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The best of the Midwest

Created date

December 20th, 2011
Bluestem: The Cookbookis a gem for any foodie devoted to innovative seasonal cooking. Chef Colby Garrelts, a perennial James Beard Award nominee teams up with his pastry chef wife, Megan, to offer up a wide array of delicious recipes from their celebrated Bluestem restaurant in Kansas City, Mo. The book, like the restaurant, showcases the Garrelts unique contemporary cooking, including their signature dishes beef tartare and crab trofie (a creamy pasta dish). From spring s asparagus soup and raspberry-lemon thyme lollipops, to summer s tomato jam, autumn s duck confit, and hearty winter dishes like rack of venison and gingerbread ice cream, the Garrelts show how to stay seasonal, stay local, and have fun. Bonjwing Lee, who wrote and took photographs for the book with the Garrelts, first dined at Bluestem shortly after it opened in 2004. Although the restaurant s menu impressed Lee, there were a few kinks which the brash young law student felt compelled to share via email. Colby Garrelts responded kicking off what Lee describes as a heated email exchange. In time, the two became great friends, bonding over their common desire to see good food planted and grown in the Midwest. The food in Bluestem is undeniably fancy; perfect for intimate dinners for two or special family celebrations. Many recipes require unusual ingredients or have numerous steps, but the practical suggestions and helpful hints on just about every page make this kind of cooking and dining accessible to home cooks of all experience levels. For non-cooks, the abundant colorful photographs and the running account of the origins of each recipe makeBluestem: The Cookbookmore than just a great how-to; it s an entertaining read for those who simply enjoy browsing through a well-done cookbook. michele.harris@erickson.com

Prosciutto, hot and sweet cipollini

Serves 4 This is a fork-and-knife crostini dish that could double as a simple lunch for two. If you can t find mustard essence (also called mustard oil), you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes, adding them to the fennel and onions as they cook to give the mixture a spicy kick. 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices 8 cipollini onions, peeled 2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped 1 cup white wine Juice of 2 oranges 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 2 tablespoons sugar 12 drops mustard essence Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 4 thick slices rustic bread 4 ounces sliced prosciutto Heat the olive oil in a large saut pan over medium-high heat. Add the fennel and onions and saut until browned, stirring to get an even coloring, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, wine, juice, vinegar, and sugar. Simmer and reduce for 5 minutes, just to soften the onions. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the mustard essence. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Brush the extra-virgin olive oil over both sides of each slice of bread. Toast the bread in a skillet over medium high heat until just golden brown. Season with a bit of salt. To serve, put a slice of toasted bread on each of 4 plates. Top each slice with some prosciutto and the fennel and cipollini mixture. Serve immediately.

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