Tart-n-Sweet: Cranberry Orange Sauce – Massachusetts

The humble little cranberry — tart enough to make your mouth pucker — has a long history in Massachusetts. Native Americans ate them, and the first commercial beds were planted in 1816. The name

Cranberry Orange Sauce - Massachusetts

 

is a bungled derivation of “craneberry,” so called by the Pilgrims because the spring blossoms resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. The geography of the area is an ideal environment for cranberries. Glacial deposits left kettle holes which filled with water and decaying matter, creating bogs. In 1994, after two years of lobbying by school children, the Massachusetts legislature finally recognized the cranberry as the official state berry.

You can usually find fresh cranberries in stores from mid-September to December. We love this sauce at Thanksgiving with our turkey. It literally takes 15 minutes to make and once you try it you will never go back to the canned stuff. As an added benefit, this tart little fruit promotes urinary tract health and is a nutritional powerhouse, full of antioxidants, and a good source of fiber and Vitamin C.

If a visit to the Bay State is in your future, go back in time at Old Sturbridge Village, a New England living history museum that depicts rural life in the 19th century.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 15 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 package fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (orange part only)
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

 Instructions

Wash and drain cranberries, pick over to remove any bad berries. Add water to saucepot along with sugar. Heat water on medium until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently. Add cranberries, heat on medium high for about 10 minutes or until cranberries split open. Berries will slightly pop. Remove from heat. Add orange zest and orange juice. Cool.

 

Peace, Love and Spuds: Baked Eggs in Potato Cups – Idaho

Whether you bake, boil, mash, nuke or fry them, everyone loves potatoes. Idaho, sometimes called the Gem State, leads the states in potato production, with 14.2 billion pounds harvested in 2012.

Baked Eggs in Potato Cups - Idaho

Idaho’s rich volcanic soil and climate offer the ideal conditions for potatoes. Potatoes are a good choice for those who are gluten free. They are a good source of Vitamin C and an even greater source of potassium — even better than a banana.

This recipe is perfect for Sunday brunch and can easily be made vegetarian. We do not recommend using frozen hash browns as they will not brown up nicely. The only caution we note is to make sure you do not press too firmly against the bottom and sides of the pan when you are putting the grated potatoes in the muffin cups. If you do, the potatoes will stick to the pan.  :(  Spray or oil liberally, then use a light touch.

For kitschy fun and to take a picture with a giant potato in front (who could pass that up?), check out the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID.

Baked Eggs in Potato Cups

  • Servings: 12 cups
  • Time: 90 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 medium baking potatoes
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup Canadian bacon, chopped (can omit)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 teaspoons fresh chives, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Instructions

Bake potatoes at 400 degrees until almost done, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool, then grate. The potatoes should crunch a bit when you grate them which means they are just underdone. Season well with salt and pepper.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray or well oil the muffin pan. Scoop grated potatoes into the holes and onto sides, pressing very lightly (or potato cups will stick in the pan). Spray again lightly with cooking spray. Cook until potatoes are golden brown, but make sure edges do not burn, about 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, while cups are baking, combine beaten eggs, chopped red pepper, cheddar cheese and Canadian bacon if using. Remove muffin pan from oven and spoon egg mixture evenly into the potato cups. Sprinkle tops with the chives. Return to oven for 15 minutes or until the eggs are set.

 

 

Oh, Hi Yo: Peanut Butter Buckeyes – Ohio

The Buckeye State got its name from the proliferation of Buckeye trees (Aesculus glabra) around the state, yes. But William Henry Harrison, the nation’s ninth president, also may have had a hand

Peanut Butter Buckeyes - Ohio

with the nickname as he used the image of the buckeye tree in his presidential campaign against Martin Van Buren. Besides Harrison, who was born in Virginia and later claimed Ohio as his home, seven other presidents are Ohio natives, which is why Ohio is sometimes called the “Mother of Presidents.”

Buckeye seeds are dark brown and shiny and have a lighter colored center that looks like a deer eye, according to native Americans.

Buckeyes

Naturally, someone clever eventually decided to make a confection that looks like the buckeye. You can now find these commercially made all over the state, but give this recipe a go. Homemade is always best.

Check out the Columbus International Festival, November 8-9, 2014.

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

  • Servings: 60 pieces
  • Time: 30 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

Mix the peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer until completely combined, approximately 3 minutes. Add salt and vanilla, mix again for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar a half cup at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl, until all sugar is incorporated.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the peanut butter mixture into 1-inch balls and place evenly on the baking sheet. Place baking sheet into the freezer for the balls to firm up, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat 1 cup of chocolate chips in 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between until all the chips have melted. Add a bit of vegetable oil until the chocolate reaches desired consistency.

Remove baking sheet from the freezer. Place a toothpick in the peanut butter ball and dip about three-quarters of the ball into the chocolate. Place back on the baking sheet and remove toothpick, smoothing out the hole. Repeat with the remaining balls, melting more chocolate when it runs low. Refrigerate until firm.

 

Vote for Cake: Hartford Election Cake – Connecticut

While driving through Connecticut, with its scenic towns and quaint villages, you can almost squint and go back in time to 1788 when this colony became a state. It may be one of the smallest states in the nation, but it’s rich in history, and Hartford Election Cake is part of

Hartford Election Cake

its lore. Back in colonial times, Election Day was almost like a holiday. Historians are not sure if this cake was baked in celebration of the right to vote, or just to feed weary travelers who traveled long distances to get to polling places. No matter, Democrats and Republicans alike can stand behind this very old recipe, based on a traditional fruitcake but lighter since it contains yeast. This cake is full of nuts, raisins and spices, including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg — appropriate for the Nutmeg State. It rises twice for a total of two and a half hours, so allow a bit of time when you are preparing it. Great with a cuppa joe in the morning or with tea in the afternoon as a pick-me-up.

If you want to get your history fix, check out the Connecticut Historical Society Museum and Library in Hartford. And if you need voter info for the November 4th election, check out the handy voter information tool below the recipe.

Hartford Election Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Adapted from Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, www.ohioswallow.com, used with permission.

Ingredients

For cake:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (divided in two parts: 1 1/2 cups, then 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs

For glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in milk. Add 1 1/2 cups flour gradually, until mixture is smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place until very light and bubbly, 30 to 45 minutes.

Mix together 1 3/4 cups flour, salt and spices and set aside. Chop raisins, mix with nuts and set aside. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. By hand, blend in yeast mixture. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating until smooth after each addition Add raisin-pecan mixture and mix well.

Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan or large Bundt pan. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough almost reaches the top, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cake until golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then loosen cake from edges with a knife. Turn out onto a cake rack and cool completely.

For glaze: In a mixing bowl, whisk confectioners sugar, vanilla and milk until desired spreading consistency. Glaze should cover top of cake and drizzle down the sides.

Quahog Agog: Clam Cakes – Rhode Island

The smallest state in the country, Rhode Island, is home to some exceptional eats, including coffee milk, New York System Wieners and pizza strips. But because Rhode Island is also known as the Ocean State, we decided to bring you a dish featuring the popular quahog, a unique seafood recipe for one of our favorite dishes, clam cakes.

Rhode Island Clam Cakes

Quahog (pronounced KO-hog) is a Narragansett Indian-derived term for the hard-shell clam found in these regions. You can use canned clams in your cakes, but we used fresh and steamed them ourselves to capture that bright ocean flavor. The maple syrup, buttermilk and beer are an unusual combination, but they all work together to create a winning dish. We recommend a shallow fryer so that the cakes turn out flat rather than golf ball-like. Eat these as an appetizer or dipped in New England Clam Chowder.

Head to Newport, Rhode Island, October 18-19, 2014, for Bowen’s Wharf Annual Seafood Festival. 

Rhode Island Clam Cakes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe adapted from Hank Shaw, http://honest-food.net, used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds littleneck clams (yields approx. 1 cup of clam meat = approx. 30 clams)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup reserved clam cooking liquid
  • 1/2 cup cold beer
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Tartar sauce or Tabasco sauce (for dipping)

Instructions

To steam clams: Pick through clams and discard any with cracked or damaged shells. Soak for 20 minutes in fresh water. Lift them out of the water bath (do not strain) and brush vigorously to get rid of any excess sand. Heat 3 to 4 cups of water in a large pot with onion, celery and carrot trimmings until slowly boiling. Turn down heat to medium. Add clams and cover. Steam about 4 to 6 minutes or until the shells start to open. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard any clams that do not open. Once shells are cool enough to handle, open shells, extract meat and chop finely. Reserve the cooking liquid.

To make clam cakes: Heat oil to 350 degrees, preferably in a shallow fryer. Mix all dry ingredients. Mix the clams and all liquid ingredients except the beer. After oil is hot, add beer, then gently fold liquid ingredients into the dry until just combined.

Drop tablespoons of batter into hot oil (and be careful not to crowd the pot). Fry batches until golden, turning once, for approximately 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Serve with tartar or Tabasco sauce, or dip in New England Clam Chowder.

 

 

Whose Stew is it Anyway? Brunswick Stew – Virginia

Virginia is for lovers and we’re feeling the culinary love for Brunswick Stew.

Brunswick Stew - Virginia

 

Legend has it that Jimmy Matthews, a camp cook, created this stew for a hunting party back in 1828 on the banks of the Nottoway River. Other places have claimed Brunswick Stew as their own, most notably Brunswick, Georgia, spawning some serious stew wars. Georgia versions tend to have beef or pork as the protein while the Virginia version uses chicken. Thankfully for us, neither uses squirrel, the primary protein when the dish was created in the nineteenth century. This stew is hearty thanks to the addition of corn, potatoes and butterbeans, and the Brunswick Stewmaster’s Association asserts that it isn’t done until the spoon can stand up in the middle of the stew pot.

Brunswick Stew - Virginia

Head out to the Taste of Brunswick Festival in Alberta, Virginia, October 11, 2014, where you can sample lots of versions during the stew cook off.

Brunswick Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hour, 30 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe adapted from Brunswick Stewmaster’s Association, used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 carrot, cut into large pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) small butterbeans or lima beans, drained
  • 2 cans (7 oz.) white shoe peg corn, drained
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil

 Instructions

In a large pot, place chicken with enough water to cover it. Add carrot, celery peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer until meat falls off bone, about 45 minutes. Remove chicken but reserve stock. Shred meat. In a separate pot, sauté the chopped onion in vegetable oil until translucent. Add meat, potatoes, tomatoes and salt and peppers, plus some of the stock to desired consistency. Simmer slowly, stirring often to prevent sticking, until potatoes are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add additional stock if stew becomes too thick. Add butterbeans and corn, heat an additional 10 to15 minutes or until beans and corn are heated through. Season again with salt and peppers before serving.

 

 

Guac and Roll: Avocado Wontons – California

Mmmmm, avocados. Who doesn’t love the creamy, buttery fruit (yes, a fruit!) with the delicate, nut-like flavor that melts in your mouth? California supplies 90 percent of nation’s crop, with the

Avocado Wontons - California

majority (60 percent) coming from San Diego, the avocado capital of the country. According to the California Avocado Commission, avocados were originally found in South-Central Mexico and made their way to the U.S. in 1871, thanks to the efforts of one Judge R.B. Ord of Santa Barbara. Hundreds of varieties exist but seven types are grown in California, with Hass making up 95 percent of the total crop.

Avocados are a nutrient-dense food, supplying 20 vitamins and minerals and they are one of the few fruits with “good” fats — the mono and polyunsaturated kinds — that can help reduce blood cholesterol levels when eaten in place of saturated or trans fats.

The recipe we’ve featured is an east-meets-west appetizer of Avocado Wontons. The soy dipping sauce adds a nice kick to the wontons, the filling of which is like a chucky guacamole. Yum!

If a trip to the Golden State is in your plans, check out the California Avocado Festival in Carpinteria, October 3-5, 2014.

Avocado Wontons

  • Servings: 10-15
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe created by Alex Caspero of Delish Knowledge for the California Avocado Commission, used with permission

Ingredients

For Wontons:

  • 1/2 cup organic frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 ripe California avocados, diced
  • 30 wonton skins
  • Vegetable oil

For Dipping Sauce:

  •  1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin or simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, white and green sliced very thin on the bias
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili garlic paste

Instructions

For dipping sauce: Whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

For wontons: Add the corn, onion, garlic, roasted bell pepper, tomatoes, scallions, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl. Toss to combine. Gently fold in the diced avocado, being careful not to overmix. Place 1-2 tsp. onto each wonton wrapper. Gently fold over to close forming a triangle. Dip fingers in water and gently press along wrapper edge to seal. Repeat until filling is used. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Pan fry wontons 2 to 3 minutes each side or until golden brown. Serve with dipping sauce.

 

 

Leave Us Some Lefse – North Dakota

North Dakota, the Roughrider State, celebrates its Northern European influences, especially anything Norwegian. A third of its residents are of Norwegian descent, the highest percentage of any state in the country. Immigration from Norway began around 1870 and these Henriks and Heddas brought the two Ls — lutefisk and lefse.

Lefse

We’ll leave lutefisk for another day, but lefse is nothing more than a potato crepe. Or maybe it’s a potato tortilla? Either way, they are thin and speckled brown from the skillet and are delicious served warm with a bit of cream cheese and jelly or simpler still, with butter and sugar.

Lefse take a bit of effort, but don’t all good things? Start by peeling and cutting up the potatoes and boiling them until they are quite soft, almost falling apart when pierced by a fork. Let the potatoes cool and then put them through a potato ricer. Lumps are fine for mashed potatoes but the consistency here needs to be finer, no lumps allowed. Add the butter, milk and salt and pepper to taste and then refrigerate until the potatoes are cold. You can do this step the day before if you’d like.

When you are ready to make the lefse, add two cups of the potatoes with one cup of the flour. You’ll probably have some potatoes leftover, a bonus as you can eat them for lunch the next day. The mixture will gradually come together and you’ll have a dough that looks like this. Lefse

Divide this dough ball into 16 equal portions.

Lefse dough balls

Now the real fun begins: Rolling the lefse out. Add a cup of flour to a clean mixing bowl. Drop one dough ball into the flour, dusting the dough. Take it out and then gently roll it out with a rolling pin onto a well-floured surface. This might take a few tries until you get the amount of flour needed and how much pressure to apply with the rolling pin. Don’t get frustrated, if the dough is too sticky or holes form while rolling, just form the dough back into a ball, and try again after adding a bit more flour. You’ll want to roll these babies out as thin as possible, 1/8 of an inch or less so that the dough is almost translucent when held up to the light. Gently lift lefse off of surface with a spatula or pastry scraper. 

Lefse

Place onto a heated skillet and cook two to three minutes on each side until golden brown spots appear.

Lefse

Serve them warm, spread with your favorite topping.

Channel your inner Viking and visit the Norsk Hostfest in Minot ND, September 30-October 4, 2014.

Lefse

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. baking potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 cups flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Jam with cream cheese, or butter with granulated sugar, for serving

Instructions

Peel and cut potatoes into uniform pieces. Place into a large pot of cold water, with potatoes completely covered. Bring potatoes to a gentle boil until they are soft, about ten minutes. Drain and let cool. Press potatoes through a potato ricer. Add butter, milk and salt and pepper. Mix until ingredients are completely absorbed, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Refrigerate mixture until cold.

When ready to make the lefse, mix two cups of the potatoes with one cup of flour. The mixture will be grainy at first but will slowly become a ball of dough as you mix. Turn onto a well-floured surface and knead a few times. Divide dough into 16 equal portions. Roll each portion into a little dough ball. Cover dough balls with a clean tea towel and keep covered as you work.

Heat a non-stick pan or a cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add a cup of flour to a clean mixing bowl. Drop one dough ball into the flour, dusting the dough. Remove, then roll out gently with a rolling pin onto a well-floured surface (if dough is too sticky or holes form while rolling, form back into a ball, and add more flour). Roll as thin as possible, 1/8 of an inch or less so that the dough is almost translucent when held up to the light. Gently lift lefse off of surface with a spatula and place onto skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown spots appear. Transfer onto a plate and cover with a clean tea towel. Repeat with remaining dough balls, rolling out one lesfe as one cooks. If lefse start to stick to pan while cooking, brush the pan with a small amount of vegetable oil.

To serve, spread with your topping of choice and then roll up. Lefse will keep for one week in the fridge or three weeks frozen.

 

Fried Green Tomatoes are Southern Comfort – Alabama

When you travel through the Heart of Dixie, as the state of Alabama is known, you’ll undoubtedly see fried green tomatoes listed as either a main course or a side dish on menus in dining establishments ranging from humble meat-and-three roadside diners to more upscale sit-down spots. The association between the dish and the state harks back to the 1991 movie of the

GreenTom.081 label

same name, set around the fictional Whistle Stop Café near Birmingham. Truth be told, we can’t actually say if the dish has its origins anywhere near Alabama, since it’s found on dinner tables throughout the South. But the hot, fried slices – which you can either pan-fry or deep-fry – have become undeniably associated with the state, courtesy of Fannie Flagg’s quintessentially Southern novel. If you’ve never tried this dish, what we can say for sure is that the pairing of fried cornmeal-flour batter with the tart and firm flesh of unripe fruit is irresistible – especially when served with a cool dipping sauce (we chose ranch dressing). Pour a glass of ice-cold sweet tea to go along with it, and you’ve got yourself some good eatin.’

If you’re headed to sweet home Alabama, check out the Whistlestop Festival in Irondale, September 27, 2014.

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 Recipe courtesy of Phyllis Foster of Athens, Ala., used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 4 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk (or buttermilk)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Ranch dressing for dipping

Instructions

In a deep fryer, preheat oil to 350 degrees. Season tomatoes on both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, cayenne and paprika in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, beat eggs with the milk. First dredge tomatoes through the flour mixture, then the egg wash, and then back through the flour mixture again. Add only a few pieces to the fryer at a time, so pieces cook evenly, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and serve with buttermilk ranch dressing.

Ooey, Gooey, From St. Louie: Gooey Butter Cake – Missouri

Definitely a mistake. A mistake turned delicious anyway. Gooey Butter Cake is to St. Louis as deep dish pizza is to Chicago. According to the New York Times, fork-lore has it that in the 1930s,

Gooey Butter Cake - Missouri

a St. Louis baker added too much shortening, butter or sugar while making a cake. Not wanting to waste the ingredients this being the middle of the Depression, the baker tried to sell the cake anyhow. Customers loved it and Gooey Butter Cake was born.

Continue reading Ooey, Gooey, From St. Louie: Gooey Butter Cake – Missouri

Highlighting food from our 50 states

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