I pulled in to in the supermarket lot, parked, and swung over to the long line of shopping carts. Flipping down an infant seat, and dropping in my overfilled shabby bag, the ad at the far end of the cart caught my eye. Nutella topping a waffle. A few berries scattered artfully on top. And it was only yesterday that we were making hazelnut sour cream waffles with a schmear of homemade chocolate hazelnut goodness, spreading the love at a cooking demonstration designed to introduce and promote our book, In A Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds.
Homemade Nutella is a snap to make, deceptively easy. Just whiz 5 ingredients (Dutch process cocoa, confectioner’s sugar, chopped hazelnuts, vanilla extract and canola oil) together in a food processor or a Vita Mix blender, as we did in our demo. It keeps for a week or even longer tightly closed in the refrigerator. The flavor is massive in comparison to the commercial stuff. Sandy in texture, dark in color and deeply rich in flavor, we love to eat it many ways. The two best ways come quickly to mind. First is licked right off of a spoon. Next is how we prepared it at the demo, same as the advertisement I spied in the supermarket cart: spread on a piping hot waffle.
We made waffles of substance to pair with the spread. The Hazelnut Sour Cream waffles are both dense and crunchy. Made in a Belgian waffle maker, they have deep cavities that are easily filled to their brims with the spread. Both hazelnut flour and chopped pieces of hazelnut keep the texture just right: light yet firm with a little golden crust on the outside. The combo is Hazelnut Heaven. We hope for the day that many folks exchange their trips to the frozen food isle with dusting off their waffle irons and whirring up their blenders. Our Hazelnut Sour Cream waffles with homemade chocolate hazelnut spread make an easy to prepare breakfast or snack that outshines the commercial combination in every way.
In the fall, we are always looking for tasty ways to use our abundance of freshly picked apples. Sliced and dipped in our Creamy Crunchy Nut Butter Dip, our crisp apples make a great breakfast, mid day snack, or night time treat.
2 cups reduced fat Greek yogurt
1 cup natural nut butter, almond, peanut or cashew (or any you prefer)
4 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped nuts (almonds peanuts or cashews)
Serve with sliced crisp apples
- Combine the yogurt and the nut butter in a small mixing bowl and stir well to mix.
- Mix in the maple syrup, vanilla and nuts (reserving a few to sprinkle on top)
- Serve immediately with slice apples.
Recipe reprinted from In A Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Copyright © 2014 by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Colorful bottles of nut oils lined up on a store shelf make us want to go home and cook. Open the top and the essence of the nut is with you, as if you have cracked open a shell. But cooking with nut oils is not the same as cooking with the nuts and seeds themselves. Here is why:
Nut oils are fragrant delicate liquids that don’t hold up to much heat. We prefer the ones that are labelled cold pressed, because they have been created with care. When heat is added to the oil production process it denigrates the inherent flavors a tiny bit. Cold pressing extracts just the fats without heat harming the oil, and it’s name ” cold pressed” is as descriptive as can be. When people first gathered nuts and seeds to eat they soon learned that crushing them would release their oils, creating another useful product from the wonders around them. Now nut and seed oils are made in industrial settings with big steel rollers doing the work, no longer crushed between 2 stones as in times long ago. It may be quicker and therefore less expensive to apply heat, but cold pressed oils have flavors that are the essences of the nuts, truer and brighter than the warmed commercial alternatives.
The best use of most nut oils is in finishing a recipe, when no further heat is applied. We drizzle them on top of soups about to be served or whisk them in to salad dressings. A little goes a long way, their flavors are intense. We buy them in the smallest possible quantities because their shelf lives are limited, and we don’t want to waste a drop by spoilage. Keep them closed, cool and dry, and once opened, inside the refrigerator is the place to store them. We pair the flavor of oil with the same nut when we can. The oil elevates the nut’s inherent flavor, underscoring it’s best fragrant qualities.