Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit with Three Creme!
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Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit
with Three Creme
This is a very interesting recipe. Many of us in the Southwest have been using cactus fruits for a long time. They were a staple in the Native American diet around here long, long ago. They are now beginning to be recognized by the rest of the country as an interesting and very good addition to the cuisine. Peparation of the fruit is a bit difficult, due to the agressive nature of cactus, but the finished product is worthy of being served in the classiest of restaurants, and is as beautiful as it is delicate on the tongue.
First, to the fruit. If you have the great good luck to be around prickly pear cactus, either domestic or the wild ones with fine, thick pads and large fruit, collect the fruit when it is fully ripe and juicy. Use heavy gloves and tongs. The little furry patches of tiny spines may look innocuous, but they are just as mean as the bigger spines. If you happen to get a load of them on you, shave them off gently with a sharp knife before washing the area well and rubbing it down with a bit of alcohol. While picking, don't jostle the fruit around, so they don't get spines in each other. When you get them home, wash them off, and let them drain. Next, cut off the hard end where they were attached to the plant. Stick a fork in the cut spot so you can handle the fruit, then carefully peel off the skin with a very sharp knife, beginning at the cut edge next to the fork and peeling carefully lengthwise. The fruit layer is very thin, so don't peel off more than you have to. When all the fruit has been peeled, cut the pears in half lengthwise, and using a teaspoon, carefully scrape out the seeds with the inner pulp. Save this. When all of the fruit has been cleaned, simmer up the pulp with a small bit of water and lemon juice for a couple minutes, strain. Add the same quantity of sugar as you have juice, and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Cool and save the syrup.
Next, the three cream. 3-Cream is an old French trick, and this particular version was perfected for our restaurant by Tall Henry Lind, who is chef out at the Blue Corn Restaurant near Ramah, Southeast of Grants.
Three Cream Crepe filling:
- 1/2 lb cream cheese
- 3 oz sour cream
- 2 Tbl whipping cream
- scant 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon or orange zest, or a mixture of the two
Mix together until smooth. Let sit for a while or overnight to let flavors mellow out. A bit of liqueur can also be added for a bit of an exotic flavor.
At this point, both the fruit and the 3-Creme will keep well in the refrigerator for a couple days.
Just before serving, put a nice dollop of 3-cream in each pear half and drizzle a bit of the syrup over it. For an extra bit of class, decorate with a candied violet or a couple mint leaves. This is a truly exotic dessert, and one that is very rarely encountered. Enjoy!
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