Today is National Iowa Day. The Hawkeye State was the 29th state to join the Union. Nearly 92-percent of the land is farmland. While Iowa might grow a lot of corn; hogs outnumber people in Iowa nearly 4-to-1. Wow, that’s a lot of pork! Turns out an Iowan also gave the world sliced bread. And according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Burlington’s Snake Alley is considered the most crooked street in the world.
Hum, I always thought San Francisco’s Lombard Street was the most crooked.
No matter, Iowa features plenty of beautiful and interesting places. Madison County boasts beautiful covered bridges – as in the film Bridges of Madison County. Just outside Dyersville, not far from the Mississippi River, is the famous Field of Dreams.
One of the settlements from the 1830s that remains today is Amana Colony. A congregation of the Community of True Inspiration, persecuted in Germany for their faith, immigrated to America in pursuit of religious freedom. Today, their community is open to the public. Shops feature handmade gifts, home baked goods, wines and places to get a home-cooked meal.
My childhood hero, John Wayne, was born in Winterset Iowa.
As you can see, when it came time to create a meal honoring Iowa, there was so much to choose from – pork, corn, German influences, something on sliced bread. So many delicious choices.
Iowa Day Three-Course Supper
Iowa Tossed Ham Salad with Pecans and Oranges
Pork Schnitzel with Sour Cream Dill Sauce
Corn Au Gratin
Steamed Potatoes with Herbs
Oma’s Apfelkuchen (Grandma’s Apple Cake)
Iowa Tossed Ham Salad with Pecans and Mandarin Oranges
Caramelized Pecan Halves
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Pecan Halves
Line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly butter the foil, set aside.
In small heavy saucepan, heat sugar over medium high heat for 4 minutes or until sugar melts, stirring constantly. Add pecan halves, stir until coated. Remove from heat. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, spread out in a single layer. Cool completely; break apart as necessary.
Store in an air-tight container until ready to use.
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon Sugar
In small mason jar or dressing jar with a tight-fitting lid, add oil, vinegar and sugar together. Close the lid, shake vigorously to emulsify the dressing. Shake again just before using.
Tossed Ham Salad
3 cups Green Leaf Lettuce
3 cups Baby Spinach
2 cups Cubed Ham
1 cup Seedless Grapes
1/3 cup Green Onion
11 oz chilled Mandarin Orange
Tear the lettuce leaves, place in a large bowl. Tear the spinach leaves, add to the salad bowl. Scatter the cubed ham over the greens. Cut the grapes in half, scatter over the salad. Slice the green onions, scatter in the bowl. Drain the Mandarin Oranges. Add oranges to the bowl. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat.
When ready to serve, add the pecans, toss gently and serve.
Pork Schnitzel with Dill Sauce
1 1/2 Pork Tenderloin
1/2 cup Flour
2 teaspoons Seasoning Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 large Eggs
1/4 cup Milk
1-1/2 cups Dry Breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Paprika
6 tablespoons Oil
Trim pork tenderloin, slice into six (4 oz) cutlets. Pound cutlets with a meat mallet to 1/4-inch thickness. Set aside.
In a shallow bowl, mix flour, seasoned salt and pepper. In a second shallow bowl, whisk eggs and milk until blended. In a third bowl, mix bread crumbs and paprika.
Dip cutlets in flour mixture to coat both sides; shake off excess. Dip in egg mixture, then in crumb mixture, patting to help coating adhere. Let the cutlets rest while the oven is heated, the platter warmed and the skillet is prepared.
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place a large serving platter in the oven to warm. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Once the oil is hot, add pork in batches; cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove to a serving plate; keep warm. Wipe skillet clean if necessary between batches. Keep the cutlets warm while the dill sauce is prepared.
2 tablespoons Flour
1-1/2 cups Chicken Stock, divided
1 cup Sour Cream
1/2 teaspoon Dill Weed
Fresh Dill for garnish, if desired
In a small bowl, whisk flour and 1 cup of stock until smooth; add to same skillet used for the cutlets. Slowly whisk in additional 1/2 cup of stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.
Reduce heat to low. Stir in sour cream and dill; heat through without boiling. Serve with pork, garnished with fresh dill if desired.
Corn Au Gratin
1/2 cup Dry Breadcrumbs, divided
1 cup White Cheddar Cheese
15.5 oz Whole Corn
1 tablespoon Butter
1 tablespoon Flour
1 cup Milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a casserole dish, sprinkle with 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and set aside.
Grate the white cheddar cheese. Set aside. Drain the corn, rinse and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the flour and butter until the butter melts and the flour is blended. Cook the roux for 1 minutes, string constantly. Slowly add milk. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Add corn, mix well. Pour corn mixture into the prepared casserole dish, top with grated cheese. Sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs. Place in the heated oven, bake for 30 minutes.
Serve directly from the casserole dish or spoon into a decorative serving bowl.
Steamed New Potatoes with Lemon Zest and Herbs
2 lbs small Red Potatoes
2 tablespoons Curly Parsley
2 tablespoons Fresh Dill
1 Lemon, zest only
Olive Oil as needed
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Cut potatoes in half and place in a steaming basket over a pot of gently boiling water. Cover and steam until tender when pierced with a skewer, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on size.
In a small bowl, combine minced parsley, dill, and lemon zest.
Spread steamed potatoes out on a rimmed baking pan. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle herb-zest mixture over the potatoes and stir to coat well.
Transfer to a warm serving bowl and enjoy piping hot.
Oma’s Apfelkuchen (Grandma’s Apple Cake)
5 large Egg Yolks
2 medium tart Apples, peeled, cored and halved
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted Butter, softened
1-1/4 cups Sugar
2 cups Flour
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Milk
Powdered Sugar for dusting
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Let egg yolks stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan. Wrap the pan in a sheet of heavy-duty foil to help prevent leaks. Set aside.
Peel, core and slice the apples in half lengthwise. Lay apples cut-side down. Starting 1/2-inch from one end, partially cut apple halves lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, leaving them attached at the top so they fan out slightly. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In another bowl, sift flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking powder and salt twice. Gradually beat into creamed mixture. Add milk; mix well. The batter will be thick, that’s okay.
Spread batter into the prepared spring-form pan. Gently press apples, round side up, into batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, about 40 to 45 minutes or so. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Loosen sides from pan with a knife; remove foil. Cool 1 hour longer. Remove rim from pan. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.