Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Nut Butters

I'm so excited to post this week! Alexandra Rowley generously shot this story with me last week! I'm gloating. Thank you Alexandra!

Nut butters are a great pantry item. (I do like to keep them in the fridge, though to stop them from going off) Good nut butters are basically just ground nuts. Check the ingredients before you buy them.

The idea I started out with was replacing the peanut butter in a peanut butter cookie with other nut butters. Turns out, I don't just dislike the peanut butter cookie because I'm not a huge fan of peanut butter, but the cookie texture and doesn't get much better with different nut butters. But I now had all these nut butters and an mini obsession with having them work in simplish recipes.

The recipes I developed for this week's story are easy to achieve.I made them with a stir it all together attitude. You can use the weight I give in each recipe to replace the nut butters with ground nuts, if you have whole nuts on hand. The recipes are rich, each of them will be good in a meal, but might overwhelm if they appear in the same evening.

A few notes on Nut Butters

They will most likely have some oil swimming on the top, but it should be about 1/2 inch of oil at the most.
Buy the nut butters from a place that probably sells a lot and may even store them in the fridge. That way they wont be rancid. Call me paranoid, but they are expensive! Also, store nut butters in the fridge, nut oils are delicate and can go off.

These nuts can be substituted for one another based on the fat content, so you don’t have to alter a recipe for texture if you would like to use a different nut.

Basic list of substitutions:

Peanuts for pine nuts or cashews
Pecans for brazil nuts
Pistachios for almonds
Walnuts for hazelnuts

Walnut Brioche Toast
Makes 6 toasts or 1 cup walnut frangipane

This frangipane (the paste you make before you spread it on Brioche) can also be baked in the bottom of an already baked pastry shell and become the rich base for a fresh fruit tart.

1/4 cup soft unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup walnut butter (you could also use hazelnut butter)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon orange flavored liquer (optional)
6 slices of brioche or challah sliced in 1 1/2 inch thick slices
18 walnut halves, optional
powdered sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 350∞. Combine all the ingredients except the brioche and walnut halves in a medium bowl until fully incorporated. Spread about 1/4 cup of frangipane evenly across each piece of brioche. Place three walnut halves in the center of each piece of bread. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the "frangipane" has puffed up and turned golden brown at the edges. Dust with powdered sugar.

Almond Butter and Cumin Salad Dressing
Makes 1/4 cups dressing

This salad dressing can be used on any type of salad but I love it with greens that have a bite like raddichio and arugala. It's a sturdy dressing and it needs a spicy or bitter counterpoint. Always slowly toast spices in a dry pan until perfumey before you grind them into a powder, it adds so much. The heat brings out the fragrant oils in whole spices.

2 tablespoons dry roasted almond butter (or pistachio butter)
2 tablespoon almond oil
2 teaspoon champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons hazelnut oil
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 dashes Orange Bitters (optional)

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Pecan Butter and Ricotta Linguine
Serves 4
This is one of those things that tastes best if you make it just before you serve it.

1 pound linguine
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons pecan butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (3/4 ounces)
Salt and pepper to taste
12 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup homemade or high quality breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans (optional)

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, (almost but not completely cooked through.) Use a heatproof cup to remove one cup of the cooking liquid before draining the pasta. Set the pasta aside. Set the cooking liquid aside.

Use the empty pasta pot to heat the butter and olive oil over medium low heat with the pecan butter and red pepper flakes, stir with a heatproof rubber spatula to dissolve the pecan butter into the hot butter. Stir until smooth, add the lemon zest and juice, thyme, parsley, rosemary and the pasta water.

Turn the heat to high, once the liquid begins to simmer, add the cooked pasta, stir to heat and coat the pasta with sauce, remove the pot from the heat, stir in the parmesan and stir to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide between bowls, dollop the top of each bowl with a scoop of the ricotta cheese and a sprinkling of half the breadcrumbs.

Monkfish braised with Cashew Butter
Serves 4
This one could be assembled a day ahead and cooked the next day.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup cashew butter
1 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 5 ounce pieces pounds monkfish filet, (about 2 loins)

Heat olive oil in an ovenproof medium sized sauté pan over medium low heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring very infrequently, until onions have wilted and begun to turn translucent, about 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 400∞. In a small bowl combine the chili powder, thyme, parsley, cashew butter, anchovy paste and zest. Stir to combine, add to the onions and stir to distribute evenly. Generously salt and pepper the monkfish filets. Nestle into the onion mixture. Roast for about 25 minutes, until the flesh comes apart easily when flaked with a fork.

Beets with Pistachio Butter Sauce
Serves 4 people as a side dish
One of my favorite restaurants in New York is Lupa. They used to make a vegetable side of Beets with Pistachio butter. Sometimes they still do. Below is the recipe as I first remember tasting it, bright and saucy.

I use a raw pistachio butter, I think the roasted pistachio butter has a muddy taste, is it really muddier or am I so in love with the bright green of raw pistachios that my mind just says "eat the pretty one"?

1 bunch beets, tops and greens removed, beets cut lengthwise in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
3 tablespoons (2oz) pistachio butter
1 tablespoon verjus or freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 425∞. Roll out a 34 inch length of foil. Fold in half crosswise, open it up, have one half resting on the baking sheet. Place beets cut side down in a single layer in the center of the foil half. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the thyme and rosemary over the beets, fold the foil over the top of the beets. Pinch and fold the sides of the foil to form a big sealed tinfoil packet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until beets are easily pierced in the center with a paring knife. Once beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins.

Mix the pistachio butter with verjus or lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper to taste, Spoon over beets.

Hazelnut Cocoa Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen
Alexandra called this "Nutella in a cookie"
I agree!
These are tiny. But they'd be good bigger. You could bake them by the tablespoon instead of the teaspoon, the baking time would be longer. (not sure how much longer)

1 cup hazelnut butter (8 ounces)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons high quality cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoons armagnac

Heat the oven to 375∞. Stir all ingredients to combine in a small bowl, just until uniform consistency. Place by the teaspoon with spacing them 2 inches apart on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat in the oven for 13 minutes, rotating pan 180∞ halfway through baking.


Blogger erinweston said...

WOW! these are beautiful. I love nuts and can't wait to try the recipes.

April 2, 2008 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Tina said...

I am so excited to try these recipes! The cookies sound amazing. (Can I substitute something else for the armagnac?) The photos are gorg!

April 7, 2008 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

You can always substitute another liquor, or eau de vie. Sometimes vanilla, just be careful not to overdo it! Taste the batter to check.

March 4, 2010 at 9:26 PM  

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