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Chef Nephi Craig shares one of his recipes with readers, as do a number of other Native chefs.

You’ve Met the Master Chefs: Now Sample Their Must-Taste Recipes, Part 1

RoseMary Diaz

Native Foodways: New Seasons is pleased to present some of the tastiest, most creative recipes from the award-winning Master Chefs profiled in the series. So, put on your aprons and grab those measuring cups… let’s turn up the heat and get to cookin’.

Loretta Barrett Oden, Potawatomi

Tl’iitsOhii, or Fried Squash Blossoms

Collect the “male” blossoms—a traditional custom.

12 large squash blossoms

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

½ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon salad oil

Oil for frying

Wash blossoms; dry on paper towels. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat egg in milk and salad oil. Gradually mix into dry ingredients. Dip blossoms in batter. Fry a few at a time in deep fat-fryer at 375̊ degrees until crisp. Or fry in 2 inches hot oil in heavy frying pan, turning blossoms to brown evenly. Drain on paper towels.

Serves 4.

Lois Ellen Frank, Kiowa

Zuni Sunflower Cakes

3 cups shelled sunflower seeds (raw and unsalted)

3 cups water

5 tablespoons finely ground blue cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

Combine the sunflower seeds and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, or until almost all the water has evaporated. Remove from heat and drain any excess water from the seeds. Place seeds in food processor. Add blue cornmeal and sugar and process 3 minutes, or until the seeds are completely ground. If there are any remaining seeds along the edges of the food processor, scrape them into the center of the mixture. Process again until ground, about 1 minute more. The dough will be quite thick. With your hands, shape the dough into round cakes, about the size of silver dollars. In a large skillet, heat oil until very hot, but not smoking. Place the cakes in the pan and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side, turning once. Remove from oil and pat dry with paper towels.

Makes about 15 cakes.

Serve warm with apricot sauce, honey, herb jelly, or hot chili-pepper jelly.

Bertina Cadman, Diné

French Pear Tart with Prickly Pear Coulis


8 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

4 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

1 large egg

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place flour, butter, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, use a fork to beat egg with vanilla. Add to flour and mix with fork until the dough begins to come together. Knead lightly and gather the dough into a ball.

Place dough onto lightly floured work surface and divide into six portions. Using the heel of your hand, press a portion of dough away from you in a quick, firm smear. Repeat with remaining portions of dough, then gather them together and shape into a round disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough up on the pin and unroll it into a 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable sides. Gently lift the edges of dough and fit it into the pan, pinching in the dough just a bit all the way around the pan to make a sturdier top edge. Roll the pin over the top of the pan and trim off any excess dough. Flute the top edge and prick the bottom of the pastry shell with the tines of a fork. Chill crust while preparing the filling.


½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup sugar

4 ounces pine nuts, lightly toasted, pureed in food processor

3 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of ½ lemon

Pinch of salt

1 ½ tablespoons flour

With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add the pureed pine nuts and continue to beat on medium speed, adding eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla, lemon zest, salt, and flour. (Filling may be made up to three days in advance, covered tightly and refrigerated.)

Prickly Pear Coulis

About 20 ripe prickly pears

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Slice off both ends of prickly pears and cut a deep incision down the side of each one. Slowly peel off the rind, starting from the incision. Puree peeled fruit in food processor. Press puree through a medium sieve or strainer into a bowl.

In a large saucepan, combine 2/3 of puree with the sugar and orange zest. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to about half the original volume. Combine cooled mixture with remaining 1/3 of uncooked puree. Season with lime juice and additional sugar if needed. (Makes about 2 cups.)

Assembling the Tart

3-4 ripe, firm pears

½ lemon

2 tablespoons sour cream, thinned with 2 to 3 teaspoons milk. (Optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel pears and halve lengthwise. Gently remove core with paring knife or melon-ball spoon. Rub with lemon and cut halves lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices. Spread cooled filling evenly over the bottom of pastry shell. Arrange pears decoratively over filling, fanning the slices slightly. Reduce heat to 350̊ and bake tart on middle rack of oven for 35 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is puffed and slightly browned. Remove tart from oven and cool on cooling rack.

When almost completely cool, carefully remove the sides of pan. Cut tart into wedges. Spoon a pool of prickly pear coulis onto each dessert plate and set a wedge of tart on top. Place 3 to 5 dots of sour cream mixture on top of the red sauce and draw the point of a paring knife or toothpick through the dots to make a decorative design.

Serves 6-8.

Nephi Craig, White Mountain Apache

Western Apache Acorn Stew

1 pound top sirloin

1 ½ gallons of water

½ cup ground acorn powder (or more to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Season the meat with salt and cracked black pepper. Char the meat on a hot grill. Cook until rare.

When the meat is cool enough to handle, cut into small cubes and cover with the water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low. Simmer until the meat is tender and the liquid has reduced, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add acorn powder, stir well, and simmer another 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serves 8-10.

Sources for some traditional foods:

Frieda’s by Mail

Tohono O’odham Community Action

RELATED: Meet the Masters: A Taste of Who’s Haute in Native Cuisine, Part 1

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