Show Me the Gerber Sandwich – Missouri

St. Louis loves their regional specialties including toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake, but now comes the Gerber Sandwich. This sandwich, first created by Ruma’s Deli and supposedly named after a

Gerber Sandwich

customer, is nothing more than an open faced ham and cheese on garlic bread with a sprinkling of paprika to jazz it up. The entire thing is broiled so the bread gets brown and toasted and the cheese gets warm and melted. Fancy? No. Delicious? Yes.

What kind of ham? Doesn’t matter, use whatever is on sale at the deli. What kind of cheese? In St. Louis, provel is used (a processed cheese food that is a combination of Swiss, provolone and cheddar), but because it is hard to find outside the region, we used provolone. The StateEats Kitchen churned these out for a few days last week and we were met with nothing but raves and kudos.

Check out the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow, a magnificent holiday light display, featuring a million lights and unique installations, now through January 1.

Gerber Sandwich

  • Servings: 1 sandwich
  • Time: 10 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 or 6 inch section of French or Italian bread
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2-4 slices of ham
  • 2 slices Provolone cheese
  • Paprika

Instructions

Slice French bread long ways. In a small dish, mash garlic with butter. Spread on bread. Add ham, then cheese. Top with a sprinkle of paprika. Broil open faced on top rack of oven until cheese is melted and just begins to brown.

Cranberry Mimosa – Massachusetts

Just because Thanksgiving is over does not mean that we are done with the cranberry. The tart little cranberry is the Bay State’s official state berry and cranberry juice is the official state beverage. The

Cranberry Mimosa

name cranberry is thought to be a bungled derivation of “craneberry,” so called by the Pilgrims because the spring blossoms resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane.

Because you can never have too many cocktail options with the holidays approaching, we bring you the cranberry mimosa. This fun little drink whips up with just a few ingredients and is light and refreshing,

Main Street, Nantucket, is the site of the 43rd Annual Christmas Stroll, December 2-4, 2016. Visit historic homes decorated for the holiday, visit the craft show and watch Santa arrive via a Coast Guard Cutter.

Cranberry Mimosa

  • Servings: 1 drink
  • Time: 5 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Orange slices
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup champagne or sparkling wine
  • 2-3 fresh cranberries (optional)

Instructions

Take orange slice and rub on rim of wine glass. Sprinkle sugar on plate, turn glass upside down and rub the rim of the glass in the sugar. Add orange slice to glass, then cranberry juice, then champagne. Add a few cranberries as a garnish if desired.

Hazelnut, Apple and Blue Cheese on Crostini – Oregon

Oregon designated the hazelnut as its state nut in 1989. The Beaver State produces 99 percent of the US crop so this little filbert is an important part of economy. And did you know, some think the word

Hazelnut, Apple and Blue Cheese on Crostini

filbert is derived from the term “full beard” which refers to the husk covering some varieties?

Hazelnuts have a rich, delicious flavor that marries well with apples. Along with dried cranberries and blue cheese, this appetizer was a fall flavor explosion that made us very happy. Try making this on Thanksgiving day to  ward off the hunger pangs before dinner.

Crater Lake is the nation’s deepest lake at 1,945 feet. The intense blue of the water is due to its purity. Because it is strictly fed by rain and snow, many experts think it is the cleanest large body of water in the world.

Hazelnut, Apple and Blue Cheese on Crostini

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 20 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Baguette, sliced
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish

Instructions

Brush olive oil on sliced baguette. Broil in oven until bread is lightly toasted. In a small saucepan, heat olive oil. Add diced onion. Heat until onion is translucent. Remove from heat and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, add apple, cranberries, blue cheese, hazelnuts, maple syrup, and horseradish. Add onion. Mix to combine. Top baguette slices with about 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture. Broil in oven for 2-4 minutes or until blue cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Pie Bars – New Hampshire

Pumpkin became the state fruit of New Hampshire in 2006. The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, first held in Keene, New Hampshire, and now in Laconia, set a world record in 2013 with over

Pumpkin Pie Bars - New Hampshire

30,000 lit jack-o-lanterns. The lit pumpkins are housed on a huge scaffolding tower and honestly, it’s a sight to behold.

Because Thanksgiving is coming and because we can’t get enough of all things pumpkin we decided to bring you these pumpkin pie bars. They give you all the sumptuous goodness of pumpkin pie without the hassle of rolling out pie dough. Bake these and stash them in your freezer for the next time you are craving pumpkin pie.

The Portsmouth Harbour Trail is a walking tour that passes by 70 significant historical spots including 10 national historical landmarks and 10 buildings listed on the National Register of Historical Buildings.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

  • Servings: 24 bars
  • Time: 65 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

For filling:

  • 15 oz. can pumpkin filling
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions

To make crust: In the bowl of the electric mixer, combine oats, flour, brown sugar and butter. Mix on low with the paddle attachment until just combined. The mixture will look crumbly. Press into the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

To make filling: While crust is baking, combine pumpkin filling, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, spices and salt. Mix on low until smooth. When crust is done, pour mixture over it and then return pan to oven for 20 minutes.

To make topping: While filling bakes, combine brown sugar and chopped pecans in a small bowl. When filling has baked approximately 20 minutes, remove from oven. Sprinkle topping over the filling which will be wiggly and not yet set. Return pan to oven for an additional 20 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Dems and GOP Vote for Hartford Election Cake – Connecticut

We’re reprising our Hartford Election Cake because no matter if you vote Democrat or Republican, this cake is a huge electoral win. This very old recipe dates back to colonial times, when the cake was

Hartford Election Cake

made to feed hungry militia during training days. After the Revolutionary War, 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.

For this election season, we were delighted to discover that Old World Levain Bakery in Asheville, NC created a Make American Cake Again! project with election cake as its centerpiece, to raise awareness about our culinary heritage. If you make this cake, be sure to use #electioncake and #MakeAmericaCakeAgain on social media.

Full of nuts, raisins and spices, including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (very appropriate for the Nutmeg State) this cake rises twice for a total of two and a half hours. We can’t think of a better dessert to serve as you watch the returns roll in.

Nathan Hale is Connecticut’s state hero. He was an American soldier and spy for the Continental Army. He was captured by the Brits and before he was hung he stated “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Check out the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, built in 1776, with Hale-family furnishings and period antiques.

Hartford Election Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 3 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Adapted from Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, www.ohioswallow.com, used with permission.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1½ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour (divided in two parts: 1½ cups, then 1¾ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chopped raisins (soaked overnight in brandy or bourbon, optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs

For the glaze:

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

Instructions

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in milk. Add 1½ 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 1¾ 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, 1½ 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.

 

Peanut Soup – Virginia (V, GF)

We admit to loving anything with peanuts. And why not? Peanuts are a good source of protein and contain vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and Vitamin E.  Virginia peanuts are

Peanut Soup - Virginia

mostly grown in southeastern Virginia but also in the Carolinas. Virginia peanuts are prized because they are bigger than other types such as Spanish, Runner, and Valencia.

Most peanut soup recipes use peanut butter and add cream — not an option if one is vegan or lactose intolerant. But then we found this recipe from the Washington Post where the peanuts are soaked overnight. It was like the answer to all of our soup prayers. This earthy soup is perfect for these chilly fall evenings or football Sundays.

Great Falls National Park is just 15 miles from Washington, DC and boasts spectacular views of the waterfalls with three overlooks. Activities include biking, boating, hiking, and fishing.

Peanut Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe credit: Washington Post

Ingredients

  • 2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts, covered with water and soaked overnight
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple, diced (for garnish)
  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

Drain soaked peanuts, set aside. Place oil into large soup pot and heat over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the drained peanuts. Add celery seed and bay leaf, cook on medium for about 2 minutes. Add broth. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until the soup begins to boil. Reduce to low and continue cooking about 25 minutes or until peanuts are quite soft. Remove bay leaf and let soup cool a bit.

With an immersion or stand blender, blend soup in small batches until desired consistency is reached. Return soup to the pot and add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Heat through. Garnish with diced apple and hot sauce if desired.

Black and White Cookies – New York

The Black and White Cookie is to New York as Jambalaya is to Louisiana. Both dishes are synonymous with a place — which, come to think of it, is kind of the point of this blog. Made famous by the

Black and White Cookies - New York

Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine go to a bakery for a chocolate babka (we’ll have to do a post on that one someday), this cookie features a delectable vanilla-lemon base, iced half with chocolate and half with vanilla. Several years ago, we traveled to New York City in search of the perfect Black and White Cookie. We found a lot of terrible ones. They can’t be shrink wrapped in cellophane. They can’t be stale. The base must be more cake-like than cookie. And the icing must remain soft rather than hard and crunchy.

We found a recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen that we slightly adapted that fits the bill on all accounts. The batter for these cookies is more like cake batter. Black and White Cookie batterThe addition of cake flour and baking powder gives these cookies some loft. Because they are more cake than cookie, these will go stale quickly so we challenge you to finish them within a few days or pop them in the freezer for the next time you need a Black and White fix. As for eating them, we’re with Jerry, each bite has to have a little of both flavors. “Look to the cookie!”

NYC’s Wine and Food Festival takes place October 13-16, 2016, featuring tastings, celebrity chefs, hands-on classes, demos, and seminars.

Black and White Cookie

  • Servings: 2 dozen
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Recipe credit: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

For cookies:

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

For icing:

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

Instructions

To make cookies: In a medium mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light yellow. Add eggs, one at a time, then extracts. Add one third of the flour mixture. Beat just until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add next third, then scrape down sides of bowl. Add final third and then scrape down sides of bowl. Scoop batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes until tops are puffy and edges are just beginning to turn brown. Let cool completely. Place cookies in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while making icing.

To make icing: In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine confectioners sugar, corn syrup lemon juice and vanilla. Add 2 tablespoons of hot water and stir until smooth. Add additional water by the teaspoon until desired consistency is reached. The icing should be not too thin that it will run off the sides of the cookie and not too stiff that it will not be spreadable. Divide icing in half into another bowl and add cocoa powder. Add additional hot water by the teaspoon until desired consistency is reached. Spread vanilla icing first on one half of each cookie, then repeat with chocolate icing. Let icing set before transferring to an airtight container with waxed paper separating layers.

Potato Bread – Idaho

Fall is finally upon us here in the Midwest. Hooray, time to fire up the oven and get to baking again. We’ve always loved the soft texture of potato bread that comes from the grocery store, so we

Potato Bread - Idaho

decided to try our hand at recreating it at home. Oh my, this was a winner! If you have leftover mashed potatoes, they will work just as well as freshly prepared, you’ll need about one cup. We tried rising this dough overnight in the fridge and it worked wonderfully. Keep this recipe in mind the next time you have overnight guests and want to have fresh bread in the morning.

Don’t feel bad about loving potatoes. Idaho surely doesn’t. The Gem State leads the states in potato production, with 13 billion pounds harvested in 2014. Potatoes are actually high in potassium and Vitamin C — providing almost half the recommended daily value.

Potato Bread - Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located in Arco, Idaho and is an example of relatively recent volcanic activity. The preserve has three major lava fields, five lava tube caves and over 25 volcanic cones. Hiking, camping and cave exploring await.

Potato Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Time: 2 hr. 25 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 medium Idaho baking potato
  • 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid from making potato
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Crisco
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • Cooking spray

Instructions

Peel potato and cut into large pieces. Place into a medium pot of water and bring to a boil. When potato is soft, drain, reserving cooking liquid. Press cooked potato through a ricer. Add warm milk, ½ cup of reserved cooking liquid, Crisco, butter, salt and sugar. Set aside until cool.

In the stand mixer bowl, combine yeast and 1/3 cup warm water. Let stand a few minutes until mixture bubbles. Add the cooled potato mixture. Add flour. Mix with dough hook on slow speed, about 6 minutes. The dough will be very sticky. Transfer to a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes (Alternatively, you can place in refrigerator and let rise overnight).

When ready to bake, punch dough down and knead 2 or 3 minutes. Divide dough in two equal parts and place in buttered rectangular bread pans. Let rise again for one hour or until doubled in size. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Buckwheat Cakes – West Virginia

For the past 74 years, Preston County has been holding its Annual Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood, West Virginia. During the later years of the Depression, buckwheat was grown in the county as an

Buckwheat cakes - West Virginia

insurance crop because its growing season was short and the quality was good.

Buckwheat is actually not a cereal grain but rather a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. High in fiber and gluten free, buckwheat is also rich in flavonoids, and a good source of magnesium.

Buckwheat cakes have a delicate nut-like flavor and are darker than regular pancakes. This simplified version of buckwheat cakes makes a delicious breakfast, or brinner (breakfast for dinner) if you are so inclined.

This year the Preston County Buckwheat Festival takes place September 29-October 2, 2016.

Buckwheat Cakes

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 25 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or sub GF flour of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (two flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda). In a smaller bowl, mix together the buttermilk, egg and vanilla until combined. Add buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. The batter may have some lumps. If the batter is too thick, add a bit more buttermilk.

With a skillet heated over medium-high heat, add a bit of vegetable oil to the pan. Swirl so the oil coats the bottom of pan. Pour ¼ cup pancake batter into pan. Cook until bubbles form on top, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more. Continue until all batter is used, adding more vegetable oil when necessary.

Chicken Vesuvio – Illinois

We’ve lived in the Chicago area for almost 20 years and have come across some delicious versions of Chicken Vesuvio. Harry Caray’s makes a mean version that they assert dates back to the 1920s, as does the venerable Gene & Georgetti. Although some people argue

Chicken Vesuvio

that Chicken Vesuvio has its roots in New York, New Jersey or even southern Italy, we are swayed by the claim that this dish was invented at Vesuvio Restaurant which was located on Wacker Drive in the 1930s. That, and the fact that we never heard of this dish until we moved here.

The components of Chicken Vesuvio are pretty straightforward. Bone-in chicken pieces are pan seared. Potatoes are added, usually with a generous amount of garlic. Oregano (or some other herb, sometimes rosemary) is sprinkled throughout the dish, and a white wine sauce melds all the flavors together. Sometimes additional vegetables are added, like mushroom (like we did) or artichokes. The dish is finished in the oven and peas are added at the last moment. Where ever it came from, no one can argue that this dish is delicious at every bite.

Hurry to get your tickets for Chicago Gourmet 2016, September 24-25, 2016. This premier food festival has an impressive array of celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations and tastings.

Chicken Vesuvio

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hr. 15 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
    • 3 potatoes, quartered and then sliced 1/4 inch thick
    • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • 3 pounds chicken pieces, bone in
    • 8-10 baby portabella mushrooms, quartered
    • 3/4 cup white wine
    • 3/4 cup chicken stock
    • 2-3 teaspoons oregano
    • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

In a large, oven proof pan, heat ¼ cup of the cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes and garlic and cook until browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add ¼ cup olive oil to pan. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken pieces. Cook skin side down until browned. Turn skin side up, then add mushrooms. Cook 3-4 minutes or until mushrooms are browned. Return potatoes to the pan. Add stock, wine and oregano. Cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Place pan in oven to finish, about 40 minutes. Add the frozen peas during the last five minutes of baking.

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