Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘chestnut recipe’

VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS GIVE-AWAY!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 1, 2013

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HOW THE VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS COOKBOOK WAS BORN

Many years ago I remember being bummed out when one of our kids brought a vegan friend over the house for dinner. At that time, it was a big deal because I had no idea of what to fix for them.

Now that I’ve been vegan for 24 years, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. Though things have changed considerably over the years, and many people have become pretty darned savvy about what’s vegan and what’s not, there are still some big gaps and big humps for vegans to overcome.

One of the major humps still plaguing vegans is the traditional holiday dinner, when the whole family comes together for the festivities. The lone vegan in a non-vegan family may be one of the lucky ones to have a vegan-savvy family that knows just what to cook to satisfy all tastes.

For the vegan whose family cooks the Standard American dishes for those big holidays like Thanksgiving, the struggle goes on.

That’s mainly why I created the Vegan for the Holidays Cookbook, but it was for me, too. I thought it would be fun to have a whole bevvy of holiday dishes in my repertoire that I could count on year after year and not have to struggle to come up with something special for the occasion.

I figured I wasn’t the only vegan who faced the quandary of what to cook for those special holiday meals–dishes that really stand apart from stuff I cook the rest of the year.

A FEW DISHES FROM VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

I also wanted to be able to share those special dishes that make the holiday dinners so divinely delicious and so very memorable. Here are a few dishes to stir your curiosity:

carrotwreath copyAlmond Thumbprint CookiesNew Year LogSanta's Favorite Panforte

There’s nothing like a tasty teaser to spark even more curiosity, so I want to share one of my favorite appetizers that appears in the Christmas section of Vegan for the Holidays. Truth is that this recipe is so versatile, it doesn’t have to wait for the holidays to arrive.

Because the ingredients are available year round, Tofu Tijuana Cocktail is a delight even in the middle of July. Actually, it’s a fabulous starter in July when avocados are in abundance and reasonably priced.

Another point of versatility is the inter-play between tofu and chestnuts. When chestnuts are in season, generally from October through December and sometimes January, they ought to be the featured item in this starter. And, if you’ve never ventured into the land of cooking and peeling chestnuts, check out the step-by-step Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts details that appeared in an earlier post Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts.

The thing about chestnuts is their ultra sweet flavor and soft and pleasing potato-like texture. Chestnuts are not like any other nut, yet they are still considered a tree nut, like walnuts or almonds. What makes them so different? For starters, they have a soft and starchy texture rather than a crunchy nature like other nuts. They are extremely low in fat–about 2% rather than the usual 50% to 80% fat in most other nuts. Chestnuts are starchier than other nuts with about 27% carbohydrates, while other nuts range in carbs from 12% to 32%.

When chestnuts are not in season, replace them with chunks of firm tofu and enjoy a delicious starter that looks elegant served in long-stemmed wine glasses or champagne flutes.

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TIJUANA TOFU COCKTAIL

Colorful and inviting, this zesty appetizer comes alive with bright colors, bold flavors, and a glamorous presentation. I created this recipe to spotlight fresh chestnuts, then replaced them with tofu for its ease of preparation. Either way, this is a delicious starter. If you enjoy chestnuts as much as I do, go ahead and substitute them for the tofu and you’ll find they add a pleasant sweet balance to the savory and spicy flavors.

Yield: 6 to 8 servingsTijuana Tofu Cocktail 2copy

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups diced firm tofu, or chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts
1 large avocado, diced
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

1. Combine the canned and fresh tomatoes, tofu, avocado, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large bowl and mix well.

2. To serve, spoon the cocktail into long-stemmed wine glasses, old-fashioned glasses, or glass dessert bowls and garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime perched on the rim. Serve with spoons. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later.

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Posted in Appetizers, Celebrations, chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Holiday Recipes, Vegan for the Holidays, Zel's Cookbooks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CHESTNUTS ARE BACK AND SO AM I!!!!!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 21, 2011

The chestnut harvest is in and ready for cookin’! I’ve just placed my order and will probably be cooking and peeling a heap of the beauties when they arrive in about a week.

This year I ordered from Girolami Farms and Correia Farms but an abundance of the sweet nuts can also be found at Allen Creek Farms, Croft Chestnuts, Washington Chestnut Company, Chestnut Growers, Inc., and Delamarvelous Chestnuts. Don’t wait too long to order. Many of the farms sell out by mid November, though some will have chestnuts through January.

Honestly, I’m not getting a commission for touting the chestnut growers. I’m just very passionate about chestnuts and hope to see more people cooking and enjoying their naturally sweet flavor and delightful soft and creamy texture.

The neat thing is if you’re not inclined to cooking and peeling chestnuts, you can buy them already cooked and peeled. It doesn’t get better than that!

Today, I’m welcoming myself back to fun and utterly delicious nutty blogging. I’ve been absent for good reason. I just turned in the manuscript for my new cookbook. Yea!!!! And Whew!!!!!

While the new book will still have a banquet of nut recipes, it places the focus on killer-delicious vegan recipes for the holidays—from Thanksgiving through the New Year. During the year and especially during this coming holiday season, I’ll be sharing some of the nuttier delicacies from Gone Vegan for the Holidays, starting today.

A year ago I was puttering in the kitchen with my freshly cooked chestnuts and came up with a seductively delicious meal starter I call Tijuana Chestnut Cocktail. No, this cocktail is not a beverage like its name suggests. Instead, it was my effort to create a vegan version of shrimp cocktail—only much tastier with the addition of chestnuts that contribute more complex flavor.

It looks really elegant and is amazingly easy to assemble. The photo says it all.

Initially, I created this recipe to spotlight chestnuts, then replaced them with tofu for its ease of preparation. Either way, it’s a delicious starter. For an exceptional presentation, serve the cocktail in long-stemmed wine glasses or champagne flutes. Put each glass on a dish with a doily underneath and garnish with a slice of fresh lime on the rim. Make the cocktail a day ahead, chill it, and it’s ready to serve.

TIJUANA CHESTNUT COCKTAIL

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked, peeled and chopped chestnuts, or cubed firm tofu
1 large avocado, diced
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

1. Combine the diced tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tofu, avocado, onions, cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir well to distribute evenly. Serve immediately, or chill and serve later.

2. When ready to serve, spoon the cocktail into long-stemmed wine glasses, old-fashion glasses, or glass dessert bowls and garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime. Serve with spoons.

Posted in chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Nut Companies, Nut Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I’M HAVING AN AFFAIR– WITH CHESTNUTS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on November 7, 2009

I love the versatility of chestnuts. No other tree nut can charm me with its sweetness and its unique potato-like texture that makes a dish like these tasty patties so compelling. Throughout the holiday season, I plan to have a supply of fresh chestnuts on hand. Once cooked and peeled, chestnuts will keep well in fridge for a whole week so I can have them ready to use when I need them for a recipe.

Buying Fresh Chestnuts
One of the neat chestnut growers on the West Coast, Ladd Hill Orchards Organic Chestnuts from Oregon, sells them fresh and dried. They also have a good supply of chestnut flour for anyone who enjoys baking for the holidays ahead. Another item they have available is a chestnut knife that comes in very handy for peeling the chestnuts. I’ve been cooking chestnut dishes for many years and bought my first and only chestnut knife this year. I sure don’t know how I managed without it—well, yes, actually I do. I always ended up with very sore fingers from peeling two or three pounds of cooked chestnuts in one sitting with nothing but a simple paring knife.

Because chestnuts are gaining popularity, some growers have already sold out. Here are other U.S. growers that sell chestnuts harvested from their own orchards: Empire Chestnut Company, Allen Creek Farm, and Girolami Farms Chestnuts.

Awesome Nutrition
Chestnuts totally rock because they’re very low in fat. You’ll never have to worry about gaining weight by eating chestnuts with a total fat content of 0.76 grams for 3 1/2 ounces cooked. That is low, low, low fat for a tree nut. And because chestnuts are about 14% fiber, they help to lower cholesterol.

Calorie wise, that 3 1/2 ounces will deliver 153 calories—not really too bad. At the same time, you’ll benefit from 2.9 grams of protein, 306 mg of potassium, and a good supply of B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folate.

Chestnuts are the only nut that contains vitamin C—how about 24.7 mg along with some trace minerals like iron, zinc, and copper, all essential for good health.

Now, let’s get down to some serious cooking. If you’re one who adores cooking and spends a bit of time at it, you probably keep a few things on hand that work into great leftovers. I like to keep cooked grains like pearl barley or short-grain brown rice in the fridge for those spontaneous moments when I feel like composing something unique.

These sweet little patties make a great side dish and can even be the centerpiece of the meal. Serve them with a hearty tossed salad, a steamed vegetable, and a bean dish and you’ve got a fabulously satisfying meal. In keeping with the low fat content of the chestnuts, I’ve also kept the recipe low fat by water sautéing the veggies rather than cooking them the traditional way in oil or some other fat. It didn’t hurt the flavor of the patties one bit—these little babies are very flavorful and retain the natural sweetness of the chestnuts.

chestnutpatties

CHESTNUT PATTIES WITH VEGGIE CONFETTI

Yield: 12 patties

1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced

7 ounces firm tofu, rinsed and drained
1 cup coarsely chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne

1 cup cooked pearl barley or short-grain brown rice

Garnish
Fresh dill or basil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and have ready a large jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper.
2. In a large, deep skillet combine the carrot, bell pepper, and onion and 1/2 cup water. Water sauté the vegetables over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and the onions are translucent. Add small amounts of additional water as needed to prevent the vegetables from burning.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, combine the tofu, chestnuts, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
4. Add the cooked vegetables, along with the cooked barley, and pulse chop carefully to combine the ingredients well, yet still retain the appearance of some of the diced vegetables.
5. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 12 patties. Bake for 35 minutes, then, use a spatula to transfer the patties to an attractive serving dish. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy.

References:
“Nutrients in Chestnuts” Sandra L. Anagnostakis and Peter Devin. Northern Nut Growers Annual Report, 1999.

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Posted in chestnuts, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Companies, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CHESTNUTS! CHESTNUTS! IT’S RAINING CHESTNUTS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 13, 2009

Well, chestnut season is here at last and I couldn’t be happier—I love them passionately and hope to pass on a few gems that might help you fall in love with chestnuts, too. I must confess, though, that cooking and peeling them could be considered a labor of love.

Because they’re somewhat labor intensive, they tend to discourage frequent use. All it takes is a little fortitude and a spirit of adventure to plunge right in and decide you’ll give these awesome delicacies a try. With the boiling method, cooking takes about 25 to 35 minutes. Peeling might take about the same time, too.

If you’ve never eaten a chestnut, you’re in for a treat. While they’re considered nuts, they are totally different in texture, flavor, and nutritional quality from other nuts like almonds and walnuts. Chestnuts can be eaten raw, but they taste much better cooked. Unlike other nuts, chestnuts are starchy and have a texture closer to a potato than to a nut. They also have a natural delicate sweetness that could be compared to the sweetness of a Japanese yellow sweet potato.

Buy a couple of pounds of chestnuts next time you’re at the grocery store or order them from Allen Creek Farms, Empire Chestnut Company, or Girolami Farms all listed in the Blogroll. And check out the instructions for Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts on a previous posting of this blog.

Ever taste a dish that had such a pleasing blend of flavors you just wanted to keep on eating and eating? This irresistible risotto is worth waiting a whole year for fresh chestnuts to appear in the markets. The ultra seasonal creation is blessed with the creamy sweetness of chestnuts and paired with the earthy flavors of a trio of herbs that make the shiitake and cremini mushrooms melt in the mouth. Rather than using the familiar Arborio rice, I prefer the healthier brown rice. Just make sure to buy the SHORT GRAIN brown rice, sometimes labeled “sweet brown rice.”

chestnutrisotto

CHESTNUT AND WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO

Yield: 6 servings

3 large tomatoes, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup diced carrots
1 stalk celery, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems discarded
(or use cremini mushrooms, sliced)
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 to 1 1/4 cups short grain brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 cups water

1 1/2 cups cooked, peeled chestnuts, quartered
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley or chives

1. Combine the tomatoes and minced garlic in a large saucepan or skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes until the tomatoes have begun to break down. Set them aside to add at the end.
2. Combine the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, water, and olive oil in a large, deep skillet or 8 to 10-quart stockpot. Cook and stir over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.
3. Add the mushrooms, thyme, sage, and rosemary and cook about 2 minutes more, adding as much as a cup of water if needed.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the brown rice, salt, and 1 cup of the water. Keep the pan simmering and add the water, 1/2 cup at a time, as the liquid is absorbed. The process of cooking down and adding water may take 30 to 40 minutes. Taste the rice for tenderness after 30 minutes. You may not need to use all of the water.
5. When the rice is tender, add the cooked tomatoes and the chestnuts and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer to create a pleasing flavor union. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To finish, spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle with a pinch or two of herbs.

Note: For a delicious Wild Rice, Chestnut and Wild Mushroom Risotto, substitute 1 cup of wild rice for the brown rice, but plan on at least 20 minutes longer cooking to soften the wild rice.

Posted in chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Nut Recipes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Chestnut Stuffed Apples

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 13, 2009

I adore chestnuts—not that I don’t love all the other nuts, too, but chestnuts—well—they’re special—really special. Chestnuts have a texture like no other nuts. They’re very very low in fat so they have a totally different mouthfeel from other nuts.

Tree nuts are known for their high monounsaturated fat content, but chestnuts are different with a total fat content of 8%, while almonds contain about 80% fat and walnuts have about 87% total fat. Even the saturated fat content of chestnuts bottoms out at 2%, while other nuts range from 7 to 22%.

Chestnuts are starchy and, when cooked, their texture could be compared somewhat to a firm, boiled potato—actually, more like a creamy Asian sweet potato because chestnuts are sweet. Also, chestnuts are not crunchy like other nuts, and they’re mostly eaten cooked rather than raw. Their soft texture and sweetness set them apart from other nuts.

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Try free-associating the words “baked apples” and you’re sure to arrive at familiar words like home, homespun, comfort food, old-fashioned, Mom, fragrant aromas, warmth, sweet, raisins, and kitchen. But it’s doubtful you’ll connect chestnuts with baked apples. This grand combination, heightened with orange blossom water and a heavenly sauce, invites happy gorging in a good sense—the ingredients are wholesome and nourishing. This is a great make-ahead dessert that can be served chilled or gently warmed. To warm the apples, place them in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes. To warm the sauce, place it in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
bakedapple2
CHESTNUT STUFFED APPLES

Yield: 4 servings

4 sweet apples (Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady), washed and cored

Filling
1 cup cooked, peeled, coarsely chopped chestnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange blossom water**
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Creamy Sauce
3 cups vanilla soymilk
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 to 3 tablespoons water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, place the prepared apples into an 8 x 8-inch baking pan, and set aside.
2. TO MAKE THE FILLING, combine the chestnuts, raisins, dates, water, maple syrup, lemon juice, orange blossom water, and cinnamon in the food processor. Pulse and process until the mixture is almost pureed, leaving the mixture with a little toothy texture. You may have to stop the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides of the processor and process again to incorporate the stray bits.
3. Use a pointed spoon to fill the cored apples, pushing the filling firmly down into the bottom of the cavity. Mound the remaining filling over the top of the apple and smooth the top.
4. Place an aluminum foil tent (shiny side down) over the baking dish and seal the edges well. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes. Baking time will vary with the apple variety. Fork test after 50 minutes.
5. TO MAKE THE CREAMY SAUCE, combine the soymilk, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with a wire whip. Watch carefully to avoid a messy boil-over.
6. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir to form a runny paste. Add the paste to the gently bubbling sauce a little at a time, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, or until thickened to desired consistency.
7. TO SERVE, place the baked apples into individual dessert dishes and spoon a generous serving of the sauce into the bottom of each bowl, forming a pool of creamy sauce.

To enhance the dessert presentation, here are some suggestions:

    Float fresh raspberries in the sauce
    Float fresh strawberries in the sauce
    Make a sauce with raspberries or strawberries blended with sugar to taste and drizzle over the top
    Drizzle warm chocolate syrup over the top of the apple filling and allow it to cascade down the sides
    Drizzle a small amount of rum, brandy, Kahlua, or Crème de Cocoa into the sauce

**Orange blossom water can be purchased at most Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian, Armenian, and Iranian grocery stores. If you are unable to locate it, don’t worry. Simply leave it out, and the recipe will still bring delicious satisfaction.

Posted in chestnuts, Nut Desserts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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