New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

Canvas and Cuisine: the art of the fresh market is available for pre-sale directly from the publisher and will be available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon at the beginning of the year.

 

My dear friend, Sue Fazio and I decided to collaborate on what we call our “kitchen table book”, and, after two years of feverish painting, painstaking recipe testing, and a deliberate and dedicated publishing process, it’s finally here!

Canvas and Cuisine: the art of the fresh market is part coffee table book and part travelogue. It is a visually delicious, delectably readable cookbook that pays tribute to what may be the world’s most important treasure: fresh, locally grown food.

This book is SO MUCH FUN!! Here’s a picture from its pages:

Cobblestone streets, winding down the Italian seaside town of Positano where merchants run their farmer’s markets. The burst of color, and depth of texture shows a certain zest for life.

You can take your finds at these open air markets and make mouth-watering food. Canvas and Cuisine ensnares the senses of both the cook and the artist. You don’t have to be one or the other to appreciate fresh ingredients at the heart of every recipe; this is but the preface of a great culinary tale.

I tell that tale in anecdotes of our travels, and Sue tells it with her paintbrushes. I’d give you a few hints of the crazy stuff in this book, but I’ll leave it at this: Sue and I make Lucy and Ethel look tame!

But, here’s the most important thing of all to say about this book. It would not have been possible without our great influencer, Marti Huizenga.

If you’re very lucky, once in your lifetime, you’ll meet a person that molds you into the somebody you want to become, simply by example. That person will have such a positive impact on you, that you will be forever changed.

Sue and I are lucky to have known and grown through our friendship with Marti. Together with her husband, Wayne, she hugged us into their circle, bringing us along on their adventures. (And, man, were there a ton of adventures!) All the way, they were demonstrating their generosity. Their legendary monetary generosity is well documented. But not everyone was privy to Marti’s generosity of spirit, her compassion for critters big and small and most important, her generosity of friendship.

It is because of Marti that Sue and I met so many years ago, and it is because of Marti’s inspiration and influence, that Sue and I proudly donate the proceeds from Canvas & Cuisine: the art of the fresh market to our charities, the Boys and Girls Club of Hendersonville, North Carolina and Hospitality House of Avery County, North Carolina.

Marti and Wayne are no longer with us. They are basking in the love and light that keeps them together eternally. We have dedicated Canvas and Cuisine to Marti, with love and wonderful memories of a life well-lived. Her voice is forever in our hearts.

We are truly hopeful that you will enjoy the book as much as we have enjoyed creating it.

Love,

Jorj & Sue

 

 

Fe, Fi, Pho, FUN!

Fe, Fi, Pho, FUN!

I traveled to Vietnam a couple of years ago, and was delighted to sample the local cuisine. I drifted toward foods with French influences, like their Vietnamese pancake: extremely similar to a French crepe, but with thinly sliced green onions and small pieces of shrimp. I also loved their eggplant stew, slowly cooked in a clay pot with lemongrass, turmeric, tomatoes and basil; this dish is going into my new cookbook, CANVAS & CUISINE – the progress of which, you can follow via Scrumptious Possibilities on Facebook. “Like” my page @jorjmorgancooking and I’ll sign you up!

But back to Pho…

You can find all sorts of variations of this popular Vietnamese dish. Pho appears on menus in trendy restaurants, in street fairs and food halls all over the world – it’s as good as it is ubiquitous. Some serve Pho with chicken or shrimp, some leave out the broth entirely! But, if you want to experience the real thing, you need to find a Vietnamese restaurant, or work your way around an authentic recipe. I gave it a try and found that my Pho recipe was VERY SIMILAR to my Grammy’s beef and veggie soup recipe. She too, roasted beef bones and veggies in the oven to intensify the flavors in her broth.

You can find recipes all over the internet for Pho. I particularly like this one on JenReviews.com. It takes advantage of a couple of shortcuts that work well for busy cooks, and better yet, it can be enjoyed any time of day. In Vietnam, they eat it for breakfast. Try Pho soon, and let me know what you think!

Pho
Vietnamese Broth with Beef and Noodles
serves 4 to 6
30 minute prep plus 1 ½ to 2 hours to simmer the broth

For Broth:
4 meaty beef shanks (plus any beef bones you have hanging around)
2 large onions, cut in half
1 large palm-size piece of ginger, cut into pieces
1 large palm-size piece of turmeric, cut into pieces
2 whole heads of garlic, cut in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 quart homemade beef stock, or prepared low-sodium beef broth
1 cinnamon stick
2 to 3 star anise
1 teaspoon peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole cloves
⅓ cup fish sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For Pho:
6 ounces uncooked flat rice noodles
Bean sprouts
Chopped, fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced jalapeno pepper
Thinly sliced red onion
Lime wedges
Hoisin sauce
Dark sesame sauce

Preheat the oven to 450°. Place the beef shanks and (any other bones), onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric and garlic onto a baking sheet. You don’t have to peel the veggies! Drizzle with olive oil. Roast until the veggies and beef begin to char, about 30 minutes. Transfer everything into a large soup pot. Add the beef broth and 3 quarts of water to the pot. Dunk in the cinnamon stick, star anise, peppercorns and cloves. Stir in ⅓ cup fish sauce. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the broth for 1 ½ to 2 hours. The liquid will reduce by half and absorb all of these lovely flavors. If the broth reduces too quickly, add more water and reduce the heat as low as you can.

Pour the broth through a colander, and into a large bowl. Return the broth to the pot. Taste and season with salt. Reserve the meat from the beef shanks and discard everything else. Use two forks to shred the meat into very thin pieces.

Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Cook the noodles in the broth according to the directions on the package. Remove the noodles from the pot. Reduce the heat to keep the broth warm.

To serve Pho, place some of the beef into a shallow bowl. Lay some of the noodles beside the beef. Ladle the broth over the top. Garnish with any or all of the bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapeno slices, red onion, lime wedges, and a drizzle of either hoisin sauce or dark sesame oil.

It’s Taco Tuesday! Wait…what?

It’s Taco Tuesday! Wait…what?

I know what you’re thinking. What does bratwurst have to do with Cinco de Mayo? Well, mi amigos, once you experience the Mexican treatment this German dish gets, you’ll see why it popped into my head as the perfect cookout meal. In honor of Taco Tuesday, I thought I’d shake things up with a recipe that lets me do two things: 1) Use up the veggies in my crisper and 2) debut a recipe that is not exactly Mexican in nature, but a celebration of different world cuisines in one dish. Enjoying a German bratwurst, presented as a colorful Mexican taco, is a very CANVAS & CUISINE-Y Thing to do! I’m talking about my work in progress, a cookbook that my good friend, Sue Fazio inspired with her beautiful oil paintings of food markets around the world.

Our collaborative cookbook features many of Sue’s gorgeous renderings of the ingredients in this “taco” dish – like Napa cabbage, red bell peppers and other scrumptious produce splattered across canvases, depicting yumminess from Spain to Viet Nam. I hope you’ll join my Facebook group, Scrumptious Possibilities to learn more! Just comment here or in my social media feed, and I’ll send you an invite.

Keep in mind: if Mom loves a good brat, you might wanna save this grill marked dinner for Mother’s Day weekend. It’s fun to enjoy poolside!

Grilled Taco Dogs

Serves 4 to 8

30 Minute Cuisine

2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into quarters
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
1 small head Napa cabbage, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher sat
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
8 (3-ounce) bratwurst, you can substitute with your favorite artisanal sausage or hot dog
8 flour tortillas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Yellow mustard

Heat an outdoor grill (or grill pan) to medium high heat. Brush both sides of the peppers, onion and cabbage with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the veggies until just beginning to char on the edges and soften in the center, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the veggies to a parchment lined baking sheet. Do not overcook. You don’t want mushy veggies on your dog! Drizzle the vinegar over the warm cabbage. This will simulate sauerkraut in the taco.

Cut the brats in half lengthwise and brush both sides with the remaining olive oil. Grill until the brats just begin to char, about 3 to 5 minutes. Lay the tortillas on the grill to warm, turning after just a couple of seconds.

Assemble the tacos by placing the tortilla onto a plate. Slice the onions and peppers into strips. Slice the cabbage into thin wedges. Lay one piece of brat onto the taco. Top with slices of vegetables. Sprinkle cilantro over the top and drizzle with a bit of lime juice. Squeeze a bit of mustard over the top and serve!

Transport Yourself to Romantic Italy with this In-Season Appy

Transport Yourself to Romantic Italy with this In-Season Appy

Italian flavors run so much deeper than Olive Garden might lead you to believe. I know because I was lucky enough to travel to the Mediterranean, and breathe deep the fresh herbs growing wild beside the sea. One of my favorite things to eat – whether I’m under a Tuscan sun or an American one – are artichokes. Me and the quintessential Italian veggie go way back – as in 40 years back when I met my husband (we celebrate our anniversary this weekend!), and he lovingly prepared braised artichokes; it may have been a long time ago, but I still remember dipping those tender leaves in a rich, mayo-lemon sauce.

Peak season for artichokes is right about now, by the way – they’re something special to love in the springtime!

I’ve been trimming and eating the prickly things ever since – maybe it’s what attracted me to my hubby in the first place. If you’re new in artichoke town, I caution you to wear gloves, and be especially careful as you trim your way down to the heart of the artichoke; this gets scooped out, and replaced with whatever yummy fillings and seasonings you see fit. For a delicious-as it is- informative-photo gallery, that illustrates how to get your desired results without…choking up…here’s a link from Serious Eats.

Once you learn how to trim and prep artichokes, it’s like riding a bike. You’ll find yourself craving fresh artichokes, and throwing them into your basket at every grocery run. They’re a pretty good deal, I think – usually around $1.50 each at the farmer’s market – almost $3 if you need to get your artichoke on at Whole Foods.

 

My recipe for an artichoke appetizer comes right out of my new book. This appy is braised, and covered in a zesty, white wine and tomato sauce. Get 3 of your nearest and dearest friends and treat them (and you!) to one artichoke each. This recipe calls for 4 of the yummy little guys. When I serve them to people, my guests tend to remark that they can “really taste the olive oil”. Actually, I think artichoke dishes bring out the best in all the essential Italian flavorings, like basil, pesto, anchovies and lemon for good measure.

This recipe yields enough savory sauce to throw into your Vitamix for a creamy soup later on. Here it is in all its Italian glory! Oh, and P.S. It’s a sneak peek at Chapter One of the new book I’m working on! Enjoy! BRAVO!!

Not the recipe, but close! To see finished product check out my Canvas & Cuisine Photo Album on Facebook

Tomato Braised Artichokes

with Pesto Rub

Serves 4 as an appy

60 to 90 Minute Cuisine

For sauce

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 cups dry white wine

2 cups homemade vegetable stock, or prepared low sodium vegetable broth

½ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For pesto

1 (7-ounce) tin flat fillet anchovies, packed in oil

1 whole garlic bulb, cloves peeled

1 bunch fresh basil leaves

½ cup olive oil

For artichokes

4 large artichokes

2 lemons, halved

Pour the tomatoes, wine, chicken broth and ½ cup olive oil into a large roasting pan. Season with salt and crushed red pepper. Set the pan on your stovetop, without turning on the heat, and move on to make the rub.

Place the anchovies, garlic and basil into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. With the bowl running, slowly pour in ½ cup olive oil to make a thick paste.

Trim the artichokes by first pulling the thick, dark green outer leaves, leaving the tender green leaves in place. You’ll lose about half of the leaves. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough, partial leaves from the bottom of the artichoke and the stem. Cut off the tough end of the stem, leaving about 3 to 4 inches. Cut off the top third of the artichoke. With every cut or peel that you make, rub lemon over the cut ends. Slice the artichokes in half. Use a spoon to remove the spiny choke from the center. Pull out the spiky inner leaves. Place the trimmed artichoke into a bowl of cold water with lemon slices. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Remove the artichokes from the lemony water, one at a time. Spoon anchovy paste all over the artichokes and place, cut-side down into the pan of tomato sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium low heat. Cover the pan with a lid (or aluminum foil). Turn the artichokes in the sauce several times to coat. You want the artichokes to cook low and slow (over low heat and for a long time). Continue cooking until a fork easily pierces the artichoke hearts, about 45 to 60 minutes. If the sauce evaporates too quickly, pour in more stock.

Serve the artichokes on a platter, and spoon the sauce over the top.