Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Archive for December, 2011

CHESTNUTS ROCK & ROLL OUT OF THE SKILLET!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 13, 2011

In case you’re wondering if I’ll ever get off this chestnut kick, I can assure you I will– almost immediately because I’ll be leaving on vacation until the end of the year. So, although it saddens me to abandon these tasty little wonders, I must leave the chestnuts behind. But—just one more recipe before I leave—just one more.

I concocted this very tasty side dish to use up the batch of fresh chestnuts I had left in the fridge. It turned out so well, I felt compelled to share the recipe. I hope you’ll come up with a better name for this dish than I did. As a matter of fact, please do—I would be in your debt.

At this time of year I often see recipes pairing chestnuts and Brussels sprouts. And I’ve even added my own version of the duo. But this little side dish, this wondrous infusion of chestnut and mushroom flavors, is soooo much tastier, yet the seasonings are relatively uncomplicated. If you can find Bunapi or Beech mushrooms (usually Asian markets have them), add an 8-ounce package to the mélange. It’s pure mushroom bliss!

A BEVY OF CHESTNUTS AND MUSHROOMS

Yield: about 6 servings

1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water

8 to 10 ounces king oyster mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 cups cooked and peeled chestnuts
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 green onion, sliced
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the onion, garlic, and water in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent. Add small amounts of water if needed to prevent burning.

2. Add the mushrooms along with 3 to 4 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to an attractive serving dish and serve immediately.

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THE NUT GOURMET IS BRANCHING OUT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 11, 2011

I’ve got exciting news and want to share what I’ve been working on.

While I’m still dedicated to all things nutty, during the past five years I’ve written a new cookbook focused on vegan holiday recipes. Because of my passion for nuts, I’ve included nut-focused recipes, but I’ve also created many non-nutty dishes.

The working title of the new book is GONE VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS, but that could possibly change as the book progresses through the editing process. The book features recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years and aims to bring a touch of nostalgia to the holiday table with attractive presentations and foods that are typically connected to the autumn and winter season.

Today I send my final manuscript to the publisher (Book Publishing Company) and next month I start working with an editor. I have a hunch Gone Vegan for the Holidays will be published about middle of 2012—so, not too far away. I’m very excited and will be sharing recipes on the blog.

In two days, I leave for a two-week vacation with my sweetie. We’ll be flying to the Philippines to spend an exciting time with our son and future daughter-in-law and help to plan their wedding. Our house will be in good hands, but our cat, Fuzzy, will be missing us greatly.

I hope to bring back tons of photos and some delicious Philippine recipes to share–veganized, of course.

For now my wish is for all to enjoy and warm, loving, and fulfilling Holiday Season!

Until next year – – –

Posted in Vegan for the Holidays | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

GARLICKY CHESTNUT BUTTER #2

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 9, 2011

It must be in my genes to tinker with a recipe. It frustrates my sweet, perplexed husband who tells me the recipe is perfect just the way it is. Still, I tinker, either to improve the flavor, the texture, or the health benefits.

In this case, my effort was to see if I could eliminate the olive oil from the previous posting of Garlicky Chestnut Butter and reduce the fat and calories. My concern was whether the chestnut butter would still retain its awesome flavor?

Mission accomplished with success! In this second version, the process is the same but the oil is gone and replaced by water. The result is a lighter, creamier chestnut butter with wonderful flavor. Of course, the fresh chestnuts I used are naturally sweet. I ordered them from two chestnut growers: Girolami Farms and Correia Chestnut Farm, both located in Northern California.

The recipe is super easy and shows off fresh chestnuts at their best. The chestnut season is very short. Most groceries won’t have them available beyond Christmas or New Years. Next trip to the market, buy some fresh chestnuts, cook them using the step-by-step directions below the chestnut butter recipe, and enjoy a luscious, sweet, buttery spread.

Garlicky Chestnut Butter #2

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1/3 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups cooked and peeled coarsely chopped chestnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small sprig parsley

1. Combine the onions, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 cup of the water in a skillet and cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add a few tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.

2. Transfer the mixture to the food processor, add the chestnuts, salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup of water and process for 1 or 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Spoon the Garlicky Chestnut Butter into an attractive serving bowl, garnish with the parsley, and provide a spreading knife.

Posted in Celebrations, chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

CHESTNUT BUTTER RULES THE PLANET!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 4, 2011

Garlic and chestnuts might seem like an unlikely pairing, but wait ‘till you taste this awesome and easy, buttery spread. It has become so addictive I simply can’t keep my fingers out of the bowl.

Unfortunately, the little bowl of creamy, brown chestnut butter is not very photogenic so I hope you’ll take your palate on this trip instead of your eyes.

In my home, life becomes rosier when chestnuts are on the holiday menu. I can say with confidence that this savory chestnut butter has no equal. With the addition of a bit of kitchen sorcery and a whirl in the food processor, naturally sweet and starchy chestnuts become transformed into an irresistible creamy spread that stands out on any variety of bread or cracker. I love the spread as a filling for celery sticks or spread on carrot, turnip, or Persian cucumber slices.

You can take this spread in a different direction by replacing the onions, garlic, and salt with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and a smidgeon of maple syrup to create a sweet spread or filling for baked goods. You can even stuff it into dates and top with a walnut half or a slice of Spanish olive. No doubt, creative cooks will find tons of other reasons to lick this savory-sweet chestnut butter off their fingers.

The chestnut butter is a good keeper and retains its flavor for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

For directions on cooking and peeling chestnuts, scroll down to the previous post and you’ll find step-by-step photos and directions. You can even skip the cooking and peeling by buying cooked and peeled chestnuts in jars or vacuum sealed packages during this holiday season.

Garlicky Chestnut Butter

Yield: 1 cup

1/3 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup cooked and peeled coarsely chopped chestnuts
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small sprig parsley

1. Combine the onions, garlic, olive oil, and thyme in a skillet and cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if needed to prevent burning. Add the chestnuts and cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes longer.

2. Transfer the mixture to the food processor, add the water and salt, and process until smooth and creamy. Spoon the Garlicky Chestnut Butter into an attractive serving bowl, garnish with the parsley, and provide a spreading knife.

If you love garlic, you’ll go nuts over this quick-to-assemble spread. Please do let me know if you come up with interesting ways to enjoy it, and I’ll gladly share your suggestions on this blog.– Zel

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