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Corn adds color to holiday tables

Before the pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, Native Americans grew and harvested the foods that influenced the holiday meal as we know it today. Chef Loretta Barrett Oden, the owner of The Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has collected recipes from over 20 Native American Tribes.
/ Source: TODAY

Before the pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, Native Americans grew and harvested the foods that influenced the holiday meal as we know it today. Loretta Barrett Oden, the owner and head chef at The Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has traveled across the United States collecting recipes and stories from over 20 Native American Tribes. She shares her recipes below.


Serving Size: 4


1 bar achiote paste — (3.5oz)

1 bottle birch beer, or root beer

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed — toasted and ground

1 teaspoon Wright’s liquid smoke *optional

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

4 whole quail — split

Directions: Crumble achiote paste in a small mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together. Place quail in bowl and marinate for at least 1 hour up to 12 hours. 2. Remove quail from marinade and grill quail over hot coals or wood fire. The quail may also be oven baked at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes. To check for doneness pull thigh away from breast. No red should be visible; or pierce breast with a toothpick-the juices should run clear. These are very small birds and dry out easily if overcooked.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 607 Calories; 42g Fat (61% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 37g Carbohydrate; 93mg Cholesterol; 600mg Sodium

Serving Ideas : serve with Avocado Vinaigrette

NOTES : Can be served as an entree or appetizer

Corn cance cornbread sticks/small

Serving Size: 6


1 cup flour

1 cup Iroquois White cornmeal/or yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup yellow stone ground cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup fresh corn kernels

1/4 cup red bell pepper — chopped

1/4 cup green bell pepper — chopped

1/2 jalapeno peppers, roasted & peeled — seeded & minced

2 eggs — separated

1/2 quart milk

2 ounces melted butter

2 tablespoons sour cream *optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place an oiled cast iron pan in oven to heat.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl combine all wet ingredients, peppers and corn, excerpt egg whites,

Combine wet and dry together until just blended being careful not to overmix. Lightly whip egg whites until just foamy. Gently fold into batter. Using a ladle or measuring cup, pour batter into hot, greased cast iron pans and bake for 20 minutes until just golden.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 236 Calories; 12g Fat (46% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 103mg Cholesterol; 857mg Sodium

Cranberry Coulis

Serving Size: 6


2 cups cranberries — frozen or fresh

1/3 cup water

honey — to taste

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Place cranberries and water in pot. Simmer cranberries until skins pop. Add honey and lemon juice to taste.

Put in blender and pulse to make a coulis.

Serve with Potawatomi Pumpkin Bread.

Per serving: 18 Calories; less than one gram Fat (3% calories from fat); 0g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium

Moctezuma's revenge (Spicy chocolate bread pudding)

Serving Size: 8


6 ounces bittersweet chocolate — chopped

3 whole dried pasilla or chile negras

3 cups milk

5 whole eggs

1 cup brown sugar — firmly packed

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon Mexican canela (or cinnamon)

2 tablespoons pure vanilla — 1/4 inch thick

1/4 cup sun-dried cranberries

1/4 cup sun-dried tart cherries

6 ounces French bread — cubed

1 cup pecans or black walnuts — coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons unsalted butter — cut into bits

Open the chiles, discard seeds and stems and toast slightly by laying them in a skillet over medium high heat and pressing with a spatula until they sizzle. Turn and repeat on other side. Transfer chiles to a bowl of warm water and soak until soft (about 30 min.). Drain and discard any left over seeds, stems or veins. Puree chiles in a blender then strain into a small bowl. You should get about 2-3 tablespoons of puree.

Place mild and chocolate pieces into a saucepan and heat, stirring until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, canela, allspice, vanilla and chile puree. Slowly add the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the cranberries, cherries and bread cubes; weight down with a plate so that the bread if fully submersed and allow to stand for about 30 minutes.

Lightly butter a 10-inch round cake pan that is at least 2” deep. Pour pudding mixture into pan, sprinkle with chopped nuts and dot with butter pieces. Bake in 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 45 minutes). Allow to cool slightly and serve warm with honeyed cream or vanilla ice cream.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 416 Calories; 23g Fat (47% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 159mg Cholesterol; 228mg Sodium

NOTES : Serve with honey sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Quinoa and wild rice timales

Serving Size: 6


2 cups quinoa

1 cup Ojibwa hand gathered wild rice

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 whole green onions — chopped

1 stalk celery

1/4 cup dried cranberries* — coarsely chopped

1/4 cup pecans or walnuts* — coarsely chopped

vegetable oil — for coating timbale

sea salt — to taste

Directions: Rinse thoroughly. Bring a large pot of water to boil (quinoa will triple in volume), add quinoa, 1/4 teaspoon salt reduce heat and simmer on low for 5 to 10 minutes (you will see the little germ or “tail” appear). Rinse, drain and set aside.

To cook wild rice:

Rinse thoroughly, until water runs clear. Place rice, 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil. reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 25 minutes (just until rice “blossoms”). Drain well.

Sauté onion and celery.

Add dried fruit and nuts if desired.

Mix rice, quinoa and the celery-onion mixture together.

Oil 6 timbales ( a soup cup will also do).

Add a small amount of stock to the mixture if necessary to adjust consistency and pack firmly into the timbales. Invert mold onto plate and lift cup.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 245 Calories; 3g Fat (12% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 47g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 288mg Sodium

NOTES : * these ingredients are optional.

Sage pesto

Serving Size: 6


1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup garlic — chopped

3 bunches sage

1 bunch parsley

1 cup pine nuts — toasted

1 teaspoon salt

juice of one lemon

1 tablespoon fresh, mild goat cheese — optional

Directions: Toast pine nuts in a dry sauté pan or in a 350F oven on a sheet pan watching carefully not to burn.

Pick sage leaves and parsley so as to leave little or no stem and roughly chop. You should have 1 1/2 cups of sage and 1/2 cup of parsley.

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until a pesto consistency is achieved.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 322 Calories; 32g Fat (81% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 374mg Sodium

Serving Ideas : Serve with Three Sisters Saute.

NOTES : May be stored in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Three sisters saute with sage pesto

Serving Size: 6

The Native American myth behind the dish: There were three sisters who were all going off to different hungint grounds. The sisters didn’t want to be separated, so they went to play in the moonlight one last time. In the morning when their parents went to go find the girls, all they found was corn, squash and beans. The Native Americans say that each of the sisters is represented by a vegetable. the older, tallest sister is the corn stalk, the baby sister was the bean, and the short, fat sister was the squash.


1 pound mixed baby squashes -patty pan, sunburst — zucchini, etc. or

1 pound yellow & zucchini squash - bite-size — or thinly julienned*

1 cup heirloom beans (see note)** — cooked

2 ears fresh or frozen sweet corn — thawed & drained

1 cup ripe Roma tomatoes — chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt — to taste

1/3 cup sage pesto (see recipe)

Directions: Rinse and trim squashes, julienne on a mandoline using the skins for a pasta effect or cut into bite-sized chunks or use whole baby squashes.

If using fresh corn, pull husks back but not off, remove silk and using husks for a handle, roast corn over a stove gas flame or remove husk and roast in hot oven turning until just golden. Let cool and slice kernels from cob with a sharp knife.

Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add squash and sauté for 1 minute, then in succession tossing and stirring with each addition add beans, corn, tomatoes, then add the sage pesto stirring gently to distribute evenly.

Salt only if needed and serve immediately.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 60 Calories; 7g Fat (100% calories from fat); 0g Protein; 0g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium

Notes : * I julienne using a mandolin and use only the green and yellow skins (so that is looks a bit like pasta) reserving the meat of the squash for another use.

**Any variety of cooked bean is okay. I love to use the heirlooms, butterscotch calypsos, Christmas limas, anasazi, black. Three to five different beans look great in this dish. Cook slowly and carefully so that they don’t slip their skins.