The Dish: Shauna Sever's recipes from the heartland

The Dish: Shauna Sever

Cookbook author and radio/TV personality Shauna Sever always remembered the cookies, pies and other treats she enjoyed as a kid growing up in Illinois. 

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Running Press

For a time she worked as a broadcast journalist covering the entertainment industry, but eventually started a blog that focused on baking.  

That led to her current work as a food expert for broadcasts like NPR's "The Splendid Table," and publications like Food & Wine. 

Just this week she released her fourth cookbook: "Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland" (Running Press). 

Here are some of Sever's signature dishes:
       


       
German Brisket

Ingredients:

3 pounds flat-cut (first cut) brisket
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can sauerkraut
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 small onion, thinly sliced

Instructions:

 1. Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 325°F. 

2. In a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Season the brisket liberally with salt and pepper. Sear until golden, about 4 minutes per side.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, sauerkraut, applesauce, and dark brown sugar.

4. Lay the onions over the brisket, and pour the sauce over the top. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover tightly and cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until tender, turning every 45 minutes. During the last 45 minutes of cooking, crack the lid so the sauce can reduce a bit. Remove the brisket to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. 

Sweet & Spicy Fall Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

2 medium apples
1 medium firm, ripe pear
2 Fuyu persimmons
1 large orange
1 large pink grapefruit
1/2 cup pomegranante seeds
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
3 whole cloves
1 star anise
Pinch of fine sea salt 

1.  Core the apples and pears, and cut the tops off the persimmons, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks. Place in a large serving bowl. Using a sharp knife, remove the peel and the pith from both the orange and the grapefruit. Holding the peeled fruit over a small saucepan so that any juice drips into the pan, cut the sections from both the orange and grapefruit by slicing between the thin white lines of membrane, leaving the membrane and any other pith behind. Place the sections into the bowl and squeeze the juice from the remaining membrane of both the orange and grapefruit into the saucepan (there should be a fair amount of juice).

2. Add to the saucepan the brown sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, star anise and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the syrup; discard the pod. Pour the syrup into a small metal pan and place it in the freezer to cool it quickly. Strain over the fruit. Discard any solids in the strainer.

3. Add the pomegranate seeds and toss to blend well. Cover and chill before serving, about 1 hour.

Roasted Pear and Pumpkin Soup 

Ingredients:

4 cups peeled, cubed pumpkin
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium pears, unpeeled, cored and cubed
1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 pinches red pepper flakes
6 to 8 cups hot low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup full-fat sour cream
Roasted, salted pepitas, for serving 

1. Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 375°F. 

2. Place the pumpkin on a large rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for about 25 minutes. Stir well, and add the pears, onion, and garlic. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season again with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake. Continue to roast for about 20-25 minutes more, stirring once or twice, until all the vegetables and fruit are golden and tender. Let cool slightly. Working in batches, blend the roasted mixture with hot stock to achieve your desired consistency. Season as needed.

3. Serve topped with dollops of sour cream and roasted, salted pepitas.

Creamy cucumber salad

Ingredients:

For the quick pickled onions:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 small red onion, thinly sliced

For the salad:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 small clove garlic, grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or parsley
2 large English cucumbers, thinly sliced 

1. For the quick pickled onions: In a small bowl, whisk together the water, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the onions and submerge. Let rest for 30 minutes. Drain well.

2. For the salad: In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, garlic, and herbs. Add the cucumbers and pickled onions and stir to combine. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Brewer's cheddar bread

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray for pan
11/2 cups/170 g coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup/32 g finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups/384 g unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, peeled and finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons/28 g unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
11/2 cups/340 g cold beer 

1. Position a rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350°F/180°C. Spray a 9 x 5-inch/23 x 12.7 cm loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, toss together the cheeses. Remove 1/4 cup/30 g and set aside for the topping.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the remaining 11/2 cups/172 g of the cheese mixture and the shallot and garlic and stir to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and the mustard. Use a fork to stir together the butter and mustard until smooth. Add the beer, and use a wooden spoon to mix the batter gently just until it comes together and there are no dry pockets—don't overmix.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the top of the batter. Scatter over the reserved 1/4 cup/30 g of cheese. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan to cool further. Store any leftovers, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

5. Serve the bread warm from the oven the first day, and toast slices of any leftovers the next.