Tag Archives: pistachios

Pistachio Pavlova with Rhubarb Cream

DSC_5996One of my oldest and dearest friends came out to visit with her 5-year-old son last weekend.  I had no idea how much I had missed her over the years.  Since she’s had kids, we haven’t had as much time to see each other, or even have phone chats more than a few times a year.   Her son, Trevor, is such a sweet kid, and I found myself repeatedly being amazed by how well-behaved he was the entire weekend.   One funny aside:  on the plane out to NYC, they sat next to a guy wearing a yarmulke and reading–what I’m assuming was the Torah–in Hebrew.  After noticing this, Trevor turned to his mom and asked, “What language does MaryAnne speak?”  This struck me as both very thoughtful and very hilarious.
DSC_5967DSC_5980Mr. K was kind enough to babysit Trevor Saturday night so that my friend, Meghan, and I could have some solo lady time.  I don’t have a lot of close girlfriends who live nearby, so I cherish my visits with those friends who I only see once a year.  While sipping delicious cocktails, we caught up on all of the necessary things.  Over the course of the weekend, I felt  like a plant, not knowing that it was a bit dry, being watered.  There is something so comforting about an old friend who knows you so well.  Unlike spending time with newer friends, there is no effort in trying to get to know them better, wanting to present yourself in the best light, etc.  It’s like curling up with an old pillow you’ve had for 20 years that fits your head perfectly.
DSC_5974This was my first time making pavlova.  It was a bit intimidating at first, as I’ve heard horror stories about people making pavlovas, only to have them collapse after taking them out of the oven.  Luckily, I did my research before making this, and learned that it is of the utmost importance to leave your pavlova in the oven, after turning it off, until it has been completely cooled.  This slow decrease in temperature prevents the pavlova from collapsing.  If you are a fan of meringue, or marshmallow, or both, you will love this dessert.  And even better, it is an homage to rhubarb season.  Enjoy!
DSC_5988Pistachio Pavlova with Rhubarb Cream
Adapted from Food & Wine

Pavlova
1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar

Rhubarb Cream
4 ounces rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces (1 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup hulled and quartered strawberries, plus 1/2 cup small strawberries for garnish
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, chilled
1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
In a small bowl, toss the pistachios with the cornstarch.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at high speed until foamy, 2 minutes. Beat in the vinegar, then beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the whites are glossy and stiff peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently fold in the pistachio mixture. Using a large spoon, dollop the meringue onto the prepared sheet and spread into a 10-inch round with a slight indentation in the center. Lower the oven temperature to 225° and bake the meringue for about 1 1/2 hours, until crisp but still chewy on the inside. Turn the oven off; let 
the meringue rest in the oven for 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
  3. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE RHUBARB CREAM
    In a small saucepan, simmer the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice over moderate heat, stirring and mashing the rhubarb with the back of a wooden spoon, until the sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb breaks down, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the quartered strawberries and vanilla bean paste. Let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream with the mascarpone at medium speed until moderately firm, about 3 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of the whipped cream into the cooled rhubarb, then fold the mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Spoon into the center of the meringue. Garnish with the small strawberries and chopped pistachios and serve.

 

Carrot Salad with Coriander Vinaigrette and Pistachios

DSC_4995I’ve been uncharacteristically happy lately.  I saw my therapist last week for the first time in a month, and didn’t know what to talk about.  I’m so used to spending my sessions focusing on how to improve things in my life—preventing negative behavior patterns, setting personal goals, etc.  Walking in to see my therapist, I was worried that there would be an uncomfortable silence due to my lack of problems to discuss.  On the contrary, my therapist assured me that these are important sessions to have because we can look at what is working in my life, why it is working, and how to create more of it in the future.  Eureka!

I am definitely someone who feels better in the spring and summer months, but even so, I can’t remember feeling this content in many years.  I even have frequent moments of straight up joy and euphoria these days.  It feels so goddamned good and foreign at the same time.  I want to hold onto these moments, but they are fleeting.  And they should be; we wouldn’t want to savor them otherwise.  I go about my day feeling grateful I have a life that I absolutely love.  I’m working on not reacting to people’s words and behaviors as much as I used to.  I am learning to be kinder to myself and not critique every little thing I think or do.
DSC_4983I want to shout my happiness out to the world.  I want to dance in the streets.  And yet I find myself being shy about sharing my jubilation with others.  When friends ask how I’m doing, I have been replying with, “I’m really good.  I’m really happy.”  I want to go on and on about why so I’m happy and how great it feels, but I think that would be strange.  It would feel boastful, and I was raised in the Midwest where excessive pride in one’s achievements or accomplishments—hell, talking about yourself at all—was frowned upon.  I did call my 85-year-old grandma last week and share my happiness with her.  I think it delighted her.

This carrot salad was my obsession for the entire 4 days it was in my refrigerator.  I love cilantro, especially in the summer, and it compliments the sweetness of carrots beautifully.  Cilantro makes everything taste fresh.  I find it hard to believe that there are people out there who despise cilantro.  Those people are crazy.  There, I said it.  The lemon juice adds a nice acidity so the vinaigrette does not taste heavy at all.  Be sure not to add the pistachios to the salad until right before serving, or they will turn soft.  I can’t wait to make this again.
DSC_4992Carrot Salad with Coriander Vinaigrette and Pistachios
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Yield:  4-6 servings

1/4 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios
3/4 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 garlic clove, finely grated
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
sea salt
1 lb. carrots, peeled, julienned or coarsely grated
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6-8 minutes.  Let cool; coarsely chop.
2.  Toast coriander in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Let cool; coarsely chop.
3.  Whisk garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and coriander in a large bowl, then whisk in oil; season with salt.
4.  Add carrots, toss, and let sit at least 30 minutes.  Toss with cilantro and pistachios just before serving.

 

 

Pistachio Apple Salad

DSC_4599You know that feeling when all the stars are aligned and things seem to be coming together?  I’ve been feeling that way recently.  Since my horrible depressive episode a few weeks ago, I have been working hard to get back to a good mental place.  Maybe it’s because that experience shook me so much, but I am willing myself to try and find meaning in as much as possible as I go throughout my day.  I also think having some perspective and cutting myself some slack is key to curbing my anxiety.  I volunteered for City Harvest a couple of weeks ago and was reminded that there are a lot less fortunate people than myself.  I know that for many people, every day is a struggle to simply make ends meet.  Some posit that one of the main reasons people volunteer is for the positive feelings that come as a byproduct of knowing you helped someone.  I believe this to be true, and I don’t think it’s a negative factor by any means.  Human beings need to connect; it’s what keeps us going.
DSC_4588In addition to volunteering, I had my first-ever Reiki treatment last week.  I have been curious about this Japanese practice for many years but just never tried it.  It was yet another experience my depression compelled me to seek out.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  For those of you who have never tried it, I would liken it to a cross between talk therapy and acupuncture.  It focuses on clearing your chakras, or energy pathways, which serve as a connection between the body and consciousness.  When one of our chakras becomes blocked, it can create physical or mental illness.  I had no idea what to expect during the actual session itself.  My Reiki master told me she would be placing her hands along my chakra points while I laid face up on the table.  Well, as soon as I positioned myself on the table and closed my eyes, water immediately began to drain from my eyes and didn’t stop until the session ended.  It was the strangest thing.  I definitely wasn’t crying, and yet I had a distinctive feeling that my body was trying to release something.  I took that as a good sign.
DSC_4594Despite the dreadful stomach virus I contracted over the weekend (I forgot how brutal those can be), my healthier mental state is creating healthier food cravings.  Yesterday I couldn’t stop thinking about avocados.  All day long, images of avocados kept popping into my head.  I’m sure whatever nutrients avocados possess, my body was simply craving.  That said, I opted for a turkey burger for dinner.  I did make this Pistachio Apple Salad for lunch yesterday and it was perfectly delicious.  There aren’t many salads that I want second helpings of, but this one is one of them.  It hits all of the major taste profiles: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami.  Because it calls for a Granny Smith apple, it’s not super sweet.  However, if you want to use something sweeter, I think dried figs would be a lovely substitute, as they pair beautifully with blue cheese and pistachios.  Making this salad took all of 7 minutes!  So no excuses, dear readers, for throwing together a quick, healthy lunch!

* I’m not sure which magazine I ripped this recipe out of years ago, so I searched online for something close to it.  I found the exact same recipe on Yummly, so I am including a link to that site in lieu of a magazine name.

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Pistachio Apple Salad
Adapted from Yummly

Yield:  4 side-dish servings

1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 of a large orange)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sweet mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups arugula
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup roasted pistachio nuts

1.  For dressing, whisk together orange juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and garlic; gradually whisk in oil until well blended.  Set aside to mellow flavors.
2.  For salad, divide greens among four salad plates.  Top with apple slices.  Sprinkle with cheese and nuts.
3.  Whisk dressing; drizzle over salads.

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.