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Don’t put away those nutcrackers just yet December 26, 2008

Filed under: Cooking — LotusMama @ 1:02 pm

For some reason lately, I’ve been crazy for walnuts. I’m generally a fan of all nuts (except Brazil nuts – bleh) but walnuts in particular have been sparking my fancy. I’ve even been buying them whole in the shell, smashing the little devils to bits and picking out the nut from the remnants; I snack on them while watching movies – a nutty version of popcorn.

So I guess it isn’t surprising that my mind has been on walnut recipes and ways to add my latest love to the menu. Sure, walnuts aren’t exactly rare; you can find tons of recipes that call for these common nuts, but I wanted something that was a little different. Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye:

I’m looking to make up a batch of walnut tea sandwiches because a) it uses walnuts and b) there is something charming about tea sandwiches. I don’t know why that would be other than I just picture ladies in big hats and crocheted gloves sipping darjeeling and wolfing down sandwiches and scones. Did I say wolfing? How unladylike.

To accompany my sandwiches, a big batch of apple and walnut candies (aka Aplets) are on my menu. I am a sucker for these candies, made here in good old Washington. They were inspired by Turkish Delight and come in a variety of flavors. Apple and Apricots are the two main versions, though I’ve had the pineapple kind too and that is lovely. I’ll be trying out both the apple kind and the apricot kind as soon as I can dig my way out to the store for ingredients.

Long before my fascination with walnuts, my preference for snacking gravitated toward dips, so I couldn’t leave out a version of walnut hummus. I’m a fan of hummus on pita bread anyway, so this sounds like a great combination.

To round out my walnut menu, a salad with some lovely candied walnuts would be wonderful. Back in the days when we dined out more, we used to eat at a restaurant called “McCormick and Schmick’s” in downtown Seattle. Known for their ever-changing menu of fresh seafood, we always ordered the starter salad with balsamic viniagrette, blue cheese and candied walnuts. Whatever else we ate during that meal, the salad would be front and center as one of the best reasons to go to town for dinner and the walnuts were the star attraction.

Are you inspired yet to get cracking? Are you hungering for some homely nuts? I know I am. I’ll be making all these recipes, maybe even for the same meal – who knows what kind of zany, nut-induced frenzy will follow. Maybe I’ll watch some episodes of the Ingles family at Walnut Grove or Phish’s DVD, Walnut Creek. Perhaps zany and walnuts don’t really go together. Zany might pair better with filberts or pistachios. Yeah, definitely pistachios.

Ok, we’re going to go for dignified rather than zany, so enjoy the tea sandwiches and remember it’s not ladylike to wolf them down.