Tag Archives: hazelnuts

Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula, Sorrel, and Hazelnuts

I like to think I’ve always enjoyed vegetables — especially those others would prefer didn’t exist, let alone show up on their dinner plates.  The what are those, how does one prepare them, cook, or eat them vegetables.  But my perspective was limited early on by what so many of ours has been:  the availability and affordability of certain types of fresh vegetables as well as what our mothers actually served us.

Which brings me to beets.

The only beet I recall sitting on my dinner plate was a deep magenta slice of somewhat gelatinous matter not too unlike the canned cranberry sauce sliced and served at our holiday turkey dinners.  It was smaller in circumference and served with iceberg lettuce suggesting it was a salad.  My mother might tell me otherwise, but I’d also venture a guess cottage cheese was involved — or something white — and remembering our fridge, know that had to be it.  Creamy, soft goat’s cheese, salty feta, or crumbly cotija would not have been regulars in our cheese drawer which housed my stepfather’s sacred box of Velveeta, a wax-covered package of American cheese slices, and a green can of Kraft Parmesan.

I never learned to enjoy the taste or texture of those beets,  an odd combination of sour and sweet and something I thought should be warm instead of cold.  Years and years would pass before I learned of how one  friend enjoyed them — from jars with spooned sauce drizzled over a homemade chicken pot pie hot from the oven.  I can hear her now singing the dish’s praises with the accent her small town Texas roots provided her, and remember watching the respective juices ooze and mingle across the bowl she served the meal in.

I did not want a bite regardless of how happy she was about the idea and suspect she knew it was an odd favorite, goading me to take a bite.  I loved her in spite of that beet fiasco because don’t we all have at least one oddball of a dish we secretly enjoy?

Since that time, I’m embarrassed to admit that as much as I realize how good beets are for my body, I still have not quite learned to fully enjoy them.  I see them among the other vegetables I routinely purchase and pass them by unless I see rainbow beets, or golden beets.  Somehow their beautiful color tempts me to stop and wonder an extra second or two before I give in and throw them in the basket, giving them the benefit of my persistent doubt.  But rarely do I consider picking up a bunch of red beets unless I’ve seen a recipe somewhere that suggests I might reconsider trying them.   And I’m still reconsidering, because I do try them, then decide not to share the recipe.  What favorable comments might I make when the recipe isn’t what’s lacking, but my palate?

Beets leave me thinking that sure, the flavor is okay, and possibly bordering on pleasant,  but I can’t shake the memory of those Harvard beets years ago sitting on my lettuce and making everything pink.  We’ll call this salad made of roasted golden beets with arugula and sorrel picked from my sad excuse of an herb box a truce of sorts.  My continuing attempt to enjoy beets.

I’m not quite there yet, but maybe.

You?

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Green Salad with Blood Oranges, Apples, and Hazelnuts

I have a page torn from the October 2010 issue of Cooking Light that has been in and around various rooms in our house.  I see it most when I’m not interested in it, wedged between food magazines stacked at the end of the sofa, sticking out from between the pages of one of the cookbooks I’ve been leafing through, or inserted next to the telephone with take-out menus and reminders of dentist appointments.  The now wrinkled page is from The Hungry Traveler section and sports a recipe on each of its sides, but I have paid little attention to one of them because the salad is what originally caught my eye.  It had all the right flavors in it for what I thought was a special occasion salad — one served on a holiday.  I suppose it caught my eye because I’d been making a salad somewhat like it for years, but there was a bit of a different spin on this one, and so I tore it out before tossing the magazine in one of my manic magazine thinning moments.

I’ve never been able to completely understand how this happens.  So many bits and pieces of our lives are tucked here and there — or not — and are so much more important, yet are lost.  We took the time to put them in a special pile of special things so we could put a finger on them in  a second when needed, priding ourselves for our organizational skills.  But when we need them, we can’t find them.  Clearly, a file folder isn’t our idea of being organized.  Perhaps I should rethink the entire thing, allowing the important things to also slip between magazines or beneath the sofa, trusting that when needed, they’d miraculously appear.

So why this salad?

I think it was the dressing.  I’m always ready to try something light and flavorful, but different than our usual citrus vinaigrette — if you can call it that.  We squeeze citrus over our salads before drizzling extra virgin olive oil and call it dressing.  But once in a while, I do enjoy actually making dressing and this one included dried apricots.  When I first read it, I thought the apricots were mixed into the salad because that’s what I’ve done over the years — their bit of sweetness mixed with the other ingredients is wonderful.  I was wrong, and when I finally looked carefully realized the apricots are blended in.

What a delicious difference.

I suppose I should be thankful the torn page has not been lost or I’d have never realized my mistake.  And I’d throw it in the trash at this point, but the recipe on the other side has finally gotten my attention, so I know I’ll have to make that soon to relieve  the poor page from its duty.

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Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

The math isn’t exactly challenging:  12 cookies in 12 days; this is December 11th; tomorrow is the last day; and I have posted five cookies.  Five.  Bear in mind that I’ve made eight, and have dough for a ninth sitting in the fridge just waiting for several hours of time so that I can play my favorite holiday music, spread out my materials, and decorate cookies.  Trust me when I say that time between the hours of 6 and 10 p.m. does not count as an available chunk.  Once upon a time I could have been extremely productive at that time of day, but no longer.  It’s easy to conclude then that I will be engaging more in a month of cookies, or something like that.  And perhaps I’ll throw in a holiday bread or two.  Maybe.

Nevertheless, here are my Hazelnut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, which not only look like ordinary chocolate chippers, they taste like ordinary chocolate chippers.  That isn’t a bad thing if you’re me, because chocolate chip cookies will always be my favorite cookie even though I’d never consider it a holiday cookie.

I had hazelnuts in the pantry, so decided to make my own hazelnut butter for these.  It’s not complicated if you have a Cuisinart, 10 minutes, and don’t mind telling your neighbors to prepare for the sound of nuts clacking crazily against plastic.

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Hazelnut Linzer Cookies

Hazelnut Linzer Cookies

Each year that the holiday cookie spreads come out in food magazines, the Linzer cookies catch my eye.  Most often, they appear in bar form, constructed on a sheet pan, spread with jam, covered with a lattice top, and perhaps sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Thinking about the attraction now, it was the pastry that caught my attention, and when I made them,  they were always a favorite.

With that interest, I chose Hazelnut Linzer Cookies as my first choice for our holiday bake fest.  Although nothing like the Linzertorte I’ve enjoyed in the past, these cookies are a pleasant combination of nutty crunch and sweet, tart jam.

If they’re so satisfying and the first to be baked, why not the first to be shared?  My notes tell the story.

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Vols-au-vent: Spiced Poached Pears with Hazelnut Sabayon

Vol-au-vent with Hazelnut Sabayon and  Spiced Poached Pears
It was only a matter of time that I’d have to revisit the task of making pate feuilletee again.  My first run-in with the multi-layered French pastry dough was also my first Daring Baker challenge over two years ago.  The result was truly something that might qualify as an organic building material considering the sheer weight of it and lack of any discernible layers.  It was awful.  But when I saw this month’s  challenge, I knew I’d be ready to tackle it again.  After all, it’s been over two years, so my trauma has subsided and I’ve been more preoccupied by what kind of dessert I’d create with the puff pastry we were asked to make.

It’s officially Fall, so pears are plentiful here.  Nuts always make me think of Fall as well, but what kind, and what to fill the pastry with?  Leafing through  The French Laundry Cookbook, I found the perfect recipe and decided that it would be the perfect way to welcome in my favorite season.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!”

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