Oxford, Mississippi is known as the “Cultural Mecca of the South.” Where while you sit and sip a handcrafted cocktail or savor a bite to eat by a James Beard Award nominee, you’ll almost certainly be in the presence of some of the greatest creative minds of the time, finding inspiration in Oxford’s rich history, small-town charm, and creative community.
One cherished creative mind and Oxford local is chef and caterer, Elizabeth Heiskell. Founder of Debutante Farmer Bloody Mary Mix, regular contributor on NBC’s TODAY show, and author of What Can I Bring?, Elizabeth knows her way around great food, delicious drinks and Southern hospitality. After serving as the lead culinary instructor at the Viking Cooking School in nearby Greenwood, Elizabeth moved her family to Oxford, where farming tomatoes became a passion and a labor of love as Debutante Farmer was born. Her newest cookbook, Come On Over!, was released in May 2021. Here, Elizabeth shares some of her favorite recipes from this prized collection.
½ pound (2 sticks) salted butter
2 ½ cups sugar, divided
1 ½ cups self-rising flour
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup very hot water
- Preheat the oven 350°
- Melt the butter and pour it into a large ovenproof skillet or 9x13-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups of the sugar, the flour, milk, and vanilla. Mix well and pour over the melted butter in the baking dish.
- In another bowl, mix together the remaining 1 cup sugar and the cocoa powder. Sift over the batter in the baking dish.
- Pour the hot water over the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cobbler is set. Serve immediately.
4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced (or any good ripe tomatoes will work; about 4 pounds)
Salt and pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
10 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1 (9-inch) pie crust, fully baked
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink and generously salt them. Let them drain for 15 minutes. Remove from the colander and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mozzarella, and parmesan.
- Layer half the tomatoes and all the basil and goat cheese in the pie crust. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then finish layering with the rest of the tomatoes. Top with the mayonnaise mixture and spread it evenly, completely covering the tomatoes.
- Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
We invite you to come and see for yourself what makes this cultural town so unique. Take a stroll around Oxford and check out some of our favorite spots to spark and ignite your own creative talent.
- Rowan Oak – Immerse yourself in the private world of author William Faulkner, who found a fountain of inspiration for his Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning works while living in Oxford.
- Square Books – Enter a sanctuary for lovers of the written word at this quaint bookshop that boasts a large selection of rare and signed first edition books and a constant rotation of book signings and readings, including the likes of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Willie Morris and John Grisham.
- University of Mississippi Museum – Step back in time and be inspired as you explore this cultural center that boasts an array of holdings from Southern folk art and American fine art to Greek and Roman antiquities and 19thcentury scientific instruments.