Friday, May 16, 2008

"Minnesota Centennial Cook Book" & "Minnesota Heritage Cookbook" - Chicken Loaf, Rutabaga Casserole and Minneaple Torte

Date I made these recipes: May 11th

Minnesota Centennial Cook Book – 100 years of Good Cooking - Edited by Virginia Huck and Ann H. Andersen
Published by: the Women’s Division Minnesota Statehood Centennial Commission
© 1958
Recipe: Chicken Loaf – p. 33 – submitted by representatives of Cass County, Minnesota

Minnesota Heritage Cookbook – hand-me-down recipes for the benefit of the American Cancer Society, Minnesota Division, Inc. – Volumes I and II – Edited by Sue Zelickson
Published by: The American Cancer Society, Minnesota Division, Inc.
© 1979 (volume 1) – ISBN: 0-87197-375-8 and © 1985 (volume 2) – ISBN: 0-87197-374-X
Recipes: Volume 1 – Rutabaga Casserole – p. 95
Volume 2 – The Minneaple Torte – p. 132

Happy Birthday, Minnesota!

Today, May 11th, is Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial (150th birthday) but in true Minnesota fashion, any celebrations (if indeed there were any) were subdued. We don’t make a fuss in this state. It might have been low-key because today is also Mother’s Day; no Minnesotan wants to mess with Mother’s Day. Other sacred holidays, just so you know, are the fishing opener and the first day of deer hunting season.

Now I have to tell you that there are still things about Minnesota that I still find, after almost 28 years of living here, to be quirky, endearing and/or frustrating. And so before I get to the recipes, below is just a sampling of fun and frolic in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Minnesotans cherish their cabins more than anywhere else in the world (in Michigan, we called them camps and/or cottages). And ALL Minnesota cabins are “Up North.” At least that’s what everyone says. When I first heard people say their cabins were “Up North” I honestly thought they were talking about Canada. Silly me. When people say “Up North” it could mean anywhere from an hour outside the city to someplace is western Wisconsin. It took me a while to figure that one out!

Minnesotans love their land of 10,000 lakes and yet I cannot tell you how amazed I was when I first moved here to learn what qualified as a lake. A lake to Minnesotans is basically any body of water, no mater how large or how small. I grew up on the shores of Lake Superior. Now that’s a lake!

There is nothing like the Minnesota 4-way stop sign standoff. People, you have never seen such polite behavior in all your life. At least a half an hour is spent by various and sundry people waving the other one on. “You go first” (wave, wave) to which the other person responds “No, you go first (wave, wave) until we are all dead or have fallen asleep. True Minnesotans do not like horns as in “HONK, HONK--The light has been green for an hour, go already! Honking one’s horn (see also “tooting one’s horn”) is considered mighty rude behavior. But I’m not a native and so I engage in it on a regular basis (“Yes, it was me!!”)

And speaking of behavior, I’ll never forget an incident at one of the companies I worked for shortly after I moved here. Picture this: I (the half-Sicilian in the room) am seated across the table from three mighty white, mighty blonde, mighty Scandinavian and mighty Lutheran programmers. (Unlike the wild Catholics, Lutherans take their religion seriously – no fuss, no muss, and most certainly no drunken bingo stories). I am telling them of a problem with a client had with a computer program and as usual, I’m talking with my hands.

About halfway through, all three of the men started to turn beat red and finally one of them said words I’ve come to hate: “Ann, calm down.”

People, I must admit to being a little taken aback. I replied “I am calm!” and the three of them looked at each other and then back at me with a “yeah right” look on all of their faces.

At that point in time, the Twin Cities were pretty much populated by people of Swedish and Norwegian descent and an “outburst” like mine was frowned upon as being over the top. Lucky for me, other nationalities moved here and now I’m not the odd gal out but it was touch and go for awhile. At first I imagined these guys going home and telling their wives about their day with me but then I caught myself. It would be most impolite to gossip and so I’m sure they never said a word. How very Minnesotan of them!

And yet, with all of its faults, I love living here and love that the state is celebrating a big birthday (even though saying “Sesquicentennial” is a tongue-twister!). I even made a cake of sorts for the occasion.

As to the recipes, I must admit to being darned challenged in finding something that seemed unique and seemed to fit Minnesota without being too fancy. I was really disappointed at the lack of casserole (or “hot dish” as it is known here) recipes featuring wild rice (and cream of mushroom soup) but I guess much depends on when these cookbooks were written and the recipes that I did find without soup seemed a bit boring. But then, Minnesota is famous for its white food (lutefisk, lefse and potatoes). As we say in the northland – Uff dah!

And as we also say in the northland--Happy Sesquecentennial, Minnesota!

Chicken Loaf
2 cups cooked chicken
2 cups soft bread crumbs
1 cup diced, cooked carrots
1 cup cooked green peas
1 medium-sized onion
1 tablespoon shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sage

To the bread crumbs add peas, carrots, onion (browned in the shortening), and seasonings; add egg yolks, beaten. Mix thoroughly but lightly, then add chicken and lastly add the 2 egg whites beaten stiff. Fold into mixture carefully. Grease a shallow pan generously and put in the mixture. Bake about 1 ½ hours in 350 oven. NOTE: bake this dish for 1 ½ hours at your own risk! My loaf was just a little on the crispy critter side when I pulled it out. I added chicken broth to it after the fact but you might want to consider adding it as you cook it to keep it moist. The author also suggests making a medium thick gravy of chicken broth and serving it hot with the chicken loaf but at that point, it was a little late!

Rutabaga Casserole (Finnish) - Serves 6-8
2 medium rutabagas, peeled and diced (about 6 c.)
¼ fine dry bread crumbs
¼ c. half and half cream
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter

Cover and cook the rutabagas in salted water until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and mash. Soak the bread crumbs in the cream and stir in nutmeg, salt and beaten eggs. Combine with the mashed rutabagas.

Turn into a buttered 2 ½ quart casserole, dot top with butter and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until lightly browned.

The Minneaple™ Torte – Serves 6-8
(Note: Minneapolis used to be referred to – and marketed—as the Minneaple, thus the name.)
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Top layer:
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups sliced, peeled apples
¼ cup sliced almonds

Grease a 9” springform pan. Heat over to 450 degrees. For crust, cream butter, sugar and vanilla; blend in flour. Spread dough on bottom and 1 ½ inches up side of springform pan.

For filling, combine cheese and sugar; mix well. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Pour into pastry-lined pan.

For top layer, combine sugar and cinnamon; toss with apples. Spoon apples over cream cheese layer; sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for about 25 minutes longer. Loosen torte from rim of pan; cool before removing rim.

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