Mixed Nut Butter Brittle

Mixed Nut Butter Brittle
Servings: about 1 pound
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 8-10 pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups raw nuts, mixed (I used pine nuts, cashews and walnuts)
  • sea salt

Special Equipment:

  • Silpat

Directions:

  1. Combine nuts in a cold skillet. Heat skillet over medium-high, moving nuts frequently to prevent burning. When nuts are lightly browned (3-5 minutes) transfer nuts to a cutting board. Allow to cool slightly and chop to desired size.
  2. While nuts are toasting place a small sauce pan over low heat. Add butter and allow it to melt. Add sugar, stir to combine and turn heat up to high. Leave undisturbed for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Place nuts on a Silpat lined sheet pan. When butter-sugar mixture is a medium to dark caramel color pour the mixture over the nuts. Spread with a back of a spoon.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with a generous pinch of sea salt. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Break into bite-size pieces and try to not eat the whole batch in one sitting.

Note:
The butter-sugar mixture will go from light to medium to dark brown very quickly once it starts to color. Don’t walk away or you may need to start over.

Any combination of nuts would work here. I think raw (not roasted or otherwise previously heated) nuts work best.

The brittle may feel a bit oily to the touch. Blotting it with some paper towels may help a bit.

Store in a air-tight container. You know, the stuff you don’t eat immediately. Cause that’s likely.

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash, Dried Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts

I first encountered Israeli couscous at a local Whole Foods in the prepared food gallery. In fact that same discovery was the inspiration for this dish. In the prepared foods case was a large bowl with a colorful array on orange, red, brown and green against a canvas of the white couscous.

This makes a great buffet item as it is tasty warm, cool or room temperature. It lends itself to infinite variations as well. Here is one of my favorites.

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash, Dried Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled and seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 x 8.8 oz. packages of Israeli couscous
  • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a half-sheet pan with a Silpat or sheet of parchment.
  2. In a bowl toss squash with 2 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tsp. salt and black pepper. and spread in 1 layer. Spread on sheet pan into a single layer. Roast in upper third of oven 20 minutes, or until squash is just tender. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. While the squash cooks heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook until tender. Golden brown is OK here. Add to the bowl with the squash.
  4. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt, return to a boil and add the couscous along with the cinnamon sticks. Cook for ~10 minutes, until the couscous is tender. Drain, shake to remove excess water and add to the bowl with the squash. Remove the cinnamon sticks and discard them.
  5. Add lemon peel and juice, parsley, walnuts, dried cranberries to the bowl along with the last tablespoon of olive oil. Toss well to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Notes:
Most of the prep time here is in peeling and cubing the squash. I prefer to peel the squash with a chef’s knife. A sturdy U-shaped vegetable peeler will also work.

While there are several components to this dish, much of the cooking can be done at the same time. For example, the squash can roast while the onion cooks and pasta boils.

You can make this dish in advance, store it overnight and serve cold, room temperature or reheated in the microwave.

Orecchiette with Chickpeas, Spinach and Walnuts

This recipe is a combo of two dishes I’ve made in the past: Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Spinach Walnut Penne. We liked the flavor profile of the orecchiette dish plus the added veg and nut of the penne.

Orecchiette is a pasta that looks like a small saucer. It works well in this dish because you’ll often find a chickpea or a walnut sitting in the saucer with a bit of sauce.

This recipe has you cook the pasta in what will become the sauce instead of cooking the pasta separately and adding it to the sauce later. It eliminates a dirty pot and simplifies the work.

Orecchiette with Chickpeas, Spinach and Walnuts

Two great tastes that taste pretty good together.

Recipe under the cut

Linzertorte Bars

I came across this recipe some years ago in the Williams-Sonoma recipe section. I make them a couple of times a year and they always disappear.

When I looked up the recipe on the W-S site this year it was no longer listed. Luckily I had printed a copy out some time back. I’m posting it here in case I lose that copy.

Linzertorte Bars

Ingredients:
* 1 1/2 cups walnuts or slivered blanched almonds
* 3 Tbsp plus ½ cup (4 oz) granulated sugar
* 1 cup (5 oz) flour
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp ground cloves
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 egg yolks
* 1 cup (10 oz) apricot or raspberry preserves
* Confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat an oven to 350&def;F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Butter the foil.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, place the nuts and coarsely chop. Add the 3 tablespoons sugar and process finely. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set both mixtures aside.

Combine the butter, the 1/2 cup sugar and the vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Reduce the speed to low, add the nut and flour mixtures and mix just until blended.

Spread about 3/4s of the batter in the prepared pan and spread to form a bottom crust. Top with the preserves, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Spoon the remaining batter in globs over the preserves like you would on a cobbler. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Bake until the preserves begin to bubble and the crust is just firm to the touch, about 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack, about 20 minutes. Using the foil, lift the sheet from the pan. Peel back the foil sides. Cut into 20 squares. Consume!

Notes
I microwave the preserves for 10-15 seconds so that they flow freely out of the jar. Just remove the jar cover first. 🙂

The original recipe calls for putting the remaining 1/3 of the batter into a pastry bag and piping it in a lattice pattern over the preserves. I don’t have the patience for that.