Shoots and Sprouts and Other Market Finds

Shoots and Sprouts and Other Market Finds

There’s nothin’ that says “South In Your Mouth” like tomato pie and this one says it all! Also, learn how to make a melting, fragrant, nutty pesto that is delicious as a condiment on summer sweet corn, pasta, and atop your avocado toast!  Click to skip to the recipe


In the age of “New Normal”, strolling the early Saturday morning Farmer’s Market takes on new character.

Gone is the plucking of a purplish tomato, brought to the nose for a quick sniff. The mask gets in the way!

The lines at the veggie stands are a little longer, now that we queue up six feet apart.

Displays of fresh baked goods are abandoned and replaced by take home bake-it-yourself wrapped containers.

It can all be a tad disheartening.

Except that if you spend a slower amount of time strolling, you may just see something you’ve missed during your past visits.

And that, my friends, happened to me this past weekend. I discovered Sunshine Cove Farm.

Sunshine Cove Farm is a small-scale farm with a big mission. They are working to build local resilience in the mountain community by finding ways to grow A LOT of nutritious food with a limited footprint.

They specialize in produce that packs BIG nutritional value into a little space. Their harvest includes microgreens, shoots, edible flowers, and specialty vegetables.

I was drawn to the stand because of their unique marketing. Gourmet packets held mixes with names like Pico de Gallo and Immunity Mix.

Well, I just couldn’t resist.

I bought a couple of packages and slipped them into my basket with my other goodies and headed home.

Since my Pico de Gallo Mix included cilantro, onion, and lime basil, I decided to incorporate these shoots and sprouts into my garlic scape pesto.

It was YUM!

Pesto is great on veggies or pasta, but I slathered some on a rack of lamb the other evening and it was beyond delish.

When company came a-calling for a little Sunday night potluck, I topped my utterly Southern Tomato Pie with some of the shoots and sprouts from the Market Mix and the edible flowers were the perfect garnish.

If you can’t make it to the market, you can order from Sunshine Cover Farms online. It’s worth the effort! (So, is the pie!!)


Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie


There’s nothin’ that says “South In Your Mouth” like tomato pie and this one says it all!

1 pre-baked pie shell (see note)

4 large tomatoes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces Mozzarella cheese, grated, about 1 cup

4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated, about 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 to 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Assorted microgreens for garnish



6 to 8

40-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice the tomatoes and place them into a colander. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let them sit for 10 minutes.

Mix together the cheeses and mayonnaise in a bowl. Fold in the green onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the bacon over the bottom of the pie crust. Layer the tomatoes on top of the bacon. Sprinkle the tomatoes with basil and green onions. Spoon the cheese topping over everything.

Bake the pie until the topping begins to turn golden and is melty and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and cool. Spread the microgreens over the top of the pie. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make-Ahead Tip:

Get a head start on this delicious dish by using a refrigerated pie crust. To prebake the crust, preheat your oven to 400°. 

Place the pie dough into a pie pan and crinkle the edges. Pierce the bottom of the dough with the tines of a fork. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the pie shell. Fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake until the edges begin to turn golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pie shell from the oven. Remove the parchment paper and the weights.

Bake until the bottom of the shell is just golden, about 5 to 8 minutes more. Remove the shell from the oven and reduce the heat to 350° to continue the recipe.

Garlic Scape Pesto


In the early summer market, you can find long, green, circles of thin stalks that are garlic scapes. These are the flower bud of garlic plants. They are cut off the plant so that the bulb grows fatter and fatter. These strands of garlicky goodness can be used in the same way as garlic cloves with no peeling of course! I use them to make pesto and then I spread that pesto on everything. Melting, fragrant, nutty pesto is delicious as a condiment on summer sweet corn, pasta, and atop your avocado toast!



About 2 Cups

20-Minute Cuisine

2 bunches garlic scapes (about 20 shoots)

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, about 4 cups

Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1 cup

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1 package Pico de Gallo shoots and microgreens  (substitute with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro)

1 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the garlic scapes into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to finely chop.

Add the basil, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Pulse to combine. Add the microgreens and pulse one more time. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. The result will be a smooth paste. Stop the machine and season with salt and pepper. Pulse one more time.

Transfer to a mason jar with lie, or resealable container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week or store in ice cube trays in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Fried Pickles and Comeback Sauce: Your How to Guide

Fried Pickles and Comeback Sauce: Your How to Guide

When you are hankerin’ for some Southern barbecue, are you really craving that super-sauced shredded pork sandwich, or all the fixin’s that go alongside?  Which comes first, the bite of sandwich or chunk of fried potato? For me, it’s all about the starters, and nothing gets me started like a big old basket of fried pickles with a bowlful of spicy comeback sauce, which gets its name from Jackson, Mississippi, where it was created.

There are a bunch of ways to create the batter for the pickles. I like the combination of seasoned flour and buttermilk for a tangy topping. You can use any pickles and fry them whole or cut them into slices. I like to cut whole pickles into diagonal slices giving a two-bite serving. You can use dill pickles or sweet pickles or sweet and spicy pickles. I like good old-fashioned dill pickles right from the jar. You can fry them in vegetable oil or peanut oil. I have vegetable in my pantry, so that’s the way I roll. For the sauce, you can choose your favorite combo, but I like comeback sauce which is similar (although simpler) to remoulade sauce.

Whichever way you fry your pickle, you and your pals are sure to enjoy the results!


Fried Pickles

With Comeback Sauce

serves a crowd

30 minute cuisine

For Pickles:

1 large jar whole dill pickles, drained

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup buttermilk

Vegetable (or peanut) oil for frying

For Sauce:

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chili sauce

2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Cut the pickles into ¼-inch thick diagonal slices. Place the slices onto a baking sheet lined with paper toweling. Use additional paper toweling to dry the pickles slices thoroughly. Place the pickles into the fridge while you stir together the sauce.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the flour, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in the buttermilk. The batter will be thick.

Heat vegetable oil in a fryer or deep pan over high heat. You want enough oil to only come up ⅓ of the side of the pan. Dip one pickle slice into the batter. Shake off excess and carefully place in the hot oil. Repeat with several pickle slices. Do not overcrowd the pan. Use a slotted spoon to turn the pickles slices over once they are golden on one side, about 1 to 2 minutes total frying time per slice. Remove the slices to a baking sheet lined with paper toweling. Continue until all of the pickle slices are fried. Serve the warm pickles with the sauce for dipping.


Blackberry Season Calls for a Jam Session!

Blackberry Season Calls for a Jam Session!

It’s that time of year, mid-summer, when blackberries are ripe for the pickin’! Just last week, I found blackberries the size of quail eggs at the local farm stand. When I went back this week, sadly they were gone. I guess all those berry pickers have scarfed up the ones, so recently come to market…To stop my wails, the very kind lady let me know the berries will make a return in three weeks! Yay oh yay!

In the meantime, she suggested homemade preserves to see me through the dry spell. That’s when I found a lovely jar of blackberry jam! I gathered up all the jam I could hold, and came home to my kitchen to create a snack treat for my nieces and nephews, coming for a visit.

The result was this lovely, crumbly, streusel-like bar with the richness of farm grown blackberries. And, yes, they were a hit!

If you’re in the North Carolina area, check out these local U-pick farms with berries galore!


Blackberry Jam Oat Bars

Yield about 16 (2-inch) bars

30 minute cuisine


2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup unsalted butter, melted, 2 sticks

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest from 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

2 cups Blackberry Jam

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a square baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Stir together flour, oats, melted butter, sugars, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a bowl. The dough will be coarse and crumbly.

Stir together the jam and cornstarch in a bowl.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of the pan. Spread the jam/cornstarch mixture over the top. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the jam. Bake until the top of the bars begin to turn golden brown and the jam is bubbling, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the bars in the pan. Cut into squares.



Pico de Gallo the Green Goddess Way

Pico de Gallo the Green Goddess Way

Remember how in (the movie) Moana, that little rooster would peck at a pile of corn kernels? The size of that corn was roughly the same as the savory bits in a great pico de gallo recipe. Pico means beak and gallo, rooster, and if you’ve ever been to a really good taco bar, pico de gallo translates to pure heaven! I couldn’t think of a better summer recipe, what with tomatoes in season. Done the classic way, pico de gallo bears the same colors as the Mexican flag: red, green and white. Besides my favorite addition of roma tomatoes, there’s the white onion, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, lime and salt. You chop, mix and eat. So simple. In the pic above, I’ve blended the ingredients for a smoother bite — it all depends what kinda mood you’re in!

But more on this condiment….In addition to tasting out of this world on tacos, burritos, etc., pico de gallo is perfect on scrambled eggs, steak, fish, grilled eggplant, pasta – even baked potatoes. I like to add a batch to my guacamole, and spend a lazy summer afternoon, scooping it up onto chips and nursing a Corona.

But today, I’m taking the traditional recipe and making it all green, with tomatillos and cucumbers. Tomatillos are smaller and greener than their traditional cousin, the tomato. Tomatillos come wrapped in a cute little husk, and have a tarter flavor than the red guys. I think tomatillo salsas are best on a pork taco.

This green goddess chunky pico de gallo sauce is absolute perfection on a pork filled burrito, or in a bowl of rice and beans – or simply weighing down a tortilla chip.

However you take it, I implore you to wash it down with the coldest of cervezas. Salud!

Pico de Gallo the Green Goddess Way

Serves a crowd

15 minute cuisine, + at least 1 hour to marinate




2 cups tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and chopped

2 cups, English cucumber, peeled and diced

½ white onion, finely chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Lime juice, 4 tablespoons

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Coarse salt

After chilling:

2 Haas avocados, mashed (Fold into pico de gallo when it comes out of the fridge)

Toss all of the ingredients, reserving the avocados for later, in a small bowl. Season with salt. Cover and chill 1 hour to allow flavors to marry. In a separate bowl, mash the avocados and hand mix into the geen pico de gallo for an extra savory bite.



Summer Berries Baked Into 2 Easy Pie & Tart Recipes

Summer Berries Baked Into 2 Easy Pie & Tart Recipes

There are a couple of signs summer’s upon us: the temperature gauge in your car, the lack of clothing on the people around you, old folks waving magazines and newspapers hoping to catch a breeze, and peaches hitting the farmers stand. Of all these signs, I like the peaches the best! They’re subtly soft, sugary-sweet and delicious, sliced over yogurt in the morning and again over ice cream at night.

I ALWAYS buy too many peaches. I share them with everyone and still have a bunch that are screaming for me to use them up. Often, I bake them into crumbles. In my recent book, Canvas and Cuisine, I used them in a homemade ice cream recipe.

This season, I’ve done the unthinkable. I opted to use the last handful of peaches and make a good old-fashioned peach pie. Caveat here. I’m not the best baker in the world. I often leave desserts to my best pals to bring to my group dinners. But, I’m older…. bolder …. and have more time on my hands, so I thought I would give it (yet another) try. And, guess what! We have SUCCESS!

I used Ina’s pie crust recipe. Why not stick with the expert? And, I did two things I had not tried before. First, I peeled the peaches using the same method that I use to peel tomatoes. Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Drop a couple of peaches into the boiling water for just about 10 to 12 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peaches to a bowl filled with ice water. Use a sharp paring knife to peel off the soft skin. It works!

The second thing I did was to drain the seasoned, sliced peaches through a colander before pouring them into the crust. In the past, my fruit pies are often so juicy, the bottom crust becomes soggy. Since I drained most of the juice away, the crust remained firm and the peaches still produced plenty of juicy liquid.

Caveat number two. If it is just too hot to bake a pie, here’s is a simple way to use those peaches (and summer pitted cherries!).

Feel like a Tart?

Roll out a thawed puff pastry crust. Place it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon-sugar and roll up the edges to form a fluted border. Pierce the bottom of the dough with the tines of a fork. Arrange slices of peaches over the dough, and dot with halved pitted cherries. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar. Bake until the crust is golden, about 10 to 15 minutes at 400°. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Super easy and super sweet.

Mine and Ina’s Peach Pie

1 hr and 15 minute cuisine

Serves 4 to 6 for dessert

Ina’s Crust:

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) very cold unsalted butter

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

⅓ cup very cold vegetable shortening, such as Crisco

½ cup ice water


8 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

Juice of ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons butter (egg wash)

Cut the butter into tiny pieces and return it to the refrigerator. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out onto a floured board and roll into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the peaches into a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the peaches with the dry ingredients and gently toss.

Roll each disk on a well-floured board into a circle at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough so it doesn’t stick to the board. (You should see bits of butter in the dough.) Fold one circle of dough in half, ease it into the pie pan without stretching at all, and unfold to fit the pan. Brush the bottom of the crust with some of the egg wash, and pierce with the tines of a fork. Use a colander to drain the peaches. Pour the drained peaches into the crust. Gently place the second circle of dough onto the top of the pie. Fold the edges under and crimp together using your fingers or the tines of a fork. Pierce the top crust with the tip of a paring knife making small slits and brush with some of the egg wash. Place the pie pan onto a baking sheet and bake until the top crust is golden, and the filling is bubbling, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…

Visitors come and go in the summer – and maybe they’re too hot and bothered for a full-on meal. For those instances, where just a pit stop is needed (not a pit BBQ!), this southern style charcuterie board comes to the rescue. I’ve arranged mine with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. To wash it down, I toast ya’ll with a prickly pear inspired tequila drink I dreamed up, strolling through last week’s farmer’s market.

But first, here’s how to put together Jorj’s Southern Style Charcuterie Board

Turkey Roll Ups:

1 pound deli roasted turkey breast medium sliced

8 ounces goat cheese

¼ cup red pepper jelly

Ham Roll Ups:

1 pound deli ham medium sliced

8 ounces cream cheese

½ cup spicy dill pickles, drained and finely chopped

Deviled Eggs:

6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoon Dijon-Style mustard

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Millionaire’s Bacon

1 pound center cut bacon

1 cup brown sugar

Seasoned Crackers:

1 sleeve soda crackers

½ cup butter, 1 stick melted

½ packet ranch dressing

Pimento Cheese:

3 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, about 1 cup

4 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese, about 1 cup

½ cup homemade or prepared mayonnaise

1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos, drained

2 to 3 green onions, sliced, about 2 tablespoons

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon paprika

Cilantro Shrimp:

1 pound cooked shrimp

⅓ cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon chili powder

For Turkey Roll Ups: Combine the goat cheese and jelly. Spread about 1 tablespoon over a slice of turkey. Roll up and cut into ¼-inch slices.

For Ham Roll Ups: Combine the cream cheese and chopped pickles. Spread about 1 tablespoon over a slice of ham. Roll up and cut into ¼-inch slices.

For Deviled Eggs: Place the yolks of the eggs into a bowl. Use a fork to mash. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and dill. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place a spoonful of the filling into each of the egg whites.

For Millionaire’s Bacon: Preheat the oven to 350°. Dredge one slice of bacon through the brown sugar coating both sides. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the bacon is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet.

For Seasoned Crackers: Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the ranch dressing and butter. Place the crackers onto a baking sheet. Brush the top side of the crackers with butter. Bake until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.

For Pimento Cheese: Combine the cream cheese, cheeses, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Stir until the mixture is creamy. Add the pimentos, onions and spices and season with some of the salt and pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Cilantro Shrimp: Stir together the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder in a large bowl. Add the shrimp. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

And now to drink!!!

Here’s The Prickled Pink Cocktail – everything you need to mix one up for a friend. Isn’t it gorgeous? I honestly can’t believe that bright fuchsia color. The flavor is more subtle than you might think, and may need a bit of sweetening up. I suggest a teaspoon of honey. For garnish and extra flavor, whole cinnamon sticks make for a nice stirrer and look good in the glass.

Just do a yourself a favor and mind the outside of this cocktail fruit as you cut into it. They don’t call it a prickly pear for nothin’! Oh, and if at all possible, ask the guys at the farmer’s market to strip the cactus fruit of its serious spears before you buy it. I did and I still got pricked, but I’m glad I added it to my Saturday haul.

Cheers, everybody! It’s gonna be a long summer….


1 shot tequila
2 tablespoons grenadine
Juice of 4 prickly pears (blended to get rid of seeds)
Twist of lime
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

Top off with pineapple juice and mix with a cinnamon stick stirrer. Sugar around the rim optional