October 22, 2009

WALNUTS

Fresh walnuts are so sweet.

Last year (2008) we spent a week towards the end of October in Le Grand-Pressigny and although it was chilly it was sunny and we had a great time. Early in the week we returned from a day out to find a basket of walnuts on our doorstep - a gift (one of many) from our neighbour, Mme André.

We had never had walnuts this fresh before. They were so sweet and soft compared with the shop-bought ones we had had before which were often bitter and hard.


Nick and Lulu under one of the many walnut trees around the village.

This year we were in LGP a week earlier in the month and we were hoping we would not be too early for the walnuts. We were not disappointed. There were walnuts in abundance everywhere. We gathered some for ourselves and Mme André provided us with a little bagful most days. They were delicious, just like last year.



The walnut on the tree, about to fall, leaving the green bit behind.


The walnuts form in little fruits that look like small pears. Whilst on the tree the green outer shell splits to reveal the walnut as we know it inside. Usually the walnut then falls to the ground leaving the split casing on the tree.

As we drove around the area in October this year, we would often see a car parked by the edge of a wood or field and nearby there would be a person with a basket or a bucket gathering fresh walnuts from the ground.



This picture shows the stages of the walnut from the green "fruit" stage to the final walnut, which then falls to the ground.

READER CHALLENGE

We brought a large quantity of walnuts home with us. Other than eating them as nuts for dessert or putting the odd few in a salad, we are short of ideas on how to use them. One can only eat so many coffee and walnut cakes !

Any suggestions ?

9 comments:

  1. Jean, toasted walnuts chopped with flat leaf parsley, garlic, parmesan and either oil or butter makes a great sauce for pasta. There are a number of methods, some of which include bread, some that add sage, but you can definitely find something that suits your taste.

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  2. Jean, I just read yesterday of a pizza topped with a mixture similar to what Keir described-- there was spinach in it, too. I believe the pizza also had fresh green or red tomatoes :)

    Here's a link:
    http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/lifestyle/stories.nsf/cooking/story/D7646ED4A3C0229186257654005E355C?OpenDocument

    Judy

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  3. We enjoyed a walnut or two chez vous last week!

    You can always make a tarte aux noix. Here's one I did:
    Tarte aux noix

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  4. We have a walnut tree in Brittany but came away just as they were about to drop. One of our friends came and collected them after we'd gone...just like every year. I haven't tasted a single one yet.

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  5. Keir, Judy and Walt - what great ideas - I will try them all. But Walt, your recipe looks like a killer for the waistline. !!
    Ken - that's such a shame. They're delicious.

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  6. Hello Jean, I was going to send this as an e-mail but will leave it here instead as a (long) comment. It's my translation of a French recipe I found on the Internet. I plan to make these soon, and I think you could use goat cheese or another blue cheese in them in place of the Roquefort:

    Puff-pastry turnovers with Roquefort and walnuts

    These little turnovers are great appetizers to have at apéro time. The bits of walnut contrast well with the creamy Roquefort cheese filling and the crunchy puff pastry shell.

    200 g (6-7 oz.) Roquefort cheese
    5 walnuts, shelled
    1 sheet of puff pastry
    1 egg
    1 egg yolk
    5 cl (3-4 Tbsp.) heavy cream
    5 chive sprigs
    1 pinch of black pepper

    Finely chop the chives. Coarsely chop the shelled walnuts.

    Mix the cream with the blue cheese, the chives, and the walnuts. Add black pepper to taste.

    Cut the puff pastry sheet into rounds 6 cm (2½ in.) in diameter. Put a dollop of the cheese mixture in the center of each round, making sure to leave an bare edge so that you can seal the turnovers.

    Stir a teaspoon of water into an egg yolk. Brush the edges of the pastry rounds with the mixture and fold the rounds in half, pressing the edges together so that they are sealed and half-moon shaped. Brush them all over with the egg yolk mixture.

    Cooking them on a buttered baking sheet in a 240ºC (450ºF) oven for 15 minutes, or until golden.

    Serve warm. Serves 4.

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  7. Thanks Ken for that recipe. I will certainly give it a try and let everyone know how they turn out.

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  8. They're good in a stir-fry of vegetables and meat.

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  9. Chrissoup - thanks for yet another good suggestion.

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