Brooklyn baker from Hecla looking for SD recipe inspiration

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If you missed the chance to get a signed copy of Hecla native Melissa and Emily Elsen’s cookbook, “Four & Twenty Blackbirds: Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop,” you’re in luck.

Emily Elsen is taking a break from her popular Brooklyn, NY bakery and will be at the Corner Book Shoppe in Aberdeen on Thursday with copies signed by her and her sister. But this trip has an ulterior motive – she’s looking for more recipes.

A friend and former editor of a culinary magazine writes “America The Cookbook,” highlighting each state’s recipes and has Elsen tasked with covering the Dakotas.

“Believe it or not, there aren’t many Dakotans in New York City who are in the food business,” said Elsen, who will be at the bookstore from 2 to 5 p.m.

While local favorites like kuchen, knoephla and chislic are welcome, Elsen said she is also looking for recipes that use local ingredients, like venison, pheasant or bison.

More than just Midwestern recipes, like a hot tater tot or a Jell-O salad, Elsen said she was looking for recipes specific to South Dakota or even areas of the state.

“It’s a great opportunity to converse. I’ll be there with my big notebook to take notes,” Elsen said.

Even suggesting an ingredient to focus on might help, she said.

Anyone unable to make it to the Corner Book Shoppe can send recipes or suggestions to emily@birdsblack.com.

Venison, pheasant and river fish are all scarce on the East Coast, Elsen said, but there is an abundance of seafood from the ocean.

“I always joke with my friends, ‘I grew up landlocked, I don’t know how to scale an oyster,” Elsen said.

The sisters are traveling separately this summer, with Emily in South Dakota first, followed by Melissa in a few weeks.

Once they’re both back in Brooklyn, it’s time to get ready for the busy season, said Emily Elsen.

The popularity of Four & Twenty Blackbirds has grown over the years, and the bakery plans to bake 5,000 pies for Thanksgiving, she said.

“That’s our goal. We always set a goal every year,” said Elsen. “It’s just a quick visit home before the busy, crazy season.”

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Book signing and recipe discussion with Emily Elsen, co-owner of Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn, NY

2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday

Local bookstore

504 S. State St.


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