The Kansas City Star Food Feature

Today Heartland was featured in the Food Section of The Kansas City Star.

Cookbook offers a modern take on farm fare

Judith Fertig’s Overland Park kitchen is a modest but efficient space with white cabinetry, gray countertops and textured walls painted a soothing Benjamin Moore “butter.”
On a recent gray spring day, she’s also getting ready to show me how to make butter.

She pours two cups of heavy whipping cream from the carton into a food processor and presses a switch. Together we watch the cream whirl and froth. The motion of the blade magically transforms the liquid from soft peaks to solid then begins to throw off its whey, a watery liquid that separates from the solids.

Fertig transfers the lump of butter that has formed in the work bowl into a cheesecloth-lined bowl and gently presses the mass with a spatula until it releases more whey.

In only 5 minutes, she has “churned” sweet cream butter — but without a single blister or callous.

Over the last 15 years, the prolific cookbook author has carved out an area of expertise by focusing on traditional Midwestern cuisine with a twist. Her fourth prairie-themed cookbook, “Heartland: The Cookbook” (Andrews McMeel, $35), released today, is being hailed as a celebration of a region of the country “where farm-to-table isn’t a movement.”

To read the entire article and view more photographs, visit Kansas

Heartland in the Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story on Heartland on March 29.

Cincinnati native's book promotes Midwestern food

Appetite for Midwestern dishes growing along with local food movement

Judith Fertig's Ohio Lemon Tart updates a traditional Amish recipe.
 Cookbook writer Judith Fertig was born and raised in the Cincinnati area, but she has lived near Kansas City, Kan., since the 1980s. Her two hometowns have in common their location in the great Midwest, but that doesn't mean their food cultures are the same.

From Cincinnati, Fertig remembers smoked pork, great neighborhood butchers, sweet corn and coffeecake; while Kansas City exploits its proximity to wheat with fine artisanal bread bakers and wheat beers and maintains a proud barbecue tradition.

In her new cookbook, "Heartland" (AndrewsMcMeel Publishing, $35), Fertig celebrates what is common to cooking from all of the Midwest, with its rich agricultural heritage and "have a nice day" values. But she particularly focuses on the unique qualities of different Midwestern regions.
She has made Midwestern cooking her special topic over a long career. Her first book, "Prairie Home Cooking," which was nominated for a James Beard and IACP award, set about to define Midwestern cuisine, especially farm cooking. "But a lot has happened in Midwest cuisine since then," she said.
To read the rest of the Enquirer article, go here.

Welcome Back to the Farm

My, how farm dinners have changed.  When I first moved to the Kansas City area, a farm-style dinner meant a ho-hum meal of fried chicken, fake mashed potatoes, and gravy that came out of a jar or a can. And nary a fresh vegetable.

When I wrote Prairie Home Cooking in 1999, the big news was that the Midwest actually did have wonderful regional food—surprise, surprise.  The twist now is that our fresh and artisan products are showing up on restaurant tables from coast to coast. You now taste something worth crowing about.  That’s what my new cookbook Heartland is all about.
Farm-and-garden-to-table dining in the Heartland is pretty darn good. That’s because the family farm is changing, specializing. Although many Midwestern farms still harvest the traditional wheat, corn, and soybean crops, still others produce not only organic fruits and vegetables, but also artisan cheeses, heritage pork and poultry, boutique varieties of beef, fuller-flavored milk from grass-fed cows, and fruits—like Harlayne apricots or plump sour cherries—which you just can’t find anywhere else.  Surprisingly, the term “terroir,” which we associate with wine, also applies to what grows best—and tastes best—right here.

So here’s a “sip” of what I’m talking about...
In Heartland, perennial rhubarb goes from nice girl to wow-za in a Farm Girl Cosmo, a signature cocktail you can easily make at home—and garnish with a swizzle stick of rainbow chard.  So, let’s drink a toast to spring—and Heartland!

Farm Girl Cosmo
How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve been to the Twin Cities and sipped Cosmopolitans, Sex-in-the-City style?  Maybe by serving a batch of these drinks, whose secret ingredient is a rosy syrup made from rhubarb, long a reliable staple of the farm wife’s garden.  If you like, serve a trimmed stalk of rainbow chard as a swizzle stick.
photo via Aaron Leimkuhler of Spaces Magazine
Makes 4 drinks
Rosy Rhubarb Syrup:
4 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
The juice of 2 lemons

¾ cup vodka
1 cup Rosy Rhubarb Syrup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon orange extract
1. For the syrup, place the rhubarb and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook the rhubarb until tender and pulpy, about 10 minutes.
2. Strain off the rhubarb pulp, reserving the juice. Measure the juice and add enough water to equal 2 cups. Return the liquid to the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir in the sugar. Bring to a boil so the sugar dissolves, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and let cool.  Strain again, then pour into clean glass jars or bottles. (Refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 month.)
3. To make the cosmos, combine the vodka, syrup, lime juice, and orange extract in a pitcher. Add ice and stir well. Pour into 4 vintage jelly glasses and garnish with .  Strain and pour a fourth of the cosmo mixture into each glass or enjoy over ice.