How’s that for a preview of what I’m reading this month? Ruth Ware has been touted as the Agatha Christie of our times, and with titles like The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game behind her, you will most definitely agree.
This is my next pick for our Super Supper Book Club. Gather your readers, give them the title, and dole out the recipes for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal.
POT BOILER PLOT: When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss – a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious “smart” home fitted with all modern conveniences, and, even more, by the picture-perfect family that lives there. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare.
I already cooked up some questions for your Super Supper Book Club gathering…
• If you read an ad for a job that offers an extraordinary salary, would you be wary or curious?
• When you first meet Jack, are you smitten, or do you think he is too good to be true?
• At what point is a smart house too smart for our own good?
My ghostly inspiration for this Super Supper Book Club menu is Heatherbrae House itself. Almost a character in the book, the house holds the key to comfort and the uncomfortable. A haunted house turned into a smart house; it sits in a remote area in the Scottish Highlands where the food traditions are steeped in history. This spirited menu grabs a taste from the past and updates conventional Scottish dishes just in time for our book discussion. Choose as many or as few recipes as your group likes. As you’re dining and discussing, don’t forget to look over your shoulder for any shadows lurking in the corner of the room. You never know who (or what’s) listening…..
This Month’s Super Supper Book Club Menu for Turn of the Key Features:
Bangers ‘n Mash Hand Pies with Mustard Dipping Sauce Canvas & Cuisine page 186 Sausage-Stuffed Party Bread At Home Entertaining page 372 Dill Roasted Salmon with Horseradish Caper Sauce At Home Entertaining page 379 Fish and Chips with Roasted Tomato Ketchup At Home Entertaining page 210 Wild Rice, Lentils and Sautéed Mushrooms At Home Entertaining 381 Raspberry Shortbread Tart Sunday Best Dishes page 315
Raspberry Shortbread Tart 60 minute cuisine MAKES 12 SERVINGS
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
Juice of 1 medium orange, about 3 tablespoons (reserve zest for tart)
2 pints fresh raspberries, about 4 cups
¼ cup apricot jam
Combine the sugar and orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Stir in the raspberries. Reduce the heat to low. Cook until the raspberries have broken down into the sauce, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the jam. Simmer until the jam melts into the sauce, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
6 ounces sliced almonds, about 1 ½ cup
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 2 ¾ cups
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon table salt
1½ cup unsalted butter (3 sticks), chilled, cut into small pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 medium orange, about 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 325°. Spread the almonds onto a baking sheet. Bake until they just begin to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Place ¼ cup of the flour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the toasted almonds. Pulse to form fine crumbs. Pour into a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining flour, cornmeal, and salt.
Place the butter into the bowl of the processor. Add the sugar, orange zest and vanilla. Pulse until creamy. Add the egg yolks and pulse. Add the dry ingredients and pulse until the dough just comes together. Pour the dough out onto your work surface. Divide the dough in half. Coat the bottom of a 12-inch fluted tart pan with vegetable oil spray. Press one half of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Wrap the second half of the dough in plastic. Refrigerate both for 30 minutes.
Prick the bottom of the tart with the tines of a fork. Place onto a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven. Spread the filling over the top. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the filling. Bake until the top of the tart is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes more. Cool completely. Sprinkle the top with confectioners’ sugar. Remove the rim from the tart pan and transfer to a platter.
This December, I am reminded that yes, it is the most wonderful time of the year and it’s because of family, friends and all of you. My little food blog at Jorj.com brings me joy 365 days a year. Every Monday, I get to tell a story and bring you with me. I’ve been writing cookbooks forever, and I thank you for being the most important part of my journey as an author.
Here are some of my highlights from 2018!
I have a fifth grandchild on the way!
I taught cooking classes in Boone, North Carolina and was overjoyed at our culinary team being able to serve so many hungry souls at the nearby Hospitality House. Now, my heart is full.
The entire extended Morgan family went glamping in Montana at the PawsUp Resort (our dude, we’re on a dude ranch photo went out as my Xmas card this year)
I tasted Italy in a once in a lifetime trip to Sorrento and the Almafi Coast
Sue and I finally made good on our threat to combine her love of art and my love of food into CANVAS and Cuisine: the art of the fresh market. It’s our chance to raise money for charities that mean a lot to us, as well as pay homage to Marti and Wayne Huizenga, the inspiration for this book!
I couldn’t live my dreams without you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for following me. I promise amazing things in the year 2019 – let’s continue our kitchen adventures and see where the yummy road takes us next.
Happy Labor Day! I know we all tend to dine out on holiday weekends, and that can get a little old. Deep down, we’re just looking for an easy, fresh and healthful recipe that enables a chill night at home. My Moroccan Sheet Pan Chicken is great for that. For one thing, the nice bottle of white you’ll need to make it, only calls for one cup…the rest you can sip on during dinner. I recommend picking up a second bottle of the same wine as it’ll pair perfectly with this dinner.
The ingredients for this one are a little expensive, but not if you think about quantity. This slow roasted platter of veggies, sweet dates, olives and sumptuous chicken, simmering in a delicate orange and peppery sauce leaves you with surplus spices and Medjool dates.
Dates are the sweetest, yummiest breakfast ever…you can add the turmeric and other Asian spices left over for future sheet pan dinners. Here’s what the spice rub for your chicken will look like when you mix it according to recipe instructions:
This recipe hails from North Africa – one of the few places I still haven’t gone, yet fantasize about in my upcoming cookbook Canvas & Cuisine. I love how Moroccan food pairs sweet with tart, better than most anywhere else. Salty olives with sweet dates, hot spices with cooked brown sugar . . . I can’t think of a bigger treat for dinner. This is a one-pan meal, ideal for serving with a bowl of lemon-infused jasmine rice.
Moroccan Sheet Pan Chicken with Sweet ‘n Salty Carrots and Chickpeas
serves 4 to 6
30 minute cuisine
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 whole orange, cut into thin slices
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
½ pound pitted dates, about 1 ½ cups
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can mix and match with boneless breasts)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 more for veggies
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch wedges
1 pound baby carrots, about 12 to 14, cut in half
1 whole head of garlic, cloves peeled
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Mix together all the spices in a small bowl. This will make more spice mix than you need, but it will keep well in an airtight container. Place the chicken pieces into a resealable plastic bag. Add two to three tablespoons of the spice blend into the bag. Seal and shake the bag to coat the chicken. Add the orange slices. Place the bag into the refrigerator and marinate for at least 2 hours and as much as overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the chicken from the bag and place into a baking dish that has been coated with vegetable oil spray. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the top of the chicken. Season with some of the salt and pepper.
Place the onion, carrots, garlic and chickpeas into a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the spice blend and 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the veggies around the chicken. Plop the olives and dates in and around the chicken and vegetables. Pour the wine over everything.
Bake until the chicken is cooked through (when the internal temperature reaches 165°) about 30 to 45 minutes. Pluck the chicken pieces from the sheet pan and place onto a serving platter. Spoon the pan juices, fruits and veggies over the chicken pieces. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
The best way to ensure all the chicken cooks at the same time is to make sure that the pieces are of similar size. If you have chosen to cook chicken breasts, you might cut each breast in half to match the size of the thighs.
And not just any Southern girl either – Amanda Wilbanks, owner of the Southern Baked Pie Company spent part of her Friday afternoon on the phone with us, dishing on all butter crusts, pies as small as a tassie and as large as a wagon wheel, blackberry pies, pies made with fresh, organic blueberries that are growing all over Georgia right now, and her savory chicken pot pie that is her favorite to eat but the hardest to make.
“I used to love to make chicken pot pie with my Grandma, who I called Betty. We had to cook the chicken first, which took hours. The pie doesn’t have vegetables like a lot of people think, but its simple, honest ingredients: chicken, dumplings and salt are heavenly.”
Jorj.com eagerly awaits Grandma Betty’s recipe, but it’s not on the list of what Amanda’s publisher is okay with sharing right now. We’ve pre-ordered her cookbook, which will be released on August 7.
When you click on Southern Baked: Celebrating Life With Pie, you can immediately look inside and see how to make her famous pie crust, which calls for one whole stick of butter.
“I admit I’ve gained a few pounds,” Amanda chuckled, “but I’ve never been happier. Making this cookbook was hard work, but my friends helped me test every recipe and arrange all the photo shoots. We had so much fun. Sure, it was 12 hour days for a solid month, but we nibbled and hung out as friends. Amazing.”
As an author of many cookbooks myself, I can relate. Like me, Amanda’s recipes are also inspired by travel.
“About ten years ago, I was studying abroad,” she said, “and when I was in Prague I had my first taste of a made-from-scratch pastry. It was a tart. When I bit into it, I was shocked at how good it was; the custard was warm, and the dough the softest and most buttery I’d ever had. The fruit inside the tart shell was perfectly sweet.”
It was a perfect segue. I told her about Canvas and Cuisine, with Sue’s oil paintings of far flung farmer’s markets and the exotic recipes they inspired me to create. I think the three of us are such like-minded individuals that I sent Sue some of Amanda’s pies. I myself tasted the pies’ marvelousness when someone gifted them to me through the mail. The Southern Baked Pie Company ships all over the United States.
This is Amanda’s store and HQ in Gainesville, Georgia.
She told me she spends most of her time here, but does drop by her other two stores in Alpharetta and Buckhead from time to time, ready to roll up her sleeves, get out her pre-refrigerated pie making ingredients, and make what she loves. Her product managers like to tell her, “We got this.”
And this, would be her family’s dream. The pie entrepreneur says her mother-in-law, Sandy Wilbanks got the whole thing started by showing Amanda how to make buttermilk pie. That was in 2012, and she’s been making all sorts of pies ever since. Her very favorite right now is chocolate chess pie, which tastes especially good washed down with a glass of Prosecco, a few ripe berries floating on top. Her husband, Alex convinced her to sell her pies professionally, and it’s to him, whom she dedicates her cookbook.
“Alex is the one who always believed in me the most.”
The mother of two will mark her 5th year as a store owner shortly after the book’s official release. She says they plan to host a book signing party at the Gainesville store, on August 18th. “It’s a tiny shop,” Amanda says, “so we’ll probably bring the celebration outside, and serve a few pies.”
August 18th is a Saturday, and Fridays are free pie days – so if you bring a hankering for the blackberry pies – a favorite of Southern Baked this summer, you will probably be in luck for a fresh baked encore. But who knows? It could be anything. No notion is too pie in the sky here…