hazelnuts have become the global benchmark for large
size and distinctive flavor. Here, hazelnuts toast in
to a play, a couple bottles of good wine, a fuzzy sweater.
Those were among the gifts I received during the December
holidays. Just what I like and much appreciated, thank you.
But my favorite gift of all was nuts. Not crazy nuts —
literally, nuts. The package I opened from family living in
Eugene was filled with Oregon’s finest toasted organic
hazelnuts. I remember squealing, "I’m rich, I’m
the last couple of months, I’ve managed to indulge my
passion by making soups, entrees, salads and desserts with
my favorite nut. They are so delicious, the flavor never
gets old. Here’s the short list of my kitchen experiments.
Sauteed Calves’ Liver with Onions, Pancetta and Hazelnuts.
This version elevates the classic liver, bacon and onions. I’ve
also made this dish with chicken livers and bacon. Much of
its success is because liver-lovers never let the meat cook
beyond medium rare to pink.
Browned butter-and-hazelnut mashed potatoes. This will be on
my Thanksgiving table next November. Until then, when I want
lush potatoes, this is my go-to dish.
Mushroom and Hazelnut Soup. When people call you a good
cook, the real reason isn’t always because of what you
know but what combinations of flavors you choose. Like in
this easy "nutshroom" soup.
Hazelnut Pesto Fish. Just about any fish fillet is enhanced
by a crunchy topping.
Hazelnut Cornmeal Cake. Desserts are where hazelnuts really
shine. Cakes, pies, candies, cookies, you name it. This
unfrosted, one-layer cake is a good companion from breakfast
hazelnut’s BFF is chocolate. Just Google
chocolate-hazelnut desserts to find a bonanza. Want a
quicker fix? Open a jar of Nutella. Spread it on bread. Stir
a big spoonful into hot milk, or stir another spoonful into
hot coffee. Eat a big spoonful "neat" on the sly.
chocolatiers make Rolls-Royce versions of hazelnut chocolate
spread. There’s Maglio from Sicily, in biz since 1875, and
Guido Gobino from Turin. Both spreads are available at Mon
Aimee Chocolat in the Strip District. Owner Amy Rosenfield
also stocks a good handful of hazelnut chocolate bars and
truffles, some made by a local chocolatier.
is the epicenter of hazelnut production. That state has
ideal weather conditions for growing the world’s highest
quality nuts. The temperate ocean, mountain and river
climates are paired with rich volcanic soils. Oregon
produces 99 percent of the U.S. hazelnut crop. While
representing just five percent of the world crop, Oregon
hazelnuts have become the global benchmark for large size
and distinctive flavor. And you thought the Willamette
Valley was all about Northwest wines.
more hazelnuts (or any nuts) are processed, the shorter
their shelf life. It’s best to process (roast, chop,
slice, grind) just before use. However, if you’d like to
have hazelnuts handy for adding to a variety of dishes, then
roast and freeze them in an airtight container. They will
keep for more than a year in the freezer, and you can remove
the amount you need.
can’t find blanched (skinless) hazelnuts when your recipe
calls for them, use regular hazelnuts instead — just
remove the dry skins first. Toast nuts on a baking sheet
until fragrant and browned (about 10 minutes at 350
degrees), then wrap them, still warm, in a barely damp
kitchen towel and rub and roll until they’re bare-ish. If
a few bits of skin are left, that’s fine.
is a good method for just eating out of hand. Roasting
hazelnuts intensifies their flavor and develops their color.
Best results can be achieved using a low temperature and
longer time. To roast, spread whole nuts in a single layer
on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 15 to 20
minutes. Take care not to over roast, as nuts can scorch
quickly. To remove skins, wrap warm hazelnuts in a dish
towel and let them sit for five to 10 minutes. Rub
vigorously in the towel. Many varieties don’t lose their
skins entirely, which is a good thing. Hazelnut skins add
nutrients and color.
IN THE NAME?
name is controversial. Are they hazelnuts or filberts? Short
answer, the names are interchangeable. Longer answer,
advocates of either name like to nit-pick. People have
regional preferences for what they call their local species
of nut from the genus Corylus. If you are in eastern North
America, they may be called either filberts or hazelnuts,
depending on your family history. If you are in the Pacific
Northwest, they are filberts to the older generation; the
younger generation knows them as hazelnuts, thanks to
marketing starting in 1981. If you are in England or Europe,
you probably call them filberts unless you specifically are
speaking about cobnuts, which are another story altogether.
If you are in Turkey, you probably call them hazelnuts. Of
course, in Asia the local names are completely different.
could drive a person nuts.
CALVES’ LIVER WITH ONIONS, PANCETTA AND HAZELNUTS
hazelnuts, peppery pancetta and sweet red onions all add a
wonderful texture that contrasts beautifully with the
silkiness of the liver. Remember to give the outside
membrane of the liver pieces a snip or two with scissors so
they don’t curl. The fillets will be perfect when they are
To render pancetta, cut the pancetta into ¼-inch thick
slices, then into 1/3-inch strips. Put the pancetta in a
large skillet with a drop or 2 of olive oil. Cook slowly,
stirring frequently until the pancetta releases much of its
fat and softens but does not brown. Remove the pancetta with
a slotted spoon. Reserve the rendered fat for cooking.
oil as needed
thinly sliced red onion
cup partially rendered diced pancetta
and freshly ground pepper
pounds calves’ liver, cut into 8 1/3-inch slices
tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the
onions and cook until tender, 7 to 10 minutes; remove from
the pan and set aside.
tablespoons oil in same pan over medium heat. Add pancetta,
cook until lightly browned and almost crunchy, about 5
minutes; remove with slotted spoon, and set aside with
the flour with salt and pepper. Heat 1/4 cup oil in the same
pan over high heat. Dredge the liver with the seasoned flour
and shake off the excess. Add as many slices of liver as
will comfortably fit in the pan, and sear 2 minutes each
side for medium-rare; remove from the pan and keep warm.
Repeat with the remaining liver.
off the excess oil, add the stock to the pan and boil,
scraping up the browned bits on the bottom, until slightly
thickened, about 2 minutes. Return the onions and pancetta
to the pan, and stir in the toasted hazelnuts. Season to
taste with salt and pepper. Arrange 2 slices liver on each
plate and spread the onion mixture over top. Serve right
away with roasted potatoes. Makes 4 servings.
"The Mediterranean Kitchen" by Joyce Goldstein
BUTTER-AND-HAZELNUT MASHED POTATOES
is a great dish to serve a crowd. But you can easily scale
down the measurements to 4 or 2 servings.
pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into
hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
cup unsalted butter
milk, warmed to steaming
container plain low-fat Greek yogurt
teaspoons kosher salt
potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Cover and bring
to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook
until potatoes are tender when pierced, about 15 minutes.
Drain; return to pot.
in a large frying pan cook hazelnuts over medium heat,
stirring often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add butter
and cook, stirring frequently, until butter is golden brown
and flecked with brown bits and hazelnuts are dark brown,
about 5 minutes. Pour hot hazelnut mixture into a bowl and
hot potatoes. Add milk, yogurt, salt and pepper, mashing to
blend. Transfer to a serving bowl and spoon about half the
warm hazelnut mixture over the top; serve the rest on the
about 8 servings.
AND HAZELNUT SOUP
recipe from Chef Joyce Goldstein is a magical combination.
You can taste the mushrooms and you can taste the hazelnuts,
but the combination of the two is rich and complex, sort of
a "wild nutshroom" flavor. I used a mixture of
wild and domestic mushrooms. The soup can easily be cut in
half. But you might not want to.
hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off
tablespoons unsalted butter
cups (loosely packed) white or brown mushrooms, cut in
chunks or left whole if small)
good chicken stock
teaspoon freshly ground pepper
parsley for garnish
the nuts in a food processor and set aside. Melt the butter
in a large deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions
and cook until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add
the mushrooms and sweat them covered about 5 minutes. Add
enough chicken stock to barely cover and heat to boiling.
Reduce the heat and simmer about 10 minutes.
the mushrooms and onions with the nuts and a little of the
hot stock in batches in a blender or food processor. Thin
the soup to the desired consistency with hot stock. Season
with salt and pepper. This soup can be made ahead of time
and gently reheated. Thin it with chicken stock if it
thickens too much.
"The Mediterranean Kitchen" by Joyce Goldstein
sauce, a topping really, is good on any sort of fish you
large garlic clove
fresh cilantro sprigs
cup hazelnuts, toasted
cup olive oil
pounds Arctic char fillets with skin
wedges for garnish
oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375
degrees. With motor running, drop garlic into a food
processor to finely chop. Shut off motor and add cilantro,
nuts, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then blend until
coarsely chopped. With motor running, add oil blending until
incorporated. Sauce should be coarse.
fillets, skin sides down, in a lightly oiled baking dish.
Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, then spoon
pesto over fish. Bake until fish is opaque and just cooked
through, 12 to 17 minutes depending on the thickness of the
fillets. Garnish with lime wedges to squeeze over servings.
Makes 4 servings.
Gourmet Magazine, 2006
in origin, this butter cake gets both crunch and flavor from
toasted hazelnuts and cornmeal. Eat it any time of day. Have
a wedge with an espresso for breakfast, or with a glass of
wine for dessert. In any is left after a day or 2, slice and
toast it and spread with raspberry jam.
hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
cup finely ground cornmeal
cup cake flour
teaspoon baking powder
(2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
large eggs, separated
of 1/2 lemon, strained
sugar for dusting
a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan.
Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit.
Butter the paper and dust the bottom and sides of the pan
food processor or blender, combine the hazelnuts and
cornmeal. Process until the nuts are finely ground. Sift
together the cake flour, baking powder and salt onto a sheet
of waxed paper. Stir in the ground nut mixture. Set aside.
large bowl, combine the butter and granulated sugar. Using a
hand-held electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until
the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.
another clean bowl, stir together the egg whites and lemon
juice. Using clean and grease-free beaters, beat on
medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the dry ingredients
into the butter mixture until almost fully incorporated.
Fold in one-half of the egg whites. Fold in another 1/3 of
the dry ingredients, followed by the remaining whites. Add
the remaining dry ingredients, and using a light lifting
motion with the spatula and continuously turning the bowl,
fold in until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients
are incorporated. The batter should be quite light, almost
foamy. Do not over mix, or the whites will deflate and the
cake will be dense.
the batter in the prepared pan. Bake the cake until a
toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40
minutes. Watch the time closely at the end so that the cake
does not over bake.
the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place
a wire rack on top of the cake and invert them together.
Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment. Let the cake
cool completely on the rack. Cover the cake with a clean,
slightly damp kitchen towel so that the outside does not dry
out as it cools.
a fine mesh sieve, lightly dust the top of the cooled cake
with confectioners’ sugar. Store wrapped with plastic wrap
and aluminum foil at room temperature for up to 2 days, or
freeze. Makes 1 8-inch cake.
"Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking" (Oxmoor,