Wednesday, December 23, 2009

spiced nuts, stuffed dates, joyeuses fêtes

I'm cooking Christmas dinner this year, which is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve in this region (and called le réveillon), so I shall be up bright and early tomorrow morning for an eight-hour cooking fest: oysters, foie gras, roast turkey and bacon with  sage and onion stuffing and bread sauce, sautéd sprouts with chestnuts, carrots steamed with lemon and butter, melon sorbet, cheeses and Katie Bear's Mum's Christmas pud. All that's missing is snow!

I've just made these spiced nuts (based on a recipe served in the Union Square Café in New York) and  stuffed Medjool dates to serve with apéros when friends drop by. Wishing you all joyeuses fêtes!

Union Square Café bar nuts
1 lb / 550 g assorted unsalted nuts (brazils, hazels, walnuts, almonds)
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp dark muscovado sugar
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp melted unsalted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Spread the nuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and toss the nuts in the spiced butter. Serve warm.

Dates stuffed with mascarpone, orange zest and walnuts
This was inspired by three things which remind me of my childhood Christmases - tangerines, dates and nuts.
30 large dates such as Medjool
250 g mascarpone
zest of 1 orange
a handful of walnuts, crushed
Make a slit in the side of each date and remove the pit. Mix the mascarpone with the orange zest and crushed walnuts. Place the mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes then place a quenelle of the filling in each date.

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