Tag Archives: pecans

Maple-Oat Scones with Pecans

First, my apologies. Apparently, the latest version of WordPress has a bug and does not allow media files to be uploaded. Therefore, this will be a picture-less blog post. But I hope you can envision the scones after reading about them!

I went to the dr. recently and discovered that I have hypothyroidism. I knew something was wrong, but I had my TSH tested a year ago and it was normal. It wasn’t until I pressed my dr. to do more thorough tests that my thyroid appeared to be abnormal. It was both a relief and an added stress to find this out. A relief because now I am on medication and hopefully it will help my thyroid, and an added stress because from what I know about thyroid disease, it is extremely hard to treat, and people often times end up taking medication for life.

Because of my hypothyroidism, I’ve gained 10 lbs. in the last 6 months. It’s been very difficult emotionally. I had a very dysfunctional relationship with food throughout most of my life. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started educating myself on how to eat healthier while still enjoying sweets and higher calorie foods in moderation. As a result, I lost 25 lbs. Even then, it took several years not to feel anxious when I would allow myself dessert. I was always scared that I would gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose. Now, over ten years later, going through this has triggered all those old feelings of self-loathing and negative body image. It has affected my self-esteem and the way I carry myself. What’s more, it has severely impacted my relationship with food. I have regressed back to seeing food as the enemy much of the time. I am working very hard on eating healthy as much as possible, while still allowing myself an indulgence when I want it. But I have days when I want to just say, “F*** it. What’s the point if I am going to gain weight regardless of what I eat!” It’s an uphill battle.

I have been on thyroid medication for one week now, and am hopeful that it will treat my hypothyroidism. If not, this may have to be my new normal. I know a lot of women struggle with acceptance surrounding their bodies and weight, so I am not alone in this. It’s just hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

On a more positive note, I made scones! And delicious scones they are. I am a big fan of the maple-pecan combination in sweets, so I tweaked one of my favorite scone recipes. It’s from Amy’s Bread, where I currently work. We carry these oat scones every day of the week, but the fruit/nut mixture changes every day. My favorite is the almonds/currants combo. My sister is visiting this weekend, so I thought these would be good with brunch.

Maple-Oat Scones with Pecans
Adapted from Amy’s Bread

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cold, 1/2-inch dice
2 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup, pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

  1. Position one rack in the top third of the oven, one rack in the bottom third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line the sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the 2 flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda, and process them for 5 seconds, until they are just combined.
  3. Add the butter and process again for 10 to 15 seconds, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. The largest pieces of butter should be about the size of tiny peas. The butter should be suspended in tiny granules throughout the flour, not rubbed into it to make a doughy mass. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and stir in the oats and pecans until they are evenly distributed.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, maple extract, and vanilla extract. Remove 1/3 cup of this mixture and set it aside. Pour the remaining liquid over the dry ingredients and lightly and briefly stir them together, just until everything is barely moistened.
  5. Using your hands, drop free-form portions of dough about 3 1/2 inches in diameter onto the prepared baking sheets. Evenly space 6 scones on each sheet. Using a pastry brush, dab the reserved buttermilk mixture generously all over the tops of the scones and sprinkle them lightly with turbinado sugar (white sugar will work fine if you don’t have this on hand).
  6. Place one pan on each oven rack and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and rotate the pans from top to bottom. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the scones are a deep golden brown on both the top and bottom. A tooth pick inserted in the center of a scone should come out clean. Remove the scones from the pans to cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts

l1050692I let a few months pass in-between posts again.  Like a lot of other people in this country, I have been trying to find healthy outlets for my anger, sadness, and disappointment in the election. I have been doing a decent amount of holiday baking.  One day, I came home from work and just decided to start looking for craft projects online. If nothing else, I figured it would be a nice distraction for me, and a way to channel my feelings into something creative.  My mom, being a very crafty lady, is very happy about this.

Mr. K and I had a pretty rough autumn with both of my grandma’s dying within one month of each other. We flew to Minnesota for both funerals, and in between those trips we moved to a new apartment.  The past few weekends have started to feel “normal” again, as we slowly return to our old weekend routines and attempt to create new ones. We moved to Harlem and we are both very excited about trying new restaurants and discovering all of the little gems that define our new neighborhood.
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I am taking advantage of living in Manhattan again. Before we moved to Astoria, one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday was to go to a matinee and/or bring a book along and sit in a coffee shop and read. I did that last weekend and it felt so indulgent. It was a good reminder for me that I need to force myself out of the apartment on the weekends. Being around other people, and just being out in the world observing things, always helps my state of mind.

Word of caution:  if you make these candied nuts, you might not be able to stop eating them. They are incredibly good, with the perfect combination of smoky, salty, and sweet. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
l1050695Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon of hot smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside.
2. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly.
3. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.

Seared Sweet Potatoes with Merguez and Radicchio

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I turned 39 this week.  Hoo-boy.  I only have one year left in my thirties!  All of a sudden I feel an  anxious eagerness to pack in as many things as I can before turning 40.  I’m not sure why. There has never been a better time to be 40, really.  But for whatever reason, in my mind–and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way–there is a dividing line between everything pre-40 and post-40.  40 means adulthood for real.   Like, if you don’t have your shit figured out by the time you hit 40, well, now you’re just that 40-year-old who never got their shit together.  Maybe I’m being too harsh on 40-year-olds?  Regardless, I feel pretty damn good about where I am in my life as a 39-year-old.  So I will try and focus on that in the coming year, and not dread the big 4-0 staring me down.
DSC_5803DSC_5806I innocently made this recipe a few weeks ago, and had no idea just how obsessed with it I would become over the course of several days.  I am a big fan of sweet potatoes and garlic, and you get a nice dose of both of them in this recipe.  But you also are treated to the deep flavor of merguez, bitter radicchio and sweet pecans, forming a sweet, sweet symphony in your mouth. You must make this recipe today.  I can’t image anyone not loving this dish.
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Seared Sweet Potatoes with Merguez and Radicchio
Adapted from Food & Wine

Sweet Potatoes and Nuts
1 garlic clove, finely grated
3 Tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. olive oil
2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed
Sea salt
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Sausage and Assembly
1 head radicchio, leaves separated and torn into pieces
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. merguez sausage, casings removed
1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Sea salt
1/3 cup plain sheep’s-milk or Greek yogurt

Sweet Potatoes and Nuts
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix garlic and 3 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.  Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and rub with half of garlic oil; set remaining garlic oil aside.
2.  Season with salt and roast on a rimmed baking sheet, turning once, until flesh is soft and yielding, 45-55 minutes.  Remove from oven; reduce heat to 350 degrees F.
3.  Toss pecans and remaining 1/2 tsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt.  Toast, tossing once, until slightly darkened and fragrant, 8-10 minutes.
4.  Let sweet potatoes cool slightly, then cut in half lengthwise.  Brush cut sides with reserved garlic oil.  Heat a large heavy skillet over medium.
5.  Cook sweet potatoes, cut side down, pressing lightly with a spatula, until browned and charred in spots, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and reserve skillet.

Sausage and Assembly
1.  Place radicchio in a large bowl.  Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in reserved skillet over medium-high.
2.  Cook sausage, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in Aleppo pepper.  Transfer meat to a plate with a slotted spoon and pour off all but 2 Tbsp. fat from skillet.
3.  Reduce heat to medium.  Combine pomegranate molasses, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water in skillet, stirring to combine and scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often , until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes, then drizzle over radicchio.  Add reserved sausage and toss to coat; season with salt.
4.  Mix yogurt and remaining 1 tsp. oil in a small bowl, thinning with a little water to make pourable; season with salt.  Divide yogurt among plates and top with sweet potatoes.
5.  Arrange sausage mixture over, along with any pan juices.  Top with pecans.

Kale and Cabbage Slaw with Roasted Shallot Dressing

DSC_5326A few months back, Mr. K and I went to get a second opinion regarding our fertility situation.  We had been through four rounds of IVF over the last 2 ½ years, and we were frustrated about not getting any clear answers from our current fertility doctor.  We braced ourselves in the waiting room.  I pulled out a square of dark chocolate, popped it into my mouth and focused on that until our names were called.  The meeting went by quickly.  The fertility doctor was warm and yet very direct:  we had a 5% chance of success at best if we were to do another round of IVF.

You hear stories all the time about fertility issues tearing couples apart.  They shutdown, pull away from each other, resentment builds, and divorce is imminent.  In our case, strangely enough, I think the opposite happened.  Throughout this horrendous, heartbreaking process we’ve actually grown closer and become stronger as a couple.  On the one hand I think, perhaps we were just lucky–although we both agreed that we wanted to have a child, it didn’t define our relationship or our future together.  And yet I remember having several discussions with my husband about the possibility that we wouldn’t be able to conceive and what that would mean for us.  What would our future look like?  What would give our lives meaning?  Could we still be happy?  Over the last year or so, as we considered this outcome to be more of a possibility, we decided we would use this experience as fuel to lead full and significant lives.  We will travel so much more!  All over the world!  Buy a home in Tuscany while our friends tend to their screaming toddlers!
DSC_5311As we walked home from our appointment, I turned to Mr. K and asked him how he was feeling now that we knew for sure.  I was prepared for him to be sad.  Of the two of us, he felt more strongly about having children.  He turned to me and said, “Actually, kind of relieved.  Now we know for sure.”  And with those words, 2 ½ years of hormonal mood swings, countless painful injections, and a nightmare hospitalization all melted away.  I also felt relieved.  And it felt so euphoric to be so relieved!  In fact, I became so giddy about our news that I started to question how our lives might have went had we actually been able to have children:  we would be raising a child until we were in our late 50’s!  We immediately began talking about what we wanted this next year to look like.  We were ecstatic that we had come out the other side, thrilled to be with each other.

When I first came across this recipe, I knew it had potential to be delicious, but I was focused more on the healthiness of it.  I was in dire need of a salad post-Christmas gluttony, and I thought this would do the trick.  Well, I ate this every day for 10 days straight.  That’s how good it is.  The roasted shallot dressing, in particular, is magical.
DSC_5316Kale and Cabbage Slaw with Roasted Shallot Dressing
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

3 cups diced butternut squash
1 tbsp. olive oil
pinch of salt, smoked paprika and cinnamon

2 bunches Tuscan kale
1/2 head red cabbage
1/2 small red onion
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup grated parmesan
3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces

Roasted Shallot Dressing
2 small or 1 large roasted shallot*
handful fresh chopped chives
1/4-1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. each sea salt and ground pepper

*Roast a shallot like you would a head of garlic.  Trim the end, toss it (skin on) in a little olive oil and pinch of salt, wrap it in foil and place in oven for 45 minutes until softened and caramelized.  Time will vary by size of the shallot(s).  Remove to cool to the touch before squishing it out of its skin.

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the butternut cubes with the olive oil, salt, smoked paprika and cinnamon to coat.  Spread in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes until just tender but not mushy.  Set aside to cool completely.
3.  In a blender or food processor, mix all the dressing ingredients together until smooth.
4.  Stem the kale and chop it ultra thin.
5.  Using a mandolin or knife, shave or chop the red cabbage and onion.  Collect these items in a large salad bowl.
6.  Add the raisins, parmesan and pecans, drizzle desired amount of dressing and toss to coat.  The kale and cabbage can handle sitting in the dressing for 10 minutes before serving.

Somewhat Healthy Granola

DSC_3992Mr. K and I just returned from Christmas in Minnesota.  Family time is hard, isn’t it?  My parents divorced when I was 16.  I was actually ok with it at the time, seeing as my mom and dad are not compatible in the least.  Both of my parents are remarried and have been for at least a decade.  I don’t think I was aware of it at the time of each of their weddings (or if I was I didn’t quite know how to handle it), but I felt very territorial when they remarried other people.  Perhaps part of it was dealing with the unresolved feelings from their divorce several years earlier, but I really struggled when they remarried.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I hid this very well from my mom.  I’ve never had a hard time telling my mom how I feel about things.  Of course, this isn’t necessarily a good trait.  Especially when my honest feelings end up hurting her.  I wasn’t crazy about my stepdad at first.  The summer after my sophomore year in college, I stayed at his house since my mom had recently moved in with him.  We ended up butting heads a lot that summer.  I think we both felt threatened and it played out like a bad sitcom.  I remember getting into an argument with him because he thought it was rude of me to not eat my dinners with them every night.  Naturally, he had no idea that I had been eating dinner solo basically since I was 16.  My stepdad and I have come a long way since then.

There were a few tense moments with various family members during my visit.  I grew up in a VERY small, rural town in Minnesota.  Many town residents consider Minneapolis “the big city” that some younger people end up moving to after high school or college.  For those of us who end up moving much farther away and to a much larger city, there can be a cultural divide when we go home to visit.  Many people in my extended family tend to feel threatened by this.  After I moved to NYC, I was hyper-aware of how I sounded and what I talked about during my first few visits home.  I wanted to be true to myself and my lifestyle without offending anyone that might feel intimidated by this.  It’s a tricky balancing act:  I want to share all of the fun and interesting things I’ve done lately without sounding pretentious.  Why hasn’t someone created an App for this yet?
DSC_3988 Tense moments aside, I realized during this visit home that I still tend to feel territorial towards my parents from time to time.  I love them both fiercely, and over the years I have become quite protective of my relationships with each of them.  It could be partly related to the fact that I no longer live close to them and haven’t in almost 11 years.  We are all getting older and our time together is limited.  Therefore, when I go home I want to spend as much time with them as possible.  And when I feel someone is threatening that, my fangs can come out.  Luckily, they only came out once or twice on this trip.  Maybe one of my New Year’s resolutions should be to sand down the fangs in 2014.  Nawwww, I don’t do resolutions.  But I will be sure to tell my parents how much I love them.

Do you know what else I love?  (Ok, that was a bad segue.)  This granola!  I’ve been making it regularly for my husband over the last year or so.  We are never out of this granola at our house.  Mr. K likes to eat it with fruit and almond milk for dessert most nights.  I am not blessed with the same metabolism, so I try to keep my intake to once a week or so.  You’ll notice that I call it “Somewhat Healthy Granola”.  I feel like granola is often touted as a healthy snack food, but the thing is, granola isn’t all that healthy.  There are probably two camps on this, but I put granola in the unhealthy category of food.  Most mass-market granolas are covered in sugar and oil, making them very delicious but very loaded with calories.  A lot of smaller granola producers have sprung up over the last few years, and they are holding back on the sugar and oil.  Instead, they highlight the oatmeal, nuts and dried fruit that make up the majority of the granola mixture.  This makes for a less sweet (and usually much less crunchy) but healthier granola.  My Somewhat Healthy Granola recipe falls into this latter category.  But don’t fret, the brown sugar and maple syrup still ensure a wonderfully-rich sweetness.  And although there is no butter in this recipe, there is a hint of butter flavor that comes from the toasted nuts.  I’m a sucker for salty-sweet snacks and this falls under that umbrella.  If you aren’t crazy about salty sweets the way I am, you can easily cut back on the salt.

Happy 2014!

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Somewhat Healthy Granola
Adapted from Alton Brown

Yield: 6-10 servings

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup almonds, pecans, or walnuts (or whatever your favorite nut is)
3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, nut, coconut, and brown sugar.
4.  In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil and salt.
5.  Add oil mixture to oats mixture and stir until combined.
6.  Pour mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
7.  Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes to ensure even toasting.
8.  Remove from oven and let cool for 1 hour.
9.  Transfer granola to a tightly-sealed container.

Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

DSC_3830When I first moved in with my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time), I remember being very excited to cook for him.  Before I moved in, I had been living out in Park Slope with a nice roommate found on Craigslist.  We never ate meals together since we had completely opposite schedules, and I rarely cooked since cooking for one is no pleasure at all.  I ate a lot of hummus, salsa and egg salad on rice cakes.  Looking back, I don’t know how I went without a hot meal for so long.  I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that I was in love, and hot meals were a very low priority at the time.  I’m still in love with my husband but hot meals have moved up the priority list since then.

DSC_3812 After getting settled into Mr. K’s apartment, I started to cook up a storm.  I remember feeling like I wanted to really impress him with my cooking skills.  I had made a couple of meals for him out in Park Slope, but I was going to blow him away with my talent.  He was going to feel so loved and nurtured by my cooking.  He would become so appreciative of having a girlfriend that could not only cook but could BAKE that he would be walking around in a constant state of bliss.  We were going to have long, leisurely conversations as we ate our home-cooked meals at the table.  Well, it didn’t really happen that way.  To begin with, I noticed that he would stop talking the minute food was put in front of him.  He also ate his food extremely fast.  In addition, he had become used to eating in front of the television after several years of living solo.   I wanted to have a conversation with him about food.  More specifically, what food meant, means, to me.  For me, food is pleasure, comfort, gratification, and satisfaction.  I feel nurtured when someone makes a home-cooked meal for me.  Likewise, I cook for people to show them that they are important to me.  When I shared this with him, I asked him if he felt the same way.  Turns out, we approach food differently.  He, like me, loves to eat but he doesn’t look at it as a way of nurturing himself.  Rather, it is something to simply be enjoyed.  Throughout our 4-1/2 years together, he has cooked approximately 6 meals for me.  It would be a lot easier for me to accept the fact that he does not enjoy cooking if he were, in fact, a horrible cook.  But he is a fantastic cook!  Everything he makes is exquisite, and it only makes me wish that he cooked more often.  Even better, there is real entertainment value in watching him make a meal.  He’s like a mad scientist in the kitchen.  He tapes his recipe to the cupboard, and not only am I not allowed in the kitchen, but I am not allowed to speak to him while he is cooking lest he lose his concentration.  After we eat the delicious meal he prepared, I step into the kitchen where it looks like it has been ransacked by wolves.  He hasn’t quite gotten the art of cleaning up as he goes.  But I’m confident he’ll figure it out eventually.

DSC_3822 I haven’t made a cake in a very long time.  This recipe is the perfect gateway to bigger and fancier cakes.  It is very simple but still fulfills your cake craving.  The squash adds moisture, much like zucchini does in zucchini bread.  The pecans are in the cake as well as sprinkled on top so you get some crunch.  But I think the highlight of this recipe is the ginger.  I fell in love with ginger a couple of years ago.  I don’t think it’s used enough, especially in baking.  Most recipes call for dried ginger, but I say go ahead and add freshly grated ginger whenever possible.  It really does make a difference.  The white chocolate frosting is a very thin layer.  If you like a sweeter cake, double the frosting recipe.  If you are someone like me who loves baked goods with fall spices this time of year, try this recipe.  And because of the squash, you will be eating your vegetables along with the cake.

DSC_3837Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

Yield:  8 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded peeled butternut squash
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans, divided

3 tablespoons whipping cream
3 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray.
2.  Whisk flour and next 6 ingredients in medium bowl.
3.  Using an electric mixer, beat squash, brown sugar, butter, egg, ginger, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl to blend.
4.  Fold in flour mixture and 1/2 cup pecans.  Transfer to pan, spreading to edges (layer will be thin).  Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Cool.
5.  Bring cream just to boil in small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat.
6.  Add white chocolate and remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; whisk until smooth.
7.  Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread, about 20 minutes.  Spread over cake.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup nuts over cake.

Caramel Nut Tart

DSCF2812It only seemed fitting that my first post would be for something sweet.  My grandma had a cafe in the small town I grew up in, and she made the best desserts.  Pies, cakes, cookies, donuts, you name it.  Given our German heritage, I definitely inherited her propensity for sweets.  Seeing that Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and I am a pecan pie fiend, making a take on this ubiquitous pie seemed perfect.  Like many Americans, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It is not affiliated with a religion and even better: it’s all about the food.  Since I moved to New York, I have definitely missed getting together with my family to celebrate.  More times than not, I have eaten my Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant simply because the thought of making tons of food for two people seems kind of silly.  Some meals have been better than others.  One of my most memorable Thanksgiving restaurant meals was at Jane.  It was the first time I had ever tasted brussels sprouts and liked them.  In fact, I lurrrrved these.  They were salty, crunchy and were blackened the tiniest bit which gave them a nice charred quality.  I still remember one of my first Thanksgivings in NYC.  My friend and I went to the Pink Tea Cup for a delicious meal of turkey and all the fixin’s.  But to my horror they didn’t have pecan pie on the menu.  This, of course, was sacrilege.  So we paid our bill and I proceeded to stop at every grocery store we passed on the way home to get my pecan pie fix.  What, no one has ANY pecan pies left at 5pm on Thanksgiving??!  I wouldn’t be thwarted.  Once we arrived home, I ended up calling a nearby diner and ordered a piece of pecan pie to be delivered.  I’m sure I had to order something else to meet the minimum delivery requirements.  The pie turned out to be very mediocre.  But I laid on the couch and rubbed my belly with a smile on my face.

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I have been wanting to make this Caramel Nut Tart recipe ever since finding it back in 2009 on The Splendid Table’s website.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with TST, it is a fantastic NPR show that I started listening to back in 2002 when I was living in Minnesota.  It is hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, who happens to be one of my food heroes.  She is a never-ending well of knowledge about all things food related.  And you know how rubbing behind a dog’s ears puts them in a trance?  Well Lynne’s voice does the same thing to me.  Subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already.

I didn’t fall in love with this tart right away.  But it definitely grew on me over the course of the week.  The super-buttery, salty/sweet shortbread crust is what kept me coming back for more.  I’m a sucker for all things buttery and I love the salty/sweet combo.  In fact, I would compare this to a sweet pecan pie sitting on top of a rich shortbread cookie.  The rich, buttery crust pairs really nicely with the crunchy, sweet topping.   If I made this again, I would even drizzle a little dark chocolate over the top of the finished tart.

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Caramel Nut Tart
Adapted from The Splendid Table

Makes an 11-inch tart or 8-10 servings

One of the best things about this tart is that you don’t have to roll out any dough.  Just use your fingers to spread it into your tart pan.  In fact, I don’t own a tart pan so I used a pie pan.  Voila.  The pastry can be made several days in advance.  But once you make the filling, it needs to be poured into the pastry and baked immediately.  The top of this tart looks like a shiny, beautiful medley of mixed nuts.  Perfect for your Thanksgiving table.

Pastry:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3 cold large egg yolks, plus 3 tablespoons ice water (more as needed)

Filling:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup firm-packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup pecans
2/3 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup whole walnuts
1/3 cup shelled, salted pistachios
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. To make the pastry, put all the dry ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Run a few seconds to blend.  Add the cold butter and process until mixture resembles peas.  Turn off the machine, sprinkle dough with yolk and water mixture and pulse until dough begins to gather into clumps.  You should be able to squeeze it together easily.  If dry, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon water and pulse to blend.  Gently gather into a ball, wrap, and chill 1 hour to overnight.
2. Grease an 11-inch fluted, false-bottomed tart pan.  Roll out dough to a little less than 1/8-inch thickness and fit into pan.  Double over dough at sides.  Trim away excess.  Chill tart shell 1 hour to overnight.3. To bake, prheat oven to 400°F.  Line tart shell with foil and weight either with dry rice or beans.  Bake 10 minutes.  Remove liner, prick botton of shell with a fork, and bake another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.
4. To finish tart, preheat oven to 350°F.  Place baked tart shell on a baking sheet. Combine the second quantity of butter, brown sugar, honey, and white sugar in a 2-quart heavy saucepan.
5. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir with a whisk until it comes to a boil.  Boil one minute, or until thick and large bubbles form.  Stir in nuts, quickly remove from heat and stir in cream.  Immediately pour the mixture into tart shell.  Spread out evently to cover the entire surface of the pastry.
6. Bake on baking sheet for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack.  Serve at room temperature.

Can be refrigerated for up to one week.