Jo Jo’s Sunday Morning Breakfast Bars

Jo's Breakfast Bars

Jo wanted to make a gift for her friend’s birthday – a store bought present won’t do. Because she is our in-house Foodie, Jo searched her Pinterest pages and came up with a long list of recipes to cook the morning of the party. A terrific idea except there simply wasn’t enough time. We chose what we could make with the food in our kitchen pantry and with a time limit of one hour. We cobbled together several recipes to make the perfect Sunday Morning Breakfast Bars. We were lucky enough to have organic blueberries in our freezer, but any of our jams could be substituted for a delicious “fruit” filled layer.

I have to admit – this is a great recipe and I later made a batch using JF 24 Karat Granola and substituting the blue berries with JF Four Berry Preserves. The baked the bars were sensational with a sophisticated flavors of the 24 Karat Granola dancing around the luscious berry flavors captured in the preserves.

After the bars are cooked, they can be cut, wrapped in wax paper or parchment and placed in ziplock bags in the freezer. Reheat in a 325 degree oven or toaster oven for 10 to 15 minutes for a crunchy, warm sensational breakfast on any cold snowy day – not just Sundays. I also love to cut this bar in half and serve it with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream as a perfect quick little desert.

Sunday Morning Granola Bars

Time: about an hour
Yield: 12 to 16 breakfast bars


1 cup Butter
2 1/2 cups Rolled oats or JF 24 Karat Granola
2 1/2 cups Flour
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 t Cinnamon (optional)
1/2 t salt
If you are using fresh berries
3 cups Fresh or frozen blue berries
1/4 c sugar
1 T corn starch
If you are using preserves
1 c JF Four Berry Preserves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Melt the butter and reserve

3. Combine oatmeal or granola with the flour, light brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon (optional) and salt in a bowl. Pour in the butter and mix well. Use a wooden spoon or clean hands

4. Press 1/2 the mixture in the bottom of a 10″x10″ baking pan.

5a. If you are using fresh or frozen blue berries:
Mix the berries with the sugar and the corn starch. Pour over the crust.
5b. If you are using preserves – spoon the preserves evenly over the crust

Breakfast Bar Add Fruit to Dish

6. Place the remaining mixture over the fruit/preserve layer. Press

7. Bake in the center of the oven for 35 minutes or until lightly golden in color.

8. Let cool for 10 minutes and cut into evenly spaced bars.

Wild Foraged Concord Grape Sauce

Make this for the Meatballs! … Wild Foraged Concord Grape Sauce
Traditionally grape jelly has been used in a handful of unconventional regional recipes, “Grape Jelly Spaghetti Sauce” & “Grape Jelly Meat Balls” to name a few. My recipe goes a bit further using Josephine’s Feast Spiced Wild Foraged Grape Jam, our “Forte” Dijon Mustard and our naturally sweet, Single Row Small Batch Sungold Tomato Catsup

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The Red Hot Pepper Jam Buffalo Chicken Wings

Red Hot Pepper Jam Buffalo Chicken Wings

I was in the kitchen last week with my assistant Sara who is ga-ga over Football and hosts an annual Super Bowl Party every season.  Our conversation quickly turned to what she would be serving for her event.  And once the conversation turned to Chicken Wings – everyone in the kitchen had an opinion.  We all have our favorite bar, restaurant or recipe for chicken wings – but I prefer to stay close to the source and have updated traditional Buffalo Chicken Wings.

Generally speaking, Buffalo Wings are deep-fried, unbreaded, and coated in vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter. They are served hot, along with celery sticks and/or carrot sticks and blue cheese dressing for dipping. So I think they hit 4 food groups – and yes I am pulling your leg.

There are a number of claims as to the origins of Buffalo Wings. One of the more prevalent is that Buffalo Wings were first prepared at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, by Teressa & Frank Bellissimo. Several versions of the story have been circulated by the family. the one I like best was told by their son Dominic to Calvin Trillin for an article in The New Yorker.  ”It was Friday night in the bar and since people were buying a lot of drinks he (Frank) wanted to do something nice for them at midnight when the mostly Catholic patrons would be able to eat meat again.” He stated that it was his mother, Teressa, who came up with the idea of chicken wings. Maybe so.

My go to recipe is adopted from my food hero Alton Brown, who just seems to do everything right.  His method of steaming and roasting the wings adds much to the texture of the meat and dare I say cuts a bit of the fat.  I use Josephine’s Feast Red Hot Pepper Jam  in place of hot sauce and have tweaked the spices to add more depth of flavor.

His original recipe is at

The Ultimate Buffalo Chicken Wing for the Super Bowl


2 dozen Whole chicken wings
4 ounces Unsalted butter – clarified
1 small Clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Josephines Feast Red Hot Pepper Jam
2 T  Sweet Paprika or Josephine’s Feast South Fork BBQ Rub
1/2 t Sea salt

Chicken Wings - Double Boiler

1 – Place a large saucepan with a steamer basket an inch or 2 of water of water.  Over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.

2 – Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Remove the tips of the wings and save for making stock. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes.

Chicken Wings - Steamed

3 – Remove the wings from the basket and pat dry with a paper towel. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or over night.

4 – Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Roasted Chicken Wings

5 – Remove the paper towels and replace with parchment paper or foil. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.

Chicken Wing Sauce

6 – While the wings are roasting, clarify the butter in a small pot. Add the garlic, jam, salt and spice mix.  Cook for 2 minutes.

7 – It is easiest to pull the wings from the oven & combine them in sauce pot – toss to coat.  Serve warm.

Alternatively the wings can be refrigerated for two days and retuned to a 400 degree oven to reheat.

Traditionally served with celery and carrot sticks along with this delicious blue cheese dipping sauce.

Ingredients for  the Blue Cheese Dip:

1/2 cup Sour cream – regular or low fat
1/2 cup Crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 Small clove garlic – minced
1 T Buttermilk or milk or cream
1/2 lemon juiced – the zest can be added for extra flavor
to taste Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 – Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl and blend with a wand mixer or fork.

2 – Taste and add salt and pepper.

If you are looking for an equal delicious but lower fat version of a Blue Cheese Dressing.  Please view my earlier post.  This recipe would have to be reduced by half or even by three quarters depending on how many wings you are making.

Red Hot Pepper Jam Cheese Spread

Holiday afterglow: back to the basics:  good friends and quiet get togethers

Sharing a Meal in Vermont

I am glad to have some down time – but I know that that once the tree is dismantled we’ll be enjoying the company of friends, working on those New Year resolutions and maybe even planning a Super Bowl something or other.

These quieter times are wonderful to experiment with food and try new dinner recipes.  I have one recipe that I have been holding onto for a while. It was suggested simultaneously by two members of our  extended family – both young woman who have moved from Louisiana to to NYC last year.  You may know both Carra Jane & Eliza as they help out at the Union Square Green Market on Saturdays.  They are both big fans of LSU, Cajun food and JF Red Hot Pepper Jam.  They dually suggested making their mothers Hot Pepper Cheese Spread with our jam.

This recipe was shared by Carra Williams (Carra Jane’s mother) who certainly knows a thing or two about good food and entertaining.  The cheese spread is perfect for a casual  gatherings – easy to make and holds for a day or two in the refrigerator.  The pecans I used are are from the Double Farm Pecan farm in Monroe La.  They are a welcome holiday gift from Eliza’s mother Forrest and can be ordered by phone at (318) 343-6690. They are just about the most perfect pecans – extra large and fragrant.  I changed the recipe slightly by adding a 1/2 cup of jam to the cream cheese base.  We love it with a Dixie beer – better still if you can get your hands on a Parish Grand Reserve or a Parish Envie

Red Hot Pepper Jam Cheese Spread

Red Hot Pepper Spread and Crackers


2 – 8oz. packages Cream cheese or Neufchâtel
1 cup Thinly sliced green onions or scallions
1 1/2 cup  Toasted finely chopped pecans
1 cup Grated cheddar cheese
1 – 8 oz. jar Hot pepper jelly – we used JF Red Hot pepper Jam

Hot Pepper Spread Ingredients

1 -Toast the pecans in a dry skillet until fragrant.  Cool.  Chop by hand or in a food processor

2 – Grate the cheddar cheese by hand or in the food processor

3 – Cream both cream cheese and 1/2 cup of hot pepper jam in a with  a hand mixer.  You can also do this with an egg beater or fork.

Hot Pepper Spread in Mixing Bowl

4 – Add 1 cup of the grated cheddar cheese to the cream cheese & blend.  Add 1 cup of the toasted pecans, and finally the green onions,.  Mix to just incorporate the nuts & onion.

5 – Form into a log, a ball or whatever shape you desire.  The spread can also be served in a crock.  For this Super Bowl a football shape is adorable.

6 – Put in the fridge until ready to serve.

Football Shaped Red Hot Pepper Cheese Spread

7 –  When ready to serve roll the log on the toasted pecan or sprinkle the additional nuts on top of the crock.

8 –  spoon 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the hot pepper jelly on top.Or add it to the side.

Carra serves the Cheese Spread with Wheat Tins or Vinta Crackers – and honestly it works beautifully spread in celery with a dollop of jam.  It reminds me of an appetizer my grandmother would make for our family holidays.

The Perfect Manhattan

On Booze – Sean’s Notes

Perfect Manhattan Straight up and on the Rocks

Whiskey for me is more of a Winter Drink. My personal preference is for American Whiskeys, and in particular, Bourbon.  There are many to choose from, but Maker’s Mark or Jack Daniels is what I usually have. If I drink it neat or on the rocks, I don’t mind following each sip with a Beer Shot (don’t judge me).

For a Whiskey Cocktail, try a Perfect Manhattan. I  don’t mean “Perfect” as in “it’s so fabulous, Darling”. It’s called that because it is made with equal parts Sweet Vermouth and Dry Vermouth. If you ask a Bartender for just a regular Manhattan, it will be made with Sweet Vermouth only. So Perfect or not, your choice is really just a matter of personal preference of how you like your Manhattan. So try it both ways, its not hard work.

Three things to Remember when making a Manhattan:

1) Use American Rye or Bourbon (otherwise it’s called something else)

2) All Manhattans take Bitters

3) Whiskey Cocktails are stirred and not shaken ( shaking “bruises” the whiskey, meaning too much water is added to the drink)

Here is how I make a Perfect Manhattan.

Perfect Manhattan

3 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth (Italian)
1/2 oz Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth (French)
1/4-1/2 oz Cherry Syrup from Garnish Jar (try Bada Bing Cherries from Tillen Farms)
A couple of Dashes of Angostura Bitters

Add ice to a Cocktail Shaker and add the ingredients. Stir. Strain and serve in a Cocktail Glass or you can pour entire contents of the Shaker into a Highball Glass if you prefer it on the rocks.

Garnish with a Cherry


My Mother’s Cabbage “Kapusta” Soup

Polish Christmas Eve table

As far back as I can remember, my family has celebrated Christmas Eve with the traditional Polish custom of a fasting meal of 12 fish before the celebration of Christmas Day.

My grandmother would set out a white table cloth and make a simple meal of fish cakes, fried flounder, cod, boiled shrimp, broiled scallops and herring. There was always a bowl of rich and delicious eggnog that we would consume in huge amounts, not being at all concerned with calories or cholesterol. I can still smell the fragrance of the nutmeg that my grandfather grated over the tops of our small hands holding tightly to the dainty punch bowl cups.

As we grew into teenagers, my brother and I brought our friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses and even our in-laws to my mother’s Christmas Eve feast.  My mother always made a traditional cabbage soup with Polish dried mushrooms.  They were costly and I remember my Aunt Bertha bringing back a suitcase full of these particular mushrooms from her trips to Poland until the Chernobyl disaster exposed the mushrooms – and all vegetation for that matter- to high levels of radiation.  That was that year my mother switched to Porcini mushrooms and although it wasn’t quite the same  – the meal was pronounced “humble “ by my father and our humble holiday feasting commenced.

No matter what happens throughout the year, my brothers and I try to honor my families tradition.  My mother still makes her cabbage and mushroom soup and brings it to my home for Christmas Eve dinner.  I have made poach salmon, shell fish lasagna and even bouillabaisse in past years stretching the feast of 12 fish to  16 or 18 fish.  But in the end it is a “humble” meal and a  cod fish dinner with a bitter green salad and a bowl of cabbage and mushroom soup is our family tradition.  As I set the table, my brother would sneak up on me and mimic my father’s voice, pronounce our feast a  “Humble Meal”, and then dinner can begin.

Here is a Recipe for my mother’s  Cabbage and Mushroom soup.  It is a wonderful healthy soup and very easy to make.  No fat, gluten free and positively delicious.

My Mother’s Kapusta Soup

Kapusta Soup

2 Small head’s of green cabbage
12 cups vegetable stock or vegetable bouillon
6 to 8 oz Dried Polish Borowik Mushrooms – Dried Porcini or Shiitake can be substituted
1 16 oz Bag or jar of sauerkraut.

Parsley Optional

Sliced Cabbage

1) Rehydrate the dried mushroom by pouring hot water over them and letting them rest for 20 to 30 minutes

2) Shred the cabbage either by hand or in a food processor.

3) Heat the stock or bullion in a large stock pot – bring to a boil.

4) Add the cabbage and simmer

5) Remove the mushrooms from the rehydration water and put them in the stock pot

6) Pour the rehydration water or mushroom “juice” thru a fine strainer to remove the grit and add this to the stock pot

7) add the package of sauerkraut to the stock pot

8) Let all ingredients simmer for 45 minutes until the cabbage is tender.

9) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

10) And if you would like to add a bit of chopped parsley or thyme that would be fine.  Although My mother would not feel the need to!

A Lazy Languid Pumpkin Butter Recipe – Pumpkin Butter Afterglow

Josephine's Feast! Pumpkin Butter on Toast

Photo Courtesy Lucy Eloi at l’homme Voyage

On Thanksgiving I find myself focused and fussing over a humble turkey dinner.  It’s an all day event with a kitchen full of pots, pans, lots of good food and the promise of leftovers the day after.  Ahh the afterglow of the leftovers – a lazy meal for languid cooks.

Being professionally trained nothing goes to waste in my kitchen. And I start eyeing those gorgeous pumpkins and squash that decorate the table &  the mantel.  Slow cooking or rather roasting  them in a low oven will put them to good use in soups, pies, and even some preserves throughout the winter.

A Selection of Pumpkins

If you have a classic cheese pumpkin or blue hubbard squash – your in for a real treat. In fact, my forager Ron insists that his mother used blue hubbard’s exclusively in baking as it gave her ”pumpkin” pies a smoother texture.

I slow roast the pumpkins by dividing my work into two parts  – roasting first – and then running the pulp thru a food mill to create a fine puree. This can easily be frozen to use for soups, filling in pasta, pies or pumpkin butter with the recipe that follows.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension does not advise home canning of pumpkin in a water bath preserving process because the puree does not reach the correct internal temperature for sterilization. Freezing in proper containers with square corners is a much better way to extend your season. You can still fill canning jars and refrigerated the Pumpkin Butter to give as gifts during the holiday season. But this must must remain refrigerated and be consumed within 2 weeks.

This is a basic recipe for a delicious Pumpkin Butter sweetened with brown sugar. I have suggested simple pumpkin pie spices – but feel free to experiment. My sister in law uses nutmeg exclusively, I just made a batch with fresh ginger & curry spices that is excellent in chicken or turkey salad. You may want to play with almond or caramel extracts and other warm winter spices or add a dash of New Mexican chili for a spicy pumpkin butter.

Thanksgiving Feast Pumpkin Butter Sweetened with Brown Sugar. 

One Cheese Pumpkin or Hubbard Squash
2 t butter
Brown Sugar
1/2 c Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 c Lemon Juice
2 t Pumpkin Pie Spices
1 T vanilla
salt & pepper optional
Pectin if needed

1. Turn your oven onto 350 degrees. Depending on the size of your pumpkin – slice it in half or in quarters.

2. Scoop out the seeds – these can be saved, washed, and roasted. We roast ours with Soy Sauce.

3. Place the pumpkins cut side up in a roasting pan. Add a dollop of butter and sprinkle a scant t of brown sugar over the surface. Salt and pepper if you choose.

4. Roast in the 350 oven for approximately 45 minutes. It really depends on the size of the pumpkin. It is done when a fork easily pierces the pumpkin.

5. Let the pumpkin rest and cool to handle.

6. Scoop and weigh out the pumpkin with a kitchen scale.

7. Use a food mill to puree the pumpkin. If you do not have one a food processor may be used.

8. A good size pumpkin will yield about 6 to 8 pounds of pumpkin meat. For each pound of pumpkin meat measure out one cup of brown sugar.

9. In a preserving pan or pot add the pumpkin meat, the brown sugar, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 2t apple pie spices. Other spices can be used see the note below

10. Cook on a low heat until the Pumpkin butter coats the back of a spoon. This can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours cooking on a low flame to prevent scorching. If you prefer a thicker butter you can add 2 pouches of liquid pectin.

Wild Spring Greens Pesto & Pasta

Italian Pickers

I just returned from a trip to Italy – where this time of year you see legions of Nonna’s in the morning sun bending over their unsure legs, pulling something or another out of the ground.  Content, they stuff their treasures in bags and sacks and hobble home.  As we walked thru the Borghese gardens, I couldn’t help but notice the frenzy.  It turns out the tradition of foraging and eating wild greens in the spring is an ancient one – going back not only to the middle ages but  ancient Rome and Greece.  High in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, the Greek physician Hippocrates encouraged his peers to feast on wild greens in the spring as a strengthening tonic for both the body and soul.  Point well taken as the Nonnas move through the park.  A young Italian man explained that “In the spring, it is what you do.”  Silly me for asking!  “You must clear out the winter in your body.” 

As soon as the early greens appear, traditional cooks forage in forests, and green markets for dandelion, watercress, mustard greens, lovage, mint, coriander, savory, sage, wild onions and garlic, often eaten as a salad or sautéd in olive oil as a side dish or mixed with pasta.

Kale Pesto Pasta

My take is a bit different.  I like to make an untraditional pesto.  This recipe is fast, healthy, easy and raw.  It can be easily be prepared with a food processor although traditionalists will want to use a mortar and pestle which will give you a finer mouth feel.  Unless I feel like fussing or impressing my friends with my borage shoots – the processor works just fine and saves so much time.  I’ll often double or triple the recipe to freeze for a quick meal later in the season.

Delicious and very satisfying – I like this on toasted garlic bread as an appetizer – “Wild Greens Bruschetta” or as shown over pasta – Wild Greens and Kale Pesto Over Buckwheat Pizzoccheri Pasta”.  With a few slices of prosciutto and a glass of a crisp white wine – a Pinot Bianco perhaps – it makes a perfect spring lunch or dinner.

An important note – foraging is fine if your dandelion studded lawn hasn’t been sprayed and is free of dogs and deer.  I highly suggest that you visit your local farmer’s market for baby kale, spring herbs, cress & mustard greens.  

Wild Greens and Kale Pesto Recipe

Kale Pesto Ingredients

2 Bunches of Baby Kale – full formed kale is fine, you will just have to take the time to strip the stalks
1 Bunch of Dandelion Greens
1 Bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley
1 Bunch of Mint
1 Orange – for zest
4 oz Raw Almonds – Pine Nuts, Brazil Nuts, Pistachios all work equally well
4 to 8 oz of Pecorino Romano Cheese – a nice Italian man explained to me that it melts better.
2 to 4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cup + Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I prefer the early spring green oil if available
Sea Salt or Cayenne Pepper if you choose

Spring Greens

Prep your greens by washing and drying well.  I spray even organic vegetables with a solution of 2 T vinegar to 2 cups of water and then rinse well.

Rough chop the greens and cube the cheese.  The processor works best when all the items to be processed are about the same size.

Cheese and Nuts

Zest the Orange.  Juice the orange this is a nice addition to the pesto giving the greens a bit of a bright taste.

Begin by chopping 1/2 the greens in the food processor.  Drizzle 1/2 the olive oil and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

While the processor is on add the cheese, nuts, garlic and the zest.  Scrape down the bowl.

Scraping Pesto Bowl

Add the balance of the greens, and while the processor is on drizzle in the balance of the oil and a splash orange juice.

Taste for balance – you may need more oil or salt – I find that the cheese is salty enough.  The addition of cayenne is nice as well.

Kale Pesto

This pesto is ready to add to pasta or can be frozen for later use.  When serving with pasta – make sure that you add a splash of oil to the pasta bowl before you add the cooked pasta.  This will allow the pasta and the pesto to blend.

Oil in Bowl

Buckwheat Pizzoccheri is a particularly toothy pasta.  It is also lovely with a whole wheat orecchiette or a farfalle

Tutti a Tavola!

Kale Pesto Pasta