Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Nuts

A Passover meal without matzo? That's nuts

Pecan 
There is an alternative to a Passover meal that's heavy on the matzo: Use nuts.

All tree nuts are kosher for Passover, and they have been used throughout culinary history as flours, binders and thickeners. Best of all, nuts taste 100% better than matzo, have a heart-healthy reputation and are considerably kinder on the digestive system. Nuts can also be an excellent solution for those who are gluten-intolerant. Read more here in this week's Food section cover story, plus find recipes such as this chocolate pecan brownie fudge cake.

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What's hot? Latest recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

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--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Virginia peanuts for the holidays


IMG_1642 Last year, just before Christmas, on the prowl for wines for my Wine of the Week column, I was poking around Silverlake Wine. "Here, taste this peanut," urged co-owner George Cossette, offering a can of Gourmet Peanuts from Plantation Peanuts of Wakefield. "I used to have a college roommate from Virginia and every year at the holidays we'd order a big can of these peanuts," he said.

The peanut is perfectly shaped, larger than usual, and so full of flavor, it almost seems to be another nut entirely. Who knew peanuts could taste like this? I immediately bought an 8-ounce can, which was all Cossette had in stock at the time. And when that was finished, I decided I needed to have more -- a lot more, so I ordered a couple of 22-ounce cans from the company's website. They didn't last as long as you'd think.

This year, I ordered a couple of the 40-ounce cans (which, admittedly, makes it a little more difficult for my husband to hide them from me.)   I've been good, though, doling them out for cocktails, a light snack and occasionally throwing a handful in a Chinese dish.

I love that now I always have something to go with a Negroni: these uber peanuts from Virginia, roasted in small batches by hand and lightly salted.

Plantation Peanuts; (800) 233-8788; Plantationpeanuts.com. Gourmet salted peanuts, $5.25 8-ounce can, $8.95 22-ounce can, and $12.95 40-ounce can.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Photo: S. Irene Virbila

It's like pecan pie, but in cookie form....

Pecancookiekenhively

Linda e-mailed me yesterday evening looking for a recipe from our archives:

"I was looking ... for a cookie recipe from Harris Ranch Restaurant, but did not locate it. Could you help me find the recipe for Pecan Thumb Print Cookies? Thank you, Linda"

We tracked down the recipe, which originally ran as a Culinary SOS on Jan. 11, 2006. We had written:

"Travelers driving between Southern California and the Bay Area on Interstate 5 have made these cookies a popular fixture at the Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant in Coalinga. Chewy in texture, they have a pecan pie flavor and taste like a buttery lace cookie, although they have no butter."

Enjoy, Linda!

The recipe follows the jump. And click here for more Culinary SOS recipes. If you have a favorite restaurant recipe you'd like to request, feel free to e-mail me at noelle.carter@latimes.com. I'll do my best to track down the recipe.

-- Noelle Carter

Photo credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

Continue reading »

Sending out an SOS for ... pistachio madeleines

Madelines1 

Jim Tavernier of Glendora wrote to Culinary SOS looking for a recipe we ran several years ago for pistachio Madeleine's. "I have misplaced the original and would really like to make them again," he said. 

Times Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter happily hunted it down -- it ran in 1999 -- and retested it. She describes the resulting madeleines as being "light in texture and delicately flavored, the subtle nuttiness of the pistachios perfectly balanced by the clarified butter." (While she was busy saying all that, the rest of us inhaled the test results -- and declared them "delicious.")

The recipe is adapted from a recipe by Keswick Hall at Monticello, an inn near Charlottesville, Va. If you have a Culinary SOS request, contact us at Food@latimes.com and Noelle will do her best to track it down.

In the meantime, take a spin through a photo gallery of some of our most recent requests. Still want more? Here you go.

-- Rene Lynch

Even more recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

Join us on Twitter @LATimesFood

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Peanut-related salmonella cases reach 600


Salm_4

A petri dish containing different strains and stages of salmonella being tested at the Los Angeles County Health Department in Downey last summer, in an unrelated outbreak.


The number of people reported to have gotten ill from Salmonella typhimurium poisoning related to peanut products has hit 600 in 44 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent illness began Jan. 23. Seventy-four of those illnesses occurred in California.

Now, the Consumer Federation of America and other consumer groups are urging Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration authority that they say would improve the agency's ability to protect the food supply.

The changes include giving the FDA mandatory recall authority and requiring more frequent inspections.

"These changes are critical for FDA to develop a modern, prevention-oriented food safety program," said Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America.

Legislation introduced in the House would provide the FDA with those authorities.

And the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, has called on Congress to increase penalties against companies that ship adulterated food and to overhaul food safety laws.

The groups are reacting to the salmonella outbreak traced to a Georgia plant owned by Peanut Corp. of America that shipped peanut products to dozens of companies that used them in a wide variety of foods.

Continue reading »

More notes on Nutella: hazelnuts

Hazelnuts031361Among the many comments and e-mails I've gotten about this week's Nutella story have been a few concerning hazelnuts. As I mentioned in the piece, hazelnuts -- like all nuts, which have a high fat content -- can turn rancid easily, so it's important to purchase fresh ones and store them correctly.

The Hazelnut Council recommends that hazelnuts be stored in an airtight container in a dry place, ideally in the refrigerator.  Optimum storage temperature is 32 to 50 degrees, with a relative humidity of 50% to 65%. Stored under these condititions, hazelnuts should keep for 18-24 months. (The nuts can also be frozen, although they should be used immediately once they've been pulled from the freezer.) Hazelnuts also have a longer shelf life if they're raw, so resist the urge to toast larger quantities than you'll use right away. For this reason hazelnuts (74% of which are grown in Turkey) are mostly sold raw.

According to the Council, the best thing is to double-check the expiration date on any nuts you purchase, or ask to sample a few if you're buying from a bulk bin. You might also want to get into the habit of tasting a few before you go to the trouble of roasting--and peeling--them, just to make sure. 

-- Amy Scattergood

Photo: Courtesy Hazelnut Council

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