The fun of gardening in a sustainable way stretches into learning about what native foods are edible. People who lived in California long before we did ate these foods to survive. At CNGF events, members have had a grand time savoring some of these delicious dishes made from native edible ingredients. Try them yourself!

To source the native edible ingredients, see the CNGF web site’s Sources for Native California Ingredients.

Recipes are courtesy of Cowboy Chef John Farais, Eco-Chef Aaron French, Chef Charlie Ayers, and Chef Tess Middlebrook.



Big Game Stew

2 pounds ground bison, venison, or elk meat
3 cups acorn flour
1/2 cup Amaranth flour
1 cup pine nuts
1 bunch allium (wild onion) or green onions, diced
2 cups fresh nettle leaves
3 arrowhead roots
12 small cama bulbs
6 cups water (more if needed)
Sea salt and pepper

  1. In a tall pot, heat game meat in 2 cups of the water.
  2. When meat is almost cooked through, add acorn flour, and stir into meat.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients through the last 4 cups (or more) of water and cook for another 15 minutes on medium high heat.
  4. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Pan Roasted Muscovy Duck with Nettle, Pinenuts, and Honey Glaze

1 Muscovy Duck breast
Sea salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 finely chopped allium (wild onion), or scallions
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup fresh nettle leaves
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Score the skin of the breast. Rub with salt and pepper.
  3. Place in hot skillet over medium heat and cook skin side down about 7 minutes.
  4. Turn breast over and finish cooking in oven about 12 minutes or until pink.
  5. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

While duck is cooking in oven, prepare sauce:

  1. Add stock, wine, allium, and honey together in a saucepan and reduce until liquid thickens slightly.
  2. Add pine nuts and nettle.
  3. Salt to taste and drizzle over sliced duck breast.

Native Crab Cakes

2 pounds or 4 cups of cooked Dungeness Crab
2 cups Amaranth and Hazelnut flours combined
4 eggs, beaten
4 allium stalks
1 cup finely diced nopales (cactus) pads
1 cup rehydrated rose hips
3/4 cup dried nettles
4 tablespoons Sunflower oil

  1. Rehydrate rose hips by adding ½ cup of water.
  2. Heat a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Sauté nopales pads until soft. Their sap will be released. Let cool.
  4. Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  5. Form mix into round patties and fry in a pan at medium heat until brown on both sides.
  6. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes more.

Mesquite Seared Rabbit

1 rabbit, either whole or cut into pieces
1 cup Amaranth flour
1 cup Hazelnut flour
3/4 cup Mesquite flour
Sea salt and pepper
3 tablespoons Sunflower oil
3 cups rabbit or other stock

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine amaranth, hazelnut and mesquite flours into mixing bowl.
  3. Dredge rabbit in flours, making sure to get inside crevice and under legs, if leaving whole.
  4. Heat a large pan over medium high flame. Add oil.
  5. Carefully place rabbit in pan and sear each side, top and bottom until brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  6. Take out of pan, place into baking pan. Add 3/4 of the rabbit stock and put into oven.
  7. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  8. Turn heat down to 325 degrees F.
  9. Cook a whole rabbit for 60 to 90 minutes or pieces for 45 to 60 minutes, adding rest of stock as needed to prevent drying out.
  10. Cool and pull meat from bones.
  11. For serving, reheat rabbit in stock or in sauce.

Chef’s note: You can freeze bones for making stock.

Piñon Cakes (Pine Nut Cakes)

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1 cup piñon nuts (pine nuts)
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

  1. Place the piñon nuts, powdered milk, wheat flour, and salt into a food processor with a chopping blade.
  2. Pulse 5 to 6 times and scrape down the sides. Continue this until the mixture resembles a coarse sand.
  3. When the nut and flour mix is well blended, begin streaming the water slowing in while the processor is running.
  4. When a ball of dough forms, stop and scrape down the sides, and blend until the ball forms again.
  5. Remove the dough from the processor bowl and pinch off small amounts to form balls about the size of a golf ball. Roll the ball in your hand to make sure it is well formed and then press it into a flat disc about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.
  6. Heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until a small amount of the dough begins to bubble when dropped into the oil.
  7. Add the dough patties carefully and allow these to fry until they are brown on one side. Flip to fry the second side. Once the Piñon cakes are done, remove from the hot oil, and drain on a wire rack or a paper towel.
  8. Serve immediately while still hot. If needed, keep in a warm oven for a while before serving.

Black Walnut (or Hazelnut) Crusted Catfish with a Maple Butter Sauce

4 catfish fillets, boneless
1/4 cup Black Walnuts or Hazelnuts, finely ground
3/4 cup crushed Kellogg`s Corn Flakes
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix the black walnuts and Corn Flakes.
  2. Roll the fillets in the mixture and pan sauté in just a teaspoon of butter.
  3. Cook until done.
  4. For the sauce, bring syrup to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Serve with the fillets.

Hedgehog Mushroom & Mesquite Ragout over pasta conchiglie in Black Trumpet Romanesco

Chef Aaron French, The Sunny Side Cafe, Albany

California Native plants: Hedgehog & Black Trumpet mushrooms, mesquite flour, and agave (used in making tequila).

For Mushroom Ragout
1 pound hedgehog mushrooms, cleaned and in 1/8 inch slices
2 large yellow onions, peeled and quartered, then sliced thin
1/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup mesquite flour
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil

For Romanesco Sauce
1/2 pound black trumpet mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup dry baguette or other bread, in pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoons fresh garlic
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, skin removed
5 roma tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon truffle salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 pound shell pasta

  1. Sauté onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat until soft.
  2. Add mesquite flour, then turn down heat and cook about 30 minutes until transparent, stirring frequently and adding more oil if onions start to stick. Remove from heat.
  3. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a new skillet and heat until almost smoking.
  4. Add sliced hedgehog mushrooms and cook on high until soft.
  5. Reduce heat to low and return the onions to the skillet.
  6. Add the tequila and fresh leaves of thyme, and cook on low for 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the romanesco sauce and boil water for the pasta.
  8. For the sauce: Clean the black trumpet mushrooms and sauté in olive oil until wilted.
  9. Place mushrooms and remaining oil in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and blend, stopping when the mixture is still slightly chunky.
  10. Cook pasta according to directions. Add sauce to drained pasta and toss in pan to warm.
  11. Serve, topping each portion with a spoonful of mushroom ragout.

Pacific Salmon Crudo & Watercress Salad

Chef Aaron French, The Sunny Side Cafe, Albany

California Native plants: Watercress, walnuts, prickly pear juice, agave nectar, Pacific salmon.

Prickly Pear Vinaigrette
1/2 cup prickly pear juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry oregano
2 tablespoons agave syrup (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups olive oil

Watercress Salad
1 bunch Spring radish
1 pound watercress
1 cup walnuts

Salmon crudo (Prepare 2 hours in advance)
1 pound very fresh wild salmon, bones and skin removed
2 green onions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons prickly pear juice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Juice from 1 lemon

  1. Rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towels. Slice the salmon across the grain in 1/8 inch slices. Place in a bowl and mix with remaining ingredients (up to 2 hours ahead). Keep very cold – perhaps chilled on ice.
  2. To make the vinaigrette, add all the ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor or blender. With the machine turned on, slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture. Adjust the sweetness and/or the salt to your taste.
  3. Rinse the radishes, remove the greens, and slice very thin. Rinse the watercress, removing any tough part of the lower stalks.
  4. In a dry pan, toast the walnuts over high heat until golden brown, stirring often and watching carefully that they don’t burn.
  5. To serve, toss the watercress with the vinaigrette and arrange in a pile in the center of a platter. Arrange the salmon slices in a star pattern around the edge of the platter, topping each slice with a thin piece of radish. Sprinkle the salad with the toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

Nopales Breakfast or Lunch or Dinner

Courtesy Mona Anderson.

Olive oil, just enough to coat bottom of skillet for onions
1/2 cup diced yellow or white onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (careful, too much can ruin)
2 cups diced Nopales, cooked and well drained
4 extra large eggs
Salt and black pepper

  1. In large skillet, saute onions in olive oil over low heat until clear.
  2. Add garlic and cumin; saute another minute, taking care not to burn.
  3. Add nopales.
  4. When thoroughly heated, make a well in the center and add eggs, stirring quickly and breaking yolks until all ingredients are coated and eggs are cooked.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with fresh tomato salsa (your own or store bought) and corn tortillas, or roll in flour tortillas and serve as breakfast burritos.

To cook tender nopales (prickly pear cactus pads):

  1. Pare off the spines, cut in small cubes.
  2. In a very large pot, boil in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain, rinse well, and store. Drain again before using.

Hamburger, Nopales, Chipotle in Adobo

Courtesy Mona Anderson.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 or more garlic cloves (to taste), chopped
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce and water used to rinse out the can
Salt and black pepper
Diced nopales, cooked (as much as you like, no need to drain well)
Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce (with the Mexican food in most grocery stores; only need a few peppers from the can)
1 can of corn (or frozen) (optional, for color)

  1. In a skillet, brown ground beef with onions and garlic.
  2. After meat starts to brown, add the tomato sauce and the water used to rinse out the can. The ingredients should be thick and soupy; if not, add more tomato sauce.
  3. Add, salt, pepper, oregano, and nopales.
  4. Add a few Chipotle peppers and Adobo sauce (careful not to burst the peppers unless you want extra spicy).
  5. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice (white, brown, or Spanish) and corn or flour tortillas.

To cook tender nopales (prickly pear cactus pads):

  1. Pare off the spines, cut in small cubes.
  2. In a very large pot, boil in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain, rinse well, and store. Drain again before using.

Snacks and Small Dishes

Elderberry Fritters

Makes 4 servings.

Elderberry flowers, clusters
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
oil for frying

  1. Make a batter from the flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs and milk.
  2. Dip washed and drained flower clusters into the batter.
  3. Fry the battered clusters in oil (375 degrees F on a frying thermometer) for 4 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. Drain on absorbent paper.
  5. Roll in additional granulated sugar. Serve hot.

Enyucados (Yucca Cakes)

1 pound fresh Yucca
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and coriander to taste

  1. Peel the yucca and boil it in salted water.
  2. When cooked to the consistency of mashed potatoes, remove from heat and drain.
  3. Make a puree and add all ingredients, except oil.
  4. Form little cakes and fry in hot oil.

Yucca Root Chips

1 or 2 Yucca roots
2 cups Sunflower oil
Sea salt (optional)

  1. Peel yucca root.
  2. Slice very thinly, like potato chips, on a vegetable slicer or mandoline.
  3. In a deep frying pan, add 1/2 inch of oil, and heat over medium high heat.
  4. Fry chip on both sides until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes on each side, but don’t let get too brown.
  5. Place on paper towels to absorb oil. Add salt if desired, but chips are good plain with a salmon tartar.

Yucca Root Chips

8 ounces Smoked Salmon 2 ounces soft butter 1 tablespoons Sunflower oil 3 ounces heavy cream 1 tablespoon lemon juice A pinch nutmeg Freshly ground pepper

  1. Chop salmon finely.
  2. Beat the butter and oil together until soft, then gradually beat in the fish until the mixture becomes thick.
  3. Mix in the cream, lemon juice, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste.
  4. Turn the paté into a small dish and chill.
  5. Serve with toast or cornmeal sage crackers.

Hazelnut Hummus

1 cup toasted hazelnuts (about 4 ounces)
1 cup hazelnut butter
1 can (14-ounce) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons Sunflower oil or Hazelnut oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, or coyote mint
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Coarse sea salt and pepper

  1. To toast the hazelnuts, bake in a 375° oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden under skins (break one to test).
  2. When cool enough to handle, rub in a kitchen towel to remove as many skins as possible.
  3. In a food processor, whirl hazelnuts or hazelnut butter until smooth.
  4. Add garbanzos, sunflower or hazelnut oil, garlic, mint, and lemon juice, and whirl again until smooth.
  5. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with hazelnut oil, if desired.

Cornmeal Sage Crackers

3/4 cup Acorn flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup toasted Sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped sage
1 cup boiling water, slightly cooled
3 tablespoons soft butter
1 teaspoons sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients and mix.
  3. Add butter, a slice at a time and work mixture with hand into small balls.
  4. Add boiling water, a little at a time until you have a pliable dough, but that is not sticking to your fingers.
  5. Add water if too dry or flour if too wet. Knead to absorb any flour at bottom of bowl; dough should not stick to fingers.
  6. Take a small ball of the dough and roll out thin. Continue with rest of dough.
  7. Fit on ungreased flat pans and bake for 30 35 minutes until crisp.

Popped Rice

1 pound wild rice
2 teaspoons oil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup dried cranberries
Salt to taste

  1. Heat a pan over medium high heat, no oil.
  2. Put in single layer of rice, let it pop. (3/4 of it will pop, but it all gets toasted.)
  3. Remove the popped rice from the pan into a container.
  4. Add more rice in single layer and repeat.
  5. When all rice is popped, add 2 teaspoons of oil per pound, and salt to taste, and mix.
  6. Add the toasted pine nuts and dried cranberries and toss again.

Nopales and Avocado Pico de Gallo

Courtesy Mona Anderson.

1 cup diced Nopales, cooked, cooled, and well drained
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced (or diced yellow onion)
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, or to your taste
4 to 6 tablespoons lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
1 tablespoon fresh Serrano or Jalapeno pepper, minced
Salt to taste
1 large avocado (peel and dice just before using)

  1. Combine ingredients, except for avocado, and let marinate for about 30 minutes, tossing and tasting, adjusting salt, or adding more hot pepper. Too hot? Add more tomato and onion.
  2. Just before serving, add the avocado, gently toss.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips.

To cook tender nopales (prickly pear cactus pads):

  1. Pare off the spines, cut in small cubes.
  2. In a very large pot, boil in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain, rinse well, and store. Drain again before using.

Cold Salads

Sea Palm and Pine Nuts

Yields 2 cups.

1 cup Dry Sea Palm (about 3/4 ounce)
2 cups cool water
1/4 cup raw pine nuts
1 medium onion, julienned
1 teaspoon Sunflower oil
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  1. Soak sea palm in water until softened, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Drain and retain soaking water from sea palm.
  3. Rinse sea palm in fresh water and drain.
  4. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
  5. Heat oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until transparent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add pine nuts and sauté until aromatic.
  7. Add sea palm and sauté 1 minute.
  8. Add 1 cup of the retained soaking water and the soy sauce.
  9. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  10. Cover. Lower heat and simmer 15 to 20 minute until tender. Remove cover and cook away any remaining liquid.

Chef’s note: You can use other seaweeds.

Sea Palm Fronds and Cucumber Salad

Serves 4.

1/2 ounce Sea Palm fronds
1 small onion, julienned
1 small English cucumber, sliced in 1/4-inch half moons
3 tablespoons Umeboshi (Plum) or other Fruit vinegar

  1. Quickly rinse and then steam palm fronds in water for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Drain palm fronds and slice in 2-inch lengths.
  3. Mix fronds with onion and cucumber and season with vinegar.
  4. Let marinate for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Garnish with nasturtiums or sesame seeds, and serve.

Chef’s note: Reserve sea palm soaking water for cooking grains, beans, or vegetable dishes. Adjust salt accordingly.

Prawns and Nopales Salad

Courtesy Mona Anderson.

Measurements are approximate; don’t worry about being exact.

1/2 pound (1 cup) cooked prawns (or shrimp)
2 cups Nopales, diced, cooked, cooled, well drained
1/4 to 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced Roma tomato (or any kind)
4 tablespoons lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
1 teaspoon fresh Serrano or Jalapeno pepper (amount to suit your taste), minced
Some cilantro leaves (optional)
Salt to taste

  1. Combine ingredients and let marinate for about 30 minutes, tossing several times.
  2. Serve cold on tostada shell.

To cook tender nopales (prickly pear cactus pads):

  1. Pare off the spines, cut in small cubes.
  2. In a very large pot, boil in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain, rinse well, and store. Drain again before using.

Spicy Fruit Salad

Courtesy Mona Anderson.

3 or 4 tunas (prickly pear fruit), peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
2 large mangoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1 papaya, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
Pine nuts (optional)
Baby coconut (optional)
Other fruit (optional)
1/4 cup lemon (or lime) juice
Chile pequin (dried chile powder, or substitute cayenne) found in Mexican food stores

  1. In a bowl, combine ingredients up to the lemon juice.
  2. Add the salt to lemon or lime juice until you can taste the salt, then add the chile powder, until it reaches a level of heat that you like. (The trick is to reach the right combination of lemon, salt, and chile powder. Chile will increase in intensity as it sits.
  3. Add the spice mixture to the fruit and toss. In a few minutes, the flavors will mix.
  4. With a spoon, sample some of the juice at the bottom. Make adjustments to taste: more lemon, salt, or chile powder.

Note: You can cheat and buy ready-made powder of chile, salt and lemon at Mexican food stores. Be aware of the preservatives, though.

To cook tender nopales (prickly pear cactus pads):

  1. Pare off the spines, cut in small cubes.
  2. In a very large pot, boil in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain, rinse well, and store. Drain again before using.

Desserts and Sweets

Mesquite Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups whole wheat flour
3/8 cup mesquite meal
1 cup oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips or raisins
2 eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Blend first five dry ingredients (flour, meal, oats, baking soda, and baking powder) in medium bowl.
  3. Blend margarine or butter and sugar. Add eggs.
  4. Combine all ingredients until well blended
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoons on an un-greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cocoa Chia Brownies

2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1 1/2 cups CHIA seed
4 eggs
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients (sugar through CHIA seed) in a large bowl and stir well.
  3. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix until flour is well incorporated.
  5. Pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan.
  6. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Acorn Brownies

1/2 cup butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup acorn flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pine nuts, hazelnuts, or black walnuts, chopped and toasted

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a pan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat on the stove.
  3. Remove from heat and stir well.
  4. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, and dry ingredients.
  5. Spread into a well greased 9″ x 12″ or 8″ x 10″ pan.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Do not overbake.

Pumpkin Piñon Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups roasted pine nuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.
  3. In a large separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, mix well.
  4. Stir in pumpkin puree, dry ingredients, mix well, then fold in pine nuts.
  5. Pour into two 5″ x 9″ loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes, until the bread springs back when touched.

Berry Cobbler

Makes 6 servings.

1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup honey
1 quart fresh or frozen berries

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, egg, butter, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir in cornmeal and 1/2 cup of the honey to make a batter.
  4. Place berries in the bottom of a buttered baking dish and spoon remaining honey over berries.
  5. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls over berries and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until berries are hot and bubbling and crust is golden.

Chef’s note: California native berries are currant, elderberry, blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, and cranberry.

Prickly Pear Brûlée

Makes 6 to 8 servings

6 egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup prickly pear, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (or other fruit)
2 tablespoons of prickly pear juice for each ramekin

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly whip egg yolks.
  3. Add cream, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, and vanilla.
  4. Blend the custard well and strain.
  5. Distribute fruit or juice evenly between ramekins.
  6. Pour custard evenly over the fruit.
  7. Set the ramekins in a pan with at least 2-inch sides and fill the pan with hot water reaching halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the custard is softly soft.
  9. Remove from oven and let sit in the water for 20 minutes. Then take out ramekins and let cool.
  10. Chill until ready to serve.
  11. At serving time, sprinkle sugar thickly on top of brûlée and use propane torch to light sugar until dark golden brown. Sugar will melt in 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

Wild California ‘Roger’s Red’ Grape Recipes

Grape Purée

- Chef John Farais

Wash and stem grapes. In large kettle, heat grapes 10-15 minutes on low heat, long enough to loosen skins. Adding as little water as possible to prevent burning. Do not boil. Put through food mill or strainer. Discard skins and seeds. Pour purée into freezable containers or gallon plastic bags. Label, date, and freeze. Keeps in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.

Grape Roll-ups

- Chef John Farais

5 cups grape purée
2 cups hazelnuts or pine nuts
1 cup mesquite flour
1/2 cup agave nectar, date palm sugar, or organic cane sugar
Dehydrator or oven
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place hazelnuts or pine nuts on baking sheet and put in oven to toast for 12-14 minutes. Let pine nuts cool. If using hazelnuts, place them in a dry towel and wrap them up; shake towel with nuts to loosen skins, discard loosened skins. Chop cleaned hazelnut meats or pine nuts in a food processor.
  3. Heat purée to the point of boiling.
  4. Turn off heat, add nuts, flour, and sugar, and stir.
  5. Pour purée on silpat (silicon mat, parchment paper, or oiled waxed paper) and place on shelves of Dehydrator set at 135-145 degrees for 8 hours or overnight. Peel off mat or paper when done.

Oven method: Put purée one of the mats or papers and place in an unheated gas oven with only the pilot light for 12 hours, or heat electric oven to the lowest setting and place purée in oven for 8-10 hours.

Chocolate Grape Mint Mole

- Chef John Farais

1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups grape purée
1 cup red wine or Port
6 bunches mint Leaves, stemmed and chopped
2-3 crushed, minced garlic cloves
4 oz. baking chocolate, 60% dark or more 1/2 cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons chile flakes
2 teaspoons chile powder
  1. Add all ingredients, except mint, and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Turn off heat, add mint, stir.
  3. Let cool.

Use to baste and flavor meat. Good on chicken, grass-fed beef, and lamb.

Grape Sauce

- Chef John Farais

3 teaspoons sunflower oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups grape purée
1 cup Port or red wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds (toasted and chopped)
  1. Add just 1 teaspoon of oil to pan and heat over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook until just starting to brown, 5 minutes.
  2. Add purée and cook until warm stirring frequently.
  3. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons seeds to thicken and continue to cook for 3 minutes more.
  4. Add port or wine and the broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until sauce is reduced slightly or to desired thickness, 10 to 15 minutes.

Grape Dumplings

- Chef John Farais

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon organic cane sugar
1/2 tablespoons butter, softened, not melted
1/4 cup grape purée, 1 more cup for boiling
1 cup water
  1. Combine dry ingredients with butter until butter is well incorporated.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of purée and mix into a stiff dough.
  3. Mix 1 cup purée and water in a sauce pan and heat until boiling.
  4. Pull dough into small dumpling sizes and drop into water mixture, or roll dough very thin on floured surface and cut into strips 1/2″ wide and drop into mixture.
  5. Let cook for 10-12 minutes.

Serve as a side dish with a little of the liquid or add fruit, cheese or meat, butter and herbs.

Grape Ice Cream

- Chef John Farais

1 pint heavy cream
1 1/4 cups grape purée
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
Squeeze of lime
  1. Mix all ingredients except lime, and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add squeeze of fresh lime to taste.
  3. Freeze in ice cream maker, hand-cranked or electric, according to directions.

Grape, Hazelnut, and Mesquite Butter

- Chef John Farais

3 cups grape purée
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup mesquite flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Put hazelnuts on a sheet pan and toast in oven for 12-15 minutes. Put toasted nuts into a towel and wrap and shake towel to loosen skins on nuts. Put cleaned nuts in a food processor and process briefly; chunks are okay.
  3. Heat purée on medium heat and then simmer until a thicker consistency, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add nuts and mesquite flour and cook 5 more minutes until ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Spoon into sterilized 8-ounce jars, seal, and refrigerate.

Makes five 8-ounce jars of butter. Spread on your favorite snack cracker, bread, fruit, pancakes, etc.

Grape Marmalade

- Chef John Farais

4 cups grape purée
3 cups organic agave nectar, date palm sugar, or organic cane sugar
  1. Heat both ingredients until sugar dissolves and mixture is thick. Don’t add water.
  2. When thick, spoon into sterilized 8-ounce jars, seal, and cool.

Makes five or six 8-ounce jars of marmalade.

Spicy Roger’s Red Grape Sauce

- Chef Aaron French, The Sunny Side Cafe

Excellent with wild game or steaks, but equally at home as a dipping sauce for grilled vegetables.

2 cups Roger’s Red grape purée
½ cup fruit preserves (strawberry, peach, etc.)
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Tabasco
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, slowly simmer the grape purée until it is reduced by half to 1 cup.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer on low for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool.

The sauce can be used immediately, but is best when refrigerated and used the next day. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Sweet Turkey Sausage with Roger’s Red Grape Purée

- Chef Aaron French, The Sunny Side Cafe, adaptations by Chef Tess Middlebrook

This recipe uses free-range domestic turkey. However, the addition of the grape purée and maple syrup makes for a moist mixture that would be well suited for native California wild turkey or ground rabbit meat, both of which are particularly lean.

2 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 cups Roger’s Red Grape purée
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
4 teaspoons fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dry Mexican or regular oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade A)
  1. In small saucepan, gently simmer grape purée until it is reduced to 1/4 cup.
  2. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Form into 2-inch balls, flatten into patties, and cook in heavy skillet until golden brown and cooked through.

The mixture will be purple, but that’s okay! Serving suggestion: Serve small patties with a dollop of creme fraiche with horseradish.

Wild Grape Paté De Fruit

- Chef Charlie Ayers and Zaclyn Bearden, Califia Cafe and Market a Go-Go

Yields one 1/4-sheet pan (jellyroll pan)

1 quart (900 grams) Wild California grape purée
3 1/4 ounces (90 grams) granulated organic sugar
3/4 ounce (23 grams) apple pectin
2 pounds (900 grams) granulated organic sugar
6 1/4 ounces (180 grams) glucose*
1/2 ounce (14 grams) tartaric acid,* a gelling agent
Super-fine sugar to coat
  1. Bring juice to a boil.
  2. Whisk 3 1/4 ounces of sugar and pectin together.
  3. Add to boiling juice.
  4. Return to boil and add the 2 pounds of sugar.
  5. Return to boil and add glucose.
  6. Using a candy thermometer, cook to 225 degrees F.
  7. Add tartaric acid.
  8. Pour onto a silpat-lined 1/4-sheet pan.
  9. Allow to set overnight.
  10. Cut into one-inch cubes.
  11. Roll in super-fine sugar.

*Find the glucose and tartaric acid at high-end cooking stores. Although untested, agave nectar should work as well as glucose.

Tess’ Grape Vinaigrette

- Chef Tess Middlebrook

1/4 cup grape juice (or purée)
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Blend all ingredients except grapeseed oil, then slowly add the grapeseed oil at the end.

Grape Sorbet

- Chef Tess Middlebrook

4 cups ‘Roger’s Red’ wild grape purée
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoons vodka
  1. Add sugar and vodka to the grape purée.
  2. Pour into an ice cream maker for 45 minutes.
To serve: Top with one large red raspberry in a champagne glass.

Upside-down Grape and Mascarpone Cheesecake

- Chef Tess Middlebrook

2 1/4 red seedless grapes
1 cup + 2 tablespoons grape purée
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 date palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar
1 1/2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 8-ounce package Mascarpone cheese
3 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Oil and dust with flour a 9-inch cake pan.
  3. Put the grape purée in a medium-sized sauce pan.
  4. Add 1/8 cup cane sugar, 1/8 cup date palm sugar, and cornstarch with enough water just to dissolve the cornstarch. Whisk into the grape sugar mixture.
  5. Add the red seedless grapes.
  6. Stir over medium heat until it thickens, boils, and becomes clear, about 5 minutes. (Grapes will remain whole.)
  7. Mix in vinegar.
  8. Pour into the prepared cake pan. Cool.
  9. Beat cream cheese, flour, and 3/4 cup sugar (half date palm and half cane).
  10. Beat in marscarpone, then eggs, one at a time.
  11. Spoon batter over grape mixture.
  12. Bake cake for 45 minutes, or until just set in the center. Chill uncovered in fridge at least 4 hours or up to a day.
  13. Cut around cake, place plate over cake, hold plate and pan together and invert. Lift off pan.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

- Chef Tess Middlebrook (adapted from Ina Garten)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) wild California grape jam (contributed by Susan Holtslander)
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9- by 13- by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
  5. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. (Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven.)
  6. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into 24 squares.

ELSEE is sponsored by the California Native Garden Foundation (CNGF).

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