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Ann Burckhardt and I share memories of delicious eating in her: "A Cook's Tour of Minnesota"


Last updated 2/21/2008 at Noon

Recently you met my longtime friend Ann Burckhardt in this column as I reviewed her newest book about casseroles, “Hot Dish Heaven”.

For those who love food lore, history and good eating, “A Cook’s Tour of Minnesota” is another delicious helping of her wit, good sense and well-chosen recipes. It is published by Minnesota Historical Society Press: (800) 647-7827,

As they say, I have history with Minnesota: It was there I met my husband on a blind date, there, birthed our son Elliot, started a cooking school and wrote my first cookbook.

In the doing of all this, Ann Burckhardt and I shared a similar professional path. We both worked at the Minneapolis Star when our kids were little and hung out at the same professional meetings and knew the same culinary folks.

I salute and celebrate Ann’s book as she delved into true food heritage of Minnesota. Folks less familiar might believe that Minnesota is all about the frozen tundra, loons and larger-than-life mosquitoes…and of course, Paul Bunyan-esque tall tales.

Enter, please, Betty Crocker of General Mills. She would be followed by the grand and glorious Pillsbury Bake-off; then might come the stories of nationally known Ken Davis Bar-B-Q Sauce or Leann Chin, who both became inspiring culinary business successes from humble beginnings.

Then, too, there is our mutual professional friend Beatrice Ojakangas of Duluth, who wrote the most well-known Finnish cookbook way back in 1964…and dozens of books since.

In this book, Ann demonstrated what I believe: all food stories are woven with the fiber and fabric of people.

Hats off, Ann; you do our profession proud!

Ann edited “Betty Crocker’s New Good and Easy Cook Book” and this cake was part of the dessert category.

It has become a favorite with Ann. She tried it with soy milk for a friend who could not eat dairy and found it worked just fine.

Triple Fudge Cake

1 (14-oz.) pkg. chocolate pudding mix (not instant)

2 cups milk or soy milk

1 pkg. Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake mix

½ cup chocolate chips

½ cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare pudding mix with milk as directed on package. Stir dry cake mix into hot pudding. Pour batter into greased and floured 13x9-inch pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold. Nice with whipped cream or topping. 12 servings.

In 1969, this breakfast treat was the big winner at the Pillsbury Bake-off, which had been started, according to Ann, 20 years earlier to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Pillsbury Company.

Ann has written about the contest and worked as a researcher and even a judge!

Magic Marshmallow Crescent Puffs

For puffs:

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 (8-oz.) cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

16 large marshmallows

¼ cup butter or margarine

For glaze:

½ cup powdered sugar

½ tsp. vanilla

2 to 3 tsp. milk

¼ cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 16 muffins cups with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon.

Separate dough into 16 triangles. Dip 1 marshmallow in melted butter; roll in sugar mixture. Place marshmallow on shortest side of triangle. Roll up, starting at the shortest side of triangle and rolling to opposite point.

Completely cover marshmallow with dough; firmly pinch edges to seal. Dip one end in remaining butter; place butter side down in ungreased large muffin cup or 6-ounce custard cup. Repeat with remaining marshmallows.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. (Place foil or a cookie sheet on oven rack below muffins cups to catch any spills.) Immediately remove from muffin cups; cool on wire racks over waxed paper.

In small bowl, blend powered sugar, vanilla and enough milk for desired consistency. Drizzle over warm rolls. Sprinkle with nuts. 16 rolls.

The story of the Ken Davis Bar-B-Q sauce company is one of belief and persistence. It is now managed by Barbara Jo, who took over after her husband’s death in 1991.

Ken started in Minnesota. His products are now sold all over and well used in such recipes as this Southern-style pork for sandwiches.

Bar-B-Q Pulled Pork Sandwiches

1 boneless pork shoulder or loin roast, about 3 lb.

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup chicken broth, beer, apple juice or water

1 (17-oz.) jar Ken Davis Bar-B-Q Sauce

Toasted, split hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls

Brown pork on all sides in oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. After browning, drain fat. Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper as desired. Add broth; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until pork is very tender, about 3 hours.

Refrigerate pork in the broth until cool enough to handle. Holding the roast with your left hand and a fork in your right, pull the pork into long shreds.

Return pork to pot.

Pour sauce over pork; heat through.

At this point pork can be served on buns or frozen for later use. 12 servings.

The American Swedish Institute is housed in a chateau-like mansion begun in 1904 in the most fashionable part of Minneapolis. It is a place you simply MUST visit when you go to Minneapolis.

Ann found this simple recipe from a cookbook published in 1980 by the American Swedish Institute, “Var Sa God: Heritage and Favorite Recipes & Handbook of Swedish Traditions.”

Swedish Spice Cake

2 cups sifted cake flour

2 cups brown sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground allspice

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sour cream

3 eggs

Powered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large bowl of electric mixer, stir together flour, sugar, soda, baking powder, salt, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. Add butter, sour cream and eggs.

Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Then beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Pour batter into greased and floured angel food or Bundt pan.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool on rack 15 minutes before removing from pan. Loosen cake from pan using flexible spatula or knife, then invert onto serving plate. Using a small sifter, dust the cake with light coating of powered sugar. Slice thin to serve. 20 servings.

This recipe comes from our professional friend Beatrice Ojakangas. Her first book, “The Finnish Cookbook,” was published by Crown and “is recognized,” Ann writes, “as the definitive source on Finnish cooking, both here and in Finland.”

The recipe is perfect for this time of year.

Mashed Potato and Rutabaga Casserole

2 lb. thin-skinned boiling potatoes


1 lb. (about 1 medium) rutabaga

¼ cup flour


2 tsp. salt

½ to 1 cup hot milk or half-and-half

1 tbsp. butter

¼ cup fine dry breadcrumbs

Put potatoes in a large pot and cover them with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart of water. Heat to boiling and cook 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Drain, peel and mash the potatoes.

Meanwhile, pare the rutabaga and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil.

Simmer until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and mash the rutabaga. Add the mashed rutabaga to the potatoes. Beat with an electric mixer until the potatoes and rutabagas are smooth and fluffy. Beat in the flour, eggs, salt and milk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 3-qt. shallow baking dish. Turn the vegetable mixture into the dish. Using a spoon, spread the mixture, making indentations in the top. Dot with butter and sprinkle with crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until lightly browned. 12 servings.


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