June 27, 2014

Massachusetts

Statehood: February 6th, 1788 (6/50)

Did you know the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower stopped at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1620 because they ran out of beer (okay, so this is only somewhat true - they were running out of other supplies, too, because they were off-course from their real destination [Virginia colonies], but still... these are my kinda people!)? In all seriousness, water back then was most likely contaminated whereas beer was totally safe to drink.

Don't you want to live in a world where you need eight glasses of ale a day to stay healthy?

Massachusettsan's have always been passionate about what they eat and drink. As of today, they're one of the states with the most individual official food symbols (truth be told, they've got symbols for just about everything and I appreciate that they appreciate so much about what makes them unique). And they don't just love them... they love 'em wicked hahd (I'm totally allowed to bring up the accent; I've got plenty of family who live throughout the state) - both cranberries and Boston Cream-flavored sweets each have two separate state symbols dedicated to them.

Are you moved to munch on multiple items from the Massachusetts menu? I am!


State Beverage: Cranberry Juice

Because cranberries are such an important part of Massachusetts' agricultural scene, cranberry juice was made the official state beverage on May 4th, 1970. Juice from cranberries, by the way, makes an excellent natural dye for clothing and such.

Cran-Secco-Ale
Makes: 1 beverage

Ingredients:
1/4 cup pure, organic cranberry juice (get ready for seriously tart flavor here!)
1/2 cup prosecco
1/2 cup cranberry ginger ale

Method:
Combine three ingredients over ice and enjoy!


State Berry: Cranberry

Cranberries - one of three native fruits to North America - was adopted as the official state berry of Massachusetts on July 11th, 1994 after a fifth-grade class on the North Shore lobbied for it for two years.

Chutneh With a Kick
Makes: about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups frozen cranberries
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon honey
zest of one large naval orange (about 2 to 3 Tablespoons)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
2 to 3 cinnamon sticks
OPTIONAL: wheel of brie
OPTIONAL: 2 to 3 Tablespoons pistachio, slivered almonds, or crushed macadamia nuts

Method:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Very gently place the wheel of brie on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (might seem long, but if your cheese is coming from the fridge, you'll need this extra time). While it's baking...

Make the cranberry compote by place the cranberries, honey, orange zest, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan over medium-heat. Stir constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil for a minute or two (until thickened), then reduce to a simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat immediately.

When brie is finished baking, top with as much cranberry compote as you'd like (you will most likely have some leftover, which is okay - it tastes great cold the next day!) and finish by sprinkling on pistachios. Serve with baguette or crackers of choice.


State Muffin: Corn

The corn muffin was designated the official state muffin on May 27th, 1986 after school-aged children petitioned for it. Corn has been an integral ingredient in New England cooking since colonial times (we even used it to make dessert, like Indian pudding, because it was cheaper and more readily available than flour). 

Corny Cranny 'Fins
Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (soy) milk
1/2 cup maple syrup, honey, agave (your choice!)
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Method:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine all the dry ingredients (yellow corn meal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda).

Combine all the wet ingredients (milk, maple syrup/honey/agave, butter, lemon zest, cranberries).

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

Fill greased muffin pan holes 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Be careful not to burn!


State Bean: Navy

While it goes by many names, on June 23rd, 1993, the Massachusetts legislature declared the navy bean (pea, haricot, and Yankee bean, for example) as the official state bean due to the incredible popularity of the regional dish, Boston Baked Beans.

Buffano Chicken Chili
Makes: about four hearty servings

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
12-oz package of Soyrizo
1 onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 to 3/4 cups of hot sauce (like Frank's Red Hot) - this will vary depending on heat preference
OPTIONAL: 2 to 3 teaspoons Louisiana Chipotle Sauce - this will vary depending on heat preference
4 tomatoes, diced
4 15-oz cans navy beans
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Method:
Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add Soyrizo and cook until brown and crispy. Set aside.

Next, heat remaining olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Cook onions until translucent (4 to 5 minutes) before adding garlic, celery, and carrot. Cook until veggies have softened (3 to 5 minutes).

Stir in half the hot sauce (and all of the Louisiana Chipotle Sauce if you're using that), tomatoes, navy beans, cumin, and salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour until flavors have blended. Remove from heat and mix in the remaining hot sauce. Top with blue cheese prior to serving.


State Dessert (or Dessert Emblem): Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie - most likely created in the 1800s - is actually a cake. And it was chosen as the official state dessert, beating out both Indian pudding (previously mentioned) and Toll House cookies (about to be mentioned) - on December 12th, 1996 thanks to a civics class from Norton High School.

Boston Cream Piecakes
Makes: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients for cake:
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup (soy) milk
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup apple sauce

Method for cake:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt).

Combine wet ingredients (vanilla, milk, butter, and applesauce).

Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients.

Fill greased muffin tin holes 1/2 full. Bake 20 to 24 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Ingredients for frosting:
1/2 cup plus + 3 Tablespoon butter, softened (not melted)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoon lukewarm chocolate soy milk

Method for frosting:
Cream the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder together. Add vanilla and milk. Combine until a thick, creamy frosting forms.

Ingredients for custard:
1 3-oz box vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon almond extract

Method for custard:
Make the vanilla pudding according to package directions using only the 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of almond milk listed here (and not as much as the packaging suggests, otherwise it will be too thin) and the almond extract. Set aside to cool.

Method for building cupcakes:
Take cooled cupcakes and poke a generous-sized hole in the top of them (but not through the bottom; and, don't worry no one will see the hole because we'll be covering it up). Fill hole with vanilla-almond pudding. Top cupcake with preferred amount of chocolate frosting. Finish each cupcake with a slice of fresh strawberry, and enjoy with a glass of iced coffee!


State Cookie: Chocolate Chip

The chocolate chip cookie was created by Ruth Wakefield at the Toll House Restaurant in 1930 (she ran out of baker's chocolate, so she put semi-sweet chocolate chunks in it instead thinking they were going to melt... they didn't, and history was made!). On July 9th, 1997, after a third grade class from Somerset, MA fought for the beloved treat to be recognized, it became the official state cookie.

Oh! Zesty ChocoCookies
Makes: 1 1/2 dozen

Ingredients:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter/Earth Balance
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoon of fresh orange zest (from 1 orange)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup of dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon hot water

Method:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl cream together the butter/Earth Balance, sugar, brown sugar, apple sauce, vanilla, and orange zest. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and the salt. Stir the chocolate chips into the wet mixture and then slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. While mixing everything together slowly add the hot water - try not over mix!

Scoop the dough into your hands, roll small “meatball” sized balls of dough (think: rounded Tablespoon-full), and place them onto greased cookie sheets.

Bake the cookies in batches for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on your oven. These cookies will be baked to perfection by sight: they should be just barely golden and look a bit under-baked. Remove the cookies and let them sit (until cooled) before eating.


State Doughnut: Boston Cream Pie

Because one Boston Cream-themed dessert isn't enough, in 2003 the Boston Cream donut became the... can you guess?... that's right: official state donut.

NOTE: Sometimes a girl just needs to admit failure... doughnuts are one of those things I just can't seem to make myself. After (literally) months of avoiding this particular food for this particular state, I decided to just give in and go to a local doughnut shop where they make outstanding almond cream filled doughnuts with chocolate glaze and slivered almonds. They. Were. Divine. And so was not making something for this food symbol saturated state!


Sources:
William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: State Symbols