Voyageur Press’s big, colorful Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook just landed on my desk. Despite the ho-hum name, I have to say that if you have eaten passionately and locally this last decade, it’s a great document. (I say document because it’s a mix of cookbook, who’s-who of local farm-to-table eminences, and an eating-out guide.) It’s divided into six sections—North Shore, Twin Cities area, etc.—each of which includes profiles of prominent players a handful of their recipes. What I like about it is that it seems like a personal yearbook, documenting much of what I’ve been eating this last decade. If you live around here and are similarly interested in food, it’ll be your yearbook too.
But, back to me. I was sort of gobsmacked paging through it and seeing picture after picture all the people I have interviewed over the years, and those I admire greatly, from a distance, but have never met. On page 14, for instance: George Wilkes, owner of the Angry Trout cafÃ© on the north shore, whom I spoke with years and years ago. There on the facing page: Shele and Harley Tofte, of the Dockside Fish Market, whom I interviewed just a month or two ago for Minnesota Monthly’s story on sustainable fish. On the credits page (and on page 80): Steven Read, from Shepherd’s Way Farms, down in Nerstrand. A few pages later: Lori Callister, from whom I buy chickens, eggs, milk, and pork at the Midtown Global Market. And once you get into the Twin Cities restaurant section, the book is so packed with people I know that it feels like I’m sitting down flipping through a friend’s photo-album. There’s Lenny Russo from Heartland; Alex Roberts from Alma and Brasa; Lucia Watson from Lucia’s; Brenda Langton from Spoonriver and CafÃ© Brenda; Scott Pampuch from The Corner Table, Kim Bartmann from Red Stag Supperclub, CafÃ© Barbette, and, and… heavens! So many important Twin Cities chefs, and me not wearing my wig.
And then there are the recipes. A lot of people will find the book worth $29.95 just for the recipes, one of which I’ll close with. It’s Alex Roberts’s recipe for his fantastic sweet corn flan. Before I go though, I’ll just tell you this: If you have been eating passionately and locally, lately, and you want something on your shelf to document what it’s been like, here’s your chance.
Alex Roberts’ Sweet Corn Flan
3 cups fresh corn kernels
Butter, for sauteeing
Toasted and ground cumin, salt, tumeric, and white pepper, to taste, for seasoning.
Â½ cup cream
7 egg yolks
Truffle oil, for seasoning
Saute the corn gently with a nub of butter, cumin, white pepper, salt, and a pinch of tumeric; remove from heat when softened. When corn has cooled, blend with cream, yolks, and truffle oil. Strain this mixture through a fine chinois and pour into molds, such as 8 ounce ramekins, coated with non-stick spray. Bake in a water bath at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes or until just set.
The Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook: Local Food, Local Restaurants, Local Recipes
by Tim King and Alice Tanghe