Fit for Royalty: King Cake – Louisiana

The parades! The parties! The food and drinks! Mardi Gras is in full swing down in New Orleans and will culminate on February 28, which is when Fat Tuesday falls this year. King Cake actually refers to the three kings who visited baby Jesus in his manger as the

King Cake - Louisiana

season extends from Epiphany until the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. The French likely brought the King Cake tradition to New Orleans and it always includes inserting a plastic baby

Plastic babies for King Cake
Do you think we have eaten too many King Cakes through the years?

or dried bean in the cake after it is baked. The person who receives the piece with the trinket is said to be blessed with good luck and must host the next Mardi Gras party or buy the King Cake for the next party.

There are literally dozens of variations of fillings for this cake including cinnamon, praline and strawberry. We opted for a cream cheese and apricot filling which is a family favorite.  The cake is

Apricot and cream cheese filled King Cake

usually decorated with icing or sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors which signify justice (purple), power (yellow) and faith (green). We can’t lie, this cake is time consuming to make. To break up the steps, feel free to make the dough the day before. Let rise and then put into the refrigerator. So worth the effort and waaaaay cheaper than a plane ticket to NOLA.

If you are lucky enough to live near New Orleans or plan to visit in the next week, check out the Mardi Gras parade schedule so you don’t miss a moment of the action.

Apricot and Cream Cheese Filled King Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 3 1/2 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For Dough:

  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour (approx.)

For Filling:

  • 1 16 ounce can apricot pie filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 tablespoons water

For Icing/Finishing:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or half-n-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Yellow, purple and green colored sugar
  • One plastic baby, or uncooked bean

Instructions

For Dough:

In a small bowl, mix yeast with warm water. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon flour. Let sit until mixture begins to bubble. Meanwhile, heat milk in a medium saucepan until just boiling. Add butter and remaining sugar. Remove from heat and let stand until lukewarm. Add eggs, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat with wire whisk until incorporated.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add liquid. Then add 1 cup flour. Beat using dough hook attachment until dough smooth. Add additional flour gradually and continue to beat until dough is elastic and glossy. Turn dough out into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let sit in warm place until dough has doubled in size, approximately 1.5 hours. Punch dough down and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Dough can be made day ahead and left in fridge overnight).

For Filling:

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg yolks and vanilla. If apricot filling is watery, drain in colander.

To Assemble:

Shape cold dough into a log. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until it is a rectangle shape, approximately 30 X 9 inches. Spoon the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the dough, longways, about 3 inches from the long edges but almost to the ends. Add the fruit filling right next to the strip of cream cheese. Mix the egg with the water to create an egg wash. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Fold one long edge over the filling, do the same with the other long edge. Turn seam side down onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently form into a circle, joining the ends together. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Brush cake with remaining egg wash. Cut several slits to allow heat to escape. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Mix confectioners’ sugar with milk and vanilla. Spoon over cake. Sprinkle cake with colored sugars. Before serving, insert baby or bean into bottom of cake.

Frito Pie – Texas

Frito Pie is a beloved Texas dish, probably made popular at little league and football concession stands across the Lone Star State. The recipe is simple. Take your favorite chili, slice open a bag of

Frito Pie - Texas

Fritos, ladle said chili on top of the corn chips and garnish with cheese. Think nachos served in a bag but eaten with a plastic fork. Messy but oh-so-yummy.

The origins of Frito Pie are contested but Frito-Lay asserts San Antonio resident Daisy Doolin, mother of Charles Elmer Doolin (inventor of the Frito), came up with the idea in the 1930s to help market the chips. Fun fact: in October of 2102, Frito-Lay set a Guinness World Record for the largest Frito Pie at the State Fair of Texas, weighing in at a monstrous 1,325 pounds. Holy moly, chili willy!

You can make your own chili or pop over your favorite grocery store and pick up some ready-made chili at the soup station. Texas chili traditionally does not have beans but we looooooove us some beans so we added them. Be conscious of the amount of salt you add to the chili when making it since the chips are quite salty on their own.

One of the newest national monuments is Waco Mammoth, so designated by President Obama in 2015. Between 65,000 and 72,000 years ago, a herd of 19 mammoths drowned in rapidly rising river waters and were trapped. You can now see the remains in situ along with a bull mammoth and a camel.

Frito Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 1 hr.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green or red pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 12 oz. bottle of beer
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Salt (go easy on this)
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 14 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained (optional)
  • 1 14 oz. can white beans, drained (optional)
  • Snack sized Fritos corn chips, one bag per person
  • Cheddar cheese

 Instructions

In a large pot over medium heat, brown beef until no longer pink. Add onions, peppers and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add diced tomatoes and beer, then chili powder and cumin. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans if using. If chili is too thick, add additional beer. Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and cayenne if heat is needed. Cook another 15-20 minutes or until beans are heated through.

To serve, cut Fritos bag on the long side. Add a healthy scoop of chili and top with cheese.

Ohio Shaker Lemon Pie

The Shakers were a Christian sect that began in Great Britain and made their way to the Northeast of the United States in the middle of the eighteen century. By the 1840s, several communities in Ohio

Ohio Lemon Shaker Pie

existed. Shakers were a very thrifty bunch and this pie presumably came about in an effort to use every part of the lemon. Yes, indeedy-doo, this pie uses the lemon pulp, the juice AND the skin. Use Meyer lemons as the flesh is sweeter than a regular lemon and the skin is more aromatic. The bitterness of the skin is tempered by the two cups of sugar that the lemons macerate with overnight. We have seen recipes for this pie with a top crust as well, but we liked the single crust version – all the better to see and taste the sunny yellow filling. Just the thing to brighten these gray winter days.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is a mecca for rock aficionados. With five levels of exhibits including sound booths, interactive opportunities and a U2 3D film, this museum is not to be missed.

Ohio Shaker Lemon Pie

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 1 hr.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/4 cup cold water

For filling:

  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

For crust: Place all ingredients except water in food processor and blend until fine crumbs are formed. Add water a little at a time until the dough is moist and forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use. (Can be made a day ahead).

For filling: Over a medium mixing bowl to catch the juice, slice the lemons very thinly (can use a mandolin), discarding the ends. Reserve 3-5 slices of lemon for center of pie. Chop the remaining lemon slices into small pieces, then add to the mixing bowl, along with any lemon juice. Discard any visible seeds. Add 2 cups sugar and stir to combine. Let sit for at least 3 hours or overnight in fridge.

Roll out crust onto a floured surface. Gently lift onto a 9-inch pie plate. Finish edges by fluting or forking them.

Add beaten eggs and salt to lemon mixture. Add flour and vanilla and mix. Pour lemon mixture into pie crust. Array reserved lemon slices in center of pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for the first 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for approximately 30 minutes more or until crust is golden brown, the pie is set and the filling is bubbly. If necessary, cover edge of crust with foil to prevent overbrowning. Let pie cool on a wire rack before serving.

Deviled Eggs with Crab – Delaware

We here in the StateEats Kitchen love our party foods. Whether it’s flatbread, chicken wings, potato skins or even toasted ravioli, we’ve

Deviled Eggs with Crab - Delaware

always said we could eat an entire meal of just appetizers. Lucky for us, the big game is this weekend where we intend to do just that.

Deviled eggs are a standard at football parties across the country but deviled eggs with crab? Oh, that brings it up to a whole new level. This is a more decadent deviled egg with a nod to the First State’s most cherished product that brought in a dockside value of $3.76 million in 2014. We used sriracha mustard to amp up the spice but if you can’t find it, just use equal parts Dijon and sriracha sauce, or skip the sriracha altogether if you don’t want the heat.

Check out the Johnson Victrola Museum in Dover. This small but quirky museum is named for Delaware native Eldridge Reeves Johnson, who founded the Victor Talking Machine Company.

Deviled Eggs with Crab

  • Servings: 6-12
  • Time: 20 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 4 ounces lump crabmeat
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Old Bay seasoning (for topping)
  • Chive tops (for topping, optional)

Instructions

Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop out egg yolks and place in small mixing bowl. Add mayo, mustard, relish and chives. Mix well. Gently add in lump crabmeat and stir just until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the egg whites. Top with Old Bay seasoning and chive tops if using.

Cheese Crisps – Arizona

We’ve talked before about Arizona’s unique state symbols. Any state that has an official march song, an official state neckwear and an official state fossil also needs an official state snack. We suggest Cheese Crisps.

Cheese Crisps - Arizona

Purportedly first invented in Tuscon at El Charro Cafe, this tasty treat is sort of an open faced quesadilla. It works best with thin flour tortillas so leave those thick tortillas for your burritos and fajitas. Use whatever cheese you like — we used a combo of cheddar and asiago — and top with mild (or spicy if you dare) chili peppers.

Check out the array of night programs at Saguaro National Park with two distinct districts, each outside of Tucson, including moonrise hikes, night walks, and star parties.

Cheese Crisps

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • 2 cups grated cheese (we used cheddar and asiago)
  • ¼ cup anaheim or poblano chili pepper, chopped

Instructions

Lightly butter both sides of tortillas. Place them on a wire rack and then place on top of baking sheet. Place in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until tortillas are crisp and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and place one cup of grated cheese on each tortilla and then add chopped chili peppers. Change to broil setting and then return tortillas to oven until cheese is melted and bubbling on the edges.

 

 

Ham with Redeye Gravy – Arkansas

Ham with redeye gravy is one of those regional specialties that probably came about in an effort to use up every bit of leftover food. It’s made with coffee which gives it a very distinctive taste. If you love coffee with your morning coffee, this will get your motor running.

Ham with Redeye Gravy - Arkansas

Food historians are not sure where the name came from. Some say it was because when the gravy cooled somewhat, the fat separated from the other liquid and formed a circle that looked like a red eye. Others attribute the name to former President Andrew Jackson who asked his hungover cook to make some gravy to go with his grits that was as red as the cook’s eyes.

Purists say that redeye gravy should only be made with ham drippings, coffee and a little sugar to counter the bitter of the coffee. But in our taste tests we decided that that version was too thin and runny and opted for a version thickened with a bit of flour.

Little Rock Central High School played a central role in the civil rights movement as nine African-American teenagers bravely battled angry crowds to attend school after the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education. Still in use today, the high school can be toured by reservation.

Ham with Redeye Gravy

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 20 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2-3 ham steaks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup strong coffee or espresso
  • ¼ cup milk or cream
  • Pepper to taste
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
  • Ham
  • 3-4 fried eggs (for serving)
  • Buttermilk biscuits or grits (for serving)

Instructions

In a saucepan over medium heat, add ham. Cook until fat is rendered and ham is browned. Remove ham and set aside. Add butter to dripping in saucepan. When melted, add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add 1 tablespoon flour and whisk with onion mixture for about one minute. Add coffee and continue whisking. Add milk or cream. Keep on heat until desired consistency is reached. Season with pepper and sugar. Serve over ham and with fried eggs, along with buttermilk biscuits or grits.

 

Hoppin’ John – South Carolina

The year 2016 is just about one for the history books. What better way to ring in 2017 than with a heapin’ plate of Hoppin’ John. This classic Southern dish — which is really just gussied up black eyed

Hoppin' John - South Carolina

peas — is associated with New Year’s Day. Those who eat Hoppin’ John on January 1 will have good luck for the coming year, or so the legend goes. Often served with corn bread and collard greens, the peas represent coins, the corn bread represents gold and the greens, dollars or “greenbacks.” Some families add a coin to the pot while the peas are cooking, while others put a coin under each person’s plate.

Others say if you leave three peas on your plate, riches will come your way. Far be it from us to argue with potential wealth, especially when it’s this delicious. Hoping your 2017 is filled to the brim with all that is good.

Fort Sumter is in the middle of Charleston Harbor and is the site of where America’s Civil War began in 1861. Accessible only by boat, this former military post is now a national park.

Hoppin’ John

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 60 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried black eyed peas
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ham bone
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped (to serve)
  • Tomato, chopped (to serve)

Instructions

Soak black eyed peas in water overnight, making sure that peas are covered by an inch or two of water. The next day, drain water and rinse peas well. Set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. When hot, add onion, red pepper, celery and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent and other vegetables have softened. Add peas, ham bone, chicken stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 45 or until peas are soft, adding more chicken stock if necessary. Remove ham bone and shave off any meat that remains on the bone, adding to pea mixture. Season with salt, pepper and/or cayenne. Serve over rice with chopped scallions and tomato.

Nutmeg Log Cookies with Eggnog Icing – Connecticut

Connecticut’s unofficial nickname is the Nutmeg State. This comes from the alleged practice, in the 18th and 19th centuries, of shrewd Yankee peddlers who sold unsuspecting customers wooden nutmegs instead of real ones. Then again, some claim that certain less

Nutmeg Log Cookies with Eggnog Icing

culinary-inclined customers might not have realized that whole nutmeg (which indeed looks like a little wooden bead) needed to be grated to be used. Swindlers or not, the moniker stuck.

We consider ourselves to be cookie connoisseurs but we had never even heard of these Nutmeg Logs until a few weeks ago. They use a generous amount of nutmeg and make your house smell like all kinds of Christmas when you bake them. And nothing goes better with nutmeg than eggnog, thus the eggnog icing. The fun part is running the fork tines over the icing before it sets to create a log effect.

Visit the Mark Twain house in Hartford, a terrific example of American High Gothic style, where Twain lived from 1874 to 1891. One writer has described this house as “part steamboat, part medieval fortress and part cuckoo clock.”

Nutmeg Log Cookies with Eggnog Icing

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Time: 60 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

For icing:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons eggnog
  • Ground nutmeg for topping

Instructions

For the cookies:

In the bowl of the electric mixer, add butter and sugar. Mix on medium speed until fluffy and light. Add egg and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. Add flour. Mix until incorporated. Take batter and divide into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, form dough into three logs approximately ½ inch in diameter. Cut each log into 3 inch pieces. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown.

For the icing:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter and confectioner’s sugar. Mix on medium speed. Add vanilla, then 1 tablespoon eggnog. If icing is too thick, add another tablespoon of eggnog until desired consistency is reached.

Once cookies are completely cooled, spread icing on cookies. Run the tines of a fork over the icing to make the “log.” Top with grated nutmeg. Let icing set before packaging cookies.

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.

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