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Native Cooking

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When it's really cold out I get cravings for Southwestern foods. Not sure
if it's the heat of the chilies or the fact that the Southwest is always
sunny and warm. Maybe I'm just wishing I were there wolfing down poppers
outside some sweet little cafe, maybe in Taos, N.M. with a warm subtle
breeze across my face.

Nada, snap out of it girl, it is 10 degrees outside and snowing. Reality
beckons. Well, we all can dream, can't we?

Belagikutal

6 slices of bacon

1 can (15 oz.) white hominy, drained

1/2 cup sliced scallions

2 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons of lime juice

1 teaspoon parsley, minced or dried

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 cup cheese (Monterey Jack or Cheddar)

Use a large frying pan to cook the bacon until done. Remove it to drain on
paper towels. Pour off most of the bacon fat but leave a tablespoon or two
in the pan and cook the scallion in until soft. Add the tomatoes, hominy,
lime juice, parsley, chili powder and cumin. Cook on medium heat for five
or six minutes, stirring frequently. Crumble the set-aside bacon into this
mix and stir in the cheese until it melts. Serve immediately.

Quesadillas with Smoked Salmon

4 ounces thin sliced smoked salmon

4 large flour tortillas

3 ounces soft, mild goat cheese

1 tablespoon horseradish

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 light tablespoon dill weed Salt and pepper to taste

1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Canola oil

Combine goat cheese, horseradish, sour cream, dill, salt and pepper in a
small bowl and whisk all together well. Using a tiny bit of canola oil,
heat a small frying pan to medium high and fry the tortillas, one at a
time. Turn them one time and remove to drain on paper towels when lightly
brown. Spread each tortilla with the cheese mixture and lay the salmon over
this spread. Sprinkle with a little more dill and lemon juice. Do not cover
the tortilla with another as a top as in traditional quesadillas. Cut each
tortilla into wedges and serve.

Cilantro & Rice

3 cups cold water

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1/2 cup red Bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup yellow or green Bell pepper, diced

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

2/3 cup light olive oil Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Boil the water and then add the rice and bring back to a boil. Lower the
heat and cover the pan. Cook for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Put the cooked rice in a large
bowl. Add the cilantro, peppers, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and toss to
coat rice. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Chorizo Bread Treats

1/2 lb. dough (pizza, fry bread or bannock)

1/4 pound chorizo sausage, cut into 8 pieces

8 large green edible leaves (cabbage, chard, spinach or lettuce)

Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface. Using a glass rim or round
cookie cutter, cut out 8 circles large enough to hold a piece of the
sausage. Place the sausage in the middle of a circle and close the dough
around it, squeezing dough to seal it. Repeat until all the sausage is used
up. Wrap each filled circle in a leaf and tie with string all around like a
package. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, but remember to remove the
string and leaves before serving. This is a great treat for kids anytime.
The best part is that you can make these ahead and put in the fridge to
bake when you're ready. The chorizo keeps the bread soft and the leaf keeps
it all together to bake without losing any flavor. You can also experiment
with this method of baking and use other types of meat in the dough.

About Cilantro - Cilantro is also known as coriander and often called
Mexican or Chinese parsley, maybe because it goes well with either of these
cuisines. The taste and smell are quite pungent, some say an acquired
taste. In fact, it is a love it or hate it herb. I used to hate it, but now
I love it and it's all I can do not to stick my nose in a bunch at the
market just to inhale an aromatic whiff. Don't do it, it's unsanitary.

When you buy it with roots still on, don't cut them off. Wrap the bunch
with paper towels and put in a plastic bag, then in the fridge. Don't wash
until ready to use since it doesn't dry well. It is used as a garnish on
many Southwestern dishes like fish, sauces, pestos and vegetables. I think
it is especially wonderful in salsas.

Cilantro & Poblano Cream for Soups

1 Poblano chili, roasted and peeled

1 cup sour cream or low fat substitute

1/4 heavy cream or low fat substitute

6 springs of fresh cilantro Salt

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Let it stand for
about half an hour before using. Top individual servings of soup with this
cream.

Notes & Tips

Chili powders are normally stored in a dark place, but did you know that
toasting them before use enhances the flavor. To toast, put them in a 350
degree oven for four or five minutes or cook quickly in medium oil or
butter.

Chorizo is a delicious sausage that makes a great addition to many dishes,
especially chili con carne where several types of meats can be used
together. Some chorizos vary in hotness, so try different ones until you
find your favorite.

I want to thank all of you who have sent in suggestions and ideas to
NativeCooking@aol.com. 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 NativeCooking@aol.com.