Jean Ruzicka, Forum News Service, Published September 13 2013
Minnesota chef debuts on Food Network
The show is based on her soon-to-be released book, "The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes," published by Clarkson Potter.
Thielen, a James Beard Award-winning journalist, spent seven years cooking professionally in New York under David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Shea Gallante.
But the former food columnist for the Park Rapids Enterprise taps her Minnesota roots in both book and show, introducing her signature takes on classic Midwest dishes.
Recipes in the cookbook, replete with 150 photos, include party food and drinks -- Beet-Pickled Eggs with Hot Mustard Dust; soup or salad -- Best Ever Beer Cheese Soup; lake fish -- Northern Pike Cakes; chicken supper -- Classic Chicken Wild Rice Hotdish and Spring Chicken Potpie and meat - Wild Boar Sloppy Joes.
Side dishes and brunch recipes as well as decadent sweets -- Sour Cream Raisin Pie -- are included.
The six "Heartland Table episodes," some filmed in the family cabin near Two Inlets in northern Minnesota, will introduce "captivating flavors, the backbone for much of America's food heritage."
Over the course of the series, Thielen visits local home cooks, restaurants, lakeside kitchens and working farms, highlighting local traditions and flavors along the way.
The first episode, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, "Heartland Table" introduces the chef and "connoisseur of all things authentically Midwestern."
Growing up with a multi-generational family of cooks, she said she didn't fully appreciate their culinary talents and insights -- until she arrived in the Big Apple.
"To her Grandma Addie, butter is the lifeblood of every dish," "Heartland Table" explains of the premier culinary topic. The famous Midwestern double-crust fruit pies rely solely on the quality of butter to achieve the perfect crust, gathered from independent creameries across the Midwest.
Thielen will engage appetites with Blueberry Lemon Pie, New Potatoes with Grilled Onion Butter and Greens with Spiced Butter and Fresh Ricotta.
Sept. 21, her audience will be introduced to Bologna Days, occurring in Thielen's parents' Minnesota hometown since the 1960s, where locals celebrate the flavors of hot bologna, horseradish and light American beer.
Just down the road from Bologna Days is Thielen Meats, opened in 1922 by Amy's Uncle Phil.
She slices up some Midwestern Fried Bologna, Peppered Pork Loin and Toasted Onion Dip for the occasion.
The Sept. 28 episode features Thielen roasting a local chicken "granny style, together with gravy and bread stuffing, prepared with a medley of Swiss chard, caramelized onions, and some mashed giblets cooked with sherry and lots of parsley and chives."
For dessert, the chef whips up a simple Baked Rhubarb in Wild Raspberry Syrup.
"Amy Thielen is an important new voice on the culinary scene and by following her sure and steady lead, home cooks will fall in love with America's most captivating local flavors," publisher Clarkson Potter predicts of the author/chef.
"We're always looking for fresh new voices in the culinary world to offer our viewers," said Bob Tuschman, general manager and senior vice president of Food Network. "Amy's celebration of her Midwestern roots represents the kind of authentic, appealing and accessible expertise that is at the heart of the Food Network brand."
For more on "Heartland Table" and Amy Thielen, go to http://www.foodnetwork.com/heartland-table/index.html.
Members of Thielen's test kitchen in Two Inlets are husband Aaron Spangler and son Hank.
"The New Midwestern Table" is expected to be on sale Sept. 24, available at Beagle Books and as an e-book edition.