Southern Lady: Gracious Tables: The Perfect Setting for Any Occasion


Entertaining doyenne Phyllis Hoffman shows how to prepare a stunning table for any occasion.

So many of the events of our lives, from the formal to the informal, are celebrated by gathering around a table. Whatever the occasion—whether it's a holiday dinner, Sunday brunch, or a casual lunch with friends—the table is the place where we relax and enjoy each other's company while savoring a great meal.

No one knows how to dress a table with ...

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Entertaining doyenne Phyllis Hoffman shows how to prepare a stunning table for any occasion.

So many of the events of our lives, from the formal to the informal, are celebrated by gathering around a table. Whatever the occasion—whether it's a holiday dinner, Sunday brunch, or a casual lunch with friends—the table is the place where we relax and enjoy each other's company while savoring a great meal.

No one knows how to dress a table with elegance and flair better than Phyllis Hoffman, publisher of Southern Lady magazine, the quintessential resource for entertaining the gracious Southern way. Now, Hoffman draws upon her years of expertise to create Southern Lady Gracious Tables, the definitive guide to creating gorgeous "tablescapes" for every occasion.

Starting with the basics, Hoffman presents a series of breathtaking spreads for a whole range of occasions, from formal settings to casual get-togethers, and describes how to achieve each look, right down to the recipes—55 in total—for her mouthwatering specialties. Enjoy a lovely outdoor lunch of tasty Fried Green Tomatoes with Crab and Green Chile Cream Sauce, or finish off a dinner party with delectable Praline Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce.

Hoffman then builds a "wardrobe for the table," navigating through the complex world of dinnerware, fine linens, and serving pieces. Each and every element of the table—from fruit saucer to lemon fork to water goblet—is covered in a friendly, helpful way.

Finally, there's advice on adding that all-important personal touch, with instructions on how to craft flowers, family heirlooms, collectibles, and other unexpected treasures into the perfect centerpiece, place marker, or accent. All along, her advice includes refreshingly simple techniques for presentation and encourages the reader's own creativity in playing with colors, patterns, and styles.

Complemented by lush photography and told in Hoffman's accessible, encouraging, and deliciously Southern voice, Southern Lady Gracious Tables is a must-have for every aspiring hostess, south or north of the Mason Dixon. The perfect gift for any woman who loves to entertain, it has all the tools, tips, and inspiration you need to elevate the ordinary to the unforgettable.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061346675
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/9/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 392,876
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Phyllis Hoffman is majority owner and president of Hoffman Media, LLC. She serves as the creative engine of the company, producing an ever-widening range of beautiful magazines including Tea Time, Southern Lady, Just CrossStitch, Sew Beautiful, and Taste of the South. She is also a sought-after speaker across the country, a devoted wife and mother, and a church and community leader. Hoffman lives with her family in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Read an Excerpt

Southern Lady: Gracious Tables

The Perfect Setting for Any Occasion
By Phyllis Hoffman

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Phyllis Hoffman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061346675

Chicken and Dumplings Soup

Serves 10 to 12

At the second house on the tour of family homes, steaming bowls of chicken and dumpling soup is served. This stick-to-your ribs soup is a new take on a Southern favorite.


2½ pounds split chicken breasts
10 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 onion, sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
4 quarts water
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 (1-pound) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup butter


In a large Dutch oven, combine chicken, peppercorns, bay leaves, onion, celery, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from broth; cool, remove skin and bones, and discard. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside.

Strain broth, discarding solids. Return broth to Dutch oven. Stir in soup, vegetables, seasoned salt, and salt. Add choppedchicken. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine milk and butter. Heat in microwave on high in 30 second intervals, or until butter is melted. Stir warm milk mixture into flour mixture, mixing with a fork, just until combined. Drop dumplings by tablespoonfuls into simmering chicken broth mixture. Cover, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until dumplings are light and fluffy. Serve immediately.

Uptown Grits Souffle

Serves 6 to 8


3½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup old-fashioned grits (not quick or instant)
2 cups grated fontina cheese
½ cup butter
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 375°. Fill a 13x9x2-inch pan with 1 inch of hot water and place in oven. Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking dish; set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil over high heat. Stir in grits; reduce heat to low, cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cheese, butter, garlic, and pepper. Stir until butter and cheese are melted; remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and cream. Add egg mixture to grits mixture, mixing well. Spoon grits mixture into prepared pan. Cover with aluminum foil. Place in oven in center of 13x9x2-inch pan (water bath). Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking 20 minutes, or until set.


Excerpted from Southern Lady: Gracious Tables by Phyllis Hoffman Copyright © 2007 by Phyllis Hoffman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Southern Lady at Home     8
Preparing the Table: The Elements of Graciousness     34
Southern Hospitality     36
Home and Hearth     68
Sociable Settings     102
Neighborly Get-togethers     140
Polite Conversation     166
Feeding the Senses: Building a Wardrobe for the Table     192
Dinnerware     194
Crystal & Glassware     202
Sterling Silver     208
Fine Linens     214
Serving Pieces     218
Rewarding the Eyes: Embellishing with Flair     222
Artful Flowers     224
Family Heirlooms     228
Charming Collectibles     232
Unexpected Treasures     238
Finishing Touches     242
Resources     252
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  • Posted December 21, 2008

    Outstanding Guide to Graceful Living

    Once again Phyllis Hoffman has done the impossible. She's created the perfect combination of gorgeous coffee table book and highly useful cooking and decorating guide. I have to buy two of them. One for the kitchen and one for the living room. The only problem is that every time I buy a copy, one of my friends winds up with it as a gift. I've lost count of how many recipes have been used from the book and how many tablescapes took their inspiration from these pages. A real find.

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