Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Road Food

The Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance put on a seminar this past weekend at Kendall College called Road Food: Exploring the Midwest One Bite At a Time.


The Oatmeal was from Corner Café in Wakarusa, Indiana. It was so delicious and filling topped with raisins, brown sugar and honey. The recipe is in the Café Indiana Cookbook by Joanne Raetz, one of the speakers who touched on modern culinary traditions in the small-town café.

Here is my sister’s version of baked oatmeal which is almost identical.

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Michael Stern:

Keynote speaker and road food expert having written more than forty books, and is a regular contributing editor to Saveur magazine.

As I was sitting there listening to him, I was also leafing through his book 500 Things To Eat Before It’s Too Late which I had just purchased. This is a fascinating book on regional specialities and is so populated with photographs that I was starving by the time the lunch came.

Pork Tenderloin Sandwich:

Made by Chef Mitch Cavanah of Kendall College, this sandwich was so good and the thing I was craving the most after looking at Stern’s book.

Saveur actually did an article in their May, 2012 issue which detailed Iowa’s tenderloin sandwich bliss and the route through Iowa to get them.

Nice to know that Mr. Bibbs Tenderloins in Des Moines is only a weekend trip away when I get the craving again.

Regional Food:

All of the regional dishes that I’ve longed for, or maybe just the nostalgia of them, conjure up state fair competitions, drive ins and small town cafes.

Apple Fritter:

From Old Fashioned Donuts in Chicago…a new one to put on my list.


Where else but from Café du Monde in New Orleans. New Orleans is, in my estimation, is one of the best food cities on the planet.

Donut Bread Pudding:

Dottie’ Diner in Woodbuty, CT makes this once in a lifetime experience. I’ll be trying to recreate this one as soon as I master a batch of homemade cinnamon donuts.

Lobster Rolls and Shore Dinners:

While at the Kennebec River for some whitewater action, we had the most delicious fresh Maine lobster dinner ever. To this day, everytime we eat lobster, I fondly remember the spot.


Recipe straight from Central Grocery in New Orleans. Still perfecting ingredients but my olive relish is ready for sampling.


Shoofly or Rubard and Strawberry, pie has been a mainstay for generatons with tarts being the darling of the dessert scene this year.

      From: Van's Pig Stand

BBQ Pork and Ribs:

From Van’s Pigstand in Shawnee, OK to the Rendezvous in Memphis, bring it on. I’ve eaten at a hundred BBQ spots from Memphis to Kansas City to Oklahoma and even here in Chicago and simply cannot get enough…especially now that it’s BBQ weather.

Drive Ins:

As they were talking about Drive Ins of the past, I was busy googling Porky’s in Minneapolis to see if my old hangout was still open. They served up the best people watching and onion rings ever.

Another Drive In come and gone. Porky’s closed so I guess I am back to making onion rings in my own kitchen.

Guinness Beer Battered Onion Rings

2 large Vidalia onions, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon California-style garlic pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (12 oz.) bottle Guinness® Extra Stout Beer
4 cups canola oil

Separate sliced onions into rings, transfer to bowl and cover with buttermilk.

Combine 1 cup flour, garlic pepper and salt in bowl and stir to blend.

Combine 1 cup flour and beer in bowl and whisk to blend.

Heat oil in deep heavy pan or deep fryer to 350°F.

Working in small batches; remove onions from buttermilk and drain. Dredge in seasoned flour; shake excess. Dip in beer batter; drain excess.

Carefully lower onion rings, one at a time, into hot oil (do not overcrowd) and deep fry until golden brown, turning several times during frying with tongs. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Repeat process with remaining onion rings.

Season with salt, if desired. Serve hot.

Bon Appetit!