Wednesday, October 26, 2016

THE NUTTY PROFESSOR



                            












A professor I am not, but nutty I sometimes am. Chomping at the bit, many would be eager to challenge my admission of “sometimes”, keen to replace it with “all the time”, energetically (almost uncontrollably) claiming the latter is closer to the mark.  Calm down!  Remember your blood pressure and heart rate!

Anyway, those who dare dispute my assessment could very well be right, so I’ll zip my lip and not argue about what probably is a very fine point.  I have to draw the line somewhere.  I drew one once. It was a bit crooked, but I stepped over it. Some others followed, but I managed to lose them. In this case, I’m very happy with the status quo; I hope it remains. 

When it’s all boiled down to the nitty-gritty (or the nutty-grutty) I’ve no other choice because I like being nutty, which is just as well.  I’m not likely to change at this stage in my life.  It is what it is; “I yam what I yam”, to once again quote my good mate Popeye.  Being a nut adds flavour and flair to life.  There’s nothing quite like a touch of nutty enhancement to liven things up a bit - improvement is nothing to be scoffed at.  There is always room for improvement in every case.

I love nuts.  I’m certainly not allergic to nuts; which again is fortunate because I very much enjoy being one.

Ever since I was child, which was eons ago, I’ve loved nuts of all descriptions. 

Every Saturday night when leisurely window-shopping along Mary Street with our Nana after watching Gympie’s Scots Pipe Band march through the main street coming to a halt at Gympie’s Memorial Gates, on the return trip along the opposite side of the street, my brother and I bought sixpence worth each of boiled and roasted peanuts from Choy’s, an inviting shop run by a Chinese family.  Graham has his own purchases, and I had mine.  Our tastes – in food – were very similar.  We enjoyed our Saturday night treats.  Actually, we enjoyed our Saturdays...with the movie matinees in the afternoon ("pictures" as we called them in those years) and our Saturday nights window shopping, following the Pipers and buying (and devouring) our various goodies...always finished off at Webster's Corner store with a fresh fruit salad ice-block each!

In those days sixpence bought a worthy amount of the delicious peanuts.  If we were flush with funds more than usual, we’d buy a shillings worth of each.  The amount of our pocket money was dependent upon how many papers we sold to the corner store and/or how many empty soft drink and milk bottles we’d managed to gather in exchange for coins. Where possible we always paid our own way out of our own “earnings”.

I know peanuts are, in fact, legumes, but in some quarters they’re also known as groundnuts.  There were times Graham and I even grew a couple of peanut plants in our own small garden plot just for the fun of it.  It was fun watching the raw kernel sprout, and the process/progress from that point.

When I was a kid nuts such as Brazil, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds and Queensland nuts (of which I am one) aka macadamias were available in their shells only; in their cases. (Perhaps that’s where the term “nut cases” originated....just a thought)!  Every household had a nut cracker or two hanging about the place; and a hammer for use on macadamias.  I still run when I see a hammer! Nut crackers were of no use whatsoever if you wanted to smash open a Queensland nut; only a hammer, a solid rock or brick would get the job done. We’re tough nuts to crack!

In 1961, as a 16-year old lazing and gazing on the beach at Mooloolaba, I was first introduced to roasted, salted cashews.  Instantly I became addicted!  I was a “goner” from that moment forth!

So much so the lifesaver – the fellow who introduced me to salted, roasted cashews – christened me “Cashew”.  Fortunately, the name didn’t stick, but the addiction did!  Not many girls were wooed by cashews, I’m sure!

To clarify - I fell in love with cashews, not the fellow.   However, in saying that, he was a very nice fellow...a good friend.

At a restaurant in which I cooked back in the early Nineties a regular diner loved my peanut sauce which I made to go with an entree dish that was on my menu - Beef Satay.   He loved it so much he asked if I’d make extra just for him.  Always aiming to please the customer – particularly a regular who brought a lot of business to the restaurant - I used to prepare a special batch of the sauce just for him...to take home.

Along with fresh fruit, I eat lots of raw nuts. I've always a couple or more large jars filled with raw, mixed nuts; or empty of them if I’ve devoured my stocks.  If the tide goes out on my nut supplies, my stress level rises. In haste, I must rapidly replenish my stocks before panic takes over.   

The tide never goes out completely, though.

I only ever buy raw mixed nuts, as well as raw peanuts. 

My local supermarket had a delivery mix-up, and for a couple of weeks their stock of raw mixed nuts was depleted.  I almost had to be put into rehab; but, fortunately, I had enough back-up supplies here at home to see me through. 

I’m a ‘back-up-supplies” kind of girl!  Sometimes, I believe I run my own min-supermarket here at home.  It’s very, very seldom I run out of anything – if ever.  It’s just the way I am, and have always been.  Working in commercial kitchens and managing island resorts added to my “habit”.

If I want roasted, mildly salted nuts I roast my own; and I always have a supply of those on hand, too.   I also boil my own peanuts.  I love boiled peanuts. 

So you see – there is no point denying it - I live in a nutty household, with me being the biggest nut of all. No nuts are safe around me! 

Now that I’ve professed all, I’ll crawl back into my shell.

Fruit & Nut Salad: Whisk 1/2c x-virgin olive oil, 2tbs red/white wine vinegar, 1/2c unsweetened pomegranate juice, 1tbs honey, 2tsp mustard, salt and pepper in bow. Put roughly-chopped lettuce, 1 sliced green apple/pear, 1/4c fresh pomegranate seeds, 1/2c chopped walnuts, 1/2c chopped dates, 1/2c dried cranberries and 1/2c crumbled goat cheese in salad bowl; toss with dressing. You can toss in some spinach leaves, if you like, and substitute blue cheese for the goat cheese, if preferred.

Macadamia Chicken with Pawpaw-Pineapple Relish: Whisk 1/2c soy, 1-1/2tbs brown sugar, 1tbs mirin, 1tsp minced fresh ginger, 1 minced garlic clove and 1tbs x-virgin olive oil. Season 6 boneless, skinned chicken breasts; add to marinade; chill 1h; turn occasionally. Combine 1c finely chopped macadamias and 3/4c panko breadcrumbs; put 2/3c plain flour in separate shallow dish and 3 large, lightly beaten eggs in another. Preheat oven 200C.  Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Dredge chicken in flour; dip into eggs; dredge in crumbs. Heat 2tbs olive oil and 1tbs butter in pan over med-heat; cook 3 breasts 4mins; turn, cook 3mins; transfer to oven pan; add a more oil and butter to pan; repeat process with remaining 3 breasts; bake in oven, 17mins or until cooked. Relish: Place 1c each diced pawpaw and pineapple and 1/3c sugar in saucepan; bring to boil, stirring; reduce heat; simmer uncovered, 20mins; stir occasionally. Serve with the chicken.

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Cashews: Heat oil in wok; add 1 bay leaf and 1 finely chopped onion; fry until onion is translucent; add 1tsp pepper, 1/2tsp cayenne, 1c cooked, cubed sweet potato and 1c shredded coconut. Fry until aromatic; add 1tbs raisins/ cranberries, ½ raw cashews; cook approx 10mins. Mix in 1c cooked quinoa; leave on med-heat, 3mins. Eat!

Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce:  If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water 1 hour before using. Cut 1kg beef fillet or quality rump steak into 1x2x3cm pieces. (Substitute with chicken thigh meat, if preferred). For the marinade; place 4 sliced finely stalks (soft part only) lemongrass, 1 chopped medium red onion, 1cm galangal, chopped  and 2 sliced garlic cloves in a food processor; blitz until it forms a fine paste.  Place into a bowl; add 4tbs brown sugar, 1-1/2tsp salt, 1/2tsp dark, sweet soy, 2tbs ground coriander, 1tbs ground cumin and 4tbs peanut oil. Stir well to combine. Add the meat and stir thoroughly so as all the pieces are coated. Marinate overnight.  Skewer the meat; barbeque or grill, continually turning so it doesn’t burn, until the meat is just cooked. Peanut sauce; place 2 medium, chopped red onions, 8 garlic cloves, 2cm piece galangal, chopped, 15 dried chillies, rehydrated and 2 stalks lemongrass (pale parts only) into a food processor; blitz to form a fine paste. Don’t be tempted to add water as this will make the paste difficult to caramelise. Set aside. Heat 150ml vegetable oil in a heavy based saucepan or wok over medium heat; pour paste in. Fry, stirring continuously to make sure the bottom isn’t catching, until there is very little steam rising from the sauce and it’s caramelising and has become aromatic. Be patient with this step as it’s vital for the onions etc., to be well cooked and golden before proceeding. Add 1c water; bring to boil. Add 1-2 tamarind paste, 2tbs fresh lime, 2/3c brown sugar, 1tsp salt and 250g salted, roasted, crushed peanuts. Bring to boil again; then simmer until thickened. Remove from heat; set aside till required. When you’re ready to serve, re-heat and stir through the remaining  crushed peanuts (250g).

Pecan Biscuits: Preheat oven 160C (320F). In food processor, process until creamy, 125g butter, 2tbs caster sugar and 1/4tsp vanilla essence. Add 1 cup plain flour, sifted before measuring; process until well blended.  Put mixture into a bowl; add 1c pecans, ground finely in a blender; mix well.  Form into small balls; cook on buttered trays in oven, 20 minutes. Remove from oven; carefully roll gthe balls in icing sugar; return to the trays and bake for a further 20 minutes. Roll again in icing sugar; cool on cake cooler. Store in air-tight container.


30 comments:

  1. I love nuts too, but can only eat them at home where I can brush the bits out of my teeth straight after. I have so many crevices where bits get stuck it's uncomfortable if I can't brush right away.
    Satay sauce is one of my favourites too, I prefer it with chicken though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi River...as I wrote in my recipe above, chicken can be substituted for the beef. I like both.

      Nuts being caught in one's teeth make for a meal that continues on... :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  2. Raw nuts for me too. And I have a particular fondness for brazil nuts and cashews. Not a fan of hazelnuts. And don't like salted peanuts - or not the commercial version anyway. Too salty for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi EC....It's why I like to roast my own...I can add as little or as much salt as I like to my taste I like all nuts. And I love the Italian liqueur, Frangelico...which is made using hazelnuts.

      I love Brazil nuts, too and have done since I was a kid. I love them roasted, too...they're yummy!

      Thanks for calling by. :)

      Delete
    2. I'd forgotten Frangelico is hazelnuts.

      Delete
  3. I love to eat nuts. It is good for health!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That they are Weekend-Windup. Thanks for popping in. :)

      Delete
  4. I adore mixed nuts - my favorite thing. My niece and I were talking once about what comfort food is to us - hers is Havarti with dill. Mine is "deluxe mixed nuts" - meaning no peanuts in the mix. (Although I do like peanuts - go figure.) :) Fun post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lynn,...I always have some every day...late afternoon or night. My main meal is in the middle of the day...I don't eat a meal at night. I only have fresh fruit and raw nuts in the early evening. It's great that something so tasty is also good for us for a change!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  5. My mouth is watering and I have added nuts to my shopping list. A friendship in junior high school with the local baker's daughter allowed me to go in the backdoor of the bakery after school with Linda and we could have whatever we wanted. It was heaven. My favorite memory of that was dipping my hands into warm Spanish peanuts in a large vat and eating to my hearts content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll all be nutty together, Annie. Best way to be!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  6. We used to grow peanuts too. Adds nitrogen back to the soil, fed us nuts and the livestock got the plant.

    We are blessed with nuts, people and otherwise. I have a jar of walnut and pecan meats in my coffee table drawer.

    I don't know about Darwin (although I am fascinated with science, nature, history) but I do love the bones, sticks, rocks, and broken things so all and all it is cheap for my husband to keep me happy. Never liked cut flowers because when they are cut they are dying.

    Have a wonderful week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I kind of agree with you re flowers. I rather see them on the plants, in the gardens than in vases, too.

      Thanks for coming by, Gail. :)

      Delete
  7. Lee, my dear......Thanks for your dear question----I am not on the computer very much these days---and just don't have the energy for blogging. My Health issues just keep me pretty depleted, I'm sorry to say....But such is life these days. Thanks so much for caring----I wish things were different, but....they aren't.
    Loved this post about nuts. I'm an Almond Butter person, myself. Take good care. Health is everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Naomi....I think of you often and wonder how you're getting on. And I often pop into to your blog, just in case you've paid a visit there.

      I understand your health is not the best, but be aware you are in my thoughts and in the thoughts of many others. Take good care of yourself...one day at a time. Hugs. Thanks for your comment. :)

      Delete
  8. In a nutshell, this was a nutritious blogpost.
    In England many families still like to have bowls of unshelled nuts in their homes at Christmastime. My favourites are Brazil nuts and hazelnuts but I also like walnuts because the kernels inside look like tiny human brains. I bet that's what Donald Trump's brain would look like if you cracked open his skull.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a cracker of a response, Yorkie!! The last time I saw nuts in a shell here was about 8 or more years ago. I asked for them at the local supermarket in the lead up to Christmas as I always had them as part of Christmas...on the Christmas table...ever since I was a kid, but when I asked the store manager when I could expect them to be available he told me they wouldn't be getting any in because they were becoming more difficult to get...and I've not seen any since then...or before that time.

      Perhaps they should check Hillary's nuts while checking Donald's brain...do you think?

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure Donald Trump's brain would look like a walnut, I think peanut.

      Delete
  9. My goodness I really want some of those pecan biscuits :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi OP....get baking then! :)

      Thanks for popping in...come back with a plate of biscuits when they're ready...and I'll have the coffee machine fired up to go! :)

      Delete
  10. Oh, nuts! Now I'm hungry again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reach out for the nuts, Cosmo...or watch out for the nuts!

      Thanks for coming by...it's cracking to see you! :)

      Delete
  11. I love nuts too, Lee. The pecan biscuits sound yummy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sandra....I think I've drawn all the nut lovers out of their shells!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  12. Hello Lee. Totally agree with you on the nuts, they are good to eat as well as being good for you. Must say I've never cooked with them, always had them 'raw'. Almonds and Walnuts are always on the shopping list so much so I buy in bulk these days.
    I'm new to your blog having come via River's - what I've read over the past day or two has been great fun so have added you to my reader and hope to find lots more of interest to read about your life i- in your Queensland kitchen as well as out and about
    Oh and I share your 'love' of Bowen. We winter there unless we are overseas, Just love Queens Beach (where we stay) as well as Rose Bay (where I sit and watch the waves in sheltered seclusion when it's too blowy to walk Queens Beach)
    Cathy

    Cathy @ Still Waters

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to my blog, Cathy. Thanks for dropping in. Please don't be a stranger.

      Bowen and its surrounding beaches really are, in many ways, still a little undiscovered, which is great in my opinion. I'm not one who loves the Gold Coast with all its hustle and bustle. Even though it's not far away from where I live here, I never go down there. I stay up here on the hill!

      I'll now pop over to your blog, but there's no need to put the coffee machine on...I've just made a mug for myself! Once again, thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  13. Oh what a funny Nut you happen to be. I have not been given a nut nickname but on occasions I am called a Squirrel due to my addiction. Hammer were used in rural Smith county as nut crackers . Never saw a true nut cracker that could do as good a job as a hammer. Peace

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there Lady Di. I still have a nut cracker hereabouts. It's now a vintage piece....a bit like me...an antique!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  14. Good heavens so many things in one post: titivation (of my tastebuds); education (I had no idea macadamia nuts were that hard to get into and boiled peanuts!!); stimulation (of my memory banks); nostalgia (pictures were so much more exciting than movies - or did I just grow up?); camaraderie (of a fellow nut and nut devotee); and so much more. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete