As I’m racing down the bike path last week, lost in thought, as usual; aiming for the big leaves to get a nice noisy crunch, as usual; I found myself aiming for the chestnuts to get a nice ‘splat’.
WTF? That’s FOOD!
I slammed on my brakes (got a lovely screech) and hopped off my bike. Yup, they were a decent size.
Once mon mari realized that I wasn’t injured he gave a Gallic shrug (he’s getting quite good at that) and continued on, leaving me to my find.
We have both a horse chestnut (left) and a sweet chestnut tree in our garden. The horse chestnut, aka ‘conker’ is not edible, and the sweet chestnut is too young to bear worthy chestnuts.
The chestnuts on the bike trail were perfect! I proceeded to gather what I could without gloves (they have nasty prickers) and started to fill my bike pack. A few more stops under big trees and by the time I found mon mari, resting under a tree having a snack, my pack was full. We were most pleased!
I spent the ride back, once again lost in
the murky abyss of my brain, trying to figure out what to do with them all, besides just roasting and eating.
That probably explains how we got separated and why I spent a half an hour wandering around downtown Aizeny looking for the bike trail that I had somehow lost…but that’s another story.
By the time I got back to the car I had the recipe laid out. It just needed a decent execution and it would be perfect for the big
Two Year Anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging Celebration being hosted by our beloved founder, Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen.
Chestnuts have been eaten all over Europe and Asia since prehistoric times. Flour made from chestnuts played an important role in ancient cuisine and is seeing a bit of a comeback. Chestnuts are similar to the beechnut eaten by Native Americans. They are very low in fat, unlike most other nuts, and are an excellent source of vitamins B6 and C; and a good source of potassium and folate. After roasting or boiling, both the outer shell and inner skin must be removed before eating. The flesh is sweet, slightly dry and crumbly.
The absolutely, most perfect way to eat chestnuts is in Salzburg, just before Christmas, out of a paper cone piping hot from the chestnut vendor, while strolling through old town, listening to Mozart and gazing into the colorfully decorated shop windows. Sigh…..
1 cup butternut squash
pinch of saffron
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbs crème fraiche
6 small sage leaves
Apple Chestnut Sauce
Cut butternut squash into small cubes (1/4″ (.5cm). Put into a steamer basket over boiling water and steam for 10 – 12 minutes, or until tender. Remove and put into a bowl. Crush a few saffron threads and add to squash along with the pinches of salt and nutmeg. Mash the squash with a fork and mix spices in well. Butter 2 ramekins and line with buttered parchment or waxed paper. Make 2 more circles and butter one side for the top. Put the egg in a medium bowl and whisk lightly. Add crème fraiche and whisk well. Add the squash and stir well to combine. Put 3 sage leaves upside down in each ramekin. Top with the caramelized shallots, evenly divided. Spoon the squash on top, dividing evenly. Put the paper circle, buttered side down, loosely on top. Put into a baking pan (I use a bread pan) with deep sides. Pour hot water into the pan coming half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in 400F (200C) oven for 30 minutes, until set – top will be firm. Remove from oven and carefully remove ramekins from hot water. Remove paper. Run a knife around edges of timbales and invert onto small plates. Remove paper carefully. You should have a lovely top of 3 sage leaves nestled into the shallots. Spoon Apple Chestnut Sauce on the side and serve.
2 medium shallots
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp water
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sage leaves
1/4 tsp rosemary
Heat 2 tsp olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat and add shallots. Sauté 10 minutes, until starting to brown. Add water (it helps speed things up and prevent burning) and stir well and let continue to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. Add brown sugar, vinegar, herbs, and cook, stirring for 2 more minutes.
Apple Chestnut Sauce
1/2 large apple
5 roasted chestnuts
3 tbs apple juice
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp sage
Lay the chestnuts flat on their sides and cut a cross in one side with a sharp knife. Put in a small pan or baking sheet and roast, 400F (200C) for 20 minutes. Remove and peel, carefully, they’re hot! Chop finely. Peel apple and chop finely. Put apple in a small saucepan with 1 tbs apple juice. Heat over medium-low until apple is soft. Add chopped chestnuts and herbs and heat through. Add enough remaining apple juice as it will absorb. I used it all.
Note: This was part of a larger menu that used up the odd bits (other half of the apple, rest of apple juice, etc.
Note 2: The recipe might look a bit intimidating but it really is easy – just a bit on the fussy side
Be sure to visit Kalyn’s Kitchen for the big bash round-up next week! And remember, always brake for food!