much as I joke about the food served in Minnesota, I have to admit that
in the twelve years I lived there, I discovered some fantastic dishes.
Some, though, caused me to back away in a hasty retreat.
I admire Minnesotans; theyre hearty people. The north/central section
of the state is dotted with small towns surrounded by lakes perfect for
fishing and boating, and it doesnt matter if its summer or winter. My
first winter was an education as the temperature plunged forty below.
Thats forty below zero, although I quit counting when the needle
dipped below freezing. But Minnesotans are hearty. And adventuresome.
Even when icicles formed on the tip of their noses, they fished. Five
feet of ice covering a lake didnt slow them down; they simply hauled
fish houses onto the ice and supplied them with enough food to last a
season, fish bait, and augers to drill fishing holes through the ice.
Then they settled in, nice and cozy. The first time I saw them, I was
driving by Lake Mille Lacs, a huge expanse of water that covers about
200 square miles, and I saw clusters of funny little houses and
wondered why people put their outhouses on a frozen lake.
If that wasnt strange enough, I discovered Minnesotans had some
strange tastes in food. Some I tried and liked, but I steered clear of
I could handle Lefse, a Norwegian flatbread made of potato, cream, and
flour, cooked on a griddle, but when someone mentioned lutefisk,
whitefish preserved in lye, I bolted out the back door. As someone told
me, in the old days before refrigerators, people stored the fish
through the winter by stacking piles of it around the house similar to
stacking wood for their fires. They didnt have to worry about it
disappearing as no living creature would come near the stuff. Im sure
it helped families survive the harsh winters, but no one today has to
eat it. Some do in honor of tradition, but in my book, no tradition is
worth braving lye fish.
Some of their concoctions were delicious, though. One of the resorts on
a nearby lake served the best fudge pie Ive ever eaten, so rich it was
like a finely-textured fudge cheesecake. And when word spread that a
restaurant in a small town of about 1.7 square miles just south of
where I lived was preparing their famous Hungarian mushroom soup,
people plowed through blizzards and ice-packed highways just to have a
I managed to get the recipe. Its easy to make and it doesnt take
long, only about a half hour from the time you gather ingredients to
the time you can serve, although it tastes so good everyone will think
you spent hours in the kitchen.
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Makes 8 cups
1 quart beef stock * (see note)
8 T butter, divided
1 c chopped onion
1 T chopped fresh garlic
1/2 t salt
3 c chopped fresh mushrooms
1 T dill weed
1 T paprika
1/8 t white pepper
1/2 c flour
2 c heavy cream
3 T sour cream
1 T lemon juice
1 T soy sauce
For an easy beef stock, heat 1 qt water over high heat in medium
saucepan, add 2 T beef base, 2 t Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 t Tabasco
sauce. Stir to dissolve base and set aside.
In a large saucepan, sauté onion, garlic, and salt in 4 T butter until
onion is tender. Stir in mushrooms, dill weed, paprika and white
pepper. Add half of the beef stock. Cover and simmer over low heat for
Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt remaining 4 T butter over low
heat. Whisk in flour and cook until smooth, stirring constantly, approx
1 minute. Add cream and continue to cook over low heat, stirring
frequently for 8-10 minutes. Add this cream to mixture and remaining
stock to mushroom mixture. Stir in sour cream, lemon juice and soy
sauce. Heat thoroughly.
Next time I might even find where I stashed the recipe for that fantastic fudge pie.
Till then, bon appétit, yall.