Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Ah! Nuts. August 3, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 9:43 am
Tags: , , , ,

I noticed a lot of activity in the corner of the garden this morning. The squirrels seemed to be congregating to one tree in particular, which made Elgie and me very interested and a little confused.

We went in for a closer look and DONK! I was hit in the head with a shelled walnut. Apparently, one of the trees in the yard is walnut! I doubt I’ll be able to harvest many – with the large family of squirrels already camped out in the area. But I am very excited with the notion of having edible plants on the property. BTW, I am really fascinated with found fruit and veggies – I even wrestled an ostrich for some fresh mangoes. 🙂

Here is a recipe plucked from the foodnetwork, inspired by my newfound source of walnuts.

Blue Cheese Cheesecake with Baby Greens and Candied Walnuts  in Pear Vinaigrette

3/4 cup toasted bread crumbs
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound good-quality blue cheese, at room temperature
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Baby greens for serving
Pear Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Candied Walnuts, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine bread crumbs, walnuts and melted butter and process until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture on the bottom and partially up the sides of an 8-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl combine blue cheese and cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and combine well. Using a spatula, transfer cheese mixture to the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake is golden brown and not loose in the center.

While the cake is baking, make the Pear Vinaigrette and Candied Walnuts.

When the cake is puffed, golden brown and not loose in the center, transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serve the cake warm, with a salad of baby greens tossed with the Pear Vinaigrette, garnished with the Candied Walnuts.

Pear Vinaigrette

1 (4-ounce) firm-ripe pear, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons green onions
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Combine the pear, Champagne vinegar, shallots, sugar, rosemary and black pepper in a skillet and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the pears are tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender or food processor.Add the mustard, soy sauce, kosher salt, and green onions, and puree on high speed. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream and process until emulsified. Remove from the blender and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve. (The vinaigrette will keep for up to 1 week refrigerated.)

Yield: 1 generous cup

Candied Walnuts

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup walnut halves
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring, until golden brown and toasted, 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper to cool.Yield: 1/2 cup

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