In Heartland: The Cookbook the great Judith Fertig takes us to the fields of golden wheat and the pasturelands of the rich mid-west. She stops by farms and enters the kitchens of the warmhearted residents in the heart of our country. A blend of the homey and the modern, Fertig, who treasures our past as well as our changing present, celebrates this heritage, and offers recipes that use the ingredients cultivated since the beginning of the country, but ones that have been sophisticated and refined by global awareness, and the artisan movement of the mid-west. There are 150 recipes, all true to heartland style, but using new techniques and ideas, recipes that turn the basics into stars. The recipes are intermingled with stories from heartland residents, as well as with historical facts, with memorable quotes, and with lush photography. Hats off to Ms. Fertig for a beautiful, and ever-so-rich book, one that brings today's heartland alive.
From the northern fruit lands, to the grazing lands, to the breadbasket provided by wheat, the rich variety of foods of the region has provided nourishment to a nation from its early years as a burgeoning young country to the present. The recipes themselves stand as examples of the bounty given by the mid-west, and its adaptation to the cuisines of melting pot America. From the ranges, come Heartland Daube with White Cheddar Polenta, or a steak such as Morel Grilled Rib-Eye, or Branding-Iron Beef, which is sophisticated with Smoked Tomato Drizzle. The pork farmers (purveyors of bacon so honestly produced that it doesn't shrink in the pan), Fertig has found recipes such as Farmhouse Breakfast Sausage, Hunter's Pie with Buttery Mashed Potatoes, or Minnesota Wild Rice Soup (yes, wild rice is another gift of the heartland). From the lakes Fertig has found recipes such as Apple-Smoked Trout with Horseradish Creme Fraiche, or Roasted Lake Fish with Dill Pickle Remoulade & Frizzled Tomatoes. And lest we forget the plains heritage that was once almost lost, but now is flourishing, there is Badlands Bison Chili.
The recipes are as varied as the patchwork of cultures that have influenced mid-western cooking. There are recipes showing German and Nordic influences, such as Pheasant Schnitzel with Danish Red Cabbage or Sour Caraway Rye Bread. There are recipes showing the Italian influence such as Italian Fig Cookies or Homemade Noodles with Pancetta, Black Pepper & Pecorino Over Greens, possibly Italian Sausage and Escarole Soup.
This is n exemplary work, one that is imaginative while staying true to the foundations laid so carefully in the heartland, one that explores the bounty offered by the varied landscape of the heart of the country. Beautifully produced by Andrews McMeel, there are color photos throughout, both location photos by Jonathan Chester that bring the landscape alive, and food photos by Ben Pieper that dazzle and make the reader hungry. Heartland: The Cookbook belongs on every shelf.