A cookbook from the heart of Minnesota, inspired by an archive of recipes from the author’s grandmother and great-grandmother.
An Epicurious Best Cookbook of 2022
In this debut cookbook, recipe developer and Minnesota native Maren Ellingboe King perfectly combines the nostalgia of traditional midwestern dishes and influences of her Scandinavian heritage with an emphasis on local, unprocessed ingredients. Ellingboe King celebrates the growing diversity of her home state with a modern take on traditional recipes by using fresh produce, more spice, and more heat, all while retaining the simplicity and approachability of her family’s recipes. Readers will find Apple Gjetost Grilled Cheese, Lefse Pinwheels, Caraway Roast Chicken, Venison with Lingonberries and Juniper, Cardamom Stone Fruit Cobbler, and, of course, several variations of the hotdish. At a time when so many of us are at home and cooking more than ever, Fresh Midwest is the perfect combination of comfort and inspiration with most recipes designed to be made in an hour or less.
About the Author
Maren Ellingboe King is a recipe developer and food stylist who grew up outside of St. Paul, Minnesota. A former Food & Wine editor, she has worked with the likes of Sunset, New York Times, Williams-Sonoma, Target, and more. Maren lives with her family in Minneapolis.
In this solid debut, King, a recipe developer and Minnesota native, updates dozens of dishes 'straight out of the Midwestern comfort food canon' with a mix of influences from her Scandinavian heritage and her family’s own go-to recipes…Readers will appreciate King’s straightforward recipes just as much as her charming headnotes and essays, an entertaining blend of anecdotes and fascinating cultural context (in an introduction to her Bootlegger Jell-O Shots, King shares that 'the bootlegger cocktail was created by the Minnesota country club set during Prohibition to mask the taste of harsh bathtub gin'). The result is a wonderful introduction to Midwestern cooking and its rich traditions. — Publisher's Weekly
If you're from the West Coast or East Coast, the first thing that probably comes to mind when you think about Midwestern food is hot dish. And that wouldn't be completely wrong! As someone who grew up in Minneapolis, I make a mean Tater Tot Casserole, but the Midwest is so much more than that. And in her debut cookbook, King shows the breadth of this region's cuisine. From Cardamom Coffee Buns, to Tomato Salad with Crispy Rye Bread Crumbs, to Rhubarb Lemonade, this cookbook is packed with everything I want to eat. — Ariel Knutson, Simply Recipes
If you, like me, dream of a world filled with Cardamom Coffee Buns and Cheesy Potatoes balanced by vibrant vegetable dishes with best-of-the-season produce, you will love Fresh Midwest. With so much generosity, Maren shares her versions of her family’s handwritten recipes and infuses her Scandinavian heritage into beautiful, appealing everyday dishes as well as those you’ll want to rush to make for guests. Reading Fresh Midwest makes me feel nostalgic for a past I never experienced but thrilled I get to taste. And now I know where to look for a recipe for my next potluck!
— Kristin Donnelly, author of Modern Potluck
Maren Ellingboe King’s warm voice and splendid photography evoke the best of Midwest cuisine with modernist panache. She reinvigorates beloved recipes from generations of her Scandinavian family, weaving her memories with culinary history throughout. Her food is simple, the flavors are bold, and the plates are joyful. Read this and feast. — Beth Dooley, James Beard Award–winning food writer and Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist
Every recipe in Fresh Midwest is begging to be shared: from cardamom buns for family breakfasts to a fondue party that feeds 10 hungry friends. Maren is masterful in her storytelling, photography, and ability to bring people together over a good meal. Flipping through the pages makes me so fiercely homesick for Minnesota, and I plan on savoring every dish (starting with an aquavit martini, of course).
Maren's recipes are fresh and vibrant, bringing new life and a modern perspective to her family's Scandinavian Midwestern cooking. Her recipes are soulful and approachable, and immediately crave-able—at just a glance I knew Cheeseburger Hotdish and Apple-Gjetost Grilled Cheese would be instant additions to my own family's dinner table. This is a book so deeply personal and comforting that it somehow makes the idea of living in a place that'll freeze the nose right off your face seem downright cozy. — Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director, Serious Eats
Maren's recipes, interwoven with her personal storytelling about her Scandinavian roots, make me want to book a trip to Minnesota and sit at her dining room table. Fresh Midwest offers updated dishes of food I want to eat. First up for me is the Tomato Salad with Crispy Rye Bread Crumbs, Aquavit Moules Frites, and Cabbage Salad with Caraway Seeds. This book is a most welcome addition to your cookbook collection.
— Colu Henry, author of Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food and Back Pocket Pasta
This cookbook is a beautiful representation of the food of my people (and by “my people,” I mean both Midwesterners and folks who are, genetically, potatoes). It’s not blanket Midwestern cuisine, it’s food from the Upper Midwest—more specifically Minnesota. The Scandinavian-inspired dishes are heavy on cabbage, whole fish, and, of course, potatoes. While the recipes in this book definitely aren’t quick and easy, most aren’t overly complicated, either. Think: Norwegian grandma who spends most of her day in the kitchen and cooks everything in her cast-iron skillet. The Chicken and Potato Skillet (paprika-seasoned chicken thighs browned and then cooked over potatoes and shallots, then served with an herby yogurt sauce) is complex and flavorful in a way you wouldn’t guess from the fairly simple ingredient list. The crispy, almost-charred (in a good way) skin is a texture lover’s dream. And the Cabbage Salad With Caraway Seeds involves busting out the mandoline, plus toasting then grinding caraway seeds—which is a lot of work for a seemingly simple salad—but in the end, it’s 100% worth it. Some of the dishes are fancified versions of what you might find in a church basement or the IKEA cafeteria, and I mean that in the best way. — Epicurious