A Few Weeks With "The Northern Heartland Kitchen"
It isn't very often that I use a cookbook. I tend to gaze at them now and then, often for inspiration more than to study how something is done or to check measurements. Therefore, I am surprised at what I am about to say: I love The Northern Heartland Kitchen and since it arrived in the mail, nary a day has gone by when neither my wife nor I has picked it up.
At first, it was mere fascination. We could hardly believe that a cookbook was written for us, here, in the middle North of the country. Not only that, author Beth Dooley begins the book with a section dedicated to Autumn, with 41 recipes with tantalizing names; there was fresh chestnut soup, venison medallions with juniper and gin, heartland polenta with mushroom ragout, scandanavian brown beans with a kick, honey pumpkin ginger pie and a cranberry cordial. Plus, with Thanksgiving in the air, I was pleased to see the practical recipes; Thanksgiving bird-fast!, basic sage stuffing, Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and a savory cranberry compote.
Needless to say, we dove in. First up, after a peek into the fridge, was to use up the abundance of brussels sprouts. We were immediately drawn to a recipe called, "oven-blasted brussels sprouts". How could we resist. The beauty of this book is the inherent simplicity here. Nothing too crazy, just well-tested and honed recipes with clear instructions and an array of creative methodology. For these sprouts, you "blast" them in a 450 degree oven, which caramelizes them while leaving them with a nice snap. They were sweet and simple.