Author Archives: Judith Fertig

Judith Fertig

About Judith Fertig

Fresh ideas? Great flavors? Then food writer Judith Fertig is your gal. She's the author of over 20 cookbooks on everything from baking to bbq, regional cuisine to rootin' tootin' desserts. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Vegetarian Times, Better Homes & Gardens, The London Sunday Times, Saveur, and the Costco Connection. Check out for bbq tips and recipes. Wander over to for more fresh ideas.

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Rise and Shine Sweet Potato Waffles

What’s for breakfast or brunch?

Pioneers in Missouri and Kansas used sweet potato plants to help break up the prairie soil in their gardens.

This recipe uses the same tuber to break up the monotony of ho-hum pancakes.

With a boost of color and Vitamins A and C from sweet potatoes, these waffles are delicious any time of year. Topped with a dollop of fluffy orange butter, the waffles don’t really need syrup. But go ahead if you must.

Sweet Potato Waffles with Whipped Orange Butter

Adapted from Heartland: The Cookbook. This batter also makes delicious pancakes.

Makes about 6 large waffles or 12 pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine kosher or sea salt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/4 cups milk

1/3 cup sorghum or molasses

1/2 cup fresh, cooked or canned sweet potato or pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

1 large egg

Whipped Orange Butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and spices.  Add milk, sorghum, pumpkin, and egg. Whisk until smooth.  For best results, bake in a waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions, about 90 seconds. Baking time will vary with the consistency of the batter and your preference for browning.

2. For the butter, place the butter, orange zest, and sugar in a mixing bowl and whip until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Serve with the waffles.

Farm Girl Cosmo

How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve been to the city and sipped Cosmopolitans, Sex-in-the-City style?

Maybe by serving a batch of these drinks — the secret ingredient is a rosy syrup made from rhubarb, long a reliable staple of the farm wife’s garden.  If you like, serve a trimmed stalk of rainbow chard or a beet green as a swizzle stick.

You can also make Rosy Margaritas with 1 cup Rosy Rhubarb Syrup, 1/2 cup tequila, the juice of a lime, and all the ice you want.

The Rosy Rhubarb Syrup is also good drizzled over pancakes and waffles — or even barbecued ribs toward the end of their time on the grill or smoker.  Anything that could benefit from a sweet lick of farm girl style.


Farm Girl Cosmo

Makes 4 drinks

Rosy Rhubarb Syrup:

4 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen and thawed

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

The juice of 2 lemons

 3/4 cup vodka

1 cup Rosy Rhubarb Syrup

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon orange extract

1. For the syrup, place the rhubarb and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook the rhubarb until tender and pulpy, about 10 minutes.

2. Strain off the rhubarb pulp, reserving the juice. Measure the juice and add enough water to equal 2 cups. Return the liquid to the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir in the sugar. Bring to a boil so the sugar dissolves, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and let cool.  Strain again, then pour into clean glass jars or bottles. (Refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 month.)

3. To make the cosmos, combine the vodka, syrup, lime juice, and orange extract in a pitcher. Add ice and stir well. Pour into 4 vintage jelly glasses and garnish with a trimmed grass of rainbow chard.  Strain and pour a fourth of the cosmo mixture into each glass or enjoy over ice.

Fresh, Crisp Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Salad

In the midst of a glut of spring greens, we can sometimes long for a taste of something different.

Fresh from the garden and tossed with an old-fashioned celery seed dressing, this salad stays cool and crisp in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

It’s bright and sparkly in both flavor and color, and it’s pleasing for adults and children alike.

Serve this along with the first grilled chicken breast or burger of the season.







Zucchini, Yellow Squash, and Red Bell Pepper Salad

Adapted from Heartland: The Cookbook.
Serves 8

2 medium zucchini, trimmed and chopped
2 medium yellow summer squash, trimmed and chopped
2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped

Celery Seed Dressing:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces feta, crumbled or goat cheese


  • Combine the vegetables in a large bowl.
  • In a jar, combine the vegetable oil, cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, dry mustard, salt, white pepper, and garlic.
  • Secure the lid and shake to blend. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, topped with an optional sprinkling of cheese.

Mayan Pit Pork BBQ

Turn over a new leaf with your backyard barbecue this year–a banana leaf.

And you don’t have to live near a rainforest to get one, either.

Banana leaves are available frozen through the Goya brand in grocery stores that have a good selection of Hispanic products.

Banana leaves are easy to use and come in sections, so you just unfold and use what you need from the package, then refreeze the rest for a future use. Banana leaves were the ancient rainforest people’s parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Although the Maya and Aztecs hunted wild pigs known as peccaries, domestic pigs and sheep came to Mexico from Spain. Slow cooked or indirect grilled with Mexican seasonings, wrapped in banana leaves, pork has become an integral part of Mexican cuisine.

The pork butt gets done way faster than it gets tender.  So let it continue to indirect grill or cook in the oven until you can insert a meat fork in the pork, turn the fork, and the meat twists into shreds.

Make your own fresh corn tortillas or use readymade.

Mayan Pit Pork with Homemade Soft Corn Tortillas,

Queso Fresco, and Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Serve up this modern Mayan rainforest feast, great for entertaining.

Serves 8

One 3 to 4-pound boneless pork butt

2 tbsp each: salt, pepper, granulated garlic, dried chipotle pepper

2 cups tomato-based barbecue sauce of your choice

Bottled chipotle sauce to taste

2 cups instant corn masa flour (in a bag in the flour section of grocery store)

8 ounces queso fresco, crumbled

Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish


1. Prepare an indirect fire in your grill or smoker. The  heat should be on one side, no heat on the other.


2. Combine the salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and chipotle and rub into the surface of the meat.  Enclose the pork in banana leaf sections. The package doesn’t have to be tight or neat.


3. Place the banana leaf-wrapped pork butt on the indirect or no-heat side, cover, and cook for 3 hours. Then, bring inside and finish, loosely wrapped in foil, in a 250-degree oven for 1 to 2 hours (or even overnight, if you like), until the meat is fork tender and will shred. Can be done a day ahead or way ahead, wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months. To serve, combine the barbecue sauce with the chipotle sauce to taste. Shred the pork butt, removing extra fat, and combine with chipotle bbq sauce.


4. Make the corn tortilla dough according to package directions. Form the dough into small balls.  Brush two plastic sandwich bags with water. Place the dough ball between the bags in a tortilla press and press flat.  Cook each tortilla on a griddle over medium-high heat for 30 seconds per side. Keep warm and moist until ready to serve.


5. To assemble, lay the tortilla on a flat surface. Top with pulled pork and sprinkle with queso fresco and cilantro and serve.


Oven Method: You can also bake the banana leaf-wrapped pit pork (place on a baking sheet)  at 350 degrees F. for 4 to 5 hours or until fork tender.