Entries in hazelnut (3)

Thursday
Jan082015

Dukkah

IMG_5552

I head Robert Thurman talking about "changing the channel" this week, the idea that we have the power to choose what kind of person we'll be in any given situation. We can't control how other people act (the great sorrow of my life!) or what happens to us. But just like holding the remote control and switching from the news to the nature channel, we don't have to be victimized by external circumstances or even by our our emotions. With practice (especially the kind that meditation affords), we can click into another, more freeing space.

Being creative in the kitchen is one thing that helps me change the channel. I'm doing something with my hands, getting out of my head. I'm providing for my family and taking care of my body. And I'm in touch with this earth, with the soil, farmers, and producers that touched this food before it came to me.

A few others things that help me change the channel:

  • Getting outside. This is number ONE. For many years now, I've tried to live by the mantra, "Go outside whenever possible."
  • Going in my office, shutting the door, and sitting down for 5 minutes.
  • Doing a small, satisfying home task, like sorting my ribbon bin or making the bed.
  • Texting a friend and telling her I'm thinking about her.
  • Making and sending a card.
  • Brewing a cup of tea.

And for a big burst of texture and flavor, sprinkling dukkah on top of everything, which I've been doing for a few months. The London Plane puts dried rose petals in theirs, which you might try also. That's like going from standard picture to HD. Yum.

Dukkah
Makes 2/4 cups, which will go quick of you're anything like me. If your volume of cooking is less than mine (very likely!), you can store the excess in the freezer to maintain maximum freshness. And I wouldn't dream of getting my spices in any form but bulk. Infinitely cheaper and fresher than anything you'll find in a bottle.

1 c. nuts (I like hazelnuts, but almonds would be delicious, too)
1/2 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. coriander seeds
1/4 c. cumin seeds
1/4 c. caraway seeds
1/4 c. fennel seeds
1/4 c. black cumin (nigella)
1 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Toast nuts in a 350 oven until slightly browned. Usually takes about 10 minutes, but watch closely! If you're using hazelnuts, you can take the skins off after they're toasted by rubbing them in a clean dish towel.

Toast sesame, coriander, cumin, caraway, nigella and fennel seeds in a hot, dry skillet for 3-4 minutes until you smell their fragrance and hear some popping sounds. Remove from heat immediately and let cool.

Combine toasted nuts and spices in a food processor and pulse. The mixture may be find or coarse, depending on your preference. But don't overdo it or it will turn into a paste! You want it dry and crumbly. You can also chop your nuts separately and crush your spice in a mortal or pestle or spice grinder, and them combine then. Add coarse salt and fresh ground pepper to the finished mixture.

Sunday
Jan012012

Hazelnut Sesame Granola Clusters

Hazelnut Sesame Granola Clusters

Happy New Year! Predictably, I've started out with a lot of health resolutions. Even I am not divulgent enough to display my little chart here, but some are easy, some are harder. And by "health," I mean it all--body, mind, spirit. Go overboard with fruits and veggies, send mail, get outside, sit up straight, meditate and read poetry more often. I've learned the hard way that it's not about conquering all those resolutions. It's about putting them out there. 

I've read a lot of poetry this week, remembering how its economy of words gives me something to hold onto when the day's anxieties hit. Coleman Barks, the preeminent translator of Rumi, relates this story:

Meditation, or any solitary practice (a walk before dawn, a poem every morning, sitting the roof at sunset), gives depth and expands the soul's action.

A man in prison is sent a prayer rug by his friend. What he had wanted, of course, was a file or a crowbar or a key! But he began using the rug, doing five-times prayer before dawn, at noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset, and before sleep. Bowing, sitting up, bowing again, he notices an odd pattern in the weave of the rug, just at the quibla, the point where his head touches. He studies and meditates on that pattern, gradually discovering that it is a diagram of the lock that confines him in his cell and how it works. He's able to escape. Anything you do every day can open into the deepest spiritual place, which is freedom.

I just love that--anything we do every day can open into the deepest spiritual place. And you know me--I put cooking into this category. Increasingly, cooking is something it's possible to get away from. You can do "food preparation" instead, removing things from boxes and warming them up. You can buy all your carrots already cut up or eat most of your meals out. But when we do that, I think we're missing out, not just on the health benefits, but on the meditative ritual cooking can be.

I paid $4.00 yesterday for a bunch of rainbow carrots grown in this county. Splitting the red one down the middle, I saw two more layers inside--orange, then yellow. A whole riot of color! Standing there with my knife on New Year's Eve, arranging those beautiful carrots on a platter, was another chance to be mindful, to think of the farmers that tended those carrots, to be grateful for this region we live in, and to enjoy the small movements of running the carrots under the sink, twisting off the tops. Of course I don't always slip into this state while cutting vegetables! But these moments aren't as accessible to me when I'm not in the kitchen. It's one of the places I feel most free.

And my kitchen always has a jar of granola in it. The kind I'm into lately is made with brown rice syrup, which makes it unbelievably clustered and shiny. Almost shellacked. This is the olive oil granola recipe I've been into for the last 18 months, just a bit different. Another health goal of mine is "Automate my breakfast." A jar of this makes that easy to do.

Hazelnut Sesame Granola Clusters
You can find brown rice syrup at good grocery stores, at a natural foods store, or even bulk at some places. This is the same olive oil granola recipe I've been wild about for the last 18 months, courtesy of Melissa Clark. As you're cooking this, it might look like you've done something wrong. The syrup will be bubbling up around the oats and it will look much more viscous than your regular granola might. Don't worry! Stir it every ten minutes, and let it cool all the way when it comes out of the oven. It will dry up nicely.

3 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. slivered almonds
1.5 c. hazelnuts
3/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/4 c. sesame seeds 
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
3/4 c. brown rice syrup
1 c. whole dried cranberries 

Preheat oven to 300 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I wouldn't recommend doing it without parchment paper, a silpat, or something that will make your sheet non-stick, as the syrup acts like glue!)

Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl, then add olive oil and brown rice syrup, mixing until everything is coated.

Spread mixture out evenly on baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes and removing when mixture is an even golden brown. Granola will be wet when you remove it from the oven, and will stick together quite a bit as it cools. Once it's totally cool, break it up into chunks. You can, of course, break it up so it's quite loose. Whatever is to your liking. Add cranberries and store in an airtight container.

Thursday
Jun302011

Strawberry Hazelnut Salad with Sesame Dressing

Strawberry hazelnut salad

Oh, how I love June strawberries. I've got my kids trained, too. Driving through town this week, Wyatt said, "Mom! Pull over! There's a strawberry stand!" We've just been eating them fresh--out of hand, over yogurt, in smoothies. They are so yielding and RED. The very definition of red.

I had lunch alone today. Yancey and the kids were running errands, which seems like all we do lately. Run errands, unpack, take yet more $%# to Goodwill, and sign paperwork. We are awash in paperwork over here. Turns out, if you sell and buy a house in the same month, the entire universe requires your signature. So we have disclosed and been disclosed to, locked in interest rates, and become best friends with our insurance brokers. I'm not complaining--all of this is a giant gift. But I'm ready for things to slow down.

And lunch alone at home is my favorite, as you probably know by now. I like it better than making mac and cheese for kids (surprise) and even like it better than going out. I've never lived alone (What?! Yes, it's true) so I have to fake it every once in awhile and please just myself.

In this case, it was bounty from Joe's Garden--pointy spinach leaves, big leaves of Italian parsley, sweet shelling peas, toasted hazelnuts, sheep's milk feta, sliced strawberries.  For the dressing (this serves one), mix 1 Tb. of honey, kosher salt, pepper, thinly sliced green onion, sprinkle of sesame seeds, and 1/2 Tb. of red wine vinegar. Whisk in 1 Tb. of sesame oil and 1 Tb. of olive oil, and add more of anything to taste. Happy Alone Time!

 My big girl