Sunday, September 25, 2016

24 September 2016 – Etowah Harvest Dinner

There was no Sunday Supper tonight, but did I ever do some cooking for last night's Harvest Dinner to benefit the Upper Etowah River Alliance! The organization's director, Diane Minick, asked me if I would be interested in being the guest chef for a fundraising dinner a few months ago, and I said yes. The UERA does amazing work in our community to protect, clean and promote the Etowah River, so it was a worthwhile contribution. Cooking a five course meal plus appetizers for 30 guests, however, was quite daunting. The event was hosted by Liz Porter in her beautiful kitchen at Buckeye Creek Farm. I really enjoyed working with Liz and Diane, and we had a lot of fun amidst the hard work. 

When I began to think about the menu, I really wanted to try and source as much of the ingredients as possible from local farmers and purveyors. After publishing my blog for nine years, I have made a lot of contacts, and I was thrilled to work with some of my favorite suppliers for the meal. In the end, I was able to get all of the main ingredients from local sources, and their in kind contributions ensured an even more successful evening. My client, Mercier Orchards, generously donated their delicious hard cider for the appetizers and some amazing apple cider doughnuts for the bread pudding. Jeff Dobson supplied his Two Willows Appalachian Artisanal Ham for my appetizer ham biscuits. Whim-Wham Art Farm supplied the greens, tomatoes and ground cherries for a wonderful salad course. Loud Mouth Farm delivered the most amazing elm and oyster mushrooms for an earthy cream of mushroom soup course. For the main course, I stuffed heritage pork tenderloins with sausage, collards, apples and goat cheese and then wrapped them in bacon for a triple pork jackpot. All of the heritage pork products were kindly contributed by Suzy Wright of Mountain Valley Farm in Ellijay. Her Farm Store is off the charts, and the pork and grass fed beef she sells can not be beat. It is worth the drive, but she told me that she will be starting to do weekly deliveries to Canton in October. I am so excited! I also made "gritlenta" to go with the pork from Liz Porter's fresh ground grits and cornmeal. I loved them both, so I combined them to create the gritlenta. For the cheese course, Diane sourced some amazing Mediterranean Feta, Fromage and Chevre from CalyRoad Creamery in Sandy Springs. I combined some of each, along with some chives, black pepper, walnuts and freeze dried strawberries, to form cheese lollipops. To end the evening, I made individual apple cider bread puddings and served them with a bourbon creme anglaise. Believe me, no one complained about dessert.

Liz and Diane worked all evening to make the dinner a success, but I would have been lost without Jeff. He served as my sous chef and expediter, and I only had to go Gordon Ramsey on him a time or two. I could not have survived the evening without his help, and I was honored and touched to have so many friends supporting in the crowd. I spent three nights preparing for the event, and it was nice to have it completed. I really enjoyed the evening, and the dinner went much better than I had ever imagined. Now, however, I am really counting the days until we leave for Dubai and Australia. I am more than ready for a nice long vacation, a grand adventure and some outstanding meals prepared by real chefs.

When you have a chance, please visit and support their efforts.

The Menu:
Harvest Dinner to Benefit the Upper Etowah River Alliance

Apps in the Greenhouse:

Pimento Cheese Cups with Whim-Wham
Cayenne Jelly
Liz Porter's Smoked Trout Dip with
Assorted Vegetables
Cream Biscuits with Two Willows Artisanal Appalachian Ham, Batch 2015
Assorted Natural Hard Cider from
Mercier Orchards

Dinner in the Buckeye Creek Farm Kitchen:
(Each course served with a wine tasting from Feather’s Edge Vineyards, Ballground, GA)

1st Course:
Assorted Early Fall Lettuces and produce from Whim-Wham Art Farm (Canton)

2nd Course:
Cream of Loud Mouth Mushroom Soup (Talking Rock)

3rd Course:
Collard and Apple Stuffed Mountain Valley Heritage Pork Tenderloin with Fat Boy Red Sauce, Buckeye Creek Gritlenta, Cagle Green Beans, Bread: Buckeye Creek Cornbread Muffins and Bill Grant’s “Crack” Cream Biscuits (Ellijay, Woodstock, Dahlonega, Canton)

4th Course:
CalyRoad Creamery Mediterranean Feta and Fromage Cheese Lollipops (Sandy Springs)

5th Course:
Mercier Orchards Apple Cider Doughnut Bread Pudding with Bourbon Créme Anglaise (Blue Ridge)

The Recipe – Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Collards, Apples, and Sausage


      1 tablespoon olive oil   
     1/4 cup minced onion   
     1/4 pound breakfast sausage 
     1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced  
     2 garlic cloves, minced   
     1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme   
     1/2 teaspoon chopped sage   
     3/4 cup finely chopped collard greens  
     4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature   
     Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper   
     Two 1-pound pork tenderloins 
     6 slices of bacon  


  1. For stuffing: heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up, until cooked through an no longer pink. Add the apple, garlic, thyme and sage and cook until the apple just begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the collard greens and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, and let cool. Mix in the goat cheese and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Preheat oven to 300. Beginning at a thick end, cut a 1-inch-wide pocket through the center of each pork tenderloin, but do not cut all the way through; use the handle of a wooden spoon to widen the pocket if necessary. Fill the pork tenderloins with the stuffing, and season the tenderloins with salt and pepper. Wrap the bacon strips securely around the tenderloins, trying to cover any exposed stuffing with the bacon.

  3. Heat another tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet,  and carefully turn the tenderloins until browned on every side, about 4-5 minutes. Place the skillet in preheated oven, and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140°. Transfer the pork tenderloins to a cutting board, cover tightly with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice the pork tenderloins crosswise about 1 inch thick to serve.
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