Retrospective 2007

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Collage 2007 Recap


It's been an incredible year - blogwise speaking. 2007 was a year that I and my blog kind of grew up.

What I mean is, what started in 2006 as a way to simply record my recipes and ramble on about things in my life, basically to keep in touch with my family, has grown into an incredible platform where I really feel I am giving and sharing my experience (mostly in the kitchen) with others. It's such a rush to know that what I do on this little space actually entertains, helps or motivates others to go into directions or try things they might not have ever done before.



This blog also has a hand in developing and polishing my character and skills too. I have learned so many things, either directly or indirectly through the blog. I love every challenge it threw my way and took it head on. Each step I took learning a bit more - about myself and what I am capable of. Photography, writing, designing, baking or cooking are just simple words when written down like this, but behind each word is a multitude of processes that I have managed to teach myself and comprehend. This blog has given me the opportunity to acquire so much
knowledge and accomplish several goals.

I started this year with many ideas I wanted to realize. Looking back now, although I did not manage to fulfill each one of my ideas, I was able to create an objective for the blog. Yes, it did take all this time to find a true objective! I wanted to spend 2007 forming the blog into a place where people enjoy visiting. I wanted my readers to be captivated by the recipes, delighted with the talk, and enchanted by the pictures and so I worked hard to improve myself to make my readers feel comfortable when they came over. I wanted them to experience their senses. My banner now carries this motto - "Experience Your Senses".

2007 produced 128 posts, each one carefully put together. Taste experiments, daring baking, expressive writing and graphic pictures are all processes of how my ideas and posts come together. Some were informative, some were fun and others were moving and hit the right nerve. This blog also got a bit of attention when it was nominated for a few awards and some thought it was rather good looking!


Sometime in the last quarter of this year I also hit my 500,000 visitor mark! I am not exactly sure when it happened but the idea that in a little under 2 years I have had half a million visitors to my blog sends shivers of excitement up my spine.

So I thank you - my regular readers, loyal friends, anonymous visitors, motivating cheerleaders and loving family for making What's For Lunch, Honey? a grand place to be.

Maybe some of you have had a favorite something on this blog. A favorite picture, dessert, post or dish - whatever it is I have often gotten mails or comments left on the posts of how that particular thing touched you. I thought maybe you might be interested in my favorites for 2007.

I started the Indian cooking series Bollywood Cooking this year with the intention to show others how easy it is to make good Indian food easily at home. This has actually become my favorite series on the blog. Simply because it gives me so much pleasure of cooking the food and remembering cherished moments. My favorite memory was remembering the morning ritual I shared with my grandparents in An Indian Breakfast.

indian breakfast


The Cooking School series is another such series in which I attempt to show how easy it is to make well known dishes from around the world. From this series I enjoyed making, photographing and writing up the recent Fruit Cake post.

Fruitcake


In my attempt to find out more about the ingredients I cook with and to share my findings with you, I regularly do The Know Hows of Food sections in certain posts. I've covered many ingredients from fruit and vegetables like aspargus and figs to other gourmet products like manchego.

indian spices


My favorite however was the complete Enspiceopedia for the Indian Spices post I worked on back in the beginning of the year. I also totally enjoyed the more recent Nutology.

Pistachios


Many of you know my passion for photography and over a span of one year I have taken many hundreds of photos. A few of them make their way here and complement each post. Depending on what the theme or subject of the post is there is foodagraphy or photography. I think the names of each category is clear enough.

My favorite in Foodgraphy this year was definitely a photo I took for a special dessert I created - Figs in Cherry Caramel.

Figs


In the category Photography I had a hard time deciding. In the summer I was in Prerow and we had an awesome vacation relaxing along the Prerow Strom. I took a whole lot of great photos. Then in October I visited my parents, who live in Dubai for a short break. It was relaxing and fun and although I know Dubai like the back of my hand, each time I visit, looking through my camera lens I am always breath taken by the surreal beauty one does not see at first sight. But in the end it was this trip that actually gave me my favorite Photography photo.

Dubai


Dubai Nights is a photo that evokes the memory of my father and myself trying to create some contraption resembling a tripod so that I could take a steady shot of the spectacular view from the living room. My mum and Soeren were cracking up in the background and the result was a wonderful night shot, which now adorns my living room wall too.

Funnily enough my Dubai travelogue also happens to be my favorite post this year. Writing it made me look at Dubai through different eyes.

In April I joined the mighty Daring Bakers. I think Ivonne secretly came over one night and hit me on the head with a rolling pin while I was asleep - that's the only sane explanation I have of how she convinced me to join the group. Well all these months and many tedious but fun challenges later I stand here still looking for that rolling pin ;-) There were many fantastic challenges - the chocolate crepe cake my first, the chocolate caramel tart, those sticky buns - all fantastic and sweet. But my favorite was also my first - in baking bread that is. I thoroughly loved everything about the tender potato bread.

focaccia


Talking about sweet, this year seemed to be very sweet on the blog. I made several desserts and cakes, even the Monthly Mingle started the year out with a lot of sweet love. I did the extravagant chocolate raspberry tiramisu, the summery grilled peach with honey yogurt, the fruity apricot clafoutis, the unconventional sweet potato flan. All simply irresistible and completely luscious but my favorite was inspired by the harvest of summer berries and it's simplicity. It was the raspberry dream cream.

raspberry dream cream



Just like me to start with dessert first eh? But I did have a few savory dishes in 2007. The melt in your mouth beef ragout was simply delicious and tender.The caramelized tomatoes on gnocchi was exquisite. The honey teriyaki salmon was light and tasty. Let's not forget that wonderful pumpkin polenta gratin combining the full flavors of Autumn. Out of all the savory dishes my favorite meal and dish was apple glazed duck filets with pomegranate red cabbage. This was an outstanding feast we enjoyed one Sunday lunch. I do not cook duck often - probably twice a year - so the fact that my experiment with the flavors and ingredients turned out so extraordinary made me really happy. I also absolutely loved these photos.

Duck


Comments are always a huge part of each post. It is the foremost possibility for me to communicate with you. Your feedback, motivation and ideas are always so important to me. Some posts get a lot of comments and others less. In 2007 the most commented post wasTender Potato Focaccia and Bread Rolls with a total of 90 comments.

What do I have in store for 2008? Plenty!

I do have a few goals and a new series concentrating on healthier and nutritious food planned. I have just started to scratch the surface of vaganism and as I discover more about this way of life I hope to be able to share a few details and my thoughts here. Although I do not plan on becoming a vegan, I do find myself leaning more towards vegetarian food and am intrigued to learn more. To console the others there still will be plenty of baking and desserts and meat on this blog too.

I neglected my favorite photo workshop on Flickr this year. Still Life With gave me the opportunity to work with monthly themes, which improved my photography immensely. I hope to be a more regular part in the group in 2008. It was the photo workshop event Click that reminded me of the fun I have with such workshops. So I am looking forward to more great themes to work with for both groups.

A few might have also noticed a few changes over the last few months with the blog design. It is not entirely finished and my aim is to make it more user friendly, with a clean layout. Where it will take me I have no idea at the moment but there are ideas of my own domain and other things floating around in my head. Let's see! One thing I guarantee though - you'll be the first to know.

This retrospective was a lot of fun. Looking back on old posts and pictures reminded me of the fun and how things have developed.

Nupur had a great idea recently and encouraged us to look back at the year with the Best of 2007 she hit all the right nerves on my side.

My apple glazed duck filets with pomegranate red cabbage is also being whizzed over to Zorra ad Sandra who wanted our Best of 2007 in the form of a dish.

What remains for me to do is wish you all a funky, happy, healthy and foodie 2008. Hope you all have a great start to your new year. I'll see you all then!



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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The Log - Bûche de Noël

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Daring Bakers December 2007 Challenge - Christmas Edition

Yule Log (01) by MeetaK


The final post for the year ends with the final challenge from the mighty Daring Bakers. If you've been seeing something like 400 plus Yule Logs all over the blog world, let me just say you have not lost it in anyway and the whole world has not turned Christmas crazed! It was just us Daring Bakers taking the latest challenge, set out by none other than the two founding members, Ivonne and Lis head on. They decided to make this a fantastic Christmas challenge by picking out a Yule Log for all of us to take on.

This time I had fantastic company for the challenge, with a fellow Daring Baker.


The ever so sweet, Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry and I decided to get together one morning via Google chat and make this traditional Christmas cake. Did we have a great time. We started in the morning and went on till mid afternoon. In between there were shrieks like "aaaaaargh my genoise is burning!!!!!!!!!!!" from Hilda and cursing from me "mine cracked boohoo!" or discussions like:

Saffron: ok, is it time for the verdict? do we fill this log?
Meeta: ready?
I am freaking
Saffron: me too
gently unroll your genoise...
Meeta: ok

Then there was also chit chat about our Sugar Daddy:

Saffron: I just love pears and chocolate
Meeta: i have pierre hermes chocolate desserts by DG
and there he has a st. honore with choc and pears
yummy
Saffron: you lie! OMG
he's my boyfriend, but I haven't told A. about him ;)
Meeta: wait he's cheating on me
!!!
he's my sugar daddy
Saffron: I know, he has many women around the globe
Meeta: I do not mind
as long as he is sweet to me
hehehe
are you ready to roll

Oh and then of course came the taste test:

Meeta: oh man i am in heaven
have you tasted the pears with the cream?
Saffron: no, hold on
that is some good stuff

and then:

Meeta: boy does that taste good *licking off the spoon and popping a few chopped pears in my mouth*
Saffron: I know I have to stop eating the buttercream, I'm going to be sick
Meeta: me too
i have not had anything savory today
i had my muesli for breakfast
Saffron: me neither
Meeta: and then the tasting galore from the cake should we make a cheese sandwich?
Saffron: good idea
Meeta: ;-)
the height of a challenge
i love it

Yup we even managed to make a cheese sandwich in between the challenge!

According to the challenge we were allowed to modify the flavoring of the buttercream and both Hilda and I decided to go for chocolate and pears.

The details for this challenge were simple enough to follow. I did freak a little because I do not ever remember making a genoise buttercream roll that did not rip. This, unfortunately, was no exception. But in the end we both decided that our logs had character and under that note I present you with the Yule Log with character!

The challenge requirements were:
  1. A genoise cake using the recipe below
  2. A coffee buttercream frosting using the recipe below. For those that have an aversion to coffee, we were allowed to use another flavour for the buttercream, however, the buttercream must be dark in colour. No white or cream-coloured Yule Logs!
  3. Meringue or Marzipan mushrooms.
With the above requirements we were allowed the following modifications:
  1. The genoise was to be made using the recipe provided; however, we were allowed to flavor it however we wished to.
  2. While the outside of the Yule Log was to be frosted with the buttercream using the recipe provided here, we were free to fill the recipe however we choose. Fill it with fruit, jam, melted chocolate, pudding, whipped cream, or another frosting of our choice.
  3. We were to decorate our log with mushrooms. We had the choice of wither meringue or marzipan mushrooms.
  4. We also had the complete freedom, besides the mushrooms, to decorate the logs however we wished.
  5. We had the freedom to make our logs in whatever shape we liked (mini logs, one huge log, an upright log, etc.)
  6. High altitude modifications were allowed as long as we stayed "true" to the recipe.
  7. Conversion for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc. was allowed.
  8. Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in our region.

While Hilda went for meringue mushrooms, I decided to go for marzipan mushrooms as the thought of dealing with genoise, buttercream and meringue was too much for me. Besides I thought it would be therapeutic to form marzipan mushrooms after all the hard work on the rest of the cake.

The recipes below are for the original genoise, the chocolate buttercream with pears and marzipan mushrooms.

You'll find Hilda's Yule log here and the Yule logs of all the other Daring Bakers here.



Reminder!



Drop In & Decorate with freshly baked cookies and treats. Hope you will join me baking for a good cause. Look forward to having you all over.

Details can be found here.
Deadline: January 7th, 2008.




Bûche de Noël / Yule Log
Printable version of recipe here

Yule Log (02) by MeetaK


Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off. I used all-purpose flour as I was unable to get cake flour.
¼ cup cornstarch

one 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again. Here I used my normal baking sheet to make the genoise as I do not have a jelly pan.

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees C.

Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm. Test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch.

Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake does not overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven. Humidify a tea towel and tip the genoise on to it. Place a sheet of waxed paper on top and using the tea towel to help, gently roll the genoise. Allow to cool like this. This helps the genoise to roll a little more easily when it has been filled with the buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream & Filling:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
100-120 g chocolate - 70% cocoa
200g pears in syrup - chopped. I had some baby pears in a jar that were preserved in unsweetened syrup.

Set a bowl over a pot with simmering water and melt the chocolate. Set aside and allow to cool.

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms. Smudge with cocoa powder.



Assembling the Yule Log

Carefully unroll the genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper. Spread with half the chocolate buttercream and add the chopped pears.

Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end. Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top. Or if you like leave it whole as I did.

Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Serve chilled.



Verdict


Yule Log (03) by MeetaK


The buttercream was sweet and tasting it all day throughout the making of the challenge made my sweet tooth get really sticky. The following day we had guests for coffee and cake and believe me they were impressed. By the way it looked and by the way it tasted. The pear/chocolate combination is sensational. I think I would add a tiny bit more chocolate for a darker color the next time round though and maybe just a tad bit less sugar. Having said that the buttercream with the entire cake really tasted great and not as sweet as it did when I was eating the stuff by the spoonful. I was glad that the cake was enjoyed by everyone and there was not a piece leftover!

Would I make this again?
Well I liked the cake. It tasted really good but I am glad I have another 12 months to make the next Yule log ;-). And then I think I would certainly go for the pear and chocolate combination again.

What did I learn from this challenge?
I failed at the attempt of trying to make a genoise without ripping or cracking it. That was actually my mission with this challenge. I have made "jelly rolls" filled with cream previously and although many of my fellow DBs were having trouble with curdled buttercream, I was hoping to make a perfect genoise. No go! But practice makes perfect and I am sure I will get there - sooner or later. I was glad that I was able to cover the "scar" underneath a thick layer of buttercream.

A huge thanks goes out to our gorgeous hostesses, Ivonne and Lis. You two chose a lovely challenge and I had a great time with it.

White Christmas (01) by MeetaK


To all my fellow Daring Bakers, blog friends and readers I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you all have a great start to the New Year. I am signing off here and will be busy cooking up an awesome Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow evening for friends and family. I look forward to seeing you all again in the new year with lots of great and exciting new stuff.

If you are looking for stuff to browse through in my absence allow me to suggest a few great reads over at The Daily Tifiin:

Welcoming the New Year
Love Food, Hate Waste
12 Things You Should Never Talk About on a Date
Brightenting The Winter Blues
Workout! Who? What?

Or simply browse through my extensive recipe index for a few great recipes and scrumptious desserts.

See you all next year!


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Coconut Mousse with Mango Coulis

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Coco Mousse (05) by MeetaK


I decided to give myself a Christmas present this year. It's been something I've been thinking about for a long time now but for some reason I was a bit hesitant. But this week I did it. I went out and bought myself 8 square frames with thick wooded panels and wide cream colored passepartout and today I picked up the 8 chosen pictures.

The pictures in question were all taken by yours truly. Carefully, I unpacked each photograph and placed it in the frame. I was like a little kid smiling, giggling, excited and a bit nervous. Finally I hung them up and - WOW! they looked splendid. I could not hide my joy.

You see I do have a few of my pictures stuck on the fridge or simply frameless pinned on the kitchen wall but nothing special. It's the first time I have actually bought expensive frames for my own photos with the mission to hang them up on the living room walls. Don't ask why! I do like my pictures but I always thought it kind of strange to flaunt them on my home walls. I am a bit modest and although I do love all the attention I still kind of feel shy when I am asked "Are these yours?" Then I start to stutter and feel like a huge spotlight is pointed right at me. There is nowhere to duck or hide. My hands feel a bit moist and a film of sweat covers my brow. What's going to come now?

It's different with you and my blog - you all have given me so much courage and motivation. I owe much of what I have learned to you. I do have a few good friends who have been nagging at me to finally hang up some of my own photos. They said it is a disgrace to actually have photos taken by other photographers on my walls. So, I listened to my dearest friends and today I took those gorgeous but disgraceful photos from other photographers and put up my own. It's weird. I find myself constantly glancing at them when ever I am in the room. Hehe! These are mine - and not some fancy-schmancy professional photographer's.

My Christmas present feels good.

This dessert? This will make you feel good. The perfect finale to our spectacular Christmas dinner. We started with a delicious and comforting chestnut potato soup, then worked our way to the main course with apple glazed duck filets with pomegranate red cabbage and now something to tantalize your tastebuds. A wonderful creamy mousse made from coconut milk and drizzled with a sweet mango coulis. So smooth and delicious you'll be asking "Is it Christmas yet?" Yes it is!

Coconut

Coconut 02) by MeetaK


Coconuts are the fruit grown on the coconut palm, which is grown throughout the tropical world, for decoration as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm has some human use.

The coconut itself provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy.

Coconut is highly nutritious and very rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Classified as a "functional food", it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations.

Known as the "tree of life," the wonderful fruit of the coconut palm is rich in certain fats that have incredible health benefits. Traditional tropical populations that consume a lot of coconut oil are seldom overweight, and traditionally have been free from the modern diseases that afflict most western cultures.

There are several different ways to enjoy fresh coconuts, which can be young or mature. Young coconuts generally have either a green shell or a white "husk" if the outer shell has been removed. Mature coconuts are the more familiar-looking brown, hairy variety. As a coconut matures, the nutrients and physical characteristics will change. Young coconuts have more ‘water’ and soft meat, while mature coconuts have firm meat and less ‘water.’

Many people presume that coconut milk is the liquid inside the coconut, this however, is not the case. The liquid inside the coconut is known as coconut water or juice. Coconut cream is made from pressing the coconut meat. Coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut meat and water.

Coconut oil, on the other hand, is the fatty oil that comes from the coconut meat. It is important to note that coconut oils offered on the market vary dramatically in terms of quality. Just like olive oil, low-quality coconut oils should be avoided. They are often processed by chemical extraction, using solvent extracts, which produces higher yields and is quicker and less expensive.

Coconuts can add flavor, variety and healthy nutrients to your diet. Coconuts are rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, and boosts the immune system.

Fresh coconut juice is one of the highest sources of electrolytes known to man, and can be used to prevent dehydration.

The coconut has many other positive sides too. It can help you lose weight, or maintain your already good weight and lower your cholesterol. Coconut also increases the metabolism and promotes healthy thyroid function and boosts the overall daily energy. Whats more, it helps to rejuvenate your skin and prevent wrinkles. Splendid!

Selecting & Storing

Select coconuts that slosh when gently shaken. The more liquid you hear sloshing around, the fresher the coconut. Avoid ones with damp or moldy eyes or cracked shells. Whole coconuts can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 month. After the coconut is cracked, tightly wrap the coconut meat and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Fresh coconut milk and water should be used within 2 days. You can freeze shredded fresh coconut in a freezer bag for up to 6 months.

After opening, keep canned, packaged, or dried coconut in an airtight container. Canned or packaged coconut keeps 5 to 7 days, and dried coconut keeps 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Cracking a Coconut
To open a coconut, locate the three soft eyes at the top of the shell. Pierce them with the tip of a knife or an ice pick; drain off the milk. With a hammer, gently tap the shell all around until it cracks and splits on its own.

Peel the brown husk from the coconut meat, and chop the coconut meat into uniform pieces. Use your food processor or a hand grater to shred or grate the coconut.

Sources:
Coconut Info
Dole Europe



Reminder!



Drop In & Decorate with freshly baked cookies and treats. Hope you will join me baking for a good cause. Look forward to having you all over.

Details can be found here.
Deadline: January 7th, 2008.



Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here

Coco Mousse (04) by MeetaK


For the mousse:
6 sheets unflavored gelatin
40g confectioner's sugar
400 ml coconut milk - canned and unsweetened
5 tablespoons pineapple juice
2 tablespoons Batitda de Coco
200 g heavy cream

For the coulis:
250 g mango pulp
1/8 l pineapple juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice




Method

Coco Mousse (02) by MeetaK


Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water. Mix together the sugar, coconut milk, pineapple juice and Batida de Coco in a mixing bowl.

Take about 3 tablespoons of the coconut mixture and mix into the gelatin until it has dissolved then pour this into the rest of the coconut mixture.

Place in the refrigerator until it starts to set, stirring in between. After about an hour take out of the fridge.

Whisk the cream until stiff and then fold into the coconut mixture. Fill into 6 forms and place in the refrigerator overnight.

For the coulis, cube half of the mango pulp, puree the rest with the pineapple juice. Add the lemon juice and fold in the mango cubes.

Turn the mousse out onto a plate and drizzle the mango coulis over the mousse. Decorate with a few mint leaves.

Tip:
If you cannot find fresh mangoes use canned mangoes. Make sure however that they are unsweetened.



Verdict

This is so good and takes you away to a far away tropical island. Creamy, light and fruity a slightly different mousse to end a wonderful dinner. We enjoyed this immensely. Soeren totally loves fruity desserts and Tom creamy ones, so this was perfect all around. The best thing is as this does not have too much sugar in it one indulge almost guilt - free.

So as this is a tried, tested and eaten pudding I am sending this off to Zorra who is hosting this month's Sugar High Friday.

More puddings on WFLH:
Banana Brioche Pudding with Bailey's Caramel Cream
Creme Brulee with Berries
Mousse au Chocolat
Panna Cotta with Blackberries
Sweet Potato Flan

Christmas Wreath (01) by MeetaK


Finally if you are looking for ideas to decorate your home and tree this Christmas I have just posted a fantastic and hopefully helpful article on The Daily Tiffin. It takes you through the trends of Christmas decorations and gives you a few ideas for table decorations too. You'll also find more details about my own centerpiece for my Christmas dinner table this year. Check out It's in the decoration.

The centerpiece is being sent off as my Centerpiece of the Month to Janelle and Sandi.

If you are looking for more great ideas please do have a peak at my Home & Design section.

In the meantime I wish you happy decorating, cooking and gift wrapping.



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Apple Glazed Duck Filets with Pomegranate Red Cabbage

| 17 comments
Apple Glazed Duck (01) by MeetaK


If you are anything like me then just about now you are scouring your cookbooks, browsing the Internet and checking your notes for the perfect Christmas dinner. There is no hectic and panic has not broken out yet. After all we still have a whole week. Plenty of time so, to plan, organize and shop for the perfect Christmas dinner party.


If you have broken out into a sweat now that I reminded you that next Monday it's Christmas Eve and you are fretting, panicking and worrying at this very moment - don't. If you remember I did promise you a fantastic menu suggestion for the big event coming up. I am true to my word.

Last week we started the menu suggestion with a wonderful, creamy chestnut potato soup - perfect to start a dinner to remember.

Today I offer you the main course. Something I promise you your guests will talk about for the next 12 months. By taking the traditional Christmas ingredients and giving them a new twist, this meal becomes a heavenly combination of old meets new.

We all had the turkey for Thanksgiving and chances are you are not interested in that bird anymore. I suggest, beautiful thyme duck filets, glazed with an apple gelée (apple jelly), served with sautéed red cabbage with pomegranate seeds flavored with a hint of cinnamon. To top it off I took the usual potato dumplings and instead of boiling them I fry them in a touch of olive oil.

Have I got your mouth watering?

Christmas Dinner (02) by MeetaK


In Germany one of the traditional meals one would find on Christmas dinner tables would be goose or duck with red cabbage and apples and potato dumplings. I have stayed true to all these ingredients, but added a touch of glamor and jazzed it up. After referring with several recipes and experimenting with different flavors, I think this meal will be one of the finest you will serve. I gave it a test run and few weeks ago and will attest to the sheer exquisiteness of it.

Are you still panicking? Why? Ahhh! Dessert is missing. Don't worry, I've got something unforgettable for you and your guests planned. Come back a little later this week.



Reminder!



Drop In & Decorate with freshly baked cookies and treats. Hope you will join me baking for a good cause. Look forward to having you all over.

Details can be found here.
Deadline: January 7th, 2008.




Sautéed Red Cabbage with Pomegranate Seeds and Cinnamon
Printable version of recipe here

Red Cabbage-Pommegranate(01) by MeetaK


Shredded red cabbage, sautéed with onions and a fine touch of cinnamon. Then, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds to shimmer like red jewels.

Ingredients

1 onion - finely chopped
2 pomegranates - seeds taken out
1 kg red cabbage - finely shredded
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons apple gelée
Salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons butter



Method


Red Cabbage-Pommegranate(02) by MeetaK


In a large pot bring water to boil. Place the shredded cabbage in a steamer, fitting it on top of the boiling water. You can also use a double boiler for this. Gently steam the cabbage until tender, but still slightly crispy.

Heat up a pan and melt the butter. Sauté the onions gently until transparent. Add the steamed cabbage, cinnamon sticks and bay leaf. Sauté for approx. 15 minutes on a low heat.

Add the apple gelée and the pomegranate seeds. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with apple glazed duck.




Potato Dumpling Cakes
Printable version of recipe here

Christmas Dinner(01) by MeetaK


In Germany one gets pre-packed dumpling mixture (Kloßteig), which I used for these cakes. If you do not get such a mixture then please follow this recipe, omitting the onions and croûtons. Follow the recipe to the point where you just prepare the batter, then follow my recipe here.

Ingredients

750 g dumpling mixture
1 egg - this is only for those who are using the pre-prepared dumpling mixture. If you have made you own dumpling mixture please omit this.
Salt and pepper
Nutmeg
Olive oil



Method

Prepare a smooth mixture with the dumpling mixture, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Form the dumpling dough into a large snake-like roll approx. 5 cm in diameter. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then take out and cut out cakes with a sharp knife - about 2 cm thick.

Fry the cakes in portions on both sides until golden. Allow to soak on a kitchen towel, then keep warm in the oven.




Apple Glazed Duck
Printable version of recipe here

Apple Glazed Duck (02) by MeetaK


Simply irresistible - the combination of herby thyme and fruity apple with the soft tender duck breast filet is extravagant and heavenly. If the duck is prepared well you are guaranteed with a juicy and extremely tender cut that simply melts in your mouth.

Ingredients

2-3 duck breast - you can count approx. 1 duck breast for 2 people.
5-7 tablespoons apple gelée
Handful of thyme
2 onions - quartered
2 parsnips - cubed
2 carrots - cubed
Salt and pepper
3/4 l duck or chicken stock
Oil to brush the baking tray and grill



Method

Apple Glazed Duck (04) by MeetaK


Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Prepare a baking tray and your oven grill, by oiling them.

Spread out the onions, parsnip and carrot on the baking tray. Begin to roast the vegetables while you prepare the duck filets.

Wash each duck breast carefully and pat dry. Using a sharp knife carefully cut diagonal slits into the fatty side of the breast without piercing the duck meat below. Salt and pepper each on both sides. Brush each side generously with half of the apple gelée.

Heat a pan with oil. When really hot, place the breast, fatty side down and fry on high heat for 1-2 minutes. Flip over and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Take out cover with the thyme and place on the baking tray with the vegetables, fatty side down. Roast for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes remove the breast from the baking tray, pour the stock over the vegetables and put back into the oven. Place the oven grill over the baking tray and put the duck filets on the grill, this time fatty side up.

You want to get the filet crispy now so make sure it does not cook in the stock. Glaze the filets with the remaining apple gelée and roast for another 6 minutes. Turn on the grill function of your oven and for the last 3 minutes grill the breast on high heat.

Take out of the oven and pack each breast in aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

In the meantime prepare the sauce by pureeing the vegetables and stock very finely. Bring to a boil and if necessary strain through a fine mesh strainer.


Cut the duck into thin slices and serve with red cabbage with pomegranate seeds and potato dumpling cakes.


Verdict

The aromas of cinnamon, apples, and herbs linger invitingly in the air. The flavors harmonize so perfectly with each other and each delightful forkful will bring pure joy. The duck was simply tender and perfect, the red cabbage aromatic and full of flavor and those potato cakes just perfect to scoop up the rest.
So, if you are looking for something old but pepped up, something traditional with new flavors, then this is the perfect menu for you.

Hope you enjoy it.

Other ideas on WFLH:
German Beef Roulades
Beef Ragout
Creamy Veal and Mushrooms
Fried Fish Provencal
Aubergine Tomato Gratin
Italian Oven Vegetables
Ratatouille



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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CLICK: A Greener Shade of Purple

| 13 comments
Pistchios (03) by MeetaK


I'm covered in flour, sugar and butter and need a break. I've just spent the whole day with Hilda making our Daring Bakers challenge for this month. Right, there was flour, sugar and butter involved but that's all I'll reveal for now. If these lovely nuts were a part of the challenge and what exactly took us 4 hours to make you'll find out next weekend.

These nuts however are a main part of one thing ...

... for the next session of Click, the awesome photo workshop created by Jai and Bee.

After judging for the first two sessions, this is the first time I am actually taking an active part. So I was literally going ... nuts!

The theme actually got me into action to finish off something I have been wanting to do for a long time. A comprehensive Nutology. If you have no idea what I am on about simply check the link - I'm sure you'll find it very valuable.

Back to this picture though. Why did I choose this one in particular?
Well to me it is like a symphony. I love pistachios, not just for their sweet, nutty taste but also because they are the hottest dressed nuts. Stylish in the green and purple coloring - very eye-catching.

This picture shows the pistachios like a simple yet elegant flower opening up and spreading it's jewels around it. The background colors are kept simple to emphasize the green and purple of the nuts. This time I worked with the DOF from above, focusing on the nuts in the bowl and giving the depth with the nuts on the surface.

I used white parchment paper over the textured background on purpose instead of going for an all white look. This way the motive in front, here the bowl, parchment paper holding the nuts was supposed to stand out just a tad bit more than the background. I did not want it all to be completely white. I liked the way the surface offers just a tiny bit more texture to the shot.

Details:
Camera: Nikon D70s
Lens: Nikkor 18-70mm
Tripod: Bilora 1211
Focal Length: 70.0mm
Exposure Time: 0.025s (1/40)
Aperture: f/4.5

Talking about photography - maybe you'd like to vote for me over at Well Fed. WFLH has been nominated as Best Food Blog in the category Photography. The Daily Tiffin has also been nominated in the category Family/Kids.

So, if you have nothing to do at this moment, check out the great nominations and then vote - for me - maybe!!!






All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Delicious: Chestnut Potato Soup

| 25 comments
Chestnut Potato Soup (06) by MeetaK


I've had a busy few days with my blog. Writing many posts that were in one way or the other important to me and I just felt I had to share them with you.

I guess I really am the "Christmas Crazed Chick" I mentioned in one of my earlier posts. I am sure for those of you who come over to visit me regularly must have realized by now we are right in the middle of my Christmas specials.

We started off with the lovely Dundee Fruitcake - by no means dry, rather it was moist, rich in flavor and packed with dried fruit and nuts.

Then we recently had those crumbly, flaky and nutty Vanilla Kipferl that melt in your mouth and fill the air with vanilla.

This week we had the spectacular Nutology - a comprehensive "Know-How" for many of the nuts used in your Christmas baking, cooking or simply to snack on. That post was certainly a lot of hard work. I've wanted to do it for quite sometime now and I finally got a day where I spent 2 hours just doing the photo shoot for the post. Boy did I have a back ache after that one LOL! The write-up itself was quite extensive and took a lot of research. But I am so glad I finished it and am able to share it with you. Hope you all enjoyed it to.

December is a wonderful month filled with the joy of the holiday season and excitement of children all bundled up in fluffy scarves and warm jackets. Colorful, glittering streets and the smiles on peoples faces. The crisp cold air and the warmth of a sparkling fire, in the distance you can hear the chimes of bells and Christmas carols and the air is filled with aromas of rich spices. The joy of Christmas is everywhere!

I'll be spreading more delicious Christmas joy around here in the next few days too. I am going to be presenting you with a complete 3-course Christmas dinner idea, tried and tested by the hard WFLH jury - Tom & Soeren!

I'll show you suggestions for lovely side dishes with a hint of cinnamon and some red jewels, a scrumptious main dish glazed in apple and spiced with thyme and, of course, dessert combining the flavors of mango and coconut to make sweet dreams come true.

To start with however, I present to you the first course. A soul-warming and simply aromatic soup made of fine potatoes and nutty chestnuts. It is paired with sweet and sour apples to give a fantastic harmony of flavors. This is no ordinary potato soup! It has been refined and jazzed up with fine herbs and vegetables and elegantly topped off with cream making it simply perfect to start any meal off.



Before I leave you with the recipe I would like to bring to your attention this year's Menu For Hope fund raiser. We want to raise enough money to support the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa. I hope you will join me and other bloggers raise money by biding for one of the many great prizes offered.

My own prize is a fantastic cookbook - Duchy Originals Cookbook (Prize code EU35) - it's not just about recipes, it's about using wholesome, good food and celebrating a better way of living. You'll find traditional recipes and newer modern dishes. Filled scrumptious desserts and mouthwatering dishes - the book offers an extensive insight on organic farming and breeding. As a special bonus I am also offering a photo print of any one of my photos. For more details regarding my prize and how you can bid please refer to this post.



Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Chestnut Potato Soup (04) by MeetaK


200g onions - finely chopped
1 kg potatoes - cut into small cubes
200 g parsnip - cu into small cubes
400 g chestnuts, pre-prepared in vacuum packed boxes - 200 g coarsely chopped, 200 g halved
75 g butter
Handful of marjoram
1 3/4 l vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 apples - cubed
250 g cream
1/2 bunch of chives - chopped



Method

Chestnut Potato Soup (07) by MeetaK


In a large pot melt about 60g of butter, add the onions and sauté until transparent. Add the potato and parsnip cubes and sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in the halved chestnuts and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes.

Sprinkle in the marjoram and pour in the stock. Bring to a boil on a medium heat. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes then finely puree the soup using a pureeing machine or the blender. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Melt the remaining butter in a separate pot and add the apples and the remaining chopped chestnuts. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add to the soup. Gently bring the soup to a boil.

Whisk the cream until frothy and half stiff. Mix into the soup gently. Serve soup in pre-warmed bowls with a dollop of cream and a sprinkling of chopped chestnuts.




Verdict
Chestnut Potato Soup (05) by MeetaK


It's such a perfect way to start off a Christmas meal. Warm, soothing and flavorful to the last spoon. We enjoyed the combination of the earthy potatoes with the sweet and nutty chestnuts paired with just a hint of sourness from the apples. Simply gorgeous. This soup will leave your guests with anticipation of what's to come. Hope I too am leaving you warm, mellow and filled with anticipation of what's to come ;-)

You'll find more ideas for starters here:
Coconut Mango Soup
Creamy Ginger Carrot Soup
Porcini Mushroom Cream Soup with Parmesan
Roasted Pumpkin and Mushroom Salad
Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese & Avocado


Reminder!



Drop In & Decorate with freshly baked cookies and treats. Hope you will join me baking for a good cause. Look forward to having you all over.

Details can be found here.
Deadline: January 7th, 2008.



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Food Blog Awards 2007

| 22 comments

I am a bit stumped! What can I say? Except to thank you all with my deepest gratitude for the honor. Because, I guess if it was not for you, my readers and blogger friends, What's For Lunch, Honey? would not have been nominated for an award over at Well Fed.

What an award too ...

I've been nominated in the category Best Photography. That's what has also got me so speechless. When I look at the list of names in that group I simply find it hard to believe I am a part of it. For to me, each of the four talented people nominated in this category are in some way or other my own inspiration. That is why I already feel like a winner. Simply to be named in the same breath with them.

I do have a wish - and I would be sort of denying the little excited urge in me - if I did not request you, should you like to vote, to click on the radio button next to where it says "What's For Lunch, Honey?" ;-D

To complete my joy The Daily Tiffin has also been nominated in the category Family/Kids. The Daily Tiffin just would not be what it is today if it was not for this spectacular team. Each one puts in a mighty effort into their posts and makes The Daily Tiffin a great place to be. I thank you DT gang and I thank you readers. Once again on the behalf of my team and myself, maybe you'd like to give us your vote.
The fact remains, whatever you choose to do, I love you for everything you do. Whether it's coming on over to silently read and then disappear again, or to leave comments and show your appreciation, or motivating and rooting me on, or mingling with me every month, or sending me packages and sharing your affection with me, or sending me mails and then becoming a friend - you folks make me feel like a winner everyday. I hope in my own way I am able to give a bit of all what you give back to you.

Hugs!



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
22 comments Continue »

In A Nutshell - Nutology

| 17 comments
Nuts Combined by MeetaK


What better time to go a bit nuts than now! Just before Christmas, nuts are probably in extreme use in many kitchens around the globe. Many delicate tasting cookies, cakes or biscuits are given the extra texture with a handful of yummy and crunchy nuts.

Nuts have been vital food for humans all around the world for thousands of years. With good reason too! Nuts are good and healthy for you.


Most people think that nuts are high in calories and fat... and of course they are right! Nuts are calorically dense and just 15 cashews will deliver approximately 180 kcal. If you are anything like me you will find it very hard not to overeat these tasty snacks. However, in moderation, nuts can definitely be a part of a healthy diet. They are packed full of protein and are a good source of healthy fats, not to mention all the vitamins (including antioxidants) and minerals they contain.

Nuts are cholesterol-free and contain healthy, unsaturated fats which can help lower the risk of heart disease. Nuts also provide magnesium, which helps maintain bone structure. They contain zinc for growth and wound healing, and manganese, which protects against free radicals. All nuts are a good source of vitamin E, an important antioxidant. Like all plant foods, they are high in fiber and phytochemicals—both of which help protect against cancer and other chronic diseases.

Nuts are dried seeds and are very versatile in the kitchen. They can be eaten raw, toasted, pureed, or used as flour. There are many different types of nuts—almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and pine nuts. Peanuts and soyabeans are often considered as nuts, they are in fact legumes.

Eating a broad range of nuts is best as they each have specific health benefits. The list of health benefits attached to each individual nut is endless. In this article, I have taken a few of the more common nuts and presented you with a comprehensive Nutology, which you can always refer to in the future.

It obviously goes without saying that nuts should not be eaten by anyone with an allergy to them. It is recommended that if you have a family history of nut allergies you should avoid nuts when pregnant and should not give them to your children to eat in their early years. Peanuts and tree nuts are both on the list of the eight most common allergens. Children are more likely to develop allergies if their parents or siblings suffer from allergies to legumes or nuts, but even those with no family history of allergies can be affected.

Nuts are sold in many different varieties and forms. Whole nuts, still in their shells are less expensive and will last up to a year without going rancid. Be sure to keep them in a cool and dry place. Shelled nuts may last longer if they are kept in the refrigerator. If you would like to store them longer than six months, consider putting them in the freezer.

You can purchase nuts sliced and chopped. This may save you some work but it will also ensure that those nuts will go bad faster. Whenever possible, purchase whole shelled nuts and cut them up yourself.

Always discard any nuts that look moldy. Choose tree nuts more often than peanuts they are less likely to have aflatoxin, a potent human carcinogen. Delicious nut butters can be made from pecans, walnuts, almonds and many others.

The best approach is to reap the health benefits of eating nuts but not add excessive calories to your daily intake. So instead of simply adding nuts to your diet, eat them in replacement of foods that are high in saturated fats and limit your intake of these tasty treats to 1 to 2 oz per day . For instance, instead of adding chocolate chips when making cookies, sprinkle on some nuts. Or instead of making a deli meat sandwich, try a nut butter toast.


Cashew Nuts


Nuts Cashews 01 by MeetaK


Health
Cashew nuts are the kidney-shaped seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree. These trees are native to the coastal areas of northeastern Brazil. While cashew apples are not appreciated in the United States, they are regarded as delicacies in Brazil and the Caribbean and India. They are pure in color and delicate in taste with a lovely smooth texture.

Cashews are never sold in their shells, you will always find them pre-shelled in stores. This is because the interior of their shells contains a caustic resin, known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before they are fit for consumption. This caustic resin is actually used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.

Cashews are rich in magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and biotin. They contain the lowest percentage of fats compared to most nuts and provide high levels of oleic acid (about 50% of the total fat in cashews), the same fat found in olive oil.

Eighteen medium cashews count as one serving (30 grams). Do not eat more than three servings per week, unless you need to gain weight – then you can add two more servings to your weekly intake. Always ensure that you are replacing other dietary fats. By simply adding the cashew nuts to your diet, you will add many extra calories to your diet.

Selecting & Storing
Generally you will find cashews available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins all year round. Make sure that the bins containing the cashews are covered and that the store where you buy the nuts has a good product turnover. This will ensure its maximal freshness. When purchasing cashews make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are not shriveled. If possible, smell the cashews to ensure that they are not rancid.

Due to their high content of oleic acid, cashews are more resistible than most other nuts.However, they should still be stored in a tightly sealed container and placed in the refrigerator. Here they will keep for about six months. It is also possible to put them in the freezer, where they will keep for about one year. Cashew butter should always be refrigerated once it is opened.

Hazelnuts/Filberts

Nuts Hazelnuts 01 by MeetaK


Health
Hazelnuts are a very important nutritious food item in a well-balanced diet. They are valued for their ultra indulgent flavor and upscale appeal. Furthermore, they are one of the most nutritious nuts.

Hazelnuts are a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and heart healthy B vitamins and can give and food a nutritional boost while adding the indulgence and satisfaction that you crave.

They contain a variety of antioxidants (such as vitamin E) and a host of phytonutrients that benefit the immune system.
These nuts are also a good source of protein, which is essential for growth and repair of the body's cells and dietary fibre, which helps the movement of the digestive tract. Hazelnuts also contain iron, which is essential for red blood cell function and enzyme activity, calcium to help build bones and teeth and potassium, which helps regulate the body's fluid balance.

Although hazelnuts are relatively high in fat, they contain no cholesterol. Hazelnuts are one of the best nut sources of heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) per serving and have the lowest percentage of saturated fat (along with pinenuts and almonds).

All filberts are hazelnuts, but not all hazelnuts are filberts, which are the English variety of hazelnut. The name filbert is thought to derive from St. Philibert, a late-seventh-century Frankish abbot whose feast day in late August falls during the ripening period of the nut.

Selecting & Storing
When selecting hazelnuts, look for fresh flavor. There should not be even a hint of rancidity.
Storing shelled hazelnuts in an airtight bag or container in a freezer will keep them fresh and flavorful for a year or more. Alternatively you can store hazelnuts in the refrigerator in an airtight and odorless container. Nuts should be allowed to warm to room temperature before using in baking or cooking applications. Properly stored hazelnuts will provide wonderful flavor and texture to any food and can be used as a substitute in recipes that call for nuts.


Macadamia Nuts

Nuts Macademia 01 by MeetaK


Health
Although I love the pistachios, currently I have discovered a huge passion for these simply exquisite nuts. Of the many benefits surrounding the macadamia nut, the greatest perhaps is that they taste so delicious while being good for you.

Macadamias are considered the world’s finest nut and their delicate flavour, versatility and crunchy texture make them a delight to consume. They also contain a range of nutritious and health promoting elements and form an important part of a healthy diet. A balanced diet containing macadamias promotes good health, longevity and a reduction in degenerative diseases.

Macadamias contain high levels of protein, which are an essential component of our diet and in our bodies form muscle and connective tissues, hair and nails, are part of our blood and act positively on many aspects of our health. They also contain significant amounts of fibre and the B-complex vitamins. These nuts are a high-energy food and contain no cholesterol. The natural oils in macadamias contain 78% monounsaturated fats ("good fats"), the highest of any oil including olive oil.

Flavenoids (a phytochemical) and vitamin E, which are potent antioxidants and can help protect against cancer and heart disease are all part of a Macadamia nut. Unsalted macadamia nuts contain no cholesterol and are low in sodium and saturated fats. The macadamia nut is one of the few foods that contain palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. In a recent study, indicators suggest the palmitoleic acid may actually aid in fat metabolism, possibly reducing stored body fat. Macadamia nut oil contains Omega 3, known to reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Selecting & Storing
Shelled macadamia nuts are about the size of a marble . They have a rich, sweet, delicate, buttery flavor and are often enjoyed in both desserts and savory dishes. As the shells of the macadamia are hard to crack they are available in the stores always shelled, either raw or roasted, salted or unsalted. They are readily available in the nut section of most all general grocery stores. When selecting macademias go for the lighter colored ones. They will darken with age as the inherent oil turns rancid.

Macadamia nuts have a very high fat content and must be stored carefully to avoid rancidity. Refrigerate unopened nuts in an airtight container up to six months or freeze up to a year. Once opened, refrigerate and use macadamia nuts within two months.


Almonds
Nuts Almonds 01 by MeetaK


Health
Fortunately for us, these lovely, delicately flavored and highly versatile nuts are available in the stores and markets all year round. I often think what would my cooking be without these divine nuts. Good thing they are a healthy addition to the dishes I prepare.

Almonds are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, vitamin E and selenium. Unblanched almonds are high in fiber leading to improved colon function and health. Containing high levels of healthy monounsaturated fats, almonds help in reducing cholesterol levels and improving cardiovascular health.

Although almonds are a high-fat food they are good for the health. They are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats that are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds have the ability to reduce heart disease risk. This may be due to the antioxidant action of the vitamin E found in the almonds. The flavonoids found in almond skins teamed up with the vitamin E found in the nut, create more than double the antioxidant punch.

Furthermore, almonds are a protein powerhouse. A quarter-cup contains 7.62 grams-more protein than is provided by the typical egg, which contains 5.54 grams.

Selecting & Storing
Almonds still in their shells have the longest shelf life. Look for shells that are not split, moldy or stained. Shelled almonds that are stored in an sealed container will last longer than those that are sold in bulk bins since they are less exposed to heat, air and humidity. If purchasing almonds in bulk from these bins, make sure that the store has a quick turnover and that the bulk containers are sealed well in order to ensure maximum freshness. Look for almonds that are similar in color and not limp or shriveled. Smell the almonds. They should smell sweet and nutty. If their odor is sharp or bitter, they are rancid.

As almonds have a high fat content, it is important to store them properly in order to protect them from becoming rancid. Shelled almonds should be stored in a tightly sealed containers and placed in a cool dry place away from exposure to sunlight. Keeping them refrigerated will protect them from rancidity and prolong their freshness. Almonds kept in the refrigerator will keep for several months, while if stored in the freezer, almonds can be kept for up to a year. Shelled almond pieces will become rancid more quickly than whole shelled almonds. Almonds still in the shell have the longest shelf life.


Pistachios


Nuts Pistachios 01 by MeetaK


Health
For me the queen of nuts. I love the wonderful purple, green color of the nuts protected by the slightly cracked shell. They are delicately sweet and a perfect snack food. These nuts are very popular in the Indian and Mediterranean cuisine.

The pistachio nut is a member of the cashew family, and like most nuts, pistachios are cholesterol free. Furthermore, pistachios are packed with nutrients: a one-ounce serving of pistachios (about 45 nuts) contains over 10% of the daily requirements of dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, and B vitamins.

Pistachios are cholesterol-free and high in monounsaturated fat. The fat in pistachios contains no cholesterol, which means that they will help protect from heart disease. The copper, magnesium, and B vitamins in pistachios all strengthen your immune system, making your body fit.

Pistachios are rich in potassium, which helps regulate the body's fluid balance and phosphorus - for bones and teeth and magnesium. They are also a good source of vitamin B6 and thiamine, which enhances energy and promotes normal appetite.

These nuts also have a relatively low calorie value when compared to other nuts and are high in fibre and low in saturated fat. Furthermore, they are also a very good source of protein.

Selecting & Storing
When selecting pistachios make sure you go for those that have split shells. Nonsplit shells usually contain immature kernels and should be discarded. Shelled pistachios are available in vacuum-packed jars or cans.

Store in an airtight container. Pistachios tend to draw moisture from the air, and may otherwise lose their crunch. Kept in the refrigerator or freezer, pistachios can be stored for as long as a year. To restore crispness to pistachios that have lost their crunch, gently toast them on a low heat in the oven.


Pecan Nuts


Nuts Pecans 01 by MeetaK


Mellower than the walnut Pecans are simply perfect to snack on and can be used in many sweet or savory dishes.

Pecans contain an abundance of nutrients (over 19 minerals and vitamins) including folic acid, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin B and zinc. Like almonds and walnuts, pecans provide heart-healthy properties by reducing total blood cholesterol, reduce LDL cholesterol, and create clearer arterial flow.

They are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats. A diet rich in pecans can lower the risk of gallstones in women and the antioxidants and plant sterols found in pecans reduce high cholesterol by reducing the "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. A serving of pecans (30g) provides about 25 percent more oleic acid than a serving of olive oil (one tablespoon). They are cholesterol free and sodium free. Researchers have confirmed that when pecans are part of the daily diet, levels of bad cholesterol in the blood drop. Pecans get their cholesterol-lowering ability from both the type of fat they contain and the presence of beta-sitosterol, a natural cholesterol-lowering compound. Eating 1-2 ounces of pecans a day, when its part of a heart-healthy diet, can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Selecting & Storing
When buying pecans, look for plump pecans that are uniform in color and size. Shelled pecans can be kept in the refrigerator for about nine months and for up to two years in the freezer. Pecans can be thawed and refrozen repeatedly during the two-year freezing period without loss of flavor or texture. Airtight containers are best for storing pecans in the refrigerator and sealed plastic bags are best for storing pecans in the freezer.


Walnuts
Nuts Walnuts 01 by MeetaK


Health
The regal and delicious walnut is such a perfect way to add extra nutrition, flavor and crunch to a meal. Walnuts are highly revered for being a great source of omega-3 essential fatty aids. These fatty acids have been shown to yield numerous health benefits: protecting the heart, improving cognitive function, and reducing inflammatory effects of asthma, eczema, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Walnuts contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant compound that provides cancer-fighting and immune system boosting properties.

Adding walnuts to the diet can help to improve cardiovascular health. Walnuts are an important source of monounsaturated fats-approximately 15% of the fat found in walnuts is healthful monounsaturated fat. Walnuts and pecans have the highest antioxidant content of the tree nuts, with walnuts delivers more than 20 mmol antioxidants per 3 ounces (100 grams).

Walnuts are unique among nuts because the fat in walnuts is primarily heart-healthy polyunsaturated, the source of important omega-3 fatty acids. Studies indicate that omega-3s lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease and stroke.

Selecting & Storing
When purchasing whole, unshelled walnuts, choose those that feel heavy for their size. Their shells should not be cracked, pierced or stained, as this is often a sign of mold development on the nutmeat.

Due to their high polyunsaturated fat content, walnuts are very perishable and care should be taken when storing them. Shelled walnuts should be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator, where they will keep for six months. I the freezer they will last for one year. Unshelled walnuts should preferably be stored in the refrigerator, although as long as you keep them in a cool, dry, dark place they will stay fresh for up to six months.




This is your Nutology is a nutshell! In future if you would like to refer to any of these you will find each type of nut categorized under "The Know Hows of Food" on the right sidebar. I hope you find it helpful for your baking, cooking or simply snacking satisfaction.

Looking for nutty recipes on WFLH:
Pecans: Chocolate Pecan Brownies
Walnuts: Carrot Coconut Walnut Apple Muffin
Hazelnuts: Rich Creamy Hazelnut Truffles
Pistachios: Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream
Almonds: Grilled Peach with Greek Honey Yogurt and Almonds
Cashews: Indian Carrot Halwa
Pecans/Walnuts: Sticky Nutty Cinnamon Buns

I'd like to thank Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry for her sweet and fantastic package. Hilda these are your pecans LOL!
After reading this post Hilda wrote to me and generously offered to send me some Pecans! I was thrilled - being a Daring Baker I guess Hilda knows how someone might feel a great emptiness when a certain product or item is not readily available! Thanks sweetie!


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