Thursday, September 15, 2016

Chippewa "Bannock" Bread

I have always thought of bannock bread as something from the British Isles.  A look around the 'net tells me I was right, because I found this tidbit when looking up "bannock history."
"Bannock" is a Northern English and Scottish word of Celtic origin.  The Oxford English Dictionary states the term stems from panicium, a Latin word for "baked dough", or from panis, meaning bread.  Its first cited use was in 1000, and its first cited definition in 1562.
But I also found, in "Bannock:  a brief history",   
The Inuit call it 'palauga,' it's 'luskinikn' to the Mi'kmaq, while the Ojibway call it 'ba `wezhiganag.'  Whatever they call it, from north to south and coast to coast, just about every indigenous nation across North America has some version of bannock.
Other sites make the point that "bannock" could refer to the cooking style (frying or baking next to the fire) or the loaf itself:  "Bannock is a variety of flat quick bread or any large, round article baked or cooked from grain."  (Wikipedia)  Native American bannocks are often called "frybreads."

In the book, Spirit of the Harvest,

ISBN 1-55670-186-1
the recipe for Chippewa Bannock brings up this point:
Chippewa bannock is closely related to cornmeal johnny-cakes, ash cakes, and corn pones.  All of these cakes, though best when eaten hot, were a practical food to take along when the tribe was on the move or warriors were out hunting.

 Chippewa Bannock (page 74)

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons hazelnut oil, melted butter, or bacon drippings.
4 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil for frying

And water.
In a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, water, hazelnut oil, syrup, and salt.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat.  Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into hot oil.  Flatten with spatula and fry cakes until crisp and browned on both sides.  Add more oil as needed.  Serves 4 to 6.

My Notes

I used melted butter and maple syrup and the salt.

This was very easy to mix together and I fried it in my cast iron skillet in several batches so as not to crowd them.
Pretty easy!
I wanted to make the cakes thick enough to be more than just fried crisps but not too thick that the middle wouldn't cook through.  I noticed that pressing them with the spatula pushed out the gaps and dents to make it a patty.  When they were brown on one side, I flipped them.
After the flip.
The batch was a good size.  I had three for dinner and it was plenty along with giving me left overs.

The Verdict

As mentioned in the previous post, I served this with Salmon Chowder.  It was a good accompaniment.

The flavor was slightly sweet (hooray for maple syrup!) with a lovely corn flavor.  The outside was crunchy and the inside was soft (but thoroughly cooked).  I am glad I put in the salt and it did not need any more.

It was fun to pick it up with my fingers!  It was not greasy or oily to the touch but the butter flavor shown through.

I think the thickness I picked was just right:

At most 1/2 inch thick.
Success!  I would love to have it again.  I think it would be good with other foods mixed in, like fresh corn, currants, or pine nuts.  And I would always recommend the maple syrup.  

I will confirm that they were better hot but still tasty cold.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Native American Salmon Chowder

Okay, I'll admit it.  I have a cookbook addiction.  There!  I said it!  A friend was telling me about a neat book she wanted to get and, while I was looking for it online, I found several other interesting books, too.  One of them was The Spirit of the Harvest, North American Indian Cooking, by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs.

ISBN 1-55670-186-1
I typically shy away from these sorts of books because they usually present modern recipes that are somewhat like what the mentioned culture might have done.  When I see recipes that include the trendy ingredient-of-the-day, (applewood smoked bacon, Greek yogurt, acai berries, etc.) then I put the book down and walk away.

This book promised "authentic recipes, glorious photographs, and an informative text".  In fact, it says on the inside cover,
A specially created map places the tribes and their principal foods in geographical context.  Each chapter is introduced by an expert on the Indians of the region, and discusses the cultures of major tribal groups, their diets, their ceremonial use of food, and the historical dishes they developed.
Two recipes caught my attention.  The first is from the Northwest region of North America:  The coast from Alaska down to northern California.  This is the land of the salmon!  I chose:

Pacific Salmon Chowder  (pg 205)

1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dill seed
6 cups milk
1 pound fresh salmon, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
Dill sprigs, for garnish

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add potatoes, green onions, and dill seed, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add milk and simmer over low heat for 40 minutes.  Add fresh salmon and simmer for 10 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish individual servings with dill sprigs.  Serves 6 to 8.

My Notes

I used 1% milk; it may be the authors expected whole milk.  The amount of salmon I had was a little under a pound.  I cut it into small, bite-sized chunks.

Instead of butter, I used olive oil.

Potatoes and green onions.
The simmering of the potatoes in the milk was not really what I call a simmer.  That implies a very slow boil and I never let the milk even start bubbling.  But it did get steaming hot with tiny bubbles around the edges, and that was enough to cook the potatoes through in the 40 minutes and the salmon in the extra 10 minutes.  It is a very gentle way to cook salmon, which did not get dry or overcooked.

Tiny bubbles!
The Verdict

I served the chowder with grapes and Chippewa Bannock bread, a feature for the next post.  I had salted the chowder before serving and it tasted right but after it cooled in my bowl a little, I felt that it needed a lot more salt.  My guest tasters agreed.

With dill weed as a garnish.
Success!  My mouth wants thick soups and chowders and this was not thick, making me wish I had crushed some of the potatoes before adding the salmon.  But it was a good soup, full of salmon flavor.  The dill seed was very subtle and the potatoes and green onions give it interest.  I would do it again but I would make sure I had the full pound of salmon or more just so that each bite had more salmon as compared to potato.