Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Nuts about Nuts!

I love to cook and bake with nuts! They just add something so special to dishes and desserts and, with the huge variety of nuts on the market, I can make all sorts of different recipes. Sometimes I'll make the same recipes, just switching out the type of nuts, resulting in great variations on a basic recipe. There are just a few tips below to help you make the most different nuts in your recipes.
1. Toasting: Toasting nuts gives them an incredible flavor and is really easy to do. There are two ways to toast nuts, both of which are very simple. Simply place them on a baking sheets in a single layer and bake at 400 degrees for about 5-7 minutes or until golden. Check in on the nuts to make sure they're not burning, and give the pan a little shake about halfway through. The other way to toast nuts involves a frying pan. Over medium-high heat, toast nuts for 5-7 minutes or until golden. You don't need to use any oil for either method; nuts contain a high level of natural oils.

2. Storage: I store my nuts in the freezer. The oils in nuts will cause them to turn rancid rather quickly if stored in a pantry or cabinet. By storing nuts in the freezer, you can increase their lifespan dramatically. The best thing about this storage method is that you can just pop the storage bag or container out of the freezer and use what you need. Simply put the bag/container back in the freezer when you're done. They should last up to a year if stored in the freezer as opposed to one month stored at room temperature.

3. My favorite recipe suggestions: pesto (pine nuts, walnuts); brownies (pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts); cookies (pecans, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts), muffins (pecans, almonds), meatballs (pine nuts), oatmeal (pecans). The possibilities are endless, so use your imagination!

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