- HOME PAGE AND TIMELINE
- RESTAURANT REVIEWS
- SPECIALTY MARKETS - CULINARY ARTICLES - INFORMATION
- COMPETITIONS - EVENTS - SHOWS - TRAVEL CUISINE & DESTINATIONS
- APPETIZERS - EVENT PLATTERS
- SALADS - ASPIC - CHAUD FROID - COLLEE
- SOUPS - STEWS
- SANDWICHES - BURGERS - HOT DOGS
- VEGETABLES - THE DAILY BEANS
- ASIAN NOODLES - GOURMET RAMEN - KOMEX CUISINE
- PASTA - EGG NOODLES - PIZZA - CALZONE - STROMBOLI
- BEEF - STEAKS
- SEAFOOD - FRESHWATER FISH
- CHICKEN - GAME HEN - TURKEY
- PORK - HAM
- VEAL - LAMB
- BBQ - CHILI - SOUL FOOD
- WILD GAME - RABBIT - DUCK - GAME BIRDS
- SAUSAGE - OFFALS - LIVER - Pâté
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Mojave Cactus Rose Pasta!
A Native American Mojave Desert food theme entree! Prickly Pear Cactus Pasta, Prickly Pear Fruit, Blue Speckled Maize, Honey, Hibiscus Flower, Mint and Smoked Bacon!
As many of by blog readers know, Native Americans were not just simple hunter gatherers that cooked meat on a stick. They were chefs too! Each tribe has their own preferences of flavor and effect. Everybody knows that the Aztecs and Mayans created great gourmet recipes. Very little attention seems to go to other tribal cooking. Part of this is due to the age old censorship and propaganda of the old european world churches.
The Hopi Tribe obviously was into eating good food and they were not simply storing food for times of draught. The local Las Vegas Moapa Paiute Tribe occupied the old Anasazi Moapa Valley and they farmed that region for many moons. The Mojave Tribe had their unique style of food that based on what was available in harsh desert living conditions.
Native Americans have a system of barter and trade. Bear lard from the northern tribes was a trade commodity. Dried food and medicinal plants are part of common trade. Tobacco, white sage and many other plants were traded from temperate areas to tribes in harsher climates. Mayans traded cocoa with Aztecs. Incan runners delivered more than just messages. Trade was not always easy, because of tribal feuds and the hijacking of goods in the old days. Even in the modern world, the negative side of trade still goes on in the corrupt monetary system.
The Native American way of life is much more complex than what western settlers give it credit for. So is the food! Modern chefs dabble with old traditional Native American food, like it is the most exotic of exotic foods. To Native Americans, what modern chefs call exotic was really just common everyday food!
Corn is really called maize. Corn was a european term that had a meaning of something to do with a person's worth, when measure to the amount of grain that person had. Europeans fed their livestock corn, but few europeans ate corn when it was introduced, because corn back then was not bred to be sweet tasting. I kind of like the flavor of old fashioned bitter heirloom maize. By the way, it is far more respectful to call corn by the name maize. The european word corn does have negative connotations.
Prickly pear cactus fruit is the seed pod beneath the flower. The seed pod fruit turns a pretty dark purple burgundy red color when ripe. Prickly pear tastes like wild strawberries. Prickly pear is the strongest cholesterol reducing food that there is!
Beaver Tail Paddle Cactus are common here in the Mojave desert. Desert flower season is in spring and beaver tail cactus bloom into the summer months. The color of a beaver tail cactus flower is nearly the same color as prickly pear fruit. So this reddish purple colored pasta entree was named by me for the color of a cactus flower that is common in this region. The Mojave beaver tail cactus flower! Naming a recipe after a tribe's name calls for getting approval from the elders and chief of the tribe. I have a few Paiute, Apache and Cherokee friends in Las Vegas, but I personally haven't been introduced to the tribes here. If any of the local tribes like this cactus rose colored pasta recipe, then by all means, feel free to name it as you wish!
Mojave Cactus Rose Pasta Recipe:
Most of the ingredients for this recipe are available at Latin markets, western markets and Korean markets. The prickly pear flavored pasta is a Korean artisan fresh pasta that I purchased in the Greenland Market at Korea Town, Las Vegas. Any artisan pasta shop can make this pasta for you. You can make this pasta yourself by adding dried ground prickly pear fruit to a regular pasta recipe.
In traditional Native American cooking, animal fats are used instead of oils or butter. Although, many tribes did extract cooking oils from plants. Pork came from europe, but it is an easy to get source of animal fat. So is butter. Wild game lard would be a more authentic type of animal fat for this recipe.
Place a pot of water on a burner set to high heat to cook the pasta with later in the recipe.
Heat a saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 1 small handful of finely chopped smoked bacon.
Saute till the bacon is almost crisp and till the grease has rendered out of the bacon.
Add 1 small handful of small chopped onion.
Saute till the onions turn clear in color.
Add 1 finely chopped peeled prickly pear cactus fruit.
Add 2 cups of water.
Add 2 tablespoons of honey.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
Add 1 crumbled dried hibiscus flower. (Flora de Jamaica. Dried hibiscus flower is available in Latin markets.)
Add 2 pinches of minced mint.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 2 pinches of ancho chile powder.
Slowly simmer and reduce the sauce, till the liquid has nearly evaporated.
Add 2 cups of water.
Slowly simmer and reduce a second time, till a thin sauce is formed.
Add 1 peeled prickly pear fruit that is cut into 1/4" thick slices.
Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Heat a saute pan over medium/medium high heat.
Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
Add 1 handful of blue speckled maize kernels that were freshly trimmed off of the cob.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
Boil and reduce the liquid, till it evaporates.
Saute the maize in the butter that remains in the pan, till light golden brown highlights appear on the maize kernels.
Keep the sauteed maize warm on a stove top.
Add 1 portion of prickly pear flavored fresh noodles to the reserved boiling water in the pot. (The noodles should be a vermicelli or linguini shape.)
Boil the noodles, till the float and are fully cooked.
Drain the water off of the prickly pear noodles.
Add the prickly pear noodles to the prickly pear sauce.
Toss the sauce and pasta together.
Place the pasta on a plate.
Use a carving fork to twist and draw the pasta, so a decorative peak of pasta is on the middle of the pasta entree.
Sprinkle the sauteed blue speckled maize over the pasta.
Garnish with a few whole cilantro leaves.
This is a pretty, tasty and healthy pasta creation! The sauce is delicately sweet and fruity, like a Sicilian agrodolce. The flavor of the prickly pear tastes really nice in this pasta. Kids will like this pasta, because the flavor tastes similar to red strawberry licorice! The small amount of smoked bacon adds a nice rustic savory flavor. Yum! ... Shawna