Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twenty Six – Michigan – Michigan Pasties

Welcome to week 26 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Michigan, who joined the union on January 26, 1837.  Michigan is divided into two land areas, known as the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.  The Mackinaw Bridge connects the Upper Peninsula to the rest of the state, and is one of the world’s longest suspension bridges, spanning five miles.

First, I apologize for not posting a new recipe last week. Wait, I actually am not sorry that I missed last Tuesday, because I was on vacation in beautiful Lake Tahoe with my family. What a gorgeous place on this planet. There is not a whole lot to dislike about Lake Tahoe, unless you hate snow. I happen to love snow, and even got back into a pair of skis and hit the slopes after 30 years.

IMG_1602

Lake Tahoe from the Heavenly Gondola.

And traveling makes me remember a family trip I took with my parents and sister to Michigan when I was 10 or 11. We were a camping family, so it was all about packing up the trailer and the long ride to wherever we were headed. This particular summer trip took us to a number of places, but I specifically remember Michigan because we visited the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn and the Kellogg factory in Battle Creek. I actually just spent the last ½ hour looking for a picture of my sister and me standing in front of a statue of Tony the Tiger. Couldn’t find it for the life of me. But it would have looked sort of like this shot of the building with a statue in front of it and two 70s styled girls smiling away. I think we got little boxes of cereal after the tour. Probably Sugar Frosted Flakes, because we didn’t deny the sugar back then. What fun.

Kellogg

Now Michigan has had some rough times in recent history, and Detroit is no longer the first place you think when someone mentions cars, but it is known as the car capitol of the world. It is also the birthplace of Motown, where some of the best music ever was created. Back to my childhood… Jackson Five anyone?

So although I have never been back to Michigan since my childhood, I do have a warm fuzzy spot for the state and it was fun to look back on my younger days while searching for a new recipe this week.

On to food. This state’s recipe sort of fell in my lap several weeks ago and I stopped looking as soon as I read about it. It is from the Upper Peninsula and it is called the Michigan Pasty. I was taught that the proper pronunciation is PASS-TEE, and they actually are linked back to the Cornish Pasty from Cornwall England, dating back to the 1700 – 1800s. They were a popular lunch item, as they were potable and would keep pockets warm for several hours. They could be reheated on the blade of a shovel over a fire, or even eaten cold. The Michigan version arrived with Cornish immigrants who worked in the Northern Michigan copper mines.

They take a bit of work, but they were not hard to make. The end result is a hearty meat pie, with a flaky crust and a tasty filling. I was surprised that the only seasonings were salt and pepper, but the root vegetables flavored everything nicely and there really is no need for anything else. The recipe makes 5-6 Pasties, and one is very filling. Josh thought they were really good, and is probably going to take one for lunch tomorrow. A real winner of a dish, I give this a solid A. I would make these again.

IMG_0054
Michigan Pasties

Thanks Michigan! It was a nice walk down memory lane for me, and a mighty fine dish too. See you next time in Florida!

Recipe for Michigan Pasties (adapted from theyoopergirl.com)

Ingredients:

For the crust

3 cups flour
¾ cups Crisco shortening
½ cup unsalted butter, chilled
½ cup cold water
1 tsp salt

For the filling

1 ½ pounds ground beef (I used 85/15)
4 cups of 1/2 inch cubed peeled potatoes
1 cup of 1/4 inch chopped onions
1/2 cup of 1/4 inch chopped rutabagas
1/2 cup of finely chopped carrots
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry blender until it resembles pea sized crumbs. Add in the water all at once and mix with your hands until you have a clump of dough. Do not over mix it or your crust will be tough. If it is too wet, add in a little bit of flour to make it pliable and soft, if needed. Divide the dough into 6 equal size balls and refrigerate until ready to use.

In another large bowl, add in all the chopped veggies. Add in the meat, salt, and pepper, and mix it all together with your hands.

 

Flour a cutting board. Take out the first ball of dough and roll it out, about 1/4 thick. Try to make it in an oval shape.

Take a 1 cup measure of the uncooked meat filling and place it on one side of the dough. Dampen the edge, then fold it over with your hands and crimp the edges so they don’t come apart.

Repeat for the rest of the pasties and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silipat. Bake in a 375°F oven for 45-50 minutes. Eat immediately or let cool and store in refrigerator.

IMG_0055
Michigan Pasties

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twenty Five – Arkansas – Cassoulet with Duck Confit

Welcome to week 25 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. Woohoo! We’ve reached the halfway mark! This week we welcome the state of Arkansas, who joined the union on June 15, 1836.  Arkansas was part of the land acquired from France with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It became its own territory in 1819 and then its own state in 1836.  It was a slave state, and the ninth state to secede from the union to join the Confederate States of America.

Arkansas is a large agriculture state, and is the largest producer of both rice and poultry in the US. It is also a grower of nearly every crop grown in the US, with the exception of citrus.

Arkansas is the home and headquarters of  Walmart. I mention this because a number of years ago, when I was a member of the automation team for a large travel management company, I was sent to Bentonville for a few days to do some computer work for their travel team. What made this particular business trip memorable was a number of things, including the fact that Bentonville is a dry town (you had to purchase a “membership” at the restaurant to get a cocktail), the best hotel in town was a Holiday Inn, and the world headquarters for the largest retailer in the US was the ugliest corporate headquarters building I have ever visited. Think world’s largest corrugated steel building, with plastic chairs in the waiting area and a vast field of cubicles for everyone up to senior management. Plus a HUGE sign over the main door that says something like, “If you come within 6 feet of another person, there is no reason not to say hello”. So as you walk through this cavernous space, everyone is saying hello, hello, hello. Can’t say I have given much thought to returning to Arkansas since.

Ok. On to food! As I said, Arkansas is a big agriculture state, but it is not necessarily known for a signature dish. I was not going down the road of a spudnut (yes that is a real thing), so I decided to dig into what the state was “known” for.  Rice and chicken. Boring. But what I did find was that there are a lot of folks in Arkansas that like to hunt, and duck hunting is a pretty big thing. I like duck, and decided to seek out a dish that gives duck a nice little nod, a sort of “essence of Arkansas”. What I decided to make was Cassoulet with Duck Confit.

Cassoulet with Duck Confit
Cassoulet with Duck Confit

This dish is French. Don’t get all over me for that. It seemed so delicious that I just had to make it. As I said, it is a nod to the duck hunters of Arkansas, who probably take their duck home and make gumbo out of it. They are a Louisiana neighbor and I did see recipes for it.

But my dish was luscious and elegant. It actually takes 2 days to make, because the beans gather up a lot of flavor when they are left to sit overnight. There is no holding back on indulgence here. You cook the beans in pancetta. Then you cook them some more with the duck, some good French sausage and slab bacon. Its lots of fatty goodness and a lit bit goes a long way in filling you up.  A hearty red wine will cut through the fattiness of the dish, and I recommend a hearty bread and something green (like a salad with a light vinaigrette) on the side to balance it out. Overall, I loved it. Not your everyday dish, as duck confit and French sausage are expensive and can be hard to find (thank you Wegmans and Fresh Market). But for the money, it makes a lot and I think I know what I will be eating for the rest of the week. I make no apology for my somewhat less than authentic Arkansas dish. I hope that anyone from that state will see this recipe and accept it into their kitchen as much as I have mine.

Duck Confit
Duck Confit

Enjoy! See you next time in Michigan!

Recipe for Cassoulet with Duck Confit (From FoodandWine.com)

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Two 1/2-inch-thick slices of pancetta (4 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 2 hours and drained
4 thyme sprigs
2 quarts water
1 quart chicken stock
1 large head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
Kosher salt
4 pieces of duck leg confit, trimmed of excess fat
3/4 pound French garlic sausage, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
4 ounces lean slab bacon, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the beans, thyme sprigs, water and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring and skimming occasionally, until the beans are al dente, about 1 hour.

Add the garlic cloves to the beans and simmer until the garlic and beans are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs. Season the beans with salt and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate the saucepan overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Rewarm the beans over moderate heat. Transfer the beans to a large, deep baking dish. Nestle the duck legs, garlic sausage and bacon into the beans. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cassoulet is bubbling and all of the meats are hot. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

Cassoulet
Let the dish rest for 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and the parsley over the cassoulet and serve.

Cassoulet with Duck Confit and Red Wine
Cassoulet with Duck Confit and a nice red wine

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twenty Four – Missouri – St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Welcome to week 24 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Missouri, who joined the union on August 10, 1821.

If you read my post from last week (of course you did), you know that Maine and Missouri were admitted into the union as sort of a counterbalance; Maine was a non slave state and Missouri was a slave state. This was what was referred to as the Missouri Compromise. Located on both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, it was an important state for transportation and trade in the early US. The St. Louis arch stands as a reminder that this state is the “gateway to the west”.

Missouri is a big food trivia state. I was amazed to learn that many foods that we eat today originated in this state. The first ready-mix food to be sold commercially in the US was Aunt Jemima’s Pancake Mix, which was created in St. Louis in 1899. The soda 7-Up was created by Charles Leiper Grigg of Price’s Branch in 1929. The antacid TUMS was invented in 1928 by a pharmacist named Jim Howe. And Provel cheese, a shelf stable cheese product, which is a combination of provolone and Velveeta was also created in Missouri. That last one I have never heard of, but it is apparently really big there, especially on St. Louis pizza. And my favorite, the famed statement “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, was proclaimed by J.T. Stinson in an address to the St. Louis Exposition in 1904.

Wow. So much food lore. So with all this interesting stuff, you would think there would be tons of unique foods to pick from coming out of Missouri. Wrong. I struggled with this one. Since I am not the grill master in this house, Kansas City barbecue was not going to be an option. Besides, my friend Steve is the guy to go to for all things from a meat smoker, and he would have my head if I even tried it.

And then my family seemed to scatter this evening. Hubby Matt has been out of town watching rugby and is back to the office today. Lots of catching up and all that. Josh just came off a weekend of performances of “Music Man” (remember hell week last week?), and has now immediately gone into rehearsals for “Rent”. Ugh. No one home for dinner, so I shifted gears from my original plan and settled on what seems to be a classic dessert, the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. Yep, the name of this dessert actually is called gooey. Legend has it that this cake rose out of an accident of ingredients. In the 1930s, a German baker mixed up his flour and sugar, which resulted in a really ‘gooey’ cake. It was really tasty and he decided to sell it, and the rest is history.

St Louis Gooey Butter Cake
A slice of St Louis Gooey Butter Cake

There are a number of different versions of this cake, including one from Paula Deen (I think she serves it at her restaurant in Savannah GA). Many used a box cake mix and/or cream cheese, both of which did not seem to be even close to an original from the 1930s. I finally found one with claims to be ‘original’ from the Heimburger Bakery (it does have a German name). Their version’s bake time was way off, and it called for butter or margarine (ick). I have tweaked it so that yours will come out delicious.

The result? Shear decadence. It is very sweet and very dense. And it is gooey. It has a distinct butter taste and the building of a crust that hugs the filling keeps it all together, almost like a pie. Because it is so rich, I am thinking I am going to have to share it around the neighborhood. It is way too much for our family of three, but I guess I will have to wait for the boys to get home and try it before I give it all away.

By the way, the other dish I was going to make tonight was also an ‘oops’ recipe. It is called toasted ravioli, and was the result of a cook accidentally dropping fresh ravioli into some seasoned breadcrumbs. Rather than toss them, he decided to drop them in the deep fryer. The result was a crunchy appetizer that is served all over the state. If anyone is around the rest of the week, I may give them a try. Stay tuned!

Here is the recipe for St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake (adapted from the Heimburger Bakery)

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
⅓ cup unsalted butter, slightly softened

Filling:

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅔ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar

Directions:

Make the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×9-inch square baking pan with non stick cooking spray
In a medium mixing bowl stir the flour and sugar together.
Add the butter and toss to coat. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until small crumbs form.
Pat it into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan.

Press into pan
Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Make the filling:

In large mixing bowl cream the sugar and butter together on medium speed about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg on low speed.
Beat in the flour, on medium speed, a third at a time alternating with the evaporated milk until smooth and combined.
Beat in the corn syrup and vanilla until well combined.
Spoon into the crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.


Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is golden brown all over, set around the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center when the pan is shaken. Don’t overcook!
Cool in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle more confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares to serve.

Enjoy! See you next week in Arkansas.

 

 

 

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twenty Three – Maine – Wild Maine Blueberry Buckle

Welcome to week 23 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday Wednesday. This week we welcome the state of Maine, who joined the union on March 15, 1820.

First, I know it is Wednesday. It is also what I (and many others) affectionately call “Hell week”. You see, my son Josh is a drama kid and this week his high school will be performing “The Music Man” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In preparation for this, we have dress rehearsals; lots of dress rehearsals. And me being the kind of mom that likes to help out, I have been up at school along with many others parents helping out wherever we can. This year I joined the team that feeds the kids when they have a few minutes to grab something. And my contribution included making massive amounts of macaroni and cheese. I am not exaggerating here. I had all 6 burners of my stove going, plus my oven! Trays and trays of the cheesy stuff. I can’t even imagine eating a bite of pasta any time in the near future.

OMG Pasta
No more pasta!

But the good news is that we have a rest day today (Thank you!) and so I get to drop back into my normal life for a moment and get back to our 50 states.

I was surprised that Maine was not part of the original 13 colonies. So much for my US history knowledge. It was actually a colony of Massachusetts (didn’t know we had ‘sub-colonies’) until it was admitted into the union as a full state to balance the admission of Missouri, which was a slave state and Maine was a free state. But even after becoming a state, its northern boundary with Canada was not established until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which was essentially a compromise with Great Britain and finalized what we now define as the border between Maine and New Brunswick.

On to food. Maine is known for two things. Lobster and Blueberries. Since I usually do a savory dish, I had all plans to make a lobster dish, and what I was going to make was… lobster mac and cheese. Just the thought makes me shudder. No pasta for me. So that leads us to the beautiful blueberry. Maine is the third largest producer of blueberries in the United States, and is known specifically for the breed known as the wild or low bush berry. They are smaller and have a more intense color than other commercially cultivated blueberries from other states. I personally love wild blueberries from Maine, and also love the fact that a large percentage of them are still organic.

I decided on an old recipe for a cake called the Blueberry Buckle. It is called a buckle because it has a crumb topping that buckles as the cake cools. The batter to make this cake is very thick, dare I say almost paste like. But it is nicely sweet and lends well in bringing out the natural sweetness of the berry. The finished product reminds me of a really good muffin. Not to sweet, not too dense. It is really good warm, especially with a nice cup of coffee. I know what I am having for breakfast tomorrow.

Maine Wild Blueberry Buckle
Maine Wild Blueberry Buckle

This gets a solid A. Enjoy and see you next week in Missouri.

Recipe for Maine Wild Blueberry Buckle (adapted from several sources)

For the cake:

¾ cup sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
¾ cup milk
2 cups flour, plus 1 tablespoon to toss blueberries
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups wild Maine blueberries (fresh or frozen)

For the topping

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease the inside of an 8-inch spring form pan. Set aside.

Whisk together the 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Using a mixer beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk. Toss the berries with the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour (to separate and scatter evenly throughout the batter) and fold in. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Set aside.

Combine ingredients (butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon) for the topping with a fork or pastry cutter to make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle this over the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes, and then test for doneness by gently inserting the edge of a knife. If it does not come out clean, give the cake another 5 to 10 minutes to bake.

When the cake has cooled, run a knife around the edges and lift the cake out of the pan.

IMG_0009
Maine Wild Blueberry Buckle