Native Cooking


I’ve been a little nuts lately; well, OK, a lot nuts most of the time. This coming holiday is a good time to use nuts in so many ways. First I think of chestnut stuffing, then pecan pie, hazelnut anything, almond toppings, peanuts, pine nuts, hickory, walnuts and all the ones in between. Because there are so many recipes this time of year, I’ll just give you a bunch – not just for nuts, but for the tons of company you’ll probably be having.

<b>Apple Plus Pie</b>

1 package pre-made pie crust

4 cups apples, peeled, sliced, cored

3 cups pears, peeled, sliced, cored

2 cups fresh cranberries

1-1/2 cups sugar (use less or substitute)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten with dash of water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place one crust in a 9-inch pie plate to fit. Put the apples, pears and cranberries in a large bowl. Add almonds, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well and pour into the ready pie crust. Place top crust on and pinch top and bottom crust together.

Brush top with egg mixture and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and bake for another 40 minutes, or until nicely browned.


<b>Chestnut Stuffing</b>

(for 10- to 12-pound bird)

1 pound chestnuts, shelled and boiled

6 – 8 slices stale bread

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 cup hot water (or chicken broth)

2 teaspoons ground sage

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 cup golden raisins

Salt and pepper to taste

Crush chestnuts with a mallet or rock. Saute onion and celery in the butter until tender yet still firm; reserve. Break up the bread into about 1/2-inch pieces or, again, crush with a mallet or rock. Add the bread, egg, chestnuts, water or broth, raisins and herbs to the reserved onion/celery and mix well. You may add a little more water or broth if needed.


<b>Walnut-Goat Cheese Appetizer</b>

1 cup walnuts, large pieces or halves

6 ounces goat cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 French baguette

Cut the bread in 1/2-inch pieces on the diagonal. Brush each piece with some olive oil and toast in a 350-degree oven for 5 – 6 minutes. Put the walnuts on a pie plate or baking sheet and roast them separately at the same time for 5 – 6 minutes. Spread the toasts with the goat cheese, top each with a walnut piece or two and brush lightly again with olive oil. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes and serve quickly.


<b>Sweet Peanut Dip for Fruit</b>

1 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped fine

1 8-ounce package cream cheese (low-fat works fine)

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1/2 cup honey

Blend all ingredients together and chill. Serve with bite-sized pieces of fruit like melon, strawberries, kiwi, grapes, banana slices, apple slices, etc.


<b>Fancy-Wancy Nuts</b>

For sugar and spice nuts: Sprinkle any nuts like peanuts, pecans, walnuts or a mix of all with a little sugar (or granulated substitute), some cinnamon, ground cloves and mace. Shake them up and serve.

For hot and spicy nuts: Roast some walnuts, pine nuts and/or pecans sprinkled with cumin and chili powder. Toss well before roasting.


<b>Mom’s Apple-Walnut Salad</b>

2 apples, chopped, skins on

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

Dash of poppy or celery seeds (if desired)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to blend and chill for two hours or overnight. Serve as a side relish in a small bowl.


<b>Pumpkin Frybread</b>

3 cups flour

1 cup pumpkin, canned or fresh pureed

1/2 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine in a large oiled bowl to form dough. Cover bowl with damp cloth and set aside for a half hour. Use a heavy iron frying pan filled one-third with cooking oil. While oil is heating, form little breads from the dough, palm-size, or whatever is comfortable to handle. When good and hot, fry each piece quickly and remove to drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.


<b>Notes and Tips</b>

* Nuts are high in calories, about 170 per ounce for walnuts. But this is not the “bad for you” fat: it is the polyunsaturated fat in nuts that have a beneficial factor in their effect on your cholesterol.

* Nuts freeze very well. When using defrosted nuts in a recipe, it’s a good idea to roast them, either in a cast- iron pan or the oven, for just a few minutes to bring their ‘life’ back.

* Seeds are important, too. Like nuts, they contain high levels of vitamin E. Sunflower, sesame and pumpkin are the best-known and very flavorful. The iron in pumpkin seeds is very high, about 4 milligrams, which is more than a third of the recommended daily allowance.

<i>I want to thank all of you who have sent in suggestions and ideas to I am always learning things. Please let me know what YOU want to see for recipes in this column.

Dale Carson is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking” (temporarily out of print), “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.”

For ordering information write to Dale Carson, P.O. Box 13, Madison, CT 06443 or e-mail</i>