All posts tagged: nuts

Honeyed Fruit and Whole Wheat Couscous

Over the years I’ve prattled on about my fascination with couscous, my unwise decision to drag a couscousiere across North Africa and my ongoing dabbling with these granules of semolina. Light yet hearty, savory yet sweet and toothsome whether hot, room temperature or chilled, couscous’s almost incongruous nature is what keeps me hooked. I’d like to see spaghetti pair as smoothly with such disparate ingredients as cinnamon, cumin, cilantro, dill, cucumbers, dried cherries, balsamic vinegar or almond milk. Yeah, it’s a versatile food. Before the holidays I started tinkering with an old favorite, Sweet & Nutty Couscous, transforming it into the following dish. To some, the name “Honeyed Fruit and Whole Wheat Couscous” might sound redundant. After all, couscous comes from durum wheat so all couscous could be considered wheat couscous. However, this recipe works best when you use the mildly nutty whole wheat, pearl couscous. If you have a couscousiere collecting dust on your kitchen shelf, by all means wipe it off and put it to work. Otherwise, instant or quick cooking whole wheat …

Masterminding Moroccan Carrots

Think of all the controversial topics that could come up between family and friends. For most people slender, knobby, orange root vegetables wouldn’t be among them. Yet, in my household carrots have long been a source of contention. Until recently, the only way that I could convince my husband to eat these vegetables was if I shredded and made them into a carrot cake. Smart guy, huh? Rather than rely on cake alone to provide us that burst of Vitamin A, I look for ways to make carrots more palatable to the picky. So far, Moroccan Carrots, which I featured in Fish Market, are the favorite.When teaching a class, holding a talk or just sitting around the dinner table, I’m frequently asked how I and other food writers create recipes. While I can’t speak for my colleagues, I can explain the rationale and process behind Moroccan Carrots. All dishes begin with the question “What foods go well together?” If I’m working with a versatile ingredient such as a carrot, that’s easy to answer. From a …

Sweet & Nutty Couscous

Summertime on the East Coast, when every muggy day feels like a day spent in the tropics. Whenever sultry weather strikes, I dig out my growing stack of limited-cooking-required recipes. Most of these dishes have their roots in warmer climates where, like me, cooks try to keep the amount of heat in the kitchen to a minimum. On the top of that stack is a beloved Moroccan specialty, sweet couscous. Dotted with iron-rich dates, dried cranberries, dried apricots and toasted almonds, this grain-based favorite offers an assortment of sensory thrills. The sharp snap of the almonds provides a pleasant, and audible, change from the velvety softness of the steamed fruits and couscous. It also gives me a chance to toss all the ingredients into one pot and steep them for five minutes before serving. Tasty and requiring limited cooking, it’s a treat that can’t be beat! Traditionally, making couscous involves intermittently steaming the grains in a two-tiered pot known as a couscousiere, wetting down, and then separating the grains with your fingers. It’s a process …

Flourless & Fabulous White Chocolate Almond Torte

When baking, I often think of my late mother from whom I inherited a raging sweet tooth. I suspect that she received hers from her own mother with whom she spent countless Friday nights making candy, cakes and other confections. They had baked for fun from recipes passed down through my French grandmother’s family and plied all whom they knew with these goodies. Yeah, I inherited that latter trait, too. Among the wonderful treats that they made were tortes. Although it may sound quite sophisticated, a torte is simply a single layer cake made with flour and/or ground nuts. German in origin, it’s occasionally filled jam or buttercream. In my kitchen it’s adorned with fresh, seasonal fruit and confectioner’s sugar. I have made the following flourless White Chocolate Almond Torte so many times that I could do it blindfolded or in my sleep. Take your pick. As time passes, I’ve learned that, if you bake the cake a day in advance, sprinkle the sugar over top and then cover the cake for 24 hours, it …

Misunderstood Macadamias

Compile a list of misunderstood foods and macadamia nuts would undoubtedly rank near the top. For years I’ve heard them called everything from macadamien and macadam to plain old mag nuts. Then there’s the issue of origin. Although macadamia trees hail from Northeast Australia, many folks insist that they’re native, if not exclusive, to Hawaii. Get past those misconceptions and you face the question of consumption. How do you cook with macadamia nuts? More than a handful will argue that you don’t cook these plump, buttery jewels; you eat them straight from the vacuum-packed can. Uncultivated in Australia until the late 1800’s, these nuts initially were called Queenslands nuts. Botanists later changed their name to macadamia to honor the chemist, John McAdam, who had promoted their cultivation. In the 1890’s macadamia nuts traveled to Hawaii. Because they prefer moist yet well-drained, fertile soils and moderate temperatures, the trees and nuts thrived there. In fact, today the state produces close to 90% of the world’s macadamia nuts. What do you do with macadamia nuts? Most people …