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Walnut Crusted Chicken Breast – It’s all About the Nut Glue

I almost never order a nut-crusted entrée in a restaurant, since they usually use a sugary glaze to hold them on, and/or feature a too sweet nut, like pecan, or macadamia. That’s not an issue here; since we’re going with buttery, subtly bitter walnuts, held on with a very savory “nut glue,” made with a garlic and mustard base.


I like this approach so much better, especially since it allows me to do a little bit of a sweet pan sauce, featuring honey, which is a classic pairing with both walnuts and mustard. Above and beyond the ingredients in your nut crust, the protection this layer of deliciousness provides can actually make a boneless, skinless chicken breast seem like it was just carved off a freshly roasted carcass. As long as you don’t overcook it, that is.

I caused a little stir on Twitter yesterday, when I said (in so many words) that you don’t need to cook chicken breast to 165 F. internal temperatures, as the FDA would like you too. I said, accurately I believe, that 150 F. is plenty hot enough, as long as it holds the temperature for at least five minutes. I think it’s so much better that way, but I’ll leave that up to you, and your probe thermometer. Regardless of how long you cook it, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Servings:
For the “nut glue:”
4-6 cloves finely crushed garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
For the rest:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
For the pan sauce:
all the pan drippings
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey

– Roast for 25 minutes at 375 F., or until an internal temp of 150 F.

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Cheddar, Potato & SPAM® Soup

Cheddar, Potato & SPAM® Soup
A hearty, comforting and autumnal warming soup!  Perfect soup for all the family!  SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham is the perfect quick and easy meat for a soup. 
Serves 4-6
Prep time:  5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
450g potatoes, peeled & diced
150g carrots, peeled & diced
1 onion, peeled & chopped
500ml chicken stock
50g butter
2tbsp plain flour
500ml whole milk
225g mature cheddar cheese, plus extra for serving
1 x tin 340g SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham, cubed
175g sweetcorn (frozen or tinned)
Freshly ground salt & pepper
Method
1.    Place the potatoes, carrots, onion and chicken stock into a large pan, bring to the boil, cover and simmer.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
2.    Meanwhile in another pan melt the butter and add the flour, stir until smooth.  Now gradually add the milk, bring to the boil and stir for a further 2 minutes or until thickened. 
3.    Add to the potato mixture, stir in the cheese until melted.  Now add the SPAM® and sweetcorn, heat through and season to taste.
4.    Serve with crusty bread.

5-Minute Fisherman’s Stew – Give or Take

Of course this Fisherman’s Stew takes more than five minutes to make, and I’m actually referring to the approximate cooking time once the seafood hits the pan, but as they say, it’s only false advertising if someone else does it. Besides, one taste and I’m sure you’ll forgive any temporal exaggerations. If, that is, you use really great seafood.


A recipe this simple has many advantages. It’s fast, easy, and doesn’t require a ton of prep, but the downside is, there’s nowhere to hide sub-par ingredients. So, unless you’re going to splurge on the freshest, sweetest, most pristine seafood you can find, you may want to look for another recipe.

Above and beyond that very critical directive, you’ll also want to be sure your brothy base is aggressively seasoned before you toss your seafood in. Since we don’t season the fish and shellfish directly, we need to make sure we have enough salt, and whatever else you’re using, to go around. Other than that, not much can go wrong, and assuming there’s some crusty bread nearby, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Portions:

For the brothy base:
1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes (if your tomatoes aren’t nice and sweet, toss in a teaspoon of sugar)
2 cups fish stock, clam juice, or if time are tough, water
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste

For the rest of the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 very thinly sliced fennel bulb
salt to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
8 ounces firm white fish, like halibut or sea bass, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
8 peeled and deveined raw shrimp
12 mussels, scrubbed clean
12 clams, scrubbed clean
some crusty bread

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Pear Clafoutis – Almost as Good as it Looks

It sounds odd to say that a recipe’s biggest problem is that it looks too good, but that’s sort of the case with this pear clafoutis. Through no fault of its own, this crust-less, custard fruit tart looks a lot sweeter, and richer than it actually is. So, please be sure to adjust yours and your guest’s taste buds accordingly. Of course, you can make this sweeter, with more sugar, or richer, with some cream instead of all milk, but there’s something to be said for those rare recipes that I would describe as, “just sweet enough.”


Which reminds me, be sure to taste whatever fruit you’re using for sweetness, since you may want to adjust the sugar level based on that. Another key, especially if you’re using pears, or apples, is to make sure you slice them thin; otherwise they will not cook through by the time your custard is cooked.

As I mentioned you could cook the fruit first, but I’ll leave that up to you. If you use the traditional cherries, or something like tender juicy berries, this will actually cook faster than the time is given here, so I’d start checking for doneness after about 25 to 30 minutes. Speaking of different fruits, apparently if we don’t use cherries, this is referred to as a “flognarde,” which I’ll never get tired of saying. Hilarious names aside, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions:
(The baking dish I used was 10-inch wide)
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, divided (one for pan , one for top)
3 generous cups thinly sliced sweet, ripe pears
1/2 cup lightly toasted sliced almonds
For the batter:
3 large eggs
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar depending on fruit’s sweetness
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

– Bake at 350 F. for about 45 minutes, or until fruit is soft, and custard is cooked.

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Bloody Mary Burrata – An Experiment in Liquefying Salads

I don’t think there’s actually a difference between a liquid salad, and a cold vegetable soup, but if there is, I’d like this Bloody Mary Burrata recipe to be considered the former. Especially since I already posted a gazpacho this summer. But regardless of what you call this strange hybrid, it really was delicious, fun to eat, and very refreshing.


I was recently gifted some homemade Bloody Mary mix by a couple of new friends, Clayton and Linda-Marie, which unfortunately I haven’t been able to enjoy yet. However, the combination of seeing that on the counter, along with a tub of burrata cheese in the fridge, led to this rather odd attempt. While the Bloody Mary part of the equation completely dominated the tomato and mozzarella salad element, I still found this thoroughly enjoyable to eat, which at the end of the day, is all that matters.

I’m not exactly sure how best to serve this, but a small portion as a starter would seem to make the most sense. Or, maybe a larger serving, paired with a crusty hunk of bread as a brunch item. Vodka sold separately. So, whether you’re going to take this idea and run with it, or you’re just going to do the first part, and make some real Bloody Marys, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions of Blood Mary Burrata:
2 pounds fresh vine-ripened tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced hot or mild red peppers
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 cup water
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
2 tablespoons hot prepared horseradish, or to taste
2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

For Service:
1 cup Blood Mary Burrata base
2 ounces burrata cheese, or fresh mozzarella
sliced olives, celery, and cherry tomatoes to garnish
freshly grated horseradish root for the top
freshly ground black pepper and olive oil to finish, optional

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Strawberry & Menier White Chocolate Cheesecake


Ingredients for 18 to 20 Butcher’s Nuggets:
Note: the scoop I used to portion holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture.

For the nuggets:
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup milk
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground beef

For the breading (amounts as needed):
all-purpose flour
beaten eggs (I used 2 large eggs)
panko breadcrumbs

For the secret sauce:
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle

– Fry nuggets at 375 F. for about 3 minutes, then let rest 3 minutes before serving.

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Skippy® Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes

Skippy® Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes
These light and fluffy peanut butter pancakes drizzled with peanut butter and jelly taste absolutely delicious.  The favourite, classic sandwich turned into the tastiest breakfast treat!
Serves 4
Prep time:  10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
For the pancakes
200g plain flour
30g caster sugar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
50g butter, plus extra for frying
100g Skippy® Creamy Peanut Butter
2 free range eggs
400ml whole milk
To serve
100g Skippy® Creamy Peanut Butter
100g strawberry jam
Fresh Strawberries


Method
1.    In a large bowl add the plain flour, caster sugar, bicarbonate of soda and the baking powder, mix through and make sure there are no lumps.
2.    In another bowl melt the butter in the microwave for 30-60 seconds and add the Skippy® peanut butter, whisk until smooth.  Now add the eggs and mix through the milk.
3.    Now gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
4.    Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and brush with melted butter.  Working in batches pour a ladle of batter onto the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until set and golden. Set aside on warmed plates.
5.    Meanwhile, place the Skippy® peanut butter and jam in separate bowls and microwave for 30-60 seconds until melted and able to drizzle.
6.    Drizzle the Skippy® peanut butter and jam over the pancakes, top with strawberries and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Skippy® Peanut Butter (RRP £2.40 per 340g) is available in Smooth and Crunchy varieties, which are currently available in major supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Costco, International section of Tesco and Ocado. For more information and recipes visit www.peanutbutter.uk.com

SKIPPY® EXTRA CRUNCHY Peanut Butter
Craving a peanutty taste that packs a crunch? Look no further than SKIPPY® EXTRA CRUNCHY® Peanut Butter. Every jar is blended with loads of real peanut pieces, so you get the fun flavour of SKIPPY® Peanut Butter, plus lots of crunchiness. 

SKIPPY® EXTRA SMOOTH Peanut Butter
Spread on the smiles with smooth, creamy, melt in the mouth peanut butter perfection. SKIPPY® Smooth Peanut Butter adds more yum and fun to just about anything. It ain’t nothing but smooth snacking with this creamy classic.

All About Walnut Oil from La Tourangelle

La Tourangelle is a family-owned company that produces outstanding nut and seed oils, with heritage in the Loire Valley of France, an area known for nut oils. Their toasted sesame, roasted walnut, roasted peanut and roasted pistachio oils are all award winners. The company began in 2002 in Woodland, California and their nut oils are all expeller pressed and are GMO-free. Their walnut, almond, hazelnut, pecan and pistachio oil are made in house and their almonds and walnuts come from California. 
Earlier this year I got a chance to visit the La Tourangelle mill and also a farm that supplies some of their nuts. Bullseye Farms grows tomatoes, cucumbers, hay, and nuts sustainably on about 16,000 acres. They have 500 acres of walnuts and they use a black walnut rootstock which is resistant to diseases. The walnuts are a cross between different varieties and are self pollinators. You might be surprised to learn that ugly nuts make the best oil. It’s the variety of different nuts rather than uniformity that makes the oil taste better. 
The process La Tourangelle uses to make their oil is unique and combines two different styles—refined and unrefined to make an oil that is full-flavored and yet affordable. All their oils are made in small batches and they use only French presses for their limited edition oils. All the nut oils are handcrafted by the master roaster who relies on years of experience to know exactly how to roast the nuts for maximum flavor.

The scent in the mill is intoxicating! Luscious and buttery, roasted walnut oil is the essence of walnuts. Walnut oil has a very short shelf life. Unopened it will last about two years, but once opened it’s best to use it within six months. So don’t hoard it! Use it! If you don’t think you can use a whole tin of it, La Tourangelle now sells it in convenient single-serving pouches. While making a vinaigrette is probably the most common way to use roasted walnut oil, there are plenty of uses. Here are some of my favorite ways to use roasted walnut oil: 

+ Use on top of pancakes or waffles instead of butter
+ Add to pasta with Parmesan cheese and chopped toasted walnuts
+ Drizzle over grains such as farro, bulgar or freekeh, top with fresh herbs
+ Combine with toasted walnuts and use on top of brussels sprouts, green beans or asparagus
+ Use in place of olive oil in pesto 
+ Substitute it for butter or vegetable oil in granola recipes
+ Dip bread in it instead of olive oil or butter
+ Use in shortbread recipes 
+ Add a few drops to soup before serving
+ Use in a carrot walnut slaw salad with Dijon mustard
+ Drip on top of vanilla or chocolate ice cream
+ Add to popcorn instead of butter
More about the visit from my colleague Anneli Rufus over at Oakland Magazine.

Disclaimer: My thanks to La Tourangelle for hosting me, I was not compensated monetarily for this post. 

Molten Menier Chocolate Mug Cake