Special of the Day: Ah, Nuts!

Carrot-Pecan Bread

27 May Special of the Day: Ah, Nuts!

George-Sydne-food-300x204Faced with an accumulation of a variety of nuts left over from making this and baking that, I found myself anxious to diminish the supply, before they took a turn for the worse.

While nuts stored in a closed container kept in the refrigerator will keep for a while (and even longer in the freezer), opened packages of nuts left in the pantry will be likely only be at their best for a month or two after purchase. (Open the bag and smell them to make sure they are still good before using.

Nuts (when eaten in moderation and as a part of a healthy eating plan) provide a nutritious addition to recipes as they are a good source of protein and unsaturated fat, the healthy fat that can help to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol in your body.

One of my favorite things to do with nuts is to candy them. Melt a thin layer of sugar in a sauté pan over medium heat, add nuts and stir, then jazz them up with a sprinkling of salt, cinnamon or chili powder. Let them cool on parchment and serve them as a crunchy counterpoint on salads, a welcome stand-in for croutons.

Having stumbled upon a half-used bag of whole pecans in the pantry and a few rainbow carrots in the crisper that were almost past their prime, I went to work whipping up a Carrot-Pecan Bread, that when served sliced thinly and served with cinnamon butter was a real treat.

And just in case you have extra almonds or walnuts waiting in the wings, I am sharing wonderful ways to use those up, too with recipes selected from the Special of the Day archives.

Get a little nutty with this week’s Special of the Day: Ah, Nuts! and recipes for Carrot-Pecan Bread, Herbed Brie and Walnut Tarts and Almond-crusted Halibut over Wilted Greens. Enjoy!

Carrot-Pecan Bread

Carrot-Pecan Bread

Carrot-Pecan Bread

Recipe by Sydne George

(This nut bread is even more delicious served with cinnamon butter!)

½ cup butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup grated carrots

½ cup whole pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed before adding the next. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Stir dry ingredients together and beat in. Add carrots and pecans and mix until incorporated.

Transfer to well-buttered loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Remove from pan, slice and enjoy!

Herbed Brie and Walnut Tart

Herbed Brie and Walnut Tart

Herbed Brie and Walnut Tarts

(makes 6 individual tarts or 1 9-inch tart)

Recipe by Sydne George

Crust:

2 cups flour

¾ cup oil

¼ cup water

¼ teaspoon salt

Filling:

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup shallots, minced

1 cup toasted walnuts

1 egg

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup brie, trimmed and sliced into 2 inch strips

2 teaspoons freshly snipped thyme, leaves only

Additional thyme sprigs for garnish

Make the crust:

Combine all crust ingredients in mixing bowl and stir until incorporated.

Form the dough into a ball and roll out between two sheets of waxed paper.

Roll into 11 inch circle for 9 inch tart or divide dough into six equal balls and roll into crust for individual tarts.

Transfer crust into 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom or individual tart pans with removable bottoms.

Trim edges of crust.

Make the filling:

In a medium pan over medium heat, melt butter and sauté shallots until soft.

Press toasted walnuts into the bottom of each tart.

In a mixing bowl, combine egg, milk, mustard, and salt. Whisk to combine.

Arrange brie slices in bottom of prepared crust.

Sprinkle with snipped thyme.

Top with sautéed shallots.

Pour filling over just to cover.

Arrange thyme sprigs over the top of the tarts.

Bake for 15-17 minutes for individual tarts or 20 minutes for 9-inch tart or until lightly browned and set.

Let cool briefly on cooling rack.

Remove rings and bottoms of removable tart pans and serve.

Almond-crusted Halibut Fillet over Wilted Spinach

Almond-crusted Halibut Fillet over Wilted Spinach

Almond-crusted Halibut over Wilted Greens

(serves 4)

Recipe by Sydne George    

1 pound fresh halibut fillet, divided

2 eggs

2 tbsp. water

½ cup flour + ½ tsp. salt + 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

½ cup almonds

2 tbsp. coconut oil

Cut the halibut fillet into 4 portions.

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish.

Whisk eggs and water together in second shallow dish.

Grind almonds in food processor until fine.

Transfer ground almonds to a third shallow dish.

One at a time, dip halibut portions flour mixture, then in egg wash and finally in ground almonds, patting almonds on halibut fillet to adhere.

Repeat for the other halibut portions.

Heat coconut oil in medium sauté pan over medium high heat.

Cook Almond-crusted Halibut in hot coconut oil for three minutes, then turn and cook second side for an additional three minutes. Almonds should be golden brown and fish should be opaque on the inside. Remove halibut from pan and let rest.

While halibut is resting, wilt the spinach

2 tbsp. coconut oil

3 cups fresh spinach

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

4 lemon slices

Heat sauté pan over medium high heat. Add coconut oil and heat until hot. Add spinach leaves and garlic and sauté just until spinach is wilted and dark green. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Remove from pan, blotting wilted spinach with paper towel to remove excess oil.

Arrange a bed of wilted spinach on each dinner plate. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice.

Top with Almond-crusted Halibut portions. Garnish with lemon slices. Enjoy!

Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at sydnegeorge@hotmail.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at sydnegeorge.com.

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