One of the most striking photographs in “Made in America” (Andrews McMeel, $21.99) is an American Gothic takeoff of the Grant Wood classic, but with a chef’s twist.
Megan and Colby Garrelts stand in front of a weathered wood farmhouse in rural Parker, Kan. She holds a banana cream pie. Instead of a pitchfork, he has stuck a carving fork into a piece of Rye’s fried chicken.
Of course, the portrait is not just a sincere form of flattery: The award-winning chefs are modernizing the food and family traditions they grew up with as children born and bred in the Midwest. “I think you actually have to mature as a cook to pull something off like this,” Colby says as he flips through an advance copy of their second cookbook.
The couple’s first, “Bluestem: The Cookbook” (Andrews McMeel, 2011), was about creating chef-inspired masterpieces that ebb and flow with the seasons, as defined at their Westport fine dining restaurant. By contrast, “Made in America” is about the touchstone recipes of Rye, their more casual Midwestern regional eatery, which opened in Leawood in 2012.
The cookbook includes an abbreviated home-style version of the restaurant’s signature buttermilk-marinated bird — a recipe influenced by Colby’s memories of childhood trips to the old Kansas City Boots & Coates chicken roadhouse, and one that typically takes no less than three days to make at the restaurant.
“For a lot of reasons, it was easier to do than our last book,” Megan says. “This time it was more a labor of love, a snapshot of who we are. We didn’t have to make (recipes) up. We weren’t trying to create and outdo ourselves.”
Colby, who grew up in Kansas, is a fan of barbecue, so he got a chapter on smoking meats, as well as a chapter on cast-iron cooking — “they work so much better than traditional pans; nothing sticks.” Both chapters are in keeping with the spirit of Rye; still, some readers might be jarred by the recipe for chipped beef on toast, not exactly the sort of dish you’d expect from a James Beard award-winning chef.
“It’s kind of a peasant-y thing, and something my mom used to make. It’s just a bechamel and dried beef,” he says with a shrug. Of course, in “Made in America,” bechamel is referred to as white gravy, and as noted in the recipe header, “gravy is to Kansas what tomato sauce is to Italy.”
Megan, who grew up in Chicago, took care of such “bakeshop” fare, such as her trademark lemon meringue pie, served at the restaurant, and a MoKan pecan pie, her version of a Southern classic. But the breakfast chapter, Great Awakenings, was one of her favorites, with fried cinnamon rolls, German pancakes and a Christmas breakfast casserole that is a family tradition.
“There’s more of a richness,” she says of the collection. “You can hear the history of recipes and what they meant.”
Bonjwing Lee, the local photographer who worked on the first book, rejoined the couple to shoot “Made in America.” Lee was tasked with making images that reflected a sense of Americana, rather than a visual peg to a particular region of the country.
As an Asian-American growing up in Kansas City, Lee ate with chopsticks at home but used his hands to eat all-American staples such as hamburgers, pizza and chicken tenders when he went to school. “Still, I see pie and it’s a part of me. It’s as much a part of me as chopsticks,” he says, adding “very American is really very Midwestern.”
The textures and colors and scenery at the farm that has remained in Colby’s family for several generations provided the perfect backdrop for many of the photos.
The weather was windy on the day that Lee posed the couple for the portrait. “If you look at the photo I think you can see Megan’s hair was flying around, and the light had changed,” Lee recalls.
The goal throughout was to move in tight on the food to give the shots the immediacy of Instagram. Lee used a 35mm lens, which meant he had to get within “conversational distance.” He prefers working without a tripod and used only available light.
No food stylists were used: Cold fried chicken was shot on a brown-and-white flowered grandma-style china plate set atop a vintage white enamel gas stove in the farm’s mostly abandoned kitchen.
“It was something out of central casting, if you wanted to call up an old country stove,” Lee says.
Many of their props came from their basements and were “old-timey to give a slightly mismatched feel,” Lee says. But when they needed extra props for a shot, they called Louise Meyer of the kitchen store Pryde’s Old Westport and borrowed wire baskets, napkins and cake stands by the carload.
Other shots were done on the patio at Rye or in the Garreltses backyard, featuring the couple’s children, Madi and Colin. Colin is holding up a chocolate chip cookie (Colby’s grandma’s cookies, made with bacon fat) and a chocolate-butterscotch cookie (with a little demerara sugar) while on a swingset that is cropped out of the final frame.
Originally, Colby admits, he fought to give “Made in America” a heavier Midwestern accent, but he says now that the publisher’s instincts to tone that down were right on.
“We wanted to stay true to what we knew, so we presented our perspective of American cooking,” he says.
Jill Wendholt Silva is Chow Town’s food editor, lead restaurant critic and blog curator. Reach her at 816-234-4395, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @kcstarfood or Instagram @jillwsilva.
‘Made in America’ Book Signing and Dinner
Chefs Megan and Colby Garrelts will host a dinner at Rye in celebration of their new cookbook, “Made in America,” on Tuesday, April 14.
The dinner will showcase dishes from the cookbook with a four-course, family-style menu. A welcome cocktail from the book will be served and additional beverages may be purchased, including a trio of Boulevard Beers for $15. The reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
The menu: corn fritters; chipped beef on toast; pulled pork sliders; fried green tomatoes; steak; fried chicken; Yukon gold potato salad with summer corn, country ham and garlicky lemon-chive dressing; Dutch-oven roasted carrots with brown sugar and carrot top crumble; slow-cooked pale ale barley; fried okra; and lemon cake with white chocolate buttercream.
Cost is $60 per person, including one cookbook, plus tax and gratuity. The couples price is $100, including dinner for two and one cookbook, plus tax and gratuity.
Reservations are required; call 913-642-5800 to reserve a seat.
Chipped Beef on Toast With White Gravy
Makes 4 servings
For the white gravy:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced shallots
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
2 dried bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
For the chipped beef on toast:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 slices good-quality French bread
8 ounces bresaola or other cured beef, sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 shallot, minced
4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach leaves
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
To prepare the gravy: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until you get a little blond color, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and add the bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes more, or until thickened, whisking occasionally. Whisk in Parmesan and discard bay leaves. For best results, let the gravy cool, then refrigerate overnight in an airtight container.
To prepare the chipped beef on toast: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Brush the sliced bread with the butter, place it on a baking sheet, and bake until the bread is golden brown, flipping the bread once during cooking, about 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, gently rewarm the white gravy over medium heat, adding water or milk to loosen as necessary. Stir in the bresaola. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook just until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and quickly saute until just wilted, about 40 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the sherry vinegar to the wilted spinach and toss.
To serve: Place 1 slice of toast on each of 4 plates. Ladle the bresaola and gravy over each toast slice, followed by a spoonful of spinach on top of the sauce, and serve immediately. Any leftover bresaola in gravy may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Per serving: 852 calories (62 percent from fat), 59 grams total fat (32 grams saturated), 166 milligrams cholesterol, 43 grams carbohydrates, 39 grams protein, 2,644 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Fried Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 24 mini rolls or 12 large rolls
For the rolls:
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs, at room temperature
For the cinnamon smear:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the icing:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Canola oil, for frying
To make the rolls: Grease a large bowl. Have a clean, dry towel handy; set aside. Place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to combine the dry ingredients, about 1 minute. Place the milk and the butter in a small microwaveable bowl and heat in the microwave on low power for about 45 seconds to warm the milk and melt the butter. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in the warmed milk and melted butter mixture. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the dough becomes soft and sticky and pulls from the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes.
Remove the paddle attachment and replace it with a dough hook. Continue to mix the dough on low speed for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and use a sturdy spatula to give the bowl one final scrape. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Continue to mix for 4 minutes on medium speed, until the sticky mass becomes smooth and springs back at the touch. If needed, dust the dough again with flour while mixing to prevent sticking. Place the dough in the greased bowl and cover with the dry towel. Put the bowl in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the cinnamon sugar smear: Place the butter, brown sugar, honey and cinnamon in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the ingredients together, scraping the bowl to fully incorporate, about 3 minutes.
Lightly flour a work surface. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and transfer to the floured surface. Roll the dough out in a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle measuring about 6 by 24 inches. Spread the smear evenly over the rolled dough, leaving about 1/2 inch of the dough as an edge. Starting from one long side of the rectangle, roll the dough to form a tight cylinder. Slice the dough into 24 mini rolls or 12 large rolls and transfer to a nonstick baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in a warm place until the rolls have doubled again in size, 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the icing: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream, butter and vanilla. Set aside until ready to use.
Once the rolls have doubled in size, insert 2 toothpicks horizontally through each mini roll to secure the ends before frying. Fill a large deep saute pan halfway with the oil and heat over medium heat. (A home fryer may also be used to fry the cinnamon rolls, using canola oil to fill the oil chamber to the manufacturers’ recommended fill line and heating the fryer to 350 degrees.)
Using tongs, carefully drop the cinnamon rolls into the hot oil, 3 at a time. Fry the cinnamon rolls for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer the rolls to plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat the process with the remaining rolls. (Alternatively, the cinnamon rolls can be baked rather than fried. After the sliced rolls go through the second rising, transfer the rolls to an 8-by-12-inch greased baking pan with a rim — no need to skewer them with toothpicks — and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.)
Once they are all fried or baked, transfer the warm rolls to a serving platter and drizzle with the icing. Serve immediately.
Per serving, based on 12: 458 calories (48 percent from fat), 25 grams total fat (10 grams saturated), 94 milligrams cholesterol, 53 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein, 269 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons peach juice (or orange juice)
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 6-inch cast-iron skillets or one 8-by-12-inch baking pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, sift together the cake flour and baking powder. Sprinkle the kosher salt over the flour mixture. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, the 11/2 cups sugar, peach juice, brandy and vanilla. Add the dry flour mixture in three additions to the wet egg mixture, mixing well after each addition. Add the melted butter to the cake batter. Fold in the peaches. Spread the batter into the prepared skillets or baking pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cardamom and almonds. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the cake batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the topping is golden, about 30 minutes for the large baking pan. Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar.
Per serving, based on 6: 712 calories (46 percent from fat), 36 grams total fat (17 grams saturated), 345 milligrams cholesterol, 86 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 325 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Panfried BBQ Pork Chops With Tomato-Horseradish Sauce
Makes 4 servings
For the BBQ dry rub:
1 3/4 cups kosher salt
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the tomato-horseradish sauce:
2 (14-ounce) jars home-preserved tomatoes or good-quality canned chopped tomatoes
1 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup prepared white horseradish
1/4 cup honey
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 fresh bay leaves (available at penzeys.com)
For the pork chops:
4 (6-ounce) pork loin chops
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4 small shallots, sliced
8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bunches thyme
For the rub: In a large bowl, combine salt, both sugars, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, ground mustard, chili powder, white pepper and black pepper. Transfer the rub to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 1 month. (Makes 4 cups.)
For the sauce: Place the tomatoes, vinegar, horseradish, honey, garlic and bay leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Let cool, uncovered, then refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before continuing with the rest of the recipe.
For the pork chops: Generously rub the chops with 1/4 cup of the dry rub. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned pork chops and brown on each side, about 4 minutes total. Add the butter, shallots, garlic and thyme. Cook, basting the pork chops frequently with the warmed sauce, until the internal temperature hits 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve with the tomato-horseradish sauce alongside.
Per serving, entire recipe: 438 calories (42 percent from fat), 21 grams total fat (10 grams saturated), 78 milligrams cholesterol, 42 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 2,585 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.
Per 1-tablespoon of rub: 25 calories (2 percent from fat), trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 6 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 2,469 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.