(This column originally appeared in the Oct. 17 edition of the Homer News)
As you are enjoying this week’s edition of the Homer News, I am in Wisconsin surrounded by autumn’s foliage splendor in vibrant colors of red, gold, yellow, maroon and brown. The leaves on the trees putting on their annual finest are so vibrant in color they seem illuminated.
I’m having fun shopping for my favorite Wisconsin cheeses and looking forward to trying new ones that I’ve added to my basket to bring back to Alaska to enjoy over the winter.
We’ll make sure to visit hometown candy shops to purchase favorite candies. I love the milk chocolate covered toffee and the Other Fisherman has a preference for turtles and chocolate-peanut melt aways. These shops have been making homemade candy for more than 100 years and they have decadent and delicious down to perfection.
We are enjoying dining on lake perch, walleye and deep-fried cheese curds served up in taverns, restaurants and diners scattered everywhere around the state. Food here is not fussy, just delicious and served in plentiful portions. The pizza is excellent, as it’s topped with creamy, fresh cheese from America’s Dairyland and sausage made with Wisconsin raised beef and pork, perfectly spiced and cured from recipes that were brought over from Germany, Poland and other European countries known for their sausage making skills. It’s almost impossible to find anything close to the quality and taste of Wisconsin cheese and sausage. Beer is most likely the most popular adult beverage here with the old-fashioned cocktail coming in at second place.
We’re going to cheer on the Green Bay Packers going to Lambeau stadium for their games, and tailgating on all sorts of Wisconsin made goodies before going into the game. I am going to introduce our fellow tailgate party crew to Kenai River cheese dip originally made at Echo Lake Meats and also make a big batch of smoked salmon dip to share. They will most likely request my creamy seafood chowder to be served up hot during a cool fall evening.
As I can never get enough cheese, I wanted to share a gloriously puffed-up Parmesan, Fontina, and country ham-studded Dutch baby that gets kissed with an aromatic spritz of lemon juice and sprinkled with a little fresh horseradish just before serving. I’d advise doing a dress rehearsal before inviting the family over to meet the baby, but it’s a pretty simple technique once you’ve got the hang of it.
Dutch baby, or fluffy pancake, recipes are versatile and can be made savory or sweet. Dutch babies are welcome at the table any time of day, at breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or as an appetizer.
Ham and Cheese Dutch Baby
¼ cup flour
Pinch of salt
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons chopped ham
2 tablespoons grated Fontina cheese (can substitute provolone, gouda, mild brick)
Juice of 1/4 lemon (optional)
Fresh horseradish, to grate (optional)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Combine eggs, milk and Parmesan. Sift flour and salt, then mix the wet into dry by whisking.
Place butter in a heavy 10-inch skillet and place on the stove over medium heat. Render ham until it becomes crispy, about 2 minutes. Add butter to the pan, watching for it to just begin to foam. Add the Dutch baby batter to the pan and grate the fontina on top. Add the pan to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden.
Remove pancake from oven and garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and grate of horseradish.
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It’s pumpkin season and I am in the heart of a beautiful state full of so many pumpkins. Pumpkins are growing in patches as we drive through the countryside, sitting on the ground at roadside stands next to squash and gourds for sale so cheap they are practically free, at farms sitting on lawns and parked in hay wagons in every size of pumpkin imaginable, signs posting them for sale at $1 – $5. You can find them resting in front of every gas station for sale and piled into huge bins in every grocery store. They are so many pumpkins here I can’t imagine what happens to all of those left without being carved up and set on a front porch to adorn come Halloween. Maybe there is a big pumpkin patch in the sky where they all end up and are made into pumpkin pie filling.
A thin pumpkin cake, rolled around in a white cream filling, then in nuts. Can be frozen and served chilled. Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.
1 cup white sugar
2⁄3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1⁄4 cup butter, softened
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in white sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Add pumpkin and lemon juice.
3. In another bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg; fold into the pumpkin mixture.
4. Grease a 15-by-10-by-1 inch baking pan; line with waxed paper. Grease and flour the paper. Spread batter into pan; sprinkle with walnuts.
5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
6. Immediately turn out onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Peel off paper and roll cake up in the towel, starting with the short end. Cool.
7. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy.
8. Carefully unroll the cake. Spread filling over cake to within 1 inch of edges. Roll up again. Cover and chill until serving. Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar, if desired.