The Other Final Four

Frozen FourOne of our voracious readers, and yes, we have many of them, wrote to us and reminded our team that there’s another Final Four that’s also known as the Frozen Four. This is the event happening this week in Philadelphia where the top teams from the NCAA Men’s Hockey tournament go toe-to-toe and skate-to-skate. Our reader suggested we take a look at the states that are represented in the Frozen Four and explore their food culture. A great idea. Here are the teams that are playing in the Frozen Four: University of Minnesota, University of North Dakota, Boston College and Union College of New York. Let’s take the tour.

Minnesota’s food culture is steeped in the rich traditions of its Scandinavian and German heritage. Immigrants brought with them their penchant for food and recipes that they grew up with including staples like lutefisk, gravlax, krumkake, lingonberries, lots of different sausages and sauerkraut. Perhaps more than anything else, Minnesota is known for its wide variety of JELL-O salads and something the residents refer to as a “hot dish”. A classic Minnesota “hot dish” is actually a casserole, and we must say that although it’s far from a gourmet recipe, it has been a fixture in our household for decades. From Mr. Food himself, here’s the classic “hot dish” recipe: http://www.mrfood.com/Casseroles/Minnesota-Hot-Dish-Casserole.

Now, let’s head over to Minnesota’s friendly neighbor North Dakota. Like Minnesota, and much of the Midwest for that matter, there a strong German heritage in the cuisine, and North Dakota also boast strong Norwegian traditions as well. Popular foods in North Dakota are sausages, meat and potatoes, schnitzel and sauerkraut. In fact, Wishek, North Dakota is the “Sauerkraut Capitol of the World”. But there are two dishes that are uniquely North Dakota. Knoepfla is a true comfort food soup that mixes dumplings and potatoes in a rich, creamy chicken broth. The other is a popular German-Russian dessert called Kuchen and here’s the recipe for this tasty cake with custard filling: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandma-sals-peach-kuchen/.

Let’s head east to Massachusetts a state that’s truly a melting pot of cultures. Of course, Massachusetts is known for its great seafood, particularly their clam chowder, fish and chips (usually made with cod or scrod), fried and steamed clams, to name a few. But Boston baked beans and a rich heritage of wonderful Italian and Irish food is well presented in the state. Interestingly enough, the state fruit of Massachusetts is the Honeycrisp apple, which was actually developed at the University of Minnesota, a hockey rival in the Frozen Four to Boston College. Go figure. And speaking of Boston College, we’re going to give you a recipe for the city’s true namesake, the always tasty Boston Cream Pie. But don’t be fooled; it’s really more of a cake than a pie: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/boston-cream-pie-recipe0.html.

Now, let’s move over to Massachusetts’ neighbor, the state of New York, population, 20,000,000. Where do you begin? New York truly is America’s melting pot, and because of that, the foods are as diverse as the hundreds of cultures that are represented there. Foods that were invented in New York include, Chicken a la King, the Delmonico Steak, cheesecake, eggs benedict, the Reuben sandwich, Waldorf salad, lobster Newburg and pasta primavera. In honor of New York’s inventiveness, here’s a recipe for Chicken a la King: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-a-la-king-i/. And, if you’re up to the task, here’s how to make New York Style Cheesecake, from the famous Carnegie Deli: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/CARNEGIE-DELI-NEW-YORK-CHEESECAKE-1238594.

So, that’s our Frozen Four tour of Minnesota, North Dakota, Massachusetts and New York. Enjoy the games, and if you can’t make all four recipes, make three and score the hat-trick.

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