Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Fourteen – Vermont

Welcome to week 14 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome Vermont, who joined the union on March 4, 1791.

I have to say, I like Vermont. It has some cool facts about it. Like it is named for the French Verd Mont, which means Green Mountain. Its capital, Montpelier, is the only state capital without a McDonalds. It was the last state in the US to have a Walmart. And the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company gives their food waste to local pig farmers. The hogs seem to like it, except the Mint Oreo flavor.

They are the largest producer of maple syrup in the US. And they have more cows than people. And all those cows make milk, which then becomes delicious Vermont Cheddar.

So it is no surprise that this week focused on maple syrup and Vermont cheddar. Fortunately, I knew better than try to combine these things! I once again have two dishes for you, and both of them came out great.

The first is Vermont Cheddar Soup. This creamy, hardy dish is full of flavor, and the use of mustard and Worcestershire sauce add some nice zing to the background. My son has developed a pretty sophisticated palette over the years, and he spotted the small amount of beer almost immediately. He is not a fan of alcohol in food, so this one was a no go for him. If I had left the beer out, I bet he would have liked it. It is only a ½ cup, so if you decide to remove it, I would just add a little bit more chicken stock. I also used my evaporated milk trick in this recipe to guarantee it didn’t curdle. The original recipe calls for whole milk, but using a can of evaporated milk will give you the same creaminess, but it won’t curdle.

IMG_0930
Vermont Cheddar Soup

Here is the first recipe:

Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup
Adapted from alexandracooks.com

¼ cup small-diced pancetta (about 2 oz.)
½ T. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced (to yield about a ½ cup)
2 ribs celery, diced (to yield about a ½ cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced (to yield about a ½ cup)
1 T. fresh thyme
½ large red potato, peeled and diced
3 cups chicken stock
6 oz. beer such as Nut Brown Ale
1- 12 oz can evaporated milk
½ c. whole milk
1 ½ T. Dijon mustard
2 dashes Worcestershire
2 dashes (or more) hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 cups grated Vermont sharp cheddar cheese (about a ½ pound)
1/3 cup flour
fresh Italian parsley, optional

  1. In a large soup pot, sauté pancetta in olive oil until crisp and brown. Remove pancetta with slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
  1. In the rendered fat, sweat the onions, carrots, celery and pepper over medium heat for 15 minutes until soft.
  1. Add thyme, potato and chicken broth and simmer until potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Add beer.
  1. Heat the evaporated milk and whole milk in a separate pot until it just barely boils. Meanwhile, grate the cheese on the large-holed side of a grater and place it in a large Ziploc bag. Shake with the 1/3 cup flour. Add this cheese-flour mixture to the hot milk and whisk until the cheese has melted and the mixture has thickened slightly.
  1. Add the milk mixture to the pot with veggies and stock. Add mustard, sauces and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk for a few minutes to avoid curdling.
  1. When serving, sprinkle some reserved pancetta in each bowl. Add more hot sauce to taste.

 

The other dish was Vermont Maple Cookies. These are a fairly simple sugar cookie, with the addition of pure maple syrup and nuts. The original recipe called for walnuts, but I like pecans better so I used them instead. These are really soft and sweet, and the nuts add just the little crunch it needed. These were a hit with everyone in the house. If I make these again, I might swap out the vanilla for maple extract to try to bump up the maple flavor even more.

IMG_0929
Vermont Maple Cookies

Vermont Maple Cookies
From yankeemagazine.com

3/4 cup room temperature butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Pecan halves

  1. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt, and add to creamed mixture alternately with maple syrup. Blend well and fold in nuts.
  3. Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of dough with a spoon and drop it on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Top each cookie with a pecan half.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes at 400°F.

 

Both dishes get solid A’s from me. The soup only got a B from Josh, but he is more than happy to polish off the cookies in trade!

Have a Happy New Year everyone, and see you in Kentucky next week!

 

2016-new-year-ss-1920
Happy New Year! See you in 2016!
Advertisements

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Thirteen – Rhode Island

Welcome to week 13 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we focus on Rhode Island, who joined the union on May 29, 1790. When Italian navigator Giovanni Verrazzano arrived at what is now Block Island in 1524, he described it as approximately the size of the Greek Island of Rhodes. Thus, the state got its name. But even before that, this was a land of native Americans, its largest tribe being the Narrangansett, of which the bay is named.

The smallest state in area, it actually has the longest name of all the states, the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The full name was actually challenged in 2009, with a referendum held to remove the “and Providence Plantation” from their title. It was thought that the word plantation was in reference to the British colonization practice of excising the native population and also of the slave trades, which interestingly, was abolished in 1652 but not enforced until the 1700s. Yes, Rhode Island was once referred to as the “epicenter of the North American slave trade”. Who knew? But the referendum was overwhelming voted down, so the little state with the big name stays as it always has been.

Now, Rhode Island is also a much bigger food state than I thought it would be. Being that it is New England coastal, seafood plays a big part in their identity, but I also discovered some other things too. So this week, I focus on two recipes, one seafood and the other a drink.

I will start with the drink. Rhode Island is the creator (and apparently the whole consumer) of a beverage called Coffee Milk, with a variation called the Coffee Cabinet. Basically, this is a drink similar to chocolate milk, but it uses coffee syrup instead of chocolate. There are several brands of coffee syrup with Autocrat and Eclipse being the two most popular. It is sold widely within the state, but nearly impossible to find anywhere else unless you buy it online. But no fear, I set about finding a suitable recipe to make my own, and found that it really is quite simple. Like 3 ingredient simple. Once prepared and cooled, you mix it into a glass of cold milk. That’s it. And if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, you get a cabinet. I have no idea why they call it that, but if you like sweet coffee, you will like this.

IMG_0922
Rhode Island Coffee Milk

Recipe for Coffee Milk:

Ingredients for coffee syrup

  • 1 Cup strong brewed coffee
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean

Instructions

  1. Split vanilla bean with a sharp knife.
  2. Bring coffee to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add in sugar and vanilla bean, stir until sugar is well dissolved.
  4. Reduce heat, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Be careful not to let it get too hot; the burnt coffee flavor will transfer to your syrup.
  6. Let cool completely

Combine 2 tablespoons of syrup with 8 oz of cold milk. Stir to combine.

Yum.

So now that we have had our refreshing beverage, how about a tasty starter. I discovered that Rhode Island is famous for a dish called the Quahog Stuffie, which is a twist on clam casino, using Portuguese Chorizo sausage. Portuguese Americans make up a significant population of Rhode Island, and their spices and seasonings have influenced some of the dishes that are well integrated into the food culture of the state. This particular dish takes clams and combines them with the spiciness of the chorizo, and the result is a delicious and easy appetizer.

IMG_0924
Rhode island Quahog Stuffies

The recipe that I found uses whole clams, and like traditional clams casino, you use the shell as your serving vessel. I wasn’t seeing any good large clams today (that weren’t through the roof expensive!), so I did a twist on the original recipe and used canned clams instead. Since I didn’t have shells, I baked the dish in small muffin tins, with the result being a sort of meatball. Presentation wise, I would definitely do the clam shell thing for company, but these were really tasty as is and I would make them again. What is also interesting about this recipe is that it uses a stuffing mix instead of bread cubes and spices. It cuts down on a lot of the preparation, and the taste was still great. Honestly, people will compliment you on all your efforts to make this seemingly complicated dish, but it comes together quickly and tastes like you slaved all day on it. Dare I say that this would make a nice Christmas Eve dish?!

Recipe for Quahog Stuffies:

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water (I used the clam juice from the canned clams with water to make 3 cups)
  • 1 (12 ounce) package (4 links) Portuguese chorizo sausage links
  • 12 quahogs, or 4 cans of chopped clams
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (12 ounce) package chicken-flavored bread stuffing mix (such as Stove Top)
  • 1/2 cup butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Add sausage links; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove links from broth; reserve the broth. Remove casings from the sausage.
  3. If using fresh clams: bring the broth back to a simmer and add the quahogs; cook until they open, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the quahogs; reserve the broth. Remove the cooked quahogs from the shells. Separate the shell halves. If necessary wash the shells.
  4. Place the sausage and quahog meat into the bowl of a food processor; process until chopped, about 12 seconds, depending on your processor. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Add chopped onion to the processor; chop about 5 seconds. Stir in to the meat mixture.
  5. Make the full container of stuffing according to package directions, using the butter, and substituting the sausage/clam broth for water. There may be more broth than you need.
  6. Mix together the stuffing and sausage/clam/onion mixture. Spoon filling into empty clam shell halves. If using canned clams, spoon the mixture into small muffin tins which have been sprayed with cooking spray.
  7. Place the shells on a baking pan; bake in the preheated oven until toasty brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

 

IMG_0923
Quahog Stuffies made in mini muffin tins

I give both of these recipes an A+. Thanks Rhode Island. You take me into the Christmas Holiday with some tasty dishes. See you all next week in Vermont.

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twelve – North Carolina – Atlantic Beach Pie

Welcome to week 12 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week, we add North Carolina to our fine United States, joining the union on November 21, 1789. Wow, that’s nearly 16 months after New York. Who knew it took them that long? Well, I guess this is my history lesson of the day.

North Carolina was the first state whose delegates voted for independence at the Continental Congress. It was a slave state, and in 1861 was part of the 11 southern states that seceded from the United States, starting the Civil War. And, North Carolina is famous for Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first powered airplane flight on December 17, 1903, covering only 120 feet and lasting only 12 seconds. And finally, North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the US.

Ok, so now we know a little bit about North Carolina. And onto food matters. I have to say, this regional area loves a few things; barbeque, shrimp and grits, and hush puppies. All done before, and I am not going to go down the road of testing the multitudes of bbq sauces, rubs, smokes and what not. So my hunt took my down another road, and that was the sweet path. And on that path I discovered a little treat called Atlantic Beach Pie.

IMG_0917
Atlantic Beach Pie, served with whipped cream

Legend has it that this pie was originally concocted because it was told that after eating seafood, dessert would make you terribly sick. I have a feeling this was from the same moms who said you had to wait an hour to go in the pool after dinner. But then came along a loophole. Someone said that if you could eat lemon with your fish, why couldn’t you eat it after? And so this pie was born.

Now this lemon pie has a filling that is very much like a key lime, so it is really the crust that makes it so incredibly unique. It is a simple mixture of saltine crackers, sugar and butter, pressed into a pie pan and baked for a few minutes. During the baking you mix the 3 ingredients for the filling; sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and lemon juice. You bake that for a few more minutes and you are done. Seriously, this is the easiest and fastest pie I have ever made.

And it’s really good.

It is believed that the really old original recipe had a meringue, but when a chef by the name of Bill Smith resurrected the recipe and started serving it at his restaurant ‘Crook’s Corner’ in Chapel Hill, he opted for whipped cream and it was an instant success. He continues to make it today and has kindly shared the recipe with the world so we can all enjoy it.

Yummy goodness, with a sweet/salty crust, tangy filling and a dollop of whipped cream. What is not to love about this? Thanks North Carolina. I thought you were going to be a tough one.

IMG_0915
Atlantic Beach Pie

Atlantic Beach Pie

Recipe from Bill Smith, Crook’s Corner Restaurant, Chapel Hill NC

For the crust:

  • 1 ½ sleeves of saltine crackers
  • ⅓ to ½ cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup lemon or lime juice, or a mix of the two
  • Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350˚. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, and then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan.

IMG_0914
Press the crumb mixture into the pie plate

Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little. While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced.

IMG_0916
Atlantic Beach Pie

Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week 11 – New York

It’s Tuesday, and that means we are challenging another state. But not just any state. Week 11 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday takes me to New York, who joined the union on July 26, 1788. Now in case you don’t know, this is my home state; the place where I grew up, went to college, met my hubby… you get the picture. No pressure.

But here’s the thing, of all the states for me to have my start, it is also a hugely diverse place, where people are upstate, downstate, southern tier, Long Island, Adirondacks, 1000 Islands, Lake Ontario and of course New York City. Each area has its own special take on food, so finding one recipe that covers the whole state is, well, impossible.

I actually found a really great diagram created by a Buffalo woman by the name of Shannon Glazer, who shows us just how crazy this little state is about its food regions. Everybody has something they identify with, and I think she did a pretty good job of dividing up the state with some of the highlights.

401135_265861050149780_1917027630_n

New York State Food Regions by Shannon Grazer

So for me, I needed to find something a little personal, and also a new recipe. What I decided on was what has been referred to by some as “The Best Sandwich No One Has Ever Heard Of”. And that would be Beef on Weck.

IMG_0912
Beef on Weck

If you are not from Rochester or Buffalo, I am pretty sure you have never heard of it. But for those of us that grew up there, it is what a beef and brew is made of. All the local bars serve it. And it’s really good.

Basically, Beef on Weck is roasted beef dipped in au jus, then served with horseradish on a kimmelweck roll. A what roll? A kimmelweck roll is a soft Kaiser that has been covered in coarse salt and caraway seeds. As legend has it, a pub owner in Buffalo created the sandwich, hoping the salty rolls made by a local German baker would help increase drink sales. And from personal experience I do know that beef on weck works well with beer.

So our new recipe this week is actually two parts, the roll and the beef. The rolls are very easy, especially if you have a bread maker, since they only need one rise before you set them up as rolls. They came out great and start to finish only took about 2 ¼ hours.

 Recipe for 8 Kimmelweck Rolls (from Food Wishes):

1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

1 cup warm water (105 F.)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg white

1 generous tsp honey

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour total

 For the topping:

1 large egg white beaten with 2 tsp water

Coarse grain sea salt

Caraway seed

 Combine the bread ingredients in a bread maker and set to the dough cycle. When the dough has finished, turn onto a floured surface and flatten it into a rectangle shape. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape them into a ball. Set them on a silipat covered baking sheet and allow them to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.

Once they have risen, cut the tops with kitchen scissors to make a small cross. Brush each roll with the egg white wash, them sprinkle them with salt and caraway seed.

IMG_0906
Cut the tops of the dough, then add your salt and caraway seeds

Bake at 425F for 18-20 minutes.

IMG_0909
Kimmelweck rolls

The next part of dinner was the beef. Since I did not allow myself the time to do beef the proper way (with a slow braise), I instead found a recipe that used a top sirloin and pan fried it. This resulted in some yummy crusty bits in the pan, that you then used to make the au jus. I was surprised with the addition of a little balsamic vinegar, but I have to say it really make it delicious, so much so that I would use that trick again in any beef based gravy. The meat was not quite as ‘fall apart’ as I would have liked it, but the taste was there.

Served up with the required horseradish, and yep, it was Beef on Weck.

Recipe for the Beef part (also from Food Wishes):

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 pound top-sirloin roast

salt and pepper to taste

2 or 3 teaspoons flour

2 1/2 cups good quality beef broth
2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar, or to taste

 4-6 kimmelweck rolls

extra hot prepared horseradish, as needed

 Coat the steak with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet (preferably not non stick, so you get some good meat bits) over high heat until it is really hot. Add the oil and swirl it around to coat the pan. Add the steak and let it sear, undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. Turn over, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You want it to come to medium, so your cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your steak.

Once done to your liking, remove the steak to a plate and cover to keep warm.

IMG_0910
Thinly sliced beef, done medium rare

In the same pan, add the flour and stir constantly for about a minute. Add the broth and balsamic, and using a whisk, stir up all the bits from the pan. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by about 1/3. It will not get thick like gravy, you want it to be a sauce (au jus). Season with salt if needed.

IMG_0911
Au jus

Slice the steak very thin. Turn the pieces into the au jus for just a moment to moisten, and then pile onto a split kimmelweck roll. Add horseradish to your liking.

Serve with additional au jus for dipping.

Well, there you have it. My little take on New York. It might not be what you expected, but that’s ok. It is from the part of New York that I called home for the first 27 years of my life. Perhaps someday, we can come back around and see what else NY has to offer.

See you next week… in North Carolina!

Fifty State of New Recipe Tuesday – Week 10 – Virginia

It’s Tuesday, and here we are at week 10 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. Tonight, I am presenting Virginia, who joined the union on June 25th, 1788, just 4 days after New Hampshire.

Researching Virginia was not only easy, but really interesting. It has earned the nickname ‘Mother of Presidents’ because it produced eight of America’s early leaders. And one of those presidents is also unofficially America’s First Gourmet: Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson had extensive gardens at his home, Monticello, where he brought all kinds of ‘exotic’ food from his travels, including eggplant, broccoli, mustard seed and rice. He was also a large grower of peanuts.

Virginia owes a lot of its culinary heritage to those who were brought to these shores against their will. Slaves brought foods such as okra, peanuts and black-eyed peas from Africa, paving the way for dishes such as fried black-eyed peas and one of our dishes for tonight, Cream of Peanut Soup.

IMG_0902
Cream of Peanut Soup

Ham has also been a staple in Virginia since the 1600s, when colonists learned to smoke meats from the native Americans. And where there is ham, there is often a Southern Buttermilk Biscuit, which is my second dish for this evening.

IMG_0900
Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

The story of Cream of Peanut soup really comes from Colonial Williamsburg, where it is believed it was served almost daily to George Washington. The recipe I used was a traditional one that has been served at The King’s Arms Tavern since the 1700s. It is really easy to make, and I can say that I liked it. It is really rich, so a good starter, but I wouldn’t want a huge bowl full. A cup is more than enough. I think that kids would really like it, because the flavor is simple and sort of just tastes like liquid peanut butter. Here is the recipe for it.

 Cream of Peanut Soup
Serves 10-12
(Recipe courtesy of King’s Arms Tavern, Colonial Williamsburg, VA)

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 tbsp flour
8 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 3/4 cups light cream or half-and-half

1 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)

Finely chopped salted peanuts, for garnish

In a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, three-five minutes. Stir in flour and cook two minutes longer.

Pour in the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour into a sieve set over a large bowl and strain, pushing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Return the liquid to the sauce pan or pot.

Whisk the peanut butter and the cream into the liquid. Warm over low heat, whisking often, for about five minutes. Do not boil. Serve warm, garnished with the chopped peanuts.

Now, when you are in the south, it does seem to be all about the biscuit, and I thought that a good Southern Buttermilk Biscuit would pair nicely with some Virginia Ham. The recipe that I found was from Southern Living Magazine, and was fairly straightforward in ingredients. What I found interesting was the technique of flouring and folding the dough, which was supposed to make it fluffy and layered, sort of like puffed pastry. I have to say, I was not impressed. Don’t get me wrong, the biscuit flavor was delicious; all buttery and golden, but they were not airy, fluffy or otherwise puffed pastry like. They were just biscuits. I’m thinking this technique requires some practice, so I am not going to give up on. If I make biscuits again, I would definitely use this recipe and maybe try this folding thing again. I will let you know.

IMG_0901
Southern Buttermilk Biscuit with Virginia Ham

Here is the biscuit recipe:

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

(From Southern Living Magazine)

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, plus more for the pan if needed

2 1/4 cups self-rising flour, or 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons homemade self-rising flour* (you may need up to 1 cup more flour if the dough is sticky), plus more for the work surface

1 1/4 cups buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted

Cut the cold butter into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Dump the flour into a large bowl and toss in the butter slices. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and resembles small peas. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Lightly butter a baking sheet or jelly-roll pan or line it with parchment paper.

Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture, stirring just until the flour is moistened. The dough will be very sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. Using floured hands, press or pat the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (it should measure about 9 by 5 inches). Sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour. Starting with a short end, fold the dough over onto itself in 3 sections. Then fold the dough rectangle as if folding a letter-size piece of paper. Press the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (yes, again) and repeat the entire process 2 more times, adding additional flour as needed.

Press or pat the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough with a floured 2-inch cutter. Place the biscuits side by side on the prepared baking sheet or jelly-roll pan. The biscuits should touch. Quickly and gently press together the dough scraps while the dough is still cold and cut out as many more biscuits as you can.

Bake the biscuits for 13 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush the tops with the melted butter and let them cool ever so slightly. The biscuits are best warm from the oven, so don’t dally.

*Self-Rising Flour Note

Self-rising flour isn’t necessarily a staple in everyone’s pantry, so here is how to make it yourself: 1 cup of self-rising flour = 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 cup all-purpose flour

So, all in all, we had some pretty tasty stuff this week, and I am generally happy with the results. Next week is New York. My home state. This one may take more than one week to conquer. See you next time.

Leslie

IMG_0903
Cream of Peanut Soup and Southern Biscuit with ham