Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘fresh chestnuts’

THE NUTTY SIDE OF THE NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO WEST

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on March 13, 2013

One step into the Natural Products EXPO West vendor floors at the Anaheim Convention Center and you’ll have no doubt this annual event is THE premier trade show for manufacturers of natural products like food, supplements, body care products, pet foods and supplies, and eco-friendly items for the home.

Aisle Busy

With 2428 exhibitors and a whopping 63,000 attendees, you can bet the aisles were crazy busy, making it all the more exciting for those attending to discover emerging trends, new products, and indulgent flavors of old favorites.

With wildly colorful displays and costume-festooned participants, there was never a dull moment for both attendees and vendors. I walked my feet off and loved every moment! It was such a exciting learning experience asking how some of our foods are made, where they come from, and how they’re creatively formed and assembled.

Over the next few days, I’ll be blogging about some of the nicest, nuttiest niche num nums I found. I know some terrific items will be left out because the 3-floor, 393,000 square-foot show-floor event is so large it would be impossible to see it all, in spite of spending two very full days traversing the aisles ’til our feet ached. (It was worth it, of course!)

Chestnut Chips made their world premiere debut at the Chestnut Growers, Inc. booth on the 3rd floor of the convention center. These delicious, crunchy snacks were probably the most unique product I encountered. While fresh Chestnut Chips 2chestnuts are only available from October through December, these neat little chips are a year-round, totally natural, and very tasty snack food. Also neat is that chestnuts are a really low-fat, gluten-free food. Here’s the process that turns fresh chestnuts into chestnut chips: Once the shells are removed, the chestnuts are thinly sliced by machine and oven dried at Michigan State University Rogers Reserve in Jackson, Michigan where the chips were developed. That’s it–nothing added and nothing removed except moisture.

At the WEBSITE visitors can order fresh, dried, and frozen chestnuts as well as pure chestnut flour that contains no pellicle, the dark brown inner skin that’s sometimes a bitch to peel. They also have nutritional information and a ton of recipes.

Posted in chestnuts, Nut Organizations, Nut Uses | 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 »

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 »

 
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