Southern Super Supper Book Club Menu

Southern Super Supper Book Club Menu

It’s “Read An eBook Week” and my recipes and read are available for immediate download! Host a Southern-style book club supper with “Almost Sisters” by Joshilyn Jackson and my “Sunday Best Dishes” menu.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

Last year I discovered author Joshilyn Jackson and devoured every book she’s written in record time.

For me, her characters, strong Southern women, strike a chord with so many attributes I aspire to. Her heroines face challenges that we can identify with, although hopefully in not such a dramatic manner!

For this book club, I’ve chosen the book “The Almost Sisters”.

This is not her most recent book, but I find it to be very current given our present political climate. And although this book is in no way political, it does deal with issues in the headlines.

Here is a summary from Amazon:

“With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

 

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

 

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight-year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes.

 

Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

 

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding.

 

Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.”

There’s a pivotal scene in the book that serves as the catalyst for bringing Leia home to Alabama and her grandmother. Birchie and her caretaker, Wattie attend a potluck supper after Sunday church. It’s Birchie’s out-of-character outburst in front of the parishioners that sends a distress call to Leia.

Sunday after church potluck suppers are a tradition in the South. I must have been on the same wavelength with Ms. Jackson when I wrote an entire chapter of the potluck recipes in my book, “Sunday Best Dishes.”

This book is the perfect one for recipes for your book club menus. Buy one and share it with all of your book club members!

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

Here’s a menu that will work perfectly for your book discussion of “The Almost Sisters”:

Pretty Potluck Beans

Sunday Best Dishes, page 73

Southern-Style Chicken Pot with Okra and Collards

Sunday Best Dishes, page 79

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and Green Onions

Sunday Best Dishes, page 83

Trio of Picnic Salads

Sunday Best Dishes, page 123

#RecipesAndReads

 

Here are a couple of book club discussion questions to get you started:

  • There are multiple relationships in the novel that fit the title The Almost Sisters description. How did the title take on new meaning to you as the story developed?
  • Despite her worsening dementia, Birchie is still a strong character throughout the book. How would you describe her lifelong friendship with Wattie? Did your impressions change throughout the novel? Why do you think Birchie chose to keep their true relationship a secret even as times changed?
  • Leia makes the decision to hide her pregnancy early on and keeps her secret throughout much of the story. Do you think Leia made the right decision? Were you surprised by the characters’ reactions when her pregnancy was revealed?

Explore Jorj's Cookbooks

7 Cookbooks and Counting!
Read On

Mardis Gras King Cake Donuts for Fat Tuesday

Mardis Gras King Cake Donuts for Fat Tuesday

mardi gras king cake donuts

Need a Mardi Gras party food idea? Make Fat Tuesday delicious with this twist on traditional King Cake, from Jorj’s kitchen to yours!

Skip to Recipe

Twelve short days after Christmas is Three Kings Day (also known as the Epiphany).

This date marks the official beginning of Mardi Gras which last until the first day of Lent. Most of us don’t celebrate the entire season, after all, there are other holidays in-between!

So many Mardi Gras celebrations are left for the two weeks before Ash Wednesday.

My Mardi Gras memories settle themselves in my Grammy’s kitchen on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, known as Fat Tuesday.

My sweet, itty bitty Polish grandmother would create the most delicious pillowy donuts that day. Hot from the frying oil they were doused in powdered sugar and lasted just moments before we popped them into our mouth.

Traditional Polish donuts known as packzki are rich and filled with cream or fruit. My Gram filled hers with grape jelly. But she saved the unfilled donuts for us to gobble up. 😋 

I’ve made jelly-filled donuts before.

I’ve even made pumpkin spice donuts with maple glaze.

This year, I’ve decided to make King Cake donuts to celebrate the season.

These are big, fluffy, light-as-air donuts doused in a sugar glaze and sprinkled with traditional colors of the season, purple, yellow, green, and gold sprinkles.

Want some?

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Jorj’s Mardis Gras King Cake Donuts

Servings

Makes about 9 large donuts plus holes

Ready In:

15 minutes for dough
15 minutes to cut out
2 hours to rise

Good For:

Dessert
Parties
Breakfast

Ingredients

For Donuts

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (you can substitute with instant)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For Glaze:
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons half and half or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles (green, yellow purple and gold!)

Jorj’s Mardi Gras King Cake Donuts

Place the flour, granulated sugar, yeast, salt, and nutmeg into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Whisk the milk, butter, egg, and vanilla together in a bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until the dough just comes together. Stop the mixer, cover the bowl with a clean towel, and rest for 5 minutes. Change the paddle attachment to a dough hook and beat until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Dump the dough into a bowl sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Turn the dough to coat on all sides. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. The dough is doubled in size when you stick your finger into the dough and the indentation stays.

Roll out the dough and use a donut cutter (or round biscuit cutters) to cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place these onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place into the warm place and let rise until doubled in size again, about another 30 minutes.
Heat oil to 350° in a deep pot or Dutch oven. Only let the oil fill the pot one third up the sides so that when it bubbles up it won’t overflow.

Fry the donuts in batches. Don’t overcrowd the oil. We want them to swim in the oil… not drown! Fry until they are golden on one side and then carefully flip so that they are golden on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the donuts to a rack set over paper toweling to drain.

Whisk together the sifted confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and cream. Dip one side of the donuts into the glaze. Return to the rack and douse with sprinkles.

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas: Beloved Travel Recipes

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas: Beloved Travel Recipes

Need dinner ideas for Valentine’s Day?

Inspired Global Recipes

With Love From Jorj

#wanderlove

This Valentine’s Day, let’s take a trip around the world without leaving your own cozy kitchen. Let’s create a menu inspired by far-away places. Let’s create a dish or two to share with those you may not have seen in a while. And while we’re doing all of this, let’s share some LOVE…’cause all you need is….

FOOD!

Food that you can share with your loves. Canvas and Cuisine, the book I wrote with Susan Fazio is filled with foods that are inspired by our travels. But, more than this, the book is about love… love of family, love of neighbors, love of friendships. My gift to you this Valentines’ Day is all about LOVE. It’s about creating dishes that inspire you. Food that takes you just a bit your of your comfort zone. And dishes, that beg for your inventiveness.

Canvas & Cuisine

Grab the book that contains ALL of my travel adventures, and original artwork by artist Susan Fazio.

New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

#inthekitchenwithjorj

Let’s go!

 

Download your taste of travel adventure and make memories around the table.

Super Bowl Party Food: Game Day Entertaining

Super Bowl Party Food: Game Day Entertaining

My best Super Bowl party recipes will make Kick-Off memorable. Plan your football party menu and host a Super Bowl party that you will enjoy as much as your guests will!

Read on for my 5 best Kick-Off party snacks!

Tip 1

Invite your pals… regardless of their team preference. Since this is a casual party, an email or text invite will do just fine. Let your guest know your time frame. If you plan to participate in a betting board, make sure you give everyone enough time to buy their squares BEFORE kick-off


Tip 2

Set up your party space. If you can, have at least 2 screens for watching. The more guests, the more screens. Set up your libation station the farthest place away from the front door. Your guests will move into the room a little faster this way.

 

Tip 3

What are the best Super Bowl foods to make for your kick-off party?  Serve food that you can place and let your guests pick and choose as the games ups and downs lay out. Make ahead is best. I have tons of ideas for you to think about.

 

Tip 4

Have a menu game plan (just like the coaches do!). First and second quarter place appys around for fans to nibble. Dips and appy boards are perfect here. At Half Time present your hot food like wings and sliders. The third quarter brings the winners/loser desserts like my decadent Caramel Toffee Cookie Dough Brownie Bars.

No matter which team wins the game, we’re all winners with this dessert!

Couch Potato Fan Food for the Super Bowl

Really Good Turkey Burger Sliders with Crispy Shallots and Pimento Cheese

They’re bite size and couch perfect. Use sharp cheddar and do NOT forget the pickles. Oh, and good news, the recipe makes enough pimento cheese to entertain your game-watching pals twice in one week!

Hot Garlicky Wings Recipe for Football Season

For as long as I can remember, our Game Day staple came from a little restaurant in Pompano Beach called Wings ‘N Things. We would get our wings with extra garlic and extra hot sauce, and they were the best wings I’ve ever eaten. If you ever find yourself in South Florida, you must try their wings! This recipe comes pretty darn close to our favorite.

Hot Garlicky Wings Recipe for Football Season

Game Day Dip

Sometimes, you need a hot dip, and you need it now! This recipe fills the bill. There are tons of versions of Hot Buffalo Wing Dip, so use this as a guideline to make the one you like best.

Shhh! I snuck a few veggies in these fab meatballs...

Small Bites, Big Ideas

Never be bored with your charcuterie board! Start with these Tuna Nachos, perfect for tailgating at home.

Street Corn Caesar Salad

Hand salads open the doors to your creativity. I merged my classic Caesar salad with street corn filling and my guests made it disappear!

Caramel Toffee Cookie Dough Brownie Bars

Brownie meets Blondie with melted caramel to seal the deal. Just like the two Super Bowl teams, there are no losers with these bars!

Brownie Bars for Kiddos and Grandparents

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Plan a Mother’s Day Brunch Fiesta

Make Mother’s Day weekend a fiesta in your kitchen with this fun (AND EASY) brunch recipe! Bonus: You may already have all of the ingredients you need already!

Beer Battered Fried Things for National Beer Day!

Beer brings best friends together in the backyard! Serve these fried things up with beer batter and be the hit of the backyard party this National Beer Day.

Chips and Dip For All Occasions: Party Dip Recipe Ideas

Chips and Dip Day celebrates all things crunchy, gooey, dippable, shareable, snackable, and delectable! Get inspired with my best party dip recipes, whether it’s for one, two, or a whole crowd.

Inspired Artichoke Heart Recipes

Artichoke recipes are near and dear to my heart, and I can’t wait to show you how to master this dish! Watch me prepare artichoke hearts from scratch in my kitchen and learn how to cook artichokes with ease in your own. #artichokeheartsday

Southern Super Supper Book Club Menu

It’s “Read An eBook Week” and my recipes and read are available for immediate download! Host a Southern-style book club supper with “Almost Sisters” by Joshilyn Jackson and my “Sunday Best Dishes” menu.

Super Bowl Party Food: Game Day Entertaining

My best Super Bowl party recipes will make Kick-Off memorable. Plan your football party menu and host a Super Bowl party that you will enjoy as much as your guests will!

Celebrate Labor Day 2021 With These Backyard Party Recipes

Don’t let the fun end when summer does; these recipes are perfect for your Labor Day party! Whether you’re cooking for one or many, there’s never been a better time to let your creativity shine with these tried-and-true backyard favorites.

National Hamburger Day is May 28 🍔 Get these burger recipes!

National Hamburger is May 28, but you don’t need a designated day to celebrate delicious burgers! Get ready for backyard fun with my best burger recipes, including the only veggie burger recipe you’ll ever need.

Mother’s Day Best Recipes: Make Together Ideas!

It’s Mother’s Day, and I have just the (fool-proof!) plan for your at-home celebrations. These dishes don’t skimp on thoughtful details but are quick and easy to prepare with all of the kiddos!

Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and it’s time to prepare your party provisions!  Share these on Saturday in a small backyard soiree or savor them television side with the hubby.

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

I’ve baked this chocolate cake for every birthday for every child and friend for years and years. It’s dark, rich, and has a flavor all its own. Try this featured Women’s Day Magazine recipe that everyone will ask you for!

Skip to Recipe

In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, I give a nod to my late mother-in-law, Mary Jane Morgan, and the legacy chocolate cake she passed down to me from her mother, Irene Seeley.

I remember traveling with my firstborn, Trey, to visit George’s parents in September 1979.

Trey turned two that visit, and Mary Jane made chocolate cupcakes turned into clowns using ice cream cones as hats and candies for their faces. Trey was delighted and I noticed something funny.

Hubby, George, would sneak into the fridge and scoop from a bowl spoonful of left-over frosting again and again and again

Mary Jane shared the cake recipe and I’ve baked it for every birthday for every child and friend for years and years.

I’ve made it as a sheet cake, a two-layer round cake, and a four-layer square cake. The frosting is so gooey that the more layers you try the more the cake slides to one side or another leaving it a tiered cake or as my sons refer to it the AVALANCHE cake!

No matter how it looks, the cake is incredible.  It’s dark, rich, and has a flavor all its own.

The secret ingredient is black walnut flavoring. McCormick produced this essence until ten or so years ago when it was dropped.  Lovers of the cake would ransack their grandmother’s pantry for stored bottles of the stuff. We found quite a few that way!

Today, Amazon will give you a good selection of choices when you search, and I’ve tried them all. It works!

 

This is truly our family’s legacy cake. It was featured in Women’s Day magazine when my first book was published in 2000.

In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, I will share with you the short-cut secret to making this cake for your family.

Yes, it is a departure from the original, but I’m sure both Mary Jane and Irene will approve of this modernization.

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

30-35 Minutes Until You’re Ready

Good For:

Everything!

Ingredients

  • Devil’s Food Cake recipe or boxed mix
  • ¾ cup Sprite
  • ¾ cups brewed coffee
  • 4 tablespoons of black walnut flavoring
  • 6 cups of confectioners’ sugar 
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ⅓ cup milk or cream

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Start with a Devil’s food cake recipe.

In place of water, use ¾ cup Sprite and ¼ cup brewed coffee.

Add 2 tablespoons of black walnut flavoring.

Continue as directed on the box and bake as either cupcakes or any version of your favorite layer cake. Cool the cakes.

 

National Chocolate Cake Day Mahogany Cake

For the frosting:

  1. Add 6 cups of confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of your electric mixer
  2. Add ¾ cup cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon salt
  3. Mix in 4 tablespoons melted butter, ½ cup brewed coffee, 2 tablespoons black walnut flavoring, and ⅓ cup milk or cream
  4. Mix this all together, scraping down the sides

Home Chef Tip!

If the frosting is too loose, add more sugar. If it’s too tight, add more milk. Keep a can of prepared chocolate frosting on hand just to be safe

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach
Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach

My Thanksgiving Recipe Planner for 2021 (And BEYOND!)

My Thanksgiving Recipe Planner for 2021 (And BEYOND!)

thanksgiving dinner ideas 2021

It’s TURKEY TIME and we’re together again…finally! Extraordinary times call for extraordinary meals, and this year is especially filled with gratitude and good meals at the family dinner table.

When is Thanksgiving in 2021?  Thursday, November 25th!  That’s right around the corner.

Whether you’re hosting a family gathering, a Friendsgiving or a neighborhood potluck, we come to gather and give thanks at this time of year and this year is special.

We may not have seen each other in a while, so this Thanksgiving it’s more important than ever that you, the host, enjoy your day as much as everyone else does!

I have a sure-fire plan that allows you to make sure that you have as much FUN on Thanksgiving as your guests.

Here’s how we’ll do it!

 

Turkey Day Planning

Avoid Shortages: Order Ahead

This year especially you want to make sure that you reserve the items that you need for your menu and that you pick them up in plenty of time. Pick up your frozen turkey as soon as you can (and put it on your calendar to order ahead for festivities in December).

If you’re choosing a fresh turkey, make sure you reserve it at the grocery store for pick up several days in advance. The same is true if you are getting your turkey from the farm or market.

Make sure you are ready to pick up your reserved turkey when the farmer is ready to deliver.

Accept Help!

 

If Aunt Edna’s offers her pumpkin pie, accept!! If Cousin Ben offers to bring an appy, accept!!

If your best friend offers to help with the dishes, accept!!

You are the host, not the restaurant owner. This meal is about being thankful for our blessings and friends and family are those blessings.

 

Turkey Day Take-Alongs

Plan Your Menu

Turkey is the star, of course.

But choose the sides based on your oven space. If you have one oven, having six casserole dishes that need heated at the last minute won’t work out well.

Make use of your slow cooker, Instapot or warming drawer for extra help.

 

Break Down Everything into Its Smallest Part

 

If your appy is a cheese platter, have everything chopped and rolled so that all you have to do is assemble it.

Make your desserts ahead. Assemble your casserole dishes ahead, so all you have to do is bake them.

Make your gravy ahead and heat it on the stove while you carve the turkey.

Set your table in advance. If you are tackling a centerpiece, do this in advance.

Have a plan that lets you wake on Thanksgiving morning to a day with very few chores left to do!

 

Take a look at these ideas to get you started:

The Best Gravy Recipe EVER

 

My gift to you this holiday season is a foolproof, make-ahead recipe for the best, most delicious gravy…ever. This full proof make-ahead gravy recipe not only saves you time but is also the most flavorful gravy you’ve ever made!

Out of time or inspiration? Get my very best Thanksgiving recipes with easy-to-follow instructions to make this the most tasty holiday yet!

Shop Jorj's Cookbooks

7 Cookbooks and Counting!
Great Gift Ideas 😉

National Gumbo Day Recipe to Savor

National Gumbo Day Recipe to Savor

national gumbo day recipe october 12

If you’re looking for a dish that’s perfect to prepare it in the morning and heat up as family gets in, look no further!  This soup/stew has just enough spice to keep things interesting. The roux makes the dish… it’s rich, luscious and full of flavor!

Skip to Recipe

October 12th is National Gumbo Day and I have JUST the recipe to see that you celebrate deliciously.

The dish of many cultures, gumbo is a melting pot for flavors. National Gumbo Day is a day to enjoy the bold, savory signature stew from Louisiana.

This multifaceted dish reflects its origins as an adaptation of many different cultures’ recipes blended together into one delicious dish that we know today.

According to SouthernFoodWays.com, gumbo was first served at a gubernatorial reception in New Orleans in 1803.

There’s no certainly no better way to celebrate than enjoying a hot, savory dish of gumbo.  Give this recipe a try!

 

Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

40 Minutes Until You’re Ready

Good For:

Dinner

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, 2 sticks
  • 1 red pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
  • 1 green pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups homemade chicken broth, or
  • prepared low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 4 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage, sliced and cut in half
  • 2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled, deveined with tails removed
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked white rice

Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage Recipe

Spread the flour onto a baking sheet. Toast the flour in the oven for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the toasted flour. Stir in the diced peppers. Cook the roux until it is amber brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pot. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook until the liquid is incorporated. Stir in the chicken broth, clam juice, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Pour in the roux and cook for 5 minutes. Season with hot pepper sauce and additional salt and pepper. Stir in the sausage, shrimp and okra. Simmer until the shrimp is cooked through and the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.

Serve the gumbo by placing a scoop of rice in the middle of a bowl. Surround the rice with gumbo. Serve additional hot pepper sauce on the side!

Nana Network Tip
Use thawed, frozen shrimp and frozen okra in this recipe. It’s perfect and way less expensive!

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Easy Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe – Farmer’s Market Edition!

This garden bread art recipe was inspired by traditional Azerbaijani outdoor cooking and my love for all things fresh from the Farmer’s Market! Join me as I revisit my focaccia bread that first appeared in “Canvas and Cuisine: The Art of the Fresh Market” 

Skip to recipe

Sometimes inspiration just hits! For me it started with the Azerbaijan cooking vlogs that constantly show up in my Facebook feed. 

I used to look forward to seeing friends and kids of friends and grandkids of friends. 

Now, I peer into the screen waiting to see my adorable Azerbaijan friends as they emerge through the green door of their tiny house to forage through the woods, harvesting as they go. 

The only sounds you hear are the rustling of leaves and chirping birds. He throws down a metal pan, slices some logs and before you know it there is a working oven in the middle of a field or by the side of a stream or at the top of a ridge!

She uses a clever wooden board to chop everything from onions to a whole leg of lamb. He makes tea out of the flowers he picks as he passes the field. 

I’m inspired by everything that they cook – always outdoors and always on an open fire. But what gets me the most is how she (Lord, I wish I knew her name) bakes bread at almost every meal using nothing but her hands and a covered skillet. 

It’s amazing! 

And even more, it makes me crave fresh baked bread almost daily. 

Let’s face it…I have every modern tool known to man starting with electricity and ending with a machine fitted with a dough hook and still, I find bread making to be daunting.

I’m over it! If my Azerbaijan friend can bake gloriously delicious-looking bread over an open fire, then I can certainly take my bread baking to a new level using my state of the art kitchen. Right?

I have a really good recipe for focaccia bread in my book “Canvas and Cuisine: Art of the Fresh Market”.

The dough comes together quickly and rises when requested. It bakes in about 15 minutes and has just enough crumb to distinguish itself from flatbread. It’s my go-to bread recipe, so I decided that my focaccia dough would be my canvas.

My morning trip to the Farmer’s market yielded all sorts of treasurers. I purchased peppers and multi-colored carrots. I gathered my favorite purple-green tomatoes and all sorts of herbs. When I laid out all of these, I saw my plan come together. I would create a flower garden using veggies and herbs to decorate my bread. I would make my Azerbaijan friend proud! 

It’s all in the planning, so I laid out my design on parchment paper while the bread was rising. This was the smartest thing that I did, because I could change things around on paper that I would have been stuck with when placed on the bread dough.

I used red onions for flower petals and chives for stems. I sliced the carrots using my mandoline and cut olives, red cherry bomb peppers and grape tomatoes into thin slices. Sage and parsley leaves pulled everything together and my flower garden was born.

In the end, it worked like a charm and my pals oohed and awed at the results. I must admit I was pretty impressed with myself!

My Azerbaijan friend started me on this journey. (I feel I have more to come!!) The Farmer’s market furthered my vision.

And here’s my take from this experience. Inspiration can be found anywhere; you just have to open your eyes. 

What’s going to inspire you this week??

Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe

 

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

20 Minutes plus a few hours for bread to rise

Good For:

Appetizer, Brunch

Ingredients for Garden Art FOCACCIA Bread

 

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 ¾ cups warm water

  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup olive oil, divided

  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Directions for Garden Art FOCACCIA Bread 

 

Place the yeast and sugar into a small bowl. Stir in the warm water. Place the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and fragrant, about 15 minutes. I use the proof setting on my warming drawer for this.

Use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine the flour, salt, ½ cup of olive oil and the yeast to form a dough. Once the dough comes together, continue to knead the dough in the machine until smooth. Stop the machine and check the dough every couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic, hold its shape around the dough hook and spring back when you indent it with your finger. This takes anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes using the mixer. If you are kneading by hand, knead until you can’t knead anymore!

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it by hand for an additional 30 seconds. If the dough is too sticky, you can sprinkle with additional flour. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I use my warming drawer for this step, too.

 

Pour the remaining cup of olive oil onto a 12 ½ x 17 ½ x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, stretching it out to fill the pan. Turn and coat with oil on both sides. Use your finger to poke indentations into the dough. These will be the “nooks and crannies” to hold the seasoning in the next step. Place the dough in a warm place to rise again, for 1 hour. Yep, the warming drawer is still the best place!

Preheat the oven to 400°. Transfer the pan from its warm place. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, sea salt, thyme, and rosemary. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan before cutting into squares.

 

Celebrate National Coffee Day With These Cocktails

Celebrate National Coffee Day With These Cocktails

National Coffee Day After Dinner Drinks

National Coffee Day Dessert Ideas

Happy #NationalCoffeeDay! Perk up with these delicious coffee dessert ideas, perfect after dark.

Irish Coffee Recipe

The drink literally flew into the United States when a travel writer from the San Francisco Chronicle brought the recipe with him on a return flight from Shannon Airport. The belly-warming bar favorite, made with a frothy whipping cream, loads of sugar, piping hot coffee and 2 parts Irish whiskey, is based on a rather romantic story.

The necessity of Irish coffee’s fortifying ingredients were clear on a frigid winter night in Ireland in the 1940s, when a group of weary American passengers disembarked from their flying boat Pan AM flight (these were the precurosor days to the Shannon airport) and asked the guy in charge on the dock, Joseph Sheridan chef of County Limerick, if he had anything to remedy dampened spirits. The answer turned out to be a history-in-the-making yes when he concocted Irish coffee for them; about a decade after that, it was all the rage in the Emerald Isle’s Shannon Airport, where the American journalist with the very fitting name of Stanton Delaplane fell in love with the drink and popularized it at California’s world famous Buena Vista café in the fall of 1952.

Irish Coffee Recipe

Ready In:

10 minutes 

Servings

8 Cups

Dip 8 tall, glass coffee mugs first into cold water and then into granulated sugar. Use a cooking torch to carefully brown the sugar on the glass.

Whip the cream with confectioner’s sugar.

Divide the whiskey among the 8 mugs. Pour in the hot coffee. Top with whipped cream.

  • 8 cups brewed coffee
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • ¾ cup Irish Whiskey

Mexican Coffee Recipe

The drink literally flew into the United States when a travel writer from the San Francisco Chronicle brought the recipe with him on a return flight from Shannon Airport. The belly-warming bar favorite, made with a frothy whipping cream, loads of sugar, piping hot coffee and 2 parts Irish whiskey, is based on a rather romantic story.

The necessity of Irish coffee’s fortifying ingredients were clear on a frigid winter night in Ireland in the 1940s, when a group of weary American passengers disembarked from their flying boat Pan AM flight (these were the precurosor days to the Shannon airport) and asked the guy in charge on the dock, Joseph Sheridan chef of County Limerick, if he had anything to remedy dampened spirits. The answer turned out to be a history-in-the-making yes when he concocted Irish coffee for them; about a decade after that, it was all the rage in the Emerald Isle’s Shannon Airport, where the American journalist with the very fitting name of Stanton Delaplane fell in love with the drink and popularized it at California’s world famous Buena Vista café in the fall of 1952.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe

Ready In:

10 minutes 

Servings

8 Cups

Add the cinnamon stick and cocoa powder to the pot of brewed coffee. Allow the flavors to infuse for 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour the coffee into cups. Garnish with whipped cream.

Add dark chocolate liquor with a splash of cinnamon schnapps to make it more fun!

  • 8 cups brewed coffee
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons instant cocoa powder
  • Whipped cream
  • Dark Chocolate Liqueur (optional)
  • Cinnamon Schnapps (optional)

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

The Only Fruit Chutney Recipe You’ll Ever Need

The Only Fruit Chutney Recipe You’ll Ever Need

How to make easy fruit chutney recipe

 The Only Fruit Chutney Recipe You’ll Ever Need (And It’s Peachy Keen!)

If you’re looking for the perfect chutney recipe, look no further. This easy peach chutney recipe can be used with a variety of fruits and is great on crackers, sandwiches, or even cheese plates. Create your own signature chutney with the only chutney recipe you’ll ever need from Jorj’s kitchen!

When your brother-in-law calls on the way to your house to visit and asks if you want him to bring you some peaches, you say, “Yes”! 

And when he shows up at your house with a bag, a basket, and a box full of peaches, you say, “Thank you.” 

And on the day, he leaves, and all those peaches are lined up on your counter waiting for your inspiration, you say, “What can I make?”

Then it hits. Peach chutney.

Chutney is a condiment made with fruit and spices. I keep jars of chutney in my pantry. If guests drop by unexpectedly, I use chutney on top of goat cheese or cream cheese as an appy.

Chutney spices up my bacon and cheese panini sandwich and is just lovely spooned over pork or chicken. A spoonful of chutney added to your homemade chicken salad makes for a nice twist.

Mix it into mayo for a yummy condiment on your turkey sandwich or into sour cream for an easy dip.



Think of chutney as a spicy jam and you will find all sorts of things to do with it.

Here’s my recipe for a simple, fresh chutney that will last for weeks in your fridge.

It’s easy to prepare and a lot better than those in the jar because you taste the freshness of the fruit and control the amount of heat.

You can make chutney with pears, apples, mangos… really any fruit will work well.

All you do is throw everything into a pot and simmer until the fruit begins to break down, merging all the flavors together.

It’s fun to make, yummy to eat and a treat to share with family and friends. 

Hey, brother-in-law, these peaches were just peachy keen!

Servings

3 Cups

Ready In:

30 minutes ’til ready!

Good For:

Appetizers, Spreads, Dip, Lunch

Heat the olive oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onion and cook until just soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the peaches and tomatoes. Stir in the brown sugar. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with Chinese Five spice, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the peaches just begin to break apart and the chutney thickens about 20 to 25 minutes.

The longer you simmer, the thicker the chutney! 

Cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely diced, about ½ cup
  • 2 to 3 medium-hot cherry peppers, seeded and finely diced, about ½ cup
  • ½ red onion, peeled and finely diced, about ½ cup
  • 6 ripe peaches, peeled and diced, about 3 cups
  • 6 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced, about 3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Note

To peel the peaches and tomatoes, use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top. Place into boiling water for a minute or two. Remove and cool slightly. The peel will come off easily from the slits.

Another Note

After you peel the tomatoes, you can squeeze out the extra juice and seeds by pushing them gently through a colander.