THE NEW MIDWESTERN TABLE - May 2022 Cookbook of the Month

The remaining mixed veggies w/ chive oil went into a skillet stir fry today with rice, and were very good (husband approved).

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YOUNG GREEN BEANS WITH LEMON-VODKA CREAM (p. 217)

You boil salted water and cook trimmed green beans/haricots verts until they are tender but still bright green. Drain. In a skillet you cook butter and garlic and then add heavy cream. Bring to a boil and cook until it has thickened. Then you add lemon zest, lemon juice, vodka, salt, and pepper along with the cooked beans. Sprinkle with fresh dill and serve.

I’ve made this MANY times. I love it! The lemon and dill make it such a bright fresh dish. I honestly don’t know what the vodka adds to the mix but I always have some on hand so I use it as directed. I don’t think I’ve ever made this for company. I should, though. It is really good.

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CHICKEN PAPRIKASH, pg. 136

I had all but one of the ingredients to make this dish on hand and decided to go for it.

The recipe uses a whole fryer cut up into pieces. I had a bag of skin-on, bone-in thighs and decided to use those instead.

She has you fry off the salt and peppered chicken in a bit of cooking oil- I used sunflower- until golden brown on all sides. I started skin side down until they got crunchy good and then flipped them over. Once browned, you take them out and pour off all but a tablespoon or so of the oil in the pan. Once that’s done, you put in a mess of diced onions and red bell peppers. She has you cook these off with salt and pepper until very soft. She recommends about 20 minutes, but I found my onions and red bell pepper were quite soft at about the 12-15 minute mark. At that stage, you are suppose to add in sliced garlic, tomato paste, rosemary, marjoram, and paprika to the pot. I added in the tomato paste and cooked it off for few minutes you know because I still had some time left on the onion/red bell pepper saute time. :smiley: And then I added in the paprika next to cook it in some oil before adding in all the other ingredients. As I was reading about paprikas dishes, I read that paprika actually benefits from cooking in oil to wake up the spice’s flavor. I did added in the garlic and rosemary next. I didn’t have marjoram so I did a combo of oregano and thyme as I read that marjoram has a similar flavor profile to both of those, but not quite. Given the strong flavors of everything else, I don’t think I missed it too much.

Once all those things have cooked for a minute, you deglaze the pan with white wine. Then you add in chicken stock, lemon zest, sherry vinegar, and some more salt and pepper. Then you nestle the chicken pieces back into the paprika goodness and cook partially covered at a bubbly simmer for just under an hour. Well, she says to cook the dark pieces for 40 minutes and then add in the white pieces and cook for another 25-30 minutes. I didn’t have white pieces so I just cooked my thighs for the total time. About 55 minutes in all.

As the chicken is bubbling away, she has you make a sour cream and lemon juice with S&P sauce to use on the chicken during service. There is an option of putting a shot of pickle juice into the chicken liquid. And she suggests doing this after removing the chicken and using an immersion blender on half the liquid to make a thicker sauce. I didn’t do either. I wanted to try it without and if I make this dish again, I will add the pickle juice. I didn’t use the immersion blender because my sauce was white thick and I preferred some chunks of onion and red bell pepper in the sauce. Again, next time I make this I will do both and compare and contrast to this first version.

I thought this dish was good. I’ve had better paprikash dishes- normally made by restaurants in Europe- so it might just be me. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: Or it could be that they added in pickle juice and blended a portion of their sauce. We will know more later. Or it could be that they had access to better quality paprika. Although, I think the spices here in Kuwait are pretty fresh and high quality.

Don’t skip the sour cream/lemon juice sauce to eat with this dish. It adds a lot of flavor and helps cut through some of the richness.

First photo is the thighs dolloped with sour cream sauce. The second are the thighs in the pan before service.

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CRACKER-CRUST PIZZA, p.32

Even though I already owned this book and nominated it, I was having trouble drumming up enthusiasm for it this week. I’ve been reading it in the evenings, and it’s a wonderful book in that gives a real sense of local tradition, in a way that reminds me of Deep Run Roots, but I wasn’t excited to cook from it. I decided to start with some low hanging fruit and use this recipe for pizza night.

The dough is very easy: you simply mix cool water, neutral oil, salt, sugar, and flour. Knead for 5 minutes, separate into 3 balls, shape into discs, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. After kneading the dough was very supple and lovely. The sauce is … not my favorite. Onions and garlic cooked in butter and salt, to which you add canned tomatoes, basil, rosemary, sugar, and pepper. I should have listened to my instincts and left the rosemary out. My dried rosemary was old (she gives both fresh and dried quantities) but it was still too overpowering. It’s just not a flavor I want on pizza. And the sauce was too sweet for me.

To assemble the pizza, you roll out the discs between parchment, fold the edges liked a crimped pie crust, brush with olive oil, and add toppings.

Toppings are open, but she suggests Italian sausage, basil, and mozzarella. The recipe makes three 12-inch pizzas. I did one as suggested by Thielen, one with just sauce and cheese, another with sauce, cheese, and sautéed mushrooms.

The real problem was the heat and cooking method. You put a pizza stone (I used a baking steel) on the bottom third oven, preheat as high as it will go, or 500. I did 550. The pizzas go on the stone with the parchment still beneath them. And the cooking time calls for 15-18 minutes.

Friends, I pulled my first two pizzas out at 10 minutes. My parchment was fully burnt (not “a harmless dark-toast color” that “won’t burn,” as the author claims), and the pizzas were rather black in parts on the crust bottom. I used my better sense for the final pizza, reduced the heat to 450, and that one was cooked more reasonably, though still quite brown on the bottom, and the crust was very crunchy in a dry way.

I lived in Minneapolis for 6.5 years and I’ve eaten my fair share of this type of Midwestern pizza. I thought this was over cooked, the sauce flavor was all wrong, and there wasn’t much redeemable about it, other than the fact that the dough was a breeze to make. I’m afraid this is going to be infamous in our house because my kids, who will eat any pizza, were very upset and having little meltdowns because we wouldn’t make them something else (in their defense, they have colds right now and were looking forward to pizza night). Anyway, it wasn’t that bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

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P.S. I did eventually let them have something else…

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Whoa - Thanks for taking one for the team pistachiopeas. Glad your sick kids were pampered a bit with a different meal (and hope you gave yourself permission to eat something else, too!) “No way” on the parchment paper in an oven over 425 degrees F. (Famous book/movie Fahrenheit 451 named for the temperature at which paper burns…) And while we like our pizza sauce on the sweet side, rosemary is indeed an herb that quickly overwhelms a dish.

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Time to start June COTM nominations! Come on over!

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WHIPPED POTATOES WITH HORSERADISH (ebook)

I have to admit I’m struggling a bit with this book. It’s not very vegan-friendly, and a lot of the recipes don’t lend themselves to adaptation. But the potato recipes look promising.

For these mashed potatoes, you start by cooking quartered russets in salted water. The recipe doesn’t say anything about peeling them, so I didn’t. While the potatoes cook, you heat a mix of heavy cream, milk, freshly grated horseradish, and sugar. For the cream/milk combo, I used a plant milk and blended it with some cashews. The cooked potatoes go through a ricer. The unpeeled potatoes riced just fine, but I did have to remove the peels from the ricer in between each pressing. No peel ended up in the final dish. You then put the potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer, and whip them with butter, the cream mixture, and salt and pepper.

I’ve always been iffy on smooth potatoes. It’s just a texture thing for me. I prefer potatoes roughly mashed by hand, with big chunks remaining. I will say that I didn’t have a problem with these. The horseradish was a nice variation, although not as prominent a flavor as I expected. Mr. MM’s opinion was that he liked them, but also prefers my barely-mashed version. I think if you like a smooth mash, like many people do, you will really like these. Served them with sausage and gravy made from Nigel Slater’s bangers & mash recipe in “Appetite”. And steamed broccoli from the CSA.

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BREADED STUFFED PORK CHOPS with ham and gruyere, P. 191. Very good. More work and prep dishes/pans than you’d think on first-read thru.

I was inspired to try these by NJChica’s praise and “made-multiple-times” comment on the Announcement thread.

For just 2 of us, I made a half-recipe and used 2 thick boneless (not bone-in as listed in recipe) chops. A half-chop each was our supper tonight, with corn on the cob as the side. The other stuffed chop will be reheated tomorrow and served with mashed potatoes.

After allowing the chops to “cure” for a half hour, sprinkled with a mix of equal-parts sugar and table salt, I patted them dry and cut a large slit pocket in each. The pockets were stuffed with 2 very-thin slices of smoked “Black Forest” ham and a slice of Roth Grand Cru cheese (Wisconsin “Alpine Style” cheese that’s “gruyere” but USA-made). The recipe calls for double-smoked ham, but I’ve never seen ham labeled as that. I also placed a fresh sage leaf in the pocket - recipe says to put it “on” the chop before breading. The 3-step breading was easy and had great cling. I reduced the listed breading quantities by more than half, using 1/2 C. flour (could have used even less), 1 beaten egg and a mixture of 1/2 C each panko and plain breadcrumbs seasoned with 1/4 tsp. each table salt and ground pepper. The stuffed and breaded chops got fried 5 minutes over medium-high heat on the first side and were more than the recipe’s “deep golden brown”; I cooked the second side less and also lowered the heat to medium. Because I used much less oil in the pan than suggested (not “half way up the sides of the chops”), I held each chop with tongs to brown the edges, about 2 minutes. The browned chops then were baked on a rack in a sheet pan for 10 minutes (not the recipe’s 5 minutes) at 350 degrees. My chops measured 140 F. so were “done” and still had moisture. My husband’s half-chop got an extra zap in the microwave to meet his standard of “done”.

I really liked the crunch of the breading, and the flavor addition of the fresh sage, which I’d not used before. It’s so much milder and better than the often over-powering flavor of dried sage.

I’m not sure I’d make these again - 4 prep plates, skillet, rack & sheet pan, plus measuring cups and spoons and meat-slicing knife – added to the dishwasher load. I may try using a similar ham/cheese/sage mixture stuffed into thin chops, unbreaded.

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Please find the June 2022 voting thread here:

Yes this recipe definitely generates like its own load of stuff for the dishwasher. haha

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PEAR AND HONEY CAKE, p 326. Wonderful, and a very large cake. I used my 12 cup “Braided Bundt” (a Nordic Ware 75th Anniversary pan), and the cake just barely fit. (recipe calls for a 10 cup pan. ) It may be the recipe’s 8-10 servings for teenage boys or Midwestern farm hands, more like 16 servings for just us 2 older folks. An excuse to have cake for breakfast :wink:

Some of the excess will get frozen and pulled out a slice at a time.

The recipe calls for pear quarters, browned in butter then simmered with the addition of rum (or Kirsch) and honey. These get folded into the batter at the very end, and form large layers inside the cake. With equal parts pear and cake, the tender cake had a challenge to hang together around such large pieces. Next time I’ll cut the pears into 8ths or slices, so I can use the batter in smaller sized pans - 3 C pan or fancy-shaped Bundtlets.

The cake has 1 cup of butter, 2 C. sugar and SIX eggs, 1.5 tsp vanilla, a quarter-cup of honey. Dry ingredients 2 3/4 C. flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt are sifted together and stirred into the butter/eggs mixture in thirds. The cooked pears, drained from their liquid (which is kept for the glaze) are gently stirred in.

My Bundt baked in the time listed - 10 minutes at 400 F and 50 minutes more at 325 F. Cooled for 10 minutes (not the recipe’s 20) in the pan, then turned out onto the serving platter and cooled.

I’m an experienced Bundt baker, so did not use her directions for preparing the pan and removing the cake. I sprayed my pan with Pam for Baking and used a silicon brush to spread that evenly in all the pan’s folds. After baking, I allowed the cake to cool 10 minutes, used a wooden skewer to gently release cake around the spindle and along the top edge, rapped the pan on a towel-covered counter top, then covered the pan with my serving plate and turned out the cake. Nothing stuck in the pan. One section of cake had a large pear chunk at a fold and separated a bit.


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The rapping the pan on the counter is a new trick to me. I’ll have to remember it and have a towel handy next time I bake a bundt cake.

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Looks beautiful!

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Please see the June 2022 COTM announcements thread here:

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TOMATO CARPACCIO w/ HORSERADISH ICE, pg. 223

First you make the horseradish ice by taking a cup of milk, adding in a 1/4 cup of grated fresh horseradish or 3 tbsps of good quality prepared horseradish, a tsp of sugar and just under 1/4tsp of salt together. Stir and pour into a glass dish. I used a 9X9 brownie glass baking dish. You stick this into the freezer and treat it like a granita. After an hour, you rake it with a fork. And then again, 30 minutes later. And then lastly, again, at 30 to 60 minutes. By this time, you should have nice milk crystals.

Then you slice the tomatoes, drizzle with lemon juice, salt them and let them sit for 15 minutes or so. They will start to sweat a bit. Just before serving, take some of the horseradish milk shards and sprinkle liberally over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with parsley and then dig in.

So, I LOVE summer tomatoes. Mostly with salt. Sometimes between white bread with Duke’s mayo. But I am always looking for new ways to eat this most fabulous fruit/vegetable/magic food. Drizzled with olive oil and then salt and pepper or with mozzarella and some basil or however. So, when I saw this recipe… I KNEW… I just KNEW I was making this. It’s kinda hard to source fresh horseradish in Kuwait. But I found one store that carries. And it seems they have it almost all the time. SCORE! I would suggest using the freshest horseradish and the very best tomatoes. There isn’t much to hide behind if the quality is off.

The horseradish milk ice adds just a touch of something new that, as the author says, once you are tired of plain salt ad pepper tomatoes, this is a nice alternative. The spiciness brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes. The milk adds just a touch of creaminess. Kinda like mayo would in a sammie. The lemon juice and parsley showcases the freshness of the produce and they all combine for a great treat. Mr. shark ate most of the tomatoes. But I was able to get a fork in for one or two slices.

I served these with some whole Huli-Huli chicken. YUMMO.

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CORN FRITTERS with GREEN CHILE BUTTERMILK DIP, p. 60 - These are lighter-textured “hush puppies” made with 1 C. flour and 2 C. corn kernels rather than cornmeal. We enjoyed them as a side with chili for lunch today. The recipe says “serves 8”, but the two of us consumed about a half-recipe’s worth and might have managed more if I’d fried all the batter. We’re looking forward to another round with supper tonight. I’m optimistic that the batter leavened with 2 whipped egg whites, 2/3 C. light beer and 1 T. baking powder (mixed into flour, then stirred into wet ingredients) along with 1 T. canola oil, will still be OK for frying after a few hours in the fridge. The batter is seasoned with 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. grated lemon zest, and some tarragon (I used 2/3 tsp. dried in place of recipe’s 2 t. fresh).
Edited to add - I’m also looking forward to drinking the rest of that can of beer tonight – we had errands to drive to after lunch. The extra egg yolks will become custard, I think.

The deep-frying time of 1 (heaping) tsp batter per fritter for 3 minutes in 370 degrees F. canola oil was perfect. I used a smaller pot with just 2 C. oil, and could fry 4 fritters per batch. Mine sank to the pan floor and clung there a bit, but still fried evenly and released easily when nudged with my slotted spoon.

Although I made the Green Chile Buttermilk Dip, it did not thicken to “dip” consistency. I think I’d make it with 1/4 C (or even no) buttermilk another time, rather than the 1/2 C. listed in the recipe. The 1/4 C. sour cream would have been enough for blending with the fried large poblano pepper (stem & seeds removed), hint of garlic, tsp. sugar, basil and lemon juice. As a drizzle / liquid pool on the plate the combo was nice with the fritters.

But the (commercial) honey-mustard dipping sauce we used as alternative was equally good, and the fritters had plenty of flavor even with no sauce.

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Would be perfect for lunch or dinner guests. You’d have to make 2-3 platters of these in order to get a bit for yourself!

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The batter that “rested” in the refrigerator for 5 hours still had plenty of lift and deep-fried beautifully. The last few cooked fritters will get reheated in the oven tomorrow.

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The June reporting thread is here:

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