Monday, June 22, 2009

"Stafford's (MI) Cookbook" & "Favorite Recipes from Great Midwest Cooks" & "Historical Mackinac Island Cook Book" (assorted recipes)

Date I made these recipes: June 21, 2009

Stafford’s Cookbook – 40 Years of Recipes from the Bay View Inn by Stafford and Janice Smith
Published by: Stafford and Janice Smith
ISBN: 1891143484 © 2000
Recipe: Cherry Pepper Steak p. 110

Favorite Recipes from Great Midwest Cooks by Midwest Living
Published by: Midwest Living Magazine/Meredith Corporation
ISBN: 0696019787 © 1992
Recipe: Herbed Rice – p. 118

Historical Mackinac Island Cook Book
Published by: Mackinac Island Medical Center
© 1965 – Eighth Edition 1980
Recipe: Won’t Fail Fudge – submitted by Mrs. Earl L. Chapin – p. 187-188

Well, June is wedding month and at the end of the week, my husband and I are motoring to Ohio to attend the wedding of my mom’s sister’s daughter’s son’s wedding—in other words, my second cousin is getting married! Hooking up with us will be my dad who is flying in from Michigan, my home state, and my brother and sister-in-law who live in upstate NY. Andy and I are responsible for picking dad up at the airport so fingers are crossed that all goes well and we all get to the hotel when we are supposed to.

My mom’s family is from Michigan so two of these recipes are from Michigan cookbooks and one is an homage to my new cousin-in-law who hails from Ohio (or at least we assume so given the wedding is being held there).

According to my mom’s sister, my Aunt Mary, my maternal grandparents, John and Mary (Wollner) Barr were married in Petosky, Michigan (located in the northern part of “the mitt”) and had a wedding feast of some sort (don’t know if it was breakfast, lunch or dinner) at The Bay View Inn, now known as Stafford’s Bay View Inn. So of course I had to make a dish from the inn’s cookbook that I picked up several years ago while visiting my aunt. After much to do about selecting a recipe I settled on the Cherry Steaks. (There were several whitefish recipes but here in Minnesota, walleye, not whitefish is king and I’m not a big fish fan to begin with so I went with beef.)

Now for you non-natives, cherries (Bing and other) are a huge item in the northern half of Michigan’s lower peninsula and Traverse City, Michigan is the cherry capital of the world. So when I saw that the recipe called for dried cherries as well as port, my husband’s favorite drink, I knew we had a winner. The only complaint is that while we love steak au poivre (pepper steak) as much as the next person, too much of a good thing is still too much. I would maybe use one tablespoon of cracked pepper instead of two just for a little seasoning.

You should know that I made a few substitutions in the recipe department, namely with the Demi Glaze and the wine reduction.

I had a hard time finding Demi Glaze (for the record, my local Rainbow store did not carry it) and finally found chicken Demi Glaze at Whole Foods. Although the recipe didn’t specify the flavor to use, I know Demi Glaze is made in chicken, beef and veal flavoring and so technically I bought the wrong one but hey—sue me! The flavor was fine. Note that you mix the glaze with water and that makes the one cup called for in the recipe. (By the way, the French way of saving Demi is Demi Glaze.)

As to the wine, we had some port on hand but ran out so I used Merlot to finish up the dish. Again, the flavor was fine. By the way, you’ll want to use a Ruby Port for this endeavor.

As to the accompanying rice, I got this recipe, “allegedly” from Ohio, from a book of Midwestern Recipes. The rice got a little squishy while I was waiting for the steaks to cook but I loved it. My husband humored me and had a spoonful as he is not a big rice fan. The flavors were mild and so it worked as well with the steak as I’m sure it did with the chicken for which it was intended.

For those of you who are geographically challenged like me, here’s a little information about Mackinac Island, (pronounced Mack-in-naw) the subject of my third cookbook selection.

Mackinac Island is an island situated between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island is only accessible by ferry and no cars are allowed on the island once you get there; you can rent a bike, hike it yourself or hire a horse to tour the island! That’s right: horse.

When I was born in October of 1958, the famous (and imposing) Mackinac Bridge wasn’t completed and so ferry service between the peninsulas was a must. I rode the ferry when I was six weeks old; my dad dropped me and my mother off at my aunt and uncle’s house in Detroit while he went on to be in his brother’s wedding in Texas.

I must confess that even though I’ve crossed that bridge a thousand times as a kid, to this day it still scares me to death. It wasn’t so bad being a passenger but being in the driver’s seat is another story altogether. And once my fear of heights manifested itself, it was the truly the Ride of Terror.

Many years ago, my mom, who was also afraid of heights, and I went to visit her sister; my aunt and uncle had relocated from Detroit, an 8-hour drive to a town just a couple of hours past the bridge – about a four-hour trip for us each way. As we approached the bridge, we got more and more tense and honestly thought about having someone else drive our car across (yes, Virginia, drivers are available for the timid—at least they were the last time I crossed the thing). But we decided we would tough it out and so we flipped a coin to see who would drive it across to the Lower Peninsula and who would drive back to the U.P.

People, you have never been in such a quiet car in your life. Hands were in the 10 and 2 position (basically fused with the steering wheel), eyes were front and not one word was spoken. The only noise, and it is most unsettling, came from the sound of the tires on the grated section in the middle of the bridge; this is not for the feint of heart as you can see the Straights of Mackinac through the grate holes!!! I still have nightmares about crossing that bridge. (To see photos of the behemoth bridge click on this link: .

Besides the ferry and the well-known Grand Hotel on the island, where men and women are required to dress for dinner, Mackinac Island is known for fudge -- lots and lots and lots of fudge. Trust me on this: you may love it before you get there but you will most assuredly never want to look at the confection again—at least not for a good long while—once you leave there.

So it would be remiss of me to make any other recipe other than fudge from the Historic Mackinac Cook Book when putting together this blog posting.

So here it is—my homage to Michigan and a small salute to our newest family member, Carrie who is marrying my second cousin Jeff on June 27th. Congratulations to the newlyweds (who are smart enough to live in Chicago where one doesn’t have to cross a big, honkin’ bridge to get to and fro!)!

Cherry Pepper Steak – serves 4

3 (or 4) 1 ½ oz to 2 oz medallions of beef per person; I bought a six-ounce piece of beef tenderloin and sliced it into four medallions. The authors note you can use a different cut of beef if you want.
2 tablespoons cracked pepper to dredge steaks in (warning: a little goes a long way!)
½ teaspoon garlic *more garlic is needed for the sauce below
½ teaspoon shallots *more shallots are needed for the sauce below
1 cup Demi Glaze (Note: you will mix the Demi Glaze with water to make 1 cup)
¼ to 1/3 cup dried cherries
1 ½ cups port wine
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon shallots
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
4 peppercorns, crushed
1 whole bay leaf
4 juniper berries, crushed

Add hot water to the dried cherries to reconstitute and set aside.

Make the sauce by placing the ingredients below in a sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Strain liquid and reserve.
1 ½ cups port wine (if you run out, use a red wine like Merlot or Cabernet)
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon shallots
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
4 peppercorns, crushed
1 whole bay leaf
4 juniper berries, crushed

When the sauce is ready and the cherries are reconstituted, complete the dish: Heat just enough oil to cover the bottom of a sauté pan. Add beef medallions that have been dredged in cracked pepper corns. Sear both sides to seal in juices and cook to desired temperature. With steaks still in pan and on the head, add garlic (1/2 teaspoon) and shallots (1/2 teaspoon) and cook slightly. Remove from heat and add Port Wine Reduction and return to heat to deglaze pan. Remove steaks from pan and add one cup Demi Glaze and the cherries. Simmer over medium heat until thickened. Just before serving, add steaks back to sauce to coat. Serve a ladle of sauce over steaks.

Note: Demi Glaze (or Demi Glace) is a reduced broth—not quite bullion and not quite a paste. Look for it in a more upscale grocery store (here in Minneapolis: Byerly’s, Lund’s and Whole Foods carry it).

Herbed Rice – no serving size given but the chicken recipe listed with this said 4 servings
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1/3 cup long-grain rice
2 tablespoons sliced scallions
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

In a saucepan, mix the chicken broth, rice, scallions and thyme. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Won’t Fail Fudge – makes about 2 lbs.
2/3 cup Evaporated milk (1 small can)
16 large marshmallows – or a 5-10 oz. jar marshmallow cream
1 1/3 cups sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup butter
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the first five ingredients in a saucepan. Stirring constantly, heat to boiling and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add chocolate bits, and stir until melted.

Stir in vanilla and nuts. Spread in a buttered 8 inch pan. Cool until firm.

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