WHEN A NUT IS NOT A NUT … There is a reason European street vendors roast nuts in cold weather, that Thanksgiving is celebrated with a pecan pie and the traditional white Christmas turkey is stuffed with chestnuts. When the leaves turn, nuts, such as walnuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts, are at their peak. Worlds apart from their often stale counterparts found on supermarket shelves, fresh nuts are one of the forgotten seasonal treats of autumn and winter. Nuts have a natural affinity with other seasonal delicacies such as pears and blue cheese in a salad; rhubarb, apple and ginger in a crumble; in risottos or soups with a dollop of crème fraiche; and with chocolate in just about anything! As well as transcending the boundary between savoury and sweet, nuts blur the line between indulgence and health. They generally have a high fat content (and a delicious, rich flavour to illustrate this), yet the fat comes from heart-healthy mono-saturated oils and omega-3s that are believed to lower cholesterol. They are also a great source of anti-oxidants and are low in carbohydrates. As a result, a small handful of nuts is a perfect afternoon. Generally buy nuts from a place that has a high turnover, such as a health shop. Buy in small portions as they will go off. Store in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. Due to their high fat content nuts can benefit from being refrigerated.
Chocolate, apples, pears, fish, chicken, lamb, curries, noodles, basil, honey, butter, salt, chilli, rosemary, cheese
COOKING WITH NUTS
- Rub 100g flour, 100g brown sugar, and 200g of butter between your fingers to form a large breadcrumb consistency, rub in 100g roughly chopped nuts. Sprinkle over stewed ears or rhubarb and roast to apples, makes a beautiful autumnal crumble.
- Lightly roast pine nuts (actually a seed not a nut!) and process with a bunch of picked basil leaves and a clove of garlic. Add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan and enough good quality extra virgin olive oil to get the correct pesto consistency (store with a layer of olive oil on top to prevent browning). Replace flour with a nut flour such as almond meal or chestnut flour in cupcakes to create a dense yet moist texture with a nutty flavour.
AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA, THE LAND OF THE WATTLE AND THE MACADAMIA…
One of Australia’s most celebrated native foods, a macadamia nut is literally a hard nut to crack. It is for that reason, and its rich, buttery flavour, that macadamia nuts can demand twice the price of cashews. Although macadamias are an Aussie native, it is Hawaii that produces 95% of the world’s commercial production for export to the U.S. (where they’re mostly used in cookies and ice-cream). Macadamia nuts have a high fat content (from 65%-80% oil) however the oil is largely mono-unsaturated, which is believed to help reduce bad cholesterol. Macadamia nuts are also great for low-carb diets, with only 4 grains net carbohydrates per half a cup, they are also a good source of magnesium and potassium, and contain iron, niacin, thiamine and zinc. Due to their high fat content macadamia nuts must be carefully stored to avoid them going rancid. Where possible opt for vacuum packed nuts.
COOKING WITH MACADAMIAS
- Make nut butter by processing a handful of macadamia nuts until a paste forms. Honey or a little Flavourless oil will loosen the consistency if desired.
- Roast macadamia nuts in a frying pan with a little flavourless oil and a handful of rosemary leaves. Serve hot as an appetiser.
- Chop macadamia nuts and press onto thick white fillet of fish … dredge the fillet in flour, then egg and then in the crushed macadamia nuts. Fry gently in a frying pan or roast at 180°C.
Chocolate, coconut, fish, rosemary, chicken, salt, chilli, coconut, lamb.
Recipe: Chocolate and Hazelnut Pizza with Banana
1 quantity of pizza dough
12 tbsp chocolate-hazelnut spread or 32 chocolate truffles
3 bananas, sliced and coated in lemon juice
6 scoops of vanilla ice cream or gelato
6 tbsp chocolate shavings
3tbsp roasted, peeled hazelnuts, chopped Icing (confectioners’) sugar, to dust
1. Preheat oven to its highest temperature. Divide the dough into six portions and roll out on a lightly floured surface until you have four thin pizza bases.
2. Place on baking trays and prick bases with a fork to stop air bubbles forming.
3. Spread the bases with the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Top with banana slices.
4. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until crispy.
5. To serve, top with ice cream, chocolate shavings and chopped hazelnuts and sprinkle with icing sugar.
3 tsp dry yeast
3 tsp sugar
3 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
425g 00 bakers flour
1. To make dough, put yeast, sugar, s olive oil in a mixing bowl with 250m1 warm water and stir gently. Leave for 15 minutes for yeast to activate (it will look foamy).
2. Slowly add flour and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth.
3. Put in a lightly oiled bowl and leave in a warm place for about 30 mins-1 hour until doubled, then knock back with a punch.
4. Leave in a warm place until it has ;men slightly. Makes enough for four 30cm (12 inch) pizzas