What’s Cookin’? Hearty Breakfast Quiche

I’m sure most people would agree the year 2020 has sure been a doozy! Normally leading up to August, our staff gets excited for all the fun agricultural events we get to host at the Iowa State Fair. We love nothing more than getting people excited to learn how agriculture impacts our every day life. This year, all of that changed since we couldn’t meet Iowans in person to talk about agriculture. Instead, our staff came up with several virtual ideas that we could use on social media to engage with Iowans about our favorite topic – agriculture!

One of our annual events at the Iowa State Fair is a cooking contest where we invite participants to enter their favorite recipes using Iowa’s four largest agriculture commodities. This year, we decided to expand the contest to include several Iowa commodities or by-products: corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, beef, and/or turkey. We launched the Great Agriculture Cook-Off, timed when the Iowa State Fair would normally be held. Iowa commodity experts and Agriculture in the Classroom volunteers judged the best dish. Since we were doing this virtually this year, the judges cooked, tasted, and rated the recipes all individually.

Holly Houg (Urbandale, Iowa) won first place with her Hearty Breakfast Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust. Before I share the winning recipe, here’s the agriculture story behind the ingredients.

Butter

Butter is a dairy product made from the fat and protein components of milk or cream. It is most frequently made from cow’s milk, but it can also be made from animals like sheep and goat. Butter has a rich history. It can be traced clear back to the ancient Romans who used it as a beauty cream and to treat burns. Back then, people made butter by shaking milk in bags of animal skin. Today, we use modern technology to make our butter. After milk is gathered from dairy farms, large tanker trucks of raw milk deliver the milk to a processor. The milk is pumped into a separator to remove the fat from the liquid. Fat is called buttercream and the rest is skim milk. Buttercream is put into a tank where mixers stir it. After pasteurizing for 24 hours, workers put it into a churner. The churner spins as fast as a clothes dryer. After a period of churning and a few other steps, the result is butter. Watch our video on how you can make your own butter at home.

Eggs

Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the country. Nearly 55 million laying hens produce 16 billion eggs a year in Iowa. In the United States, there are roughly 340 million laying birds, and each produces an average of 294 eggs per year. You can learn more about eggs in our previous blog post: Ag 101: Eggs.

Cheese

Most cheese is made in factories but it all starts in one of several places – a type of animal that produces milk such as dairy cows, goats or sheep. In some parts of the world, even buffalo, camel, and donkeys are milked for cheese production. There are many different types of cheese – bleu cheese, cheddar, swiss, and Gruyere, among others. Milk first goes through a filter where more fat or cream might be added to ensure consistency. After that it is pasteurized, and good bacteria are added to the milk. The milk then begins to ferment the lactose, milk’s natural sugar, into lactic acid. This process will help determine the cheese’s flavor and texture. A few more ingredients are added such as rennet. Once it starts to gel, the cheesemakers cut it, which allows the whey to come out. It goes through several more processes until it becomes the cheese that you see in the store! Learn more about how cheese is made from the U.S. Dairy Association.   

Bacon

Bacon comes from the side and belly of the pig. Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the U.S., and the top state for pork exports. According to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, nearly one-third of the nation’s hogs are raised in Iowa. At any one time, there are approximately 22 million pigs being raised in Iowa.

Beef

Cattle are raised on grass for much of their life and then fed with corn, soybeans, silage, and other feed components to finish them out. More than 97 percent of beef cattle farms and ranches are classified as family farms. Ground beef, used in the recipe below, comes from the less tender and less popular cuts of beef.

Hearty Breakfast Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust

For the Hash Brown Crust:
24 oz. pkg. shredded hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry
4 Tablespoons butter, melted, divided
1 egg
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

For the Quiche:
1 T. olive oil
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 10 oz. pkg. baby spinach
5 slices bacon
1/2 lb. ground beef, cooked and crumbled
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese

For the Hash Brown Crust:
1. Brush a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan with 2 T. melted butter. Line the sides and bottom of the pan with strips of parchment paper, brush paper with butter too. Be generous on the bottom of the pan so the potatoes don’t stick.

2. Squeeze as much excess moisture from hash browns as you can. The hash browns should be as dry as possible so the crust will get crispy.

3. Combine the hash browns, 2 T. melted butter, egg and spices in a bowl. Put them in the pan pushing them up the sides.

4. Cook in a preheated oven at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until the hash browns start to crisp up.

For the Quiche:
1. In a large pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Keep the bacon drippings in the pan.

2. Over low/medium heat, sauté the onions, pepper and garlic in the bacon drippings for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the spinach and cook another few minutes over low heat until wilted. Set aside to cool.

3. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper, cheeses, red pepper flakes, crumbled bacon & ground beef.

4. Add the cooled veggies and stir to combine. Pour into the hash brown crust.

5. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 45 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing the collar and base.

Second and Third Place Winners

Marcia Kreutner (Center Point, Iowa) placed second with her Turkey Cashew Casserole, and Holly Houg also placed third as well with her Spicy Sausage Wraps recipe. Holly’s Hearty Quiche also won Fan Favorite in our Facebook competition. This year we added a twist requiring each participant to include an agriculture fact for each agriculture ingredient.

Do you want to participate in the Iowa’s Big Four Cooking Contest next year at the Iowa State Fair? Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for details next June.

~Melissa

What’s Cookin’? – Corn Custard brûlée

The second of our annual cooking demonstrations in the Elwell Family Food building at the Iowa State Fair featured an unusual dish. This recipe was adapted from a recipe that was originally submitted as part of the Iowa’s Big Four Cooking competition at the 2018 Iowa State Fair. The original recipe was submitted by Sharon Gates of Des Moines and won 2nd prize in the sweet division of that contest. We’ve made some slight modifications from the original. But first, where do all of the ingredients come from? Here is the farm-to-fork story.

Bacon:  This tasty pork product comes from the side and belly of the pig. Pork bellies are cured in a salt brine and flavorings to provide the rich taste. The curing process evolved before refrigeration as a way of preserving the meat. Iowa is the number one producer of pork in the U.S. Companies like Farmland Foods and JBS Swift have meat packing plants in Iowa and employ hundreds of Iowans.

Sugar: Granulated sugar can be refined from either sugar cane grown in tropical climates or from sugar beets. Many sugar beets are grown in Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. After the beets are harvested, they are sliced and soaked in water which extracts the sugar. The beets are pressed to remove additional sugar. The syrup is filtered and then boiled to reduce to sugar crystals. The crystals are then packaged as sugar.

Corn syrup: Corn syrup comes from field corn. Field corn is harvested after it is dried in the field. The corn kernels can then be ground up and the starches removed. Using enzymes, the starches can be converted into a mix of fructose and sucrose sugars – or corn syrup. Field corn can be used for a variety of human foods (everything from corn meal in tortilla chips to the corn syrup in ketchup), but it can also be used to feed livestock or turned into ethanol as fuel for vehicles

Sweet Corn: Although Iowa farmers do raise some of the best-tasting sweet corn in the country, less than 1% of the corn in our state is sweet corn. Although one is considered a vegetable and the other a grain, sweet corn and field corn are close relatives. Sweet corn is a naturally occurring genetic mutation of field corn. The sweet corn plant is shorter, matures faster, and its kernels have a higher sugar content.

Milk:  Milk or heavy cream is a great source of protein and vitamin D in our diets. Most dairy cows in the U.S. are Holstein (the black and white ones) which are prized for their ability to produce up to 8 gallons of milk per day. Once milk is collected from the cow it is trucked to a processing plant where it is homogenized and pasteurized before bottling. Once bottled it is sent off to grocery stores or other consumer outlets. The whole process takes less than 48 hours and the milk is never touched by human hands.

Eggs: Iowa is the number one producer of eggs in the U.S. There are three different categories of chickens raised with many different species in each category. Chickens are broilers (raised for meat), ornamentals (raised for feathers), and layers (raised for eggs). Chickens typically produce one egg approximately every 27 hours (roughly one per day).  The color of the egg shell has no bearing on the nutritional value of the egg or the flavor. The color of the shell is the same as the chicken’s ear lobe. White skinned chickens produce white eggs. Brown skinned chickens produce brown eggs. Eggs can even come in shades of blue and green. The quality of egg is largely determined by the chicken’s diet. A protein rich diet with various vitamins and minerals will usually yield a richly yellowed yolk. Eggs are one of the best sources of protein in the human diet. Eggs are cleaned and checked for impurities before being packaged and sold to consumers.

Pepper:  Black pepper comes from the fruit of a pepper plant species which grows in hot and humid tropical climates. The unripe dried fruit, called peppercorns, are ground into the spice we call pepper. Pepper was one of the spices that early explores traded because of its high value. It came from the spice islands of southeast Asia which also were known for nutmeg, mace and cloves.

Salt: Salt isn’t exactly an agricultural product. But, is an important component because it is the only rock that humans seek out and regularly consume. Salt can be harvested from salt pans (dried lakes) or mined from underground

Chipotle powder: Chipotle powder is the dried and crushed Chipotle pepper fruit.

IMG_4440.JPGIngredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Bacon Chopped
  • 2T Brown Sugar
  • 1T Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 Cup Fresh Sweet Corn
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 6T White Sugar
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 T Salt
  • 1/4 T Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 T Chipotle Chile Morita Powder

IMG_0190.JPGDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together bacon, brown sugar and corn syrup. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine ¾ cup sweet corn, whole milk, 3T white sugar, egg yolks, egg, salt, pepper, and chipotle powder sugar into blender and liquify all. Add heavy cream pulse blender to incorporate.
  4. Pour through a fine mesh strainer. Mix in ¼ cup of sweet corn. Pour liquid mixture into ramekins that have been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  5. Place ramekin in a baking dish on the middle rack of oven.
  6. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking dish to halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Bake 30-45 minutes or until the center of the custard registers an internal temperature of 170°F. Cooking time will vary based on the size of the ramekins used. Remove from oven and let cool.
  7. Just before serving, sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of each custard and brûlée with a torch. Garnish with candied bacon.

Enjoy!

-Will

What’s Cookin’? – Summer Succotash Saute

20190814_114739a.jpgWe annually do cooking demonstrations in the Elwell Family Food building at the Iowa State Fair. This recipe was adapted from a recipe that was originally submitted as part of the Iowa’s Big Four Cooking competition at the 2018 Iowa State Fair. The original recipe was submitted by Kris Davis of Altoona and won 3rd prize in the savory division of that contest. We’ve made some slight modifications from the original. But first, where do all of the ingredients come from? Here is the farm-to-fork story.

Turkey bacon:  Most bacon is made from pork. But turkey bacon offers a unique alternative. Iowa raises a approximately 8.54 million turkeys each year.

Beef:  Beef is any cut of meat from cattle. Cattle are raised on grass for much of their life and then fed out with corn, soybeans, silage, and other feed components. This high energy feed ration promotes marbling in the muscle of the animal and increases the quality of the meat. Jerky is cured with salt – a preservation method that has been used for thousands of years.

Vegetable Oil: Most vegetable oil is made from soybeans. Iowa and Illinois are the two biggest soybean growers in the U.S. After the soybeans are harvested in the fall they are crushed to extract the oil.

Peppers: Red bell peppers and Jalapeno peppers members of the same family. Bell peppers can be green, red and orange in color. The ripest ones are sweeter, while the less ripe will be a bit tangier. Jalapenos are a chili pepper pod that is round, firm, about 4-6 inches long, and shiny green in color. It will be much hotter (spicier) than the bell pepper.

Onion:  The biggest onion producing states are Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California. Onions are a root crop that grow for 5-6 months before being either mechanically or hand harvested from the soil.

Edamame: Edamame is a green soybean harvested before it has dried. Iowa and Illinois are the two biggest soybean growers in the U.S. But, most of those soybeans are harvested dried and processed into other products like vegetable oil, soymeal, tofu, and more.

Cumin: Cumin is the ground aromatic seed from a plant in the parsley family.

Paprika: Paprika is the dried and crushed red bell pepper fruit.

20190814_113950a.jpgSweet Corn: Although Iowa farmers do raise some of the best-tasting sweet corn in the country, less than 1% of the corn in our state is sweet corn. Although one is considered a vegetable and the other a grain, sweet corn and field corn are close relatives. Sweet corn is a naturally occurring genetic mutation of field corn. The sweet corn plant is shorter, matures faster, and its kernels have a higher sugar content.

Cream Cheese: Cheese is typically made from cows’ milk but can also be made from sheep, goat, and other animal milk. The flavor or cheese comes from the type of milk, the butterfat content, and also the type of bacteria and/or mold used in the aging process. Cheese might have a slight natural yellow color, but the dark yellow color of cheeses like cheddar come from the addition of food coloring.

Salt: Salt isn’t exactly an agricultural product. But, is an important component because it is the only rock that humans seek out and regularly consume. Salt can be harvested from salt pans (dried lakes) or mined from underground.

Entry7.jpg

Ingredients:       

  • 3 slices turkey bacon
  • 3 oz beef, thinly sliced
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato, seeded/chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1T ground cumin
  • 1t salt
  • 2t ground smoked paprika
  • 8 oz pkg shelled edamame, frozen
  • 14 oz pkg roasted sweet corn, frozen
  • 2 oz cream cheese

Directions:

  1. Cut turkey bacon into ¼ inch pieces. Add bacon and thinly sliced beef to a frying pan with the vegetable oil. Cook until browned. Drain, set aside.
  2. Discard all but 2T bacon drippings. In the drippings, saute the red pepper and onion until softened over medium-high heat.
  3. Add Jalapeño slices and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  4. Next add the corn and edamame.
  5. Add in the ground cumin, salt, and paprika. Mix well.
  6. Continue to sauté 8-10 minutes, stirring often.
  7. While sautéing, seed and chop the tomato.
  8. Add tomatoes and cream cheese, melting and mixing well.
  9. Stir in bacon pieces, saving some for garnish.

20190814_113638a.jpgServes six.

Enjoy!

-Will

What’s Cookin’?: State Fair Sweet Edition

The average American consumes approximately 222 pounds of meat per year – more than 46 pounds of which is pork. Pork is something Iowans know a lot about. We raise 22.8 million pigs each year. If each of those pigs was raised to a market weight of 300 pounds, we could expect approximately 144 pounds of meat from each pig. That means each pig could provide meat for three people over the course of a year. There are only 3.1 million people in Iowa so to feed Iowans we only need to raise one million pigs. What do we do with the other 21.8 million pigs? They get sold to other states and other countries around the world. Iowa truly does have a role in feeding the world!

This is why we celebrate the productivity of the state. Iowa is a major producer of several agricultural commodities. Corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs are what I call the ‘big four’. Each year we host a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair. Aspiring chefs and cooks can enter dishes – sweet and savory. Each dish has to include one or more of the big four ingredients in the recipe. Kudos to those cooks who are able to include all four! The entries are judged by a panel of experts representing each of the commodity organizations that are responsible for helping farmers (Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Soyfoods Council, and the Iowa Egg Council).

This year’s winning recipe in the sweet category was Butterscotch Cream Pie submitted by Jamie Buelt from Polk City, Iowa. This recipe uses lard from pork and four eggs as well as Iowa cream.

Entry15.jpgCrust
1 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Cake Flour
1/3 Cup Lard
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Baker’s Sugar
3 Tablespoons Very Cold Water

Filling
1/4 Cup Real Butter
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
4 Tablespoons Wondra Flour
1/2 Cup Milk
11/2 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Large Egg Yolks, separate eggs
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Pinch Salt
3 Drops of Butterscotch Oil

Whipped Cream
1 Cup AE Whipping Cream
1/4 plus 1 Tablespoon Confectioner’s Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients and then cut butter until mixture has the consistency of cornmeal. Then cut the cold lard and butter into pea-sized pieces and cut in with pastry cutter. Move mixture to one side of the bowl and using a fork, rake about one-sixth of the dry-butter lard mixture into the other half. Add one tablespoon of cold water and combine. Repeat with each tablespoon of cold water. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is brown.

Stir brown sugar and butter in a saucepan until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cook 2-3 minutes longer on low-medium heat, and then remove from fire. Beat egg yolks. In separate large bowl, mix flour with 1/2 of milk, until smooth. Then add beaten egg yolks and salt and mix well. Blend remaining milk with this mixture. Add milk-flour mixture to saucepan with sugar/butter mixture and cook on low/medium heat until thickened (anywhere from 30-45 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and blend in vanilla extract and butterscotch oil. Stir constantly until well-blended and slightly warm and then pour into a prepared piecrust and chill.

With a mixer, cream with sugar. When cream has thickened, add vanilla and beat until soft peaks form. Top chilled butterscotch filling with whipped cream. A flourish is nice.

2nd and 3rd

Second place was submitted by Sharon Gates of Des Moines, Iowa and was a Corn Custard Brulee with Candied Bacon Crumbles.

IMG_4413.JPG1/2 Cup Bacon Crumbles
2 T Brown Sugar
1 T Light Corn Syrup
1 Cup Fresh Sweet Corn (removed from cob)
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Whole Milk
3 T White Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
1 Egg
1/2 T Salt
1/4 T Freshly Ground (fine) Black Pepper
1/8 T (scant) Chipotle Chile Morita Powder
Sugar for Bruleeing

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together bacon, brown sugar and corn syrup. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Set aside to cool. Put remaining ingredients except heavy cream and brulee sugar into blender and liquefy all. Add heavy cream pulse blender to incorporate. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a ramekin sprayed with non-stick spray. Place ramekin in a baking dish on the middle rack of oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking dish to halfway up the outside of ramekin. Bake 45 minutes or until the center of the custard registers an internal temperature of 170°F. Remove from oven and let cool. Just before serving sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of each custard and brulee with a torch. Serve candied bacon on the side.

Third place was also a Corn Creme Brulee submitted by Diane Rauh of Des Moines, Iowa. Considering these two winners – clearly these are recipes we should try.

IMG_4441.JPG1 Can (15 oz) Whole Kernel Corn, drained
4 Teaspoons Butter
3 Cups Whipping Cream
1 Cup 2% Milk
8 Large Egg Yolks
1¼  Cups Sugar plus 4 Tablespoons for topping
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Bean Paste

Preparation
Heat oven to 325°F. In large saucepan, cook corn and butter over medium-high heat until all liquid is evaporated. Spoon out and set aside 1/4 cup of the corn. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in cream and milk; cook until bubbles form around sides of pan. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Pour in blender container. Cover and blend at high speed until smooth. Strain through wire mesh strainer and discard corn pulp. Return cream mixture to pan. In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1¼ cups sugar with wire whisk until blended. Whisk in a small amount of the hot cream mixture. Return egg mixture to pan, whisking constantly. Stir in vanilla. Sprinkle reserved corn in bottom of 8 (6-8 oz) ramekins or custard cups. Place in baking pan. Add 1 inch of hot water around the ramekins. Bake uncovered 40 to 50 minutes or until centers are set but still jiggle slightly. Remove from water bath. Cool 10 minutes. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or until well chilled. Sprinkle 1.5 teaspoons sugar over each ramekin. Using brulee torch, caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.

Enjoy the recipes!

-Will

IMG_4442.JPG

What’s Cookin’?: State Fair Savory Edition

The average American consumes just under two bushels of corn per year (including corn used to make other products). Americans eat approximately 222 lbs. of meat per year and those animals were largely feed with corn and soybeans. Let’s assume that it takes six lbs of feed to produce each pound of meat. This is an over estimate because beef, pork, and chicken all require different amounts – beef is the highest at 6.7. So let’s assume the 222 pounds of meat consumed required 1,300 pounds (or 23 bushels) of corn to be produced. Again this is an over estimation because it doesn’t account for the soybeans, forage, or other additives mixed into the feed ration. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume each person uses 25 bushels of corn every year. Approximately 2.6 billion bushels of corn is produced in Iowa each year. There are only 3.1 million people in Iowa.

Iowa is a major producer of several agricultural commodities. Corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs are what I call the ‘big four’. The 3.1 million people living in Iowa eat/use roughly 77.5 million bushels of corn. Where do the other 2.5 billion bushels of corn go? It is sold to other states and other countries. Iowans truly do help feed the world. Iowa raises more pork, more eggs, and more soybeans than the people living here could ever use. So it is all sold and traded domestically and internationally.

That’s why we celebrate the productivity of the state. Each year we host a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair. Aspiring chefs and cooks can enter dishes – sweet and savory. Each dish has to include one or more of the big four ingredients in the recipe. Kudos to those cooks who are able to include all four! The entries are judged by a panel of experts representing each of the the commodity organizations that are responsible for helping farmers (Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Soyfoods Council, and the Iowa Egg Council).

The winning recipe in the savory category – Bacon and Corn Custard – was submitted by Diane Rauh of Des Moines, Iowa.

Entry8.jpg1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
6-8 strips of smoked bacon (fried and then diced)
4 teaspoons butter
3 cups whipping cream
1 cup 2% milk
8 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

Preparation:
Heat oven to 325°F. In large saucepan, cook corn and butter over medium-high heat until all liquid is evaporated. Spoon out and set aside 1/4 cup of the corn. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in cream and milk; cook until bubbles form around sides of pan. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Pour in blender container. Cover and blend at high speed until smooth. Strain through wire mesh strainer and discard corn pulp. Return cream mixture to pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar with wire whisk until blended. Whisk in a small amount of the hot cream mixture. Return egg mixture to pan, whisking constantly.

Sprinkle reserved corn in bottom of 8 (6-8 oz) ramekins or custard cups, then top with diced bacon. Place in baking pan. Add 1 inch of hot water around the ramekins. Bake uncovered 40 to 50 minutes or until centers are set but still jiggle slightly. Remove from water bath. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm.

2nd and 3rd

Second place was a Celebrate Iowa Summer Salad recipe submitted by Marta Burkgren of Ames, Iowa. All of Iowa’s big four commodities were represented in this refreshing summer salad. Fresh sweet corn and corn chips (corn), edamame (soybeans), hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise (soybeans, cornstarch and egg yolks), and bacon (pork).

Entry9.jpg2 cups cooked Iowa sweet corn kernels (you can substitute one can of yellow kernel corn, drained or frozen corn)
1 cup edamame, (fresh frozen)
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 ounces corn craps

Preparation
Mix all ingredients except the chips. Arrange the eggs on top. Add the chips just before serving so they do not get soggy. Serves 6 to 8.

And third place was awarded to Kris Johnson of Altoona, Iowa with a Summer Succotash Saute.

Entry7.jpg3 Slices Bacon
1 Cup Sweet Red Pepper, chopped
1 Cup Onion, chopped
1 Cup Tomato, seeded/chopped
1-2 Jalapeno Peppers, sliced into rings, seeds optional
1T Ground Cumin
1t Salt
2t Ground Smoked Paprika
8 oz pkg Shelled Edamame, frozen
14 oz pkg Roasted Sweet Corn, Frozen
2 oz Cream Cheese

Preparation
Cut bacon into ¼ inch pieces, cook until brown. Drain, set aside. Discard all but 2T bacon drippings. In the drippings, saute the red pepper and onion until softened over medium-high heat. Add Jalepeno slices and cook 1-2 minutes more. Next add corn and edamame. Mix well. Continue to saute 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes and cream cheese, melting and mixing well. Stir in bacon pieces, saving some for garnish. Serves six.

Hope you enjoy these recipes!

-Will

IMG_4480.JPG

What’s Cookin’? Chilean Beef Stew

Iowa State Fair is upon us and the Elwell Family Food building is buzzing with activity. Food and cooking for us is very closely linked to how it was grown and produced. Each year we offer cooking demonstrations and tell the story of where each of the ingredients comes from. This year’s demo features a unique recipe that utilizes some of Iowa’s top products including beef, corn, soybeans, and chickens. Here is the farm to fork story of each of those ingredients.

onion.jpgBeef jerky:  Beef jerky is dried and cured from cattle meat. Beef cattle are raised on grass for much of their life and then fed out with corn, soybeans, silage, and other feed components. This high energy feed ration promotes marbling (intra-muscular fat) in the muscle of the animal and increases the quality of the meat. Jerky is cured with salt – a preservation method that has been corn.jpgused for thousands of years.

Onion:  The biggest onion producing states are Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California. Onions are a root crop that grow for 5-6 months before being either mechanically or hand harvested from the soil.

Corn: Although Iowa farmers do raise some of the best-tasting sweet corn in the country, less than 1% of the corn in our state is sweet corn. Although one is considered a vegetable and the other a grain, sweet corn and field corn are close relatives. Sweet corn is a naturally occurring genetic mutation of field corn. The sweet corn plant is shorter, matures faster, and its kernels have a higher sugar content.

Chicken stock: Iowa raises a lot of chickens. There are three different categories of chickens raised with many different species in each category. Chickens are broilers (raised for meat), ornamentals (raised for feathers), and layers (raised for eggs). Most of Iowa’s chickens are layers. Chicken broth is made from boiling the meat and bones. The juice from this cooking process is chicken broth and can be used for soups or flavorings.

squash1.jpgVegetable Oil: Most vegetable oil is made from soybeans. Iowa and Illinois are the two biggest soybean growers in the U.S. After the soybeans are harvested in the fall they are crushed to extract the oil.

Squash: Squashes are native to North America and were planted alongside beans and maize, collectively known as the Three Sisters. They grow on long vines. Winter squash varieties include butternut, acorn, buttercup, spaghetti, ambercup, sweet dumpling, and, of course, pumpkin.

Potatoes:  Potatoes are from the nightshade family of poisonous plants. But over hundreds of years of cultivation in the Andes mountains they became the nonpoisonous food staple that we are now familiar with. These tubers are grown underground as a part of the plant’s root structure. They are a good source of starch and nutrients in the diet.

Peas:  Peas are legumes and very similar to beans. They are versatile and can be used in dishes fresh, frozen, canned, and dried.

Carrot:  Carrots are roots, or more specifically taproots. Carrot plants are biennial, meaning they flower and produce seeds during their second year of growth. However, the plants are generally harvested 2-3 months after planting, much before flowers appear. At this stage the top of the carrot is about 1-2 inches in diameter and still sweet and tender.

Garlic:  California is the major garlic producing state, followed by Nevada and Oregon. The majority of garlic is dehydrated and used in a wide variety of processed foods.

Pepper:  Black pepper comes from the fruit of a pepper plant species which grows in hot and humid tropical climates. The unripe dried fruit, called peppercorns, are ground into the spice we call pepper. Pepper was one of the spices that early explorers traded because of its high value. It came from the spice islands of southeast Asia which also were known for nutmeg, mace and cloves.

Salt: Salt isn’t exactly an agricultural product. But, is an important component because it is the only rock that humans seek out and regularly consume. Salt can be harvested from salt pans (dried lakes) or mined from underground.

Oregano, Paprika, Cumin:  The oregano is dried leaf of the oregano plant. Paprika is the dried and crushed red bell pepper fruit. Cumin is the ground aromatic seed from a plant in the parsley family.

squash.jpgSlow Cooker Chilean Beef Stew  

1 medium squash, (butternut, acorn, or other)
6 medium potatoes, cubed
1 cup corn
1 cup peas
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
15 oz. chicken or beef broth
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ lb. beef jerky, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tsp. cumin

Directions:

  1. Chop onions, garlic, and beef jerky. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onions over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add garlic and beef jerky and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add paprika, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  2. Peel and cube squash into bite sized pieces.
  3. Add all ingredients to slow cooker including onion and meat mixture.
  4. Fill cooker with water until just slightly below the top of the mixture.
  5. Cook on a low temperature stirring occasionally. Cook for 4-5 hours or until squash and potatoes are fork tender.

Serve in a bowl with bread or crackers on the side. Enjoy!

-Will

What’s Cookin’: Blue Ribbon Brownies

There’s not much better than a soft, warm chocolate brownie.  The recipe I am sharing today is my favorite because it is easy to make, delicious, and also brings back great memories.  It was the first recipe I remember baking as a kid, without the help of my mom.  It became my signature item as a young cook.  I always jumped at the opportunity to make a batch to take to a church pot luck or deliver to a neighbor, just because.  When I became old enough to enroll in 4-H, of course it was on the list of projects I wanted to take first to the county fair.  I remember anxiously waiting for the judge’s reaction after taking a bite and being so proud when she said they were delicious and handed me a blue ribbon.

Before I share the recipe, here’s the agricultural story behind each ingredient.

cocoa beansCocoa Powder is made from beans of the cacao tree grown in tropical climates. After harvesting the beans are fermented, dried, and roasted.  The beans are then ground into a paste to separate the cocoa solids from the fat, or cocoa butter. Once the butter is removed the cocoa solids are ground into a fine powder.  The bitter powder can be packaged and sold for as unsweetened coca powder for baking cooking, or mixed with cocoa butter, milk and sugar to create the chocolate bars and chips.

Sugar for home cooking and baking can come from two agricultural crops, sugar cane and sugar beets. Sugar beets are a root crop grown in the upper Midwest.  Sugar cane is a tall perennial grass grown in more tropical environments like Florida, Latin America, and South America.  Although the plants are very different, the process of turning juice from sugar beets and sugar cane into granulated sugar is very similar.  After the juice is extracted, it is purified, and the crystals form as the water is removed through several stages of evaporation.

eggs1Eggs– Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the country! Eggs are an essential baking ingredient. They add structure, leavening, richness, color, and flavor to your delicious treats.

Butter – Fresh whole milk from dairy farms is collected and brought to the creamery. The cream is separated from the milk and rapidly heated to a high temperature. Pasteurization removes any disease causing bacteria and helps the butter stay fresh longer. The cream is then churned by shaking or beating it vigorously until it thickens. The remaining liquid, appropriately called buttermilk, is removed. The clumps of butter are then washed and formed into sticks or blocks. Check out this video to see exactly how butter is made today.

vanilla beansVanilla extract is made from the seed pod, or bean, of the flat leaved vanilla orchid.  They are picked unripe, submerged into hot water and then laid out to dry.  Vanilla extract is made by macerating the vanilla beans and mixing them with water and alcohol.

Wheat PortraitFlour:  All-purpose flower is made from a blend of both hard and soft wheat grains. The bran and the germ have been removed leaving only the starchy endosperm for the flour.  The United States ranks 3rd in the production of wheat and is the #1 wheat exporting country. The top wheat-producing states are Kansas, North Dakota and Montana.

Pecans – The pecan tree is a species of hickory native to Mexico and the southern United States. Today they are grown on orchards across the southern United States, from California to North Carolina. Check out this video to see how pecans are harvested commercially. Once harvested, they are transported to a shelling plant where they are cleaned, sized, sterilized, cracked and finally, shelled.

Blue Ribbon Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:
¾ cup cocoa powder
½ cup baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda;
  3. Mix in 1/3 cup melted butter.
  4. Add boiling water and stir until well blended.
  5. Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla and remaining butter.
  6. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined.
  7. Fold in pecans.
  8. Pour into a greased 9 x 9 inch pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy!

-Cindy

 

 

What’s Cookin’: Chocolate Pudding

pudding - small

One of my favorite comfort foods is chocolate pudding.  Not the kind from a box, but the rich and creamy home-made goodness that can only be made by starting from scratch.  If I’m going to indulge in chocolate pudding, I want the good stuff!

While there are many great recipes for chocolate pudding, my favorite is a simple one that even my 8-year-old son can make without help!  Before I share the recipe, here’s the agricultural story behind it’s simple ingredients.

cocoa beansCocoa Powder is made from beans of the cacao tree grown in tropical climates. After harvesting the beans are fermented, dried, and roasted.  The beans are then ground into a paste to separate the cocoa solids from the fat, or cocoa butter. Once the butter is removed the cocoa solids are ground into a fine powder.  The bitter powder can be packaged and sold for as unsweetened coca powder for baking cooking, or mixed with cocoa butter, milk and sugar to create the chocolate bars and chips.

Sugar for home cooking and baking can come from two agricultural crops, sugar cane and sugar beets. Sugar beets are a root crop grown in the upper Midwest.  Sugar cane is a tall perennial grass grown in more tropical environments like Florida, Latin America, and South America.  Although the plants are very different, the process of turning juice from sugar beets and sugar cane into granulated sugar is very similar.  After the juice is extracted, it is purified, and the crystals form as the water is removed through several stages of evaporation.

cornCorn Starch is a fine white powder made from the starchy center, or endosperm, of corn kernels.  In the kitchen, corn starch is used as a thickening agent for sauce, gravy, pudding, and more. Corn starch is comprised of long chains of starch molecules that will unravel and swell when heated in a liquid. This swelling causes the liquid to thicken.

Milk: Long gone are the days that cows are milked by hand. Today’s dairy farms are high-tech and efficient, using mechanical milking parlors and even robots to improve the efficiency of the milking process. Once milk is collected from the cow it is quickly cooled and trucked to a processing plant where it is homogenized and pasteurized before bottling. Once bottled it is sent off to grocery stores or other consumer outlets. The whole process takes less than 48 hours and the milk is never touched by human hands.

vanilla beansVanilla extract is made from the seed pod, or bean, of the flat leaved vanilla orchid.  They are picked unripe, submerged into hot water and then laid out to dry.  Vanilla extract is made by macerating the vanilla beans and mixing them with water and alcohol.

Butter: Fresh whole milk from dairy farms is collected and brought to the creamery. The cream is separated from the milk and rapidly heated to a high temperature. Pasteurization removes any disease-causing bacteria and helps the butter stay fresh longer.  The cream is then churned by shaking or beating it vigorously until it thickens. The remaining liquid, appropriately called buttermilk, is removed. The clumps of butter are then washed and formed into sticks or blocks. Check out this video to see exactly how butter is made.

Chocolate Pudding
½ cups white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup corn starch
2¾ cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoons vanilla

Mix the sugar, cocoa powder, corn starch and salt together in a saucepan.

Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Continue to whisk and cook until it is thick. It will not take long after it comes to a boil.

Take it off the burner and mix in the vanilla and butter. Pour into a bowl or serving dishes to cool.

Enjoy!

-Cindy

Sweet Treats

Iowa ranks #1 in the production of four major agricultural commodities: corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs. To celebrate this, state fair contestants are challenged to submit a recipe using one (or more) of these ingredients. Entries are judged by representatives from the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Soyfoods Council, and the Iowa Egg Council. They are judged on taste, creativity, and presentation. Awards are presented in two divisions – sweet and savory.

Be sure to check out the winning savory recipes here. But for now let’s focus on the sweet stuff! These tasty recipes will be sure to delight event the harshest critics and will be sure to end the meal on high note.

The winning recipe – Iowa’s Big Four Sugar Cookies – was submitted by Julie Peterson of Knoxville, Iowa. Not only did she cut the cookies out into the shape of Iowa, but she also decorated them with candy pigs, eggs, soybeans, and corn!

Julie comes from a farm family that raise corn and beans and several hundred sheep. She and her husband have three sons all of whom have college degrees and farm with them. Their daughter is in her 3rd year at Iowa State University majoring in agricultural education. She loves agriculture and loves telling people about it and family farms. She loves to write and take photos, so she hopes to someday write a book on agriculture, along with becoming an agriculture teacher. She inspired the display of the cookies.

IMG_2793a.jpg1 cup soft butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup Crisco Oil
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar

Cream butter and sugar. Add next ingredients. Mix well. Roll out and cut out with state of Iowa shaped cookie cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. When cool, frost.

Frosting
1 stick soft butter
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all together and beat with mixer until desired spreading consistency. Garnish each of the Iowa shaped, frosted cookies with one of the following: corn candy, yellow jelly beans, pink gummie candy pigs, and egg gummie candy.

2nd and 3rd

The sugar cookies only barely edged out the runner-up and the second runner-up. Featuring corn syrup (made from field corn) and eggs, Old Fashioned Divinity is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. This recipe was submitted by Quinn Harbison from Ames, Iowa.

IMG_3776a.jpg3 cups sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup boiling water
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. almond extract
3 egg whites

Instructions:
Put sugar, corn syrup, and boiling water into saucepan. Boil until firm ball stage using a candy thermometer. Beat 3 egg whites until stiff peaks. Add sugar mixture and vanilla to eggs along the side of the bowl slowly, mix. Once mixture stands in place, put on buttered plate.

Or the chocolate lovers among us might enjoy the Flourless Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies with Butterscotch Chips submitted by Aaron Barker from Des Moines, Iowa.

IMG_3775a.jpg2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
1 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
½ tsp. salt
2-3 egg whites
1 cup butterscotch chips

Instructions:
Whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt. Add two egg whites and whisk into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated. If you want an extremely thick, brownie-like batter consistency here. If you need more moisture, add another egg white. Fold in the butterscotch chips. Chill the batter for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper AND spray them with non-stick spray (this is important as it is difficult to get them off the paper). Scoop batter onto the cookie sheets using a spoon. Bake for 9-10 minutes until the edges are set. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing from the parchment. Yield: 30 cookies

Indulge with these tasty morsels!

-Will

Savory Award Winning Recipes

If you are like me, you are looking for a great recipe to try for this holiday season. And depending on how many people you have at your table, you might end up with a lot of leftover Christmas ham. Well, now you can turn those leftovers into delicious hamballs! This recipe screams Iowa because it features two of the major commodities raised in Iowa – pork and corn.

Last summer, Iowans were challenged to present their best recipes at the Iowa State Fair and the Iowa’s Big Four Cooking Contest. Iowa is #1 in the U.S. for raising corn and soybeans. Iowa also ranks #1 in producing pork and eggs. So these recipes needed to include one (or more) of those major commodities.

The contest was broken into two classes – sweet and savory. For each, a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place recipe was awarded a cash prize. Judges representing each of the commodity organizations helped decide the winners. Judges from the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and Soy Foods Council, and the Iowa Egg Council judged the entries on taste, creativity and presentation.

The winning recipe from the savory category was Sweet Corn Hamballs with Sweet Corn Glaze submitted by Sharon Gates of Des Moines, Iowa. Judges were overheard saying, “I just couldn’t stop eating them!”

IMG_3785.JPGInto a mixing bowl combine:
¼ C. finely chopped onions
1 ear of sweet corn grilled and cut from cob (about ½ C.)
½ C. crushed unsalted soda crackers
½ C. graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. ground mustard
2 eggs well beaten plus enough milk to make 1 ¼ C.

Mix well and let sit a few minutes. Add to the above mixture:
¾ lb. ground ham
¾ lb. ground pork
¾ lb. ground beef

Once the meat and cracker mixtures are thoroughly combined, form into about 1/3 C. balls. Place the balls into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Turn over and bake another 20 minutes.

While hamballs are baking, mix together:
1 8oz. can of creamed corn
1 C. unsweetened applesauce
1 C. brown sugar
¼ C. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. dry mustard

When the meatballs are browned, cover with glaze. Then bake another 45 minutes turning over half way through the process and spooning glaze from the pan over the hamballs.

2nd and 3rd

The runner-up and second runner-up recipes were not to be missed either! For breakfast, the Pretzel and Soybean Crusted Egg Bake featured soybeans, eggs, and two different types of pork (bacon and ham)! It was submitted by Emerson Hilbert of Urbandale, Iowa.

IMG_3780a.jpg½ cup pretzels
½ cup soybeans
4 eggs
¼ cup milk
3 strips bacon
2 slices of ham
3 tablespoons of butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Crush and combine pretzels and soybeans. Melt butter. Press pretzel and soybean mix into the bottom of a baking dish and pour the butter over the top. Bake for 3-5 minutes. Combine eggs and milk. Chop bacon and ham. Layer eggs, cheese, and meats. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25-25 minutes.

The Mexicali Corn Dip, as the name implies, featured corn. But you could also find soybeans in the vegetable oil that the mayonnaise was made from! This savory snack would be perfect for an appetizer or great for when all of those unexpected guests come knocking at your door this holiday season. The recipe was submitted by Gretta Acheson of West Des Moines, Iowa.

1 – 11oz. can of MexiCornIMG_3784a.jpg
1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup of Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 – 4oz. can of mild, chopped green chilies, drained
1 small jar of chopped pimentos, drained
1 ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Serve with Frito Corn Chips.

Enjoy! And if you have a great recipe that features corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, or any of Iowa’s great commodities you can enter it at the Iowa State Fair in the Iowa’s Big Four Cooking Contest!

-Will