Appetites: Want to try Native American cooking? Start with cookies

Chef Sean Sherman and cookbook author Beth Dooley.
Chef Sean Sherman and cookbook author Beth Dooley co-authored the new book "The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen."
Courtesy of Nancy Bundt

Chef Sean Sherman says most of what passes for Native American fare today is not authentic at all.

"We look at the wild plants that people gathered, we look at the native agriculture in the areas that had agriculture and the seeds that are still out there," Sherman said, adding that he focuses on what Native people were eating before European influence.

Sherman's favorite recipe to share is for sunflower cookies — it's a simple recipe that results in "a perfect little cookie"

Sherman will be giving a series of cooking demonstrations at the Mill City Museum this Saturday starting at 12:30 p.m. The demonstrations will be pulled from his new book "The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen," which he co-authored with Beth Dooley.

Recipe: Sunflower Cookies

Courtesy of Sean Sherman

1 cup Sunny Butter (see recipe below)
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey to taste
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup cornmeal

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the Sunny Butter, maple syrup, and salt, adding a little warm water if the dough is too stiff. Using a tablespoon, scoop up balls of the mixture and roll in the cornmeal. Place on a cookie sheet and flatten slightly with your hand. Bake the cookies until just firm, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and set on a rack to cool.

Recipe: Sunny Butter

Makes about 5 cups

"We use this delicious spread in our cookies and granola, and as the base for several spreads. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator for about a month."

4 cups unsalted toasted sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons smoked salt or coarse salt to taste
2 cups honey or maple syrup

Working in batches, put 1 cup of the sunflower seeds into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and grind. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup of the honey or maple syrup and process until a ball forms. Remove and repeat.

Chef's Note: Use these same proportions to make walnut, hazelnut, and other nut butters.

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