End of the Year Fresh Market Surprises!

End of the Year Fresh Market Surprises!

We purchase our holiday turkey from New Town Farms in Waxhaw, North Carolina every year. This year, I was surprised to learn that Sammy, New Town’s Father Farmer also raises a small heard of Ossabaw Island Hogs. These are descendants of the famous Spanish Iberico hogs that are renowned for the most prize cured hams in the world – Jamón Ibérico. You may remember me writing about those hams after our trip to Spain a while back. The butchers in the fresh markets have contests to see who can cut the finest slices from the cured meat. It’s an art!

I also learned that these hogs have an interesting history. They were brought from Spain to a small island off the coast of Georgia in the 1500’s. They remained there for years, developing new characteristics for survival which make the meat delicious and extremely high in Omega 3’s. Sammy is one of a handful of farmers who raise these hogs, and he butchers just a few every year. Luckily, we will be the beneficiaries of this long history when we taste the pork that I purchased from Sammy on New Year’s Day.

And, if this is not delicious enough, my trip to the Mathews farmer’s market, where I picked up the pork, landed me right in front of the happiest farmer I ever met, Jim Mundorf of Nuthill Farms (pictured above). These are some of his yummy offerings!


He got me to taste his Henpecked mustard greens, which were delicate and tender and had an after-blast of mustard that ups the flavor profile in any salad…and especially on that left-over ham sammie.

He also sold me some Tokyo Cross turnips that you can slice raw into salads, but he suggested that I cook the tops with some vinegar and then roast the turnips to go with. Yes, Jim, I will! Click here to see New Town’s store!

Pork is a New Year’s tradition in our house. This was my Dad’s favorite thing to eat! My favorite way to enjoy the dish is to slow cook the meat (any cut works: chops, ribs, butt and shoulder) in the slow cooker with sauerkraut.

Here’s how ya do it!

Place the sauerkraut into the bottom of your slow cooker. I add sliced onions and slices of cabbage to the kraut. Season the meat and place it on top of the sauerkraut. Pour in about a cup of chicken broth. Cook the pork on low heat for a long time. I serve the dish with mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. This year, we’ll add some mustard greens to the mix!


Wishing You’re the Happiest and Healthiest of New Years!!



3 “Most Googled” Holiday Recipes & How to Jazz ‘Em Up

3 “Most Googled” Holiday Recipes & How to Jazz ‘Em Up

 Why did the turkey cross the road…?

To get to the other sides!!!!!

Ha! Here’s another funny tidbit. The three most googled food items for this year’s Thanksgiving were Popeye’s Cajun Fried Turkey, cornbread dressing and green bean casserole. I may have to give that Cajun turkey a try, it’s obviously popular.

If you are like me, Thanksgiving is just the beginning of the seasonal turkey experience. Yes, Virginia, there is another turkey dinner coming our way on Christmas. We alternate between an old-fashioned English holiday dinner starring roast “beast”, popovers and sticky toffee pudding on Christmas eve and the turkey dinner with all the fixins’ on Christmas day.

I took some notes from those googlers and offer you my two cents on my favorite holiday sides. The really convenient part about these holiday recipes, is that you can make them the day before and bake them while your turkey rests.

Recipe #1: Easy, Old School Dressing

My dressing is passed down from my mother-in-law. It’s not cornbread, but you could easily substitute cornbread in place of dried white bread. It goes like this.

Sautee diced onions and celery in a whole bunch of butter, until soft. I mean a serious amount of butter! Pour two packages of stuffing mix into a large bowl. Pour in those buttery veggies. Stir in a can of cream of celery soup. Then stir in another one. Things should be getting pretty gooey right about now. Add two beaten eggs, then pour in enough chicken broth to bind everything together.

Now, here’s the tricky part.

Spoon half of the dressing into one side of a large baking dish that has been coated with vegetable oil spray. Stir in at least 1 cup (if not 2 cups) of golden raisins into the remaining dressing; then spoon this into the other side of the casserole. Just for good measure, douse the dressing with more chicken broth. Dot the top of the casserole with bits of butter.

Bake at 350° until the top is browned and a bit crunchy, about 30 minutes.

Tell the dressing purists to dig into the side without the raisins and invite everyone related to a Morgan to dig into the raisin side!

Recipe #2: Jorj’s Broccoli Casserole

It’s pretty old-school. I blanche broccoli florets until they are crisp-tender. Then I make a white sauce starting with butter and flour, adding whole milk and a gentle seasoning of salt, pepper and nutmeg. I add a bunch of sharp cheddar cheese and pour this over the broccoli. Before baking, I douse the top with fried onions (as an ode to that other green casserole).

Recipe #3: Straight Up Roasted Veggies

I blanched some Brussels sprouts until crisp tender and then placed them in a large bowl. I added cubes of butternut squash, sweet potato, zucchini and the tops of thick asparagus spears. I doused these with vegetable oil, salt, pepper and a generous amount of Tuscan seasoning – but you can add practically any spice and still have your veggies come out delish.

Spread the veggies onto a baking sheet and roast at 425°for about 20 minutes and you have another side dish.

Give These Recipes as a Gift This X-mas

You can find the recipes for my herb roasted turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie in my first book, At Home in the Kitchen which is still available almost 20 years after it was first published! Or email me at jorj@jorj.com if you need a refresher.

Whether your holiday dinner includes a turkey, a roast, seven fishes or some stuffed shells, remember to linger a little with the hostess after the meal is over. You needn’t jump up from the table to see the game score, clear the dishes, or trudge to the easy chair for a nap. Take it from me, your host will enjoy the day more, if you, her treasured friends and family just sit a little while longer.

4 Bon Appetite Recipes for Thanksgiving

4 Bon Appetite Recipes for Thanksgiving

By: Jen Russon

It’s November and I have a lot to be thankful for – on my gratitude list is Jorj Morgan. Not only is she the best boss a girl could ask for, but she single handedly (yes, Jorj – YOU!) turned me onto to the idea of an in-store cooking class. Sur La Table offers a wide range of classes, for all ages. They partnered with Bon Appetite magazine, and teach you how to cook the simple, yet elegant things from its pages.

Off I went for the Thanksgiving themed class; parked my car in the Mizner Plaza parking garage and followed my nose. Chef Deb had already prepared a turkey, and was getting ready to do it again, along with Hassleback Butternut Squash with Bay Leaves, Lemony Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Breadcrumbs and, for dessert, Braised and Bruleed Apples with Ice cream.

At first I looked at the proposed menu and thought, “I’d order that…but can I make it?”

Sur La Table makes you think you can! Here’s photos of everything I made with some notes to get Jorj’s readers interested in checking out cooking class locations.

The Turkey

Chef Deb taught me how to “spatchcock” the bird. This technique involves splitting, then flattening the turkey, yielding a perfect roasted bird in half an hour – a full 15 minutes faster than a whole roasted bird.

But none of us (4 total students) were all that concerned with time because they make you so comfortable in the Sur La Table kitchen. You get to drink fresh brewed coffee and snack on muffins Chef D made just before you got there….heaven!

We put together a brine, chopping fresh rosemary and anise on our cutting boards. We were shown the ideal way to zest an orange, and add other spices; we made the turkey as according to the Bon appetite recipe for it, put it in the oven and forgot about it until we got to eat some at the end of class. My biggest take away for this dish was learning how to do a mirepoix – a flavor base made from diced vegetables. We roasted the turkey on “a rack” of carrots, onions and celery.

Hasselback Butternut Squash

In this case, a picture’s worth 1,000 words. Jorj’s cookbooks usually contain the scrumptious possibility of a hassleback potato. I used to think hassleback was a type of potato, but all it really means is thinly, but not completely slicing something. Look what we did to this butternut squash – delicious! Get this easy Bon Appetite recipe here.

Revved up Brussels Sprouts – my favorite thing we made that day

When the class discussed food trends with Chef Deb, she said it’s all about the Brussels sprouts these days. OMG, are they good with bacon and breadcrumbs! When we got to enjoy the full spread of what we’d made, I saw a few people go back for seconds on Bon Appetite’s Brussels sprouts.

Pro-tip – just cut the bacon with your best knife. Chef Deb said she never uses her food processor for this one.

The Perfect Sized Dessert

If you’re tired of pie, these braised and bruleed apples on ice cream are a tasty reprieve – it’s also a nice size. Is it weird that I sometimes wish the big, showy desserts I order in restaurants weren’t so huge? Even when you share them, as I believe you’re meant to, you end up getting way too full. This aromatic heaven of a sweet treat is like the essence of Fall…in a bowl. It’s as wonderful to eat as it is to look at, and the steps are easy.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

That’s all….there’s a break while things cook, and cooking students get to shop with a special discount. Thanks Jorj, for not only inspiring me to go, but to let me hold court on a perfect day! I’m going to take more Sur La Table cooking classes, I’m sure of it! Giving a class as a gift works too!







4 Killer Snacks for Your Last Minute Halloween Party!

4 Killer Snacks for Your Last Minute Halloween Party!

Here are a couple of last minute tricks you can use to make some tummy-filling treats for your Halloween crew; whether it’s a block party filled with kids, or just adults at an office Halloween bash. Because there are going to be as many individual tastes as there are costumes, I created a menu that is universally loved – from the six-year-old dressed like Dracula, to the middle aged couple decked out like Anthony and Cleopatra.

Honestly, these buffet style recipes are good no matter what time of year it is. Pull out these easy party recipes again for an Easter or 4th of July gathering, and everyone will still want more!

Mummy Dogs

Jorj.com has REAL DEAL KETCHUP recipe!

Roll out a sheet of puff pastry. Cut it into 1-inch lengths. Wrap one strip of puff pastry around one hot dog. Continue with as many dogs as you like. Bake at 425° until the puff pastry is golden, about 20 minutes. Offer ketchup and mustard for dipping!

Chili Rolls

Who ate one of my chili rolls?!

Roll out a sheet of puff pastry. Cover with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Spread left-over chili (or chili-seasoned cooked ground beef) over the top. Douse with more cheese. Roll up the pastry over the filling, like you would a cinnamon roll. Cut into 1 ½-inch slices, and place cut-side up in a baking dish sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Place them a bit apart from each other to allow the puff pastry to cook all the way through. Bake at 425° until the pastry is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Skillet Nachos

Line a skillet with nacho chips. I used a large, cast iron skillet for this. Cover with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Place re-fried beans (15-ounce) can into a pot over medium-low heat. Stir in a little chicken or beef broth. This will thin the beans enough to make them spoonable. Cover the cheese with half of the beans. Top the beans with chili-seasoned cooked ground beef. Repeat the process so that you have two layers of chips, cheese, beans and meat. Top the skillet with more cheese. Bake at 400° until the cheese is melted, about 20 to 30 minutes. You can place the skillet under the broiler to really toast the cheese; after it has melted if you like. Top the nachos with your favorite toppings, like sour cream, salsa, chopped avocado, green onions and cilantro.

Chicken Fingers

Melt butter and stir in grated Parmesan cheese. Any amount works for this. The cheese is a salty component for the fingers. Mix panko bread crumbs with seasoned breadcrumbs. Season chicken fillets with salt and pepper. Dip the fillets into melted butter and then into breadcrumbs. Place each one onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake at 425° until the crust is golden and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Happy Tricks for Treating!!!

Halloween Treats for the Big Night

Halloween Treats for the Big Night

Tomorrow, I’ll share advice on a death by chocolate adult party plan — BUT THIS BLOG goes out to the parents who stay home on Halloween night to dole out the candy. Having been that parent many moons ago, I remember what made the night special and delicious. Buckle up, these recipes come with a story!

For twenty-five years, we lived in a small neighborhood across from the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was filled with families and over-run with children. I dare say that the biggest community event held each year was the Halloween party. We gathered together in costumes, dispatching pizza and Gatorade into tiny mouths so that candy would be absorbed before bedtime.

We trudged through the neighborhood, hauling kids in wagons and greeting neighbors. It didn’t take me too long to figure out why I chose to be the designated stay-at-home parent on October 31. Well, someone has to hand out the candy! But no judgment, I refined my Halloween style in those years, and came up with these two tasty standbys – the ultimate in Halloween treats!

The process:

I filled a large tub with ice and submerged bottles of water to hand out to tired parents. Trick-or-treating is hard work! Then I started adding warm soup to the mix.

I kept the soup warm in my slow cooker, placed on a table by the front door. I ladled the soup into disposable coffee cups, and my fellow parents sipped and smiled. But it’s these sweet treats that really got the kiddos smiling!

Pumpkin brownies with cream cheese frosting are the bomb! The recipe is in my first book At Home in the Kitchen. You can still find a copy or two on-line or you can just email me for the recipe! This year I elevated those brownies to a whole new level by using Hocus Pocus sugar by Fancy Sprinkles. If you love to bake, check out these fancier than fancy sprinkles for your next holiday treat.

The combination of warm soup and sweet (and fancy) brownies lives on! Now I prepare them for my grandchildren and their parents (not yet for the whole neighborhood!). Here is my recipe for a tummy-warming, simple soup that will put a smile on your family faces – if you can see them from underneath their masks!

Butternut Squash Bisque

serves 6 to 8

40 minute cuisine

¼ cup olive oil

4 tablespoons butter, ½ stick

1 leek, tender part sliced

1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped

4 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1 (2 pound) butternut squash, peeled and chopped, about 5 to 6 cups

1 tablespoon Autumn Harvest spice blend (substitute with pumpkin pie spice)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

⅓ cup sherry

1 quart homemade chicken stock, or prepared low sodium broth

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the leek, onion and garlic to the pan and cook until the veggies are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the butternut squash. Season with spice blend, chili powder, some of the salt and pepper. Pour in the sherry and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed into the veggies. Pour in the stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until all of the veggies are very soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the pot form the heat. Use an immersion blender, food processor or blender to emulsify the soup. If you are using a blender or food processor, allow the soup to cool before pulsing… just to be safe! Return the pureed soup to the pot over low heat. Stir in the cream. Taste and season salt and pepper if needed.




Pumpkin Griddle Cakes with a Surprise Topping…

Pumpkin Griddle Cakes with a Surprise Topping…

This fall recipe really cheered me up. We had a rainy summer and a couple of she-devil hurricanes here in the mountains of North Carolina, and it all but killed the autumn leaves. Before they can turn golden, orange and red, they’re blown to the ground. This would be deeply upsetting, if it weren’t for the fact that apple trees LOVE rain!That’s the surprise on the side…warm, seasoned apples to eat with your pumpkin pancakes. Thanks to all the rain in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the apple crop this year is about as abundant as I’ve seen. The varieties are too numerous to taste, but I managed to grab several varieties of apple (and a hefty haul of pumpkins) at the farmer’s market this year.

And so begs the question: what to make?

I have made so many dishes that take advantage of pumpkin and apple. I’ve shared many of them with you. But, this one for pumpkin griddle cakes with sautéed apples – from my book Fresh Traditions: Classic Dishes for a Contemporary Lifestyle is a favorite.

Like all my best recipes, this breakfast comes from a childhood memory.

My grandmother, Mary Magner made flapjacks the size of a pie in a large cast-iron skillet every Sunday morning after church. She served them with rich maple syrup and spicy pork sausage. (please don’t ask me about the sausage…. I remember playing with da pigs….).

My other grammy, Marie Cohen, made delicious applesauce she served alongside her delicate potato pancakes, always dousing both with powdered sugar. The kicker was that potato pancakes were served for dinner! What a treat to happen upon the Sunday you ate flapjacks in the morning, and latkes at night. Those were the days.

Start the fall season with a brunch that features pumpkin pancakes.  Sugared apples make the dish even more festive.  If you are not counting calories, add a bowlful of whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted nuts for an over-the-top garnish.

I bet your family will love it!!

Pumpkin Griddle Cakes with Sautéed Apples

Serves about 4 to 6 (about 12 4-inch pancakes)

30 minute cuisine

For apples:

4 tablespoons butter, ½ stick, divided

4 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced, about 4 cups

3 tablespoons brown sugar

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 1 tablespoon

For griddle cakes:

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3 large eggs

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook the apples in the butter until soft, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to low.  Sprinkle the apples with brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for 2 minutes or until the apples are golden and syrupy.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Keep the apples warm.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs and milk.  Stir this mixture into the flour mixture to form a smooth batter.

Stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan or on a griddle over medium heat.  Ladle about ½ cup batter into the pan.  Continue layering to create as many cakes as you can without over-crowding the pan. You need room to flip! Cook until the top begins to bubble, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Flip and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.  Serve the griddle cakes with a spoonful of syrupy sautéed apples.