Oh my gosh! We flipped over this dish, big time! It was a beautiful cool fall day yesterday and Bill was busy working up an appetite burning brush in the back yard. Much later, he was one happy man when I served him this incredibly delicious hearty dish for dinner. I was happy with it too! Woo hoo!
The other day, I had a great surprise when I read an email. Travis, at The Harvard Common Press, had contacted me and asked if I would like a review copy of Prairie Home Cooking by Judith Fertig. He explained as a way of celebrating a growing focus on regional American cooking, The Harvard Common Press has re-jacketed its classic America Cooks series, including this cookbook by Fertig.
Travis further stated that Patricia Wells praised it as “pure inspiration.” That really drew me in as I’m a huge fan of Wells and have a lot of her cookbooks. Here’s what Patricia went on to say about the cookbook: “For those of us who grew up with cherry trees and fresh raspberries, corn and tomatoes fresh from the garden, bushels full of peaches and apricots from the farmers’ market, and all those homemade layer cakes, pies, and yeast rolls, Prairie Home Cooking is much more than a nostalgic journey. It is pure inspiration, encouragement to head back into the kitchen and recreate the bliss of our childhood."
Prairie Home Cooking is truly a great collection of tasty American Midwest recipes and is no small book. There is nothing fancy about it, no glossy food shots in color. But, it does contain a plethora of old-fashioned recipes and new ones too, informative cooking tips and heartwarming, charming stories about the people and places of the heartland; an area that has sadly been overlooked by both the east coast and west coast food writers.
Fertig’s cookbook is chock full of comfort food dishes; the ones just like my Grandma used to fill her table with. I’m a breakfast lover and by coincidence that is the section I first opened the cookbook to ~ St. Louis Gooey Butter Coffeecake. That’s definitely a gooey St. Louis standard and one of my favorites to bake and enjoy. Move on to Old Country Sour Cream Breakfast Crêpes, or how about Amish Friendship Pancakes slathered with melted butter and maple syrup, or maybe a couple of spoonfuls of Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Herb Bread Pudding or a savory Ohio breakfast of Smoked Turkey Hash.
Dinner would be mouthwatering with Old-Fashioned Pan-Fried Chicken with Gravy or Prairie-Style Hay-Smoked Grilled Steak; even Fish Schnitzel or Bill’s favorite, Rich and Creamy Oyster Stew. And at last, on to dessert: a couple of dainty Thumbprint Cookies, a slice of Lemon Verbena Pound Cake with Lemonade Glaze, Blitz Torte, Honey Custards with Warm Spiced Berries or one that sounds just like my favorite cake from childhood that Mom baked: Black Walnut Applesauce Cake. YUM! The trick for me now is finding someone wanting to share a stash of black walnuts!
So, as you have probably surmised, this excellent cookbook of Ms. Fertig’s is just like the people of the Midwest ~ a melting pot; a beautiful mosaic of German, French, Polish, Dutch, Scandinavian, Italian, Czech, Russian, just to name a few heritages.
Whether you are: From a farming family which produces harvests of crops for the “breadbasket” section of the country, a gardener with a green thumb, someone who is fond of lake-caught delicacies, or maybe a Michigan cherry lover like me, or a Spam lover like Bill, or if you’re someone who is curious about Midwest cooking and traditions, or maybe you are just a person who likes to eat delicious robust and comforting food ~ this is the cookbook for you to peruse. As I’ve said a myriad of times (see my sidebar profile), “I have a weakness for cookbooks and read them like many women read a romance novel, always looking for new creations and interesting facts.” Prairie Home Cooking is not only packed with delicious recipes that will excite your taste buds, it’s a good read!
There are so many outstanding recipes in Prairie Home Cooking that I will be trying, and posting for you in the future, with the following being the first one I made: German Breslauer Steaks with Egg Noodles. I’ll let Judith Fertig describe it for you: “Brought by northern German immigrants to Iowa and Nebraska, this dish is a cousin of Swedish meatballs; in both dishes, nutmeg flavors the meat among other similarities. Serve with a steamed green vegetable or a simple green salad, either of which will provide a break from the heaviness of this dish.”
Believe me ~ this dish is mouthwatering delicious to say the least and the cookbook is a wonderful thing. I’m not saying this just because Travis kindly offered the cookbook to me: anyone who knows me, knows I am not afraid to voice my opinion and my opinion is exactly what I think. You should be adding Prairie Home Cooking to your collection soon! For me, it’s like my new best friend!
Enough said for now! Here’s the recipe:
German Breslauer Steaks with Egg Noodles
1 recipe Homemade Egg Noodles (page 259), or 12 ounces packaged egg noodles
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1/3 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ pound mushrooms, sliced thin
¾ cup chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
If you are using homemade noodles, prepare them up to the point at which they are ready to be cooked.
Mix together the veal, pork, chives, onion, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl.
Shape the mixture into 4 large or 6 medium patties.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Pan-fry the patties for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through. (cut to the center of a patty with a knife to see that there is no pinkness left in the meat).
Transfer the patties to a plate.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the drippings left in the pan.
Add the mushrooms, and sauté them until they begin to brown and give off their juices, about 5 minutes.
Add the stock and cream, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, transfer the steaks back to the pan and simmer gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles in a pot of boiling water, according either to the recipe for homemade noodles or to the package directions.
Drain them in a colander, run them under cold water for a few seconds, and transfer them to individual plates.
Top with the steaks, spoon the mushroom sauce over all, garnish with parsley and serve.
Excellent explains it all! Thank you again, Trevor and The Harvard Common Press and Judith Fertig for a fine cookbook!