten into patties. Cook in hot canola oil for about 2 minutes on each side. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with cookies.

Recipe courtesy of Amanda Joy Taylor.

GERMAM CHOCOLATE CAKE

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup heavy whipped cream

1/2 sachet of fancy coconut flakes

For the cake, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add eggs and buttermilk and beat well. Pour the batter into 2 round pans (9 inches) lined with greased parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes. When the layers are cool, split them in half to make four layers and cut the rounded domes to make the layers flat.

For the ganache, combine the chocolate chips and cream in a small stainless steel saucepan and cook over low heat until melted.

To assemble, place one layer of cake on a serving platter. Garnish with ganache. Place second layer on top and top with ganache, then sprinkle with pecans and coconut. Repeat with the third layer. Place the fourth layer on top. Pour the ganache over the top layer, letting it drip down the sides of the cake. Sprinkle cake with pecans and coconut.

Recipe courtesy of Amanda Joy Taylor.

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