Posts Tagged ‘walnuts’

Figs, walnuts, and chocolate

9 March 2012

Always an arm’s reach and no cooking away from an excellent dessert, and most delicious when the figs are broken open and stuffed with walnut halves.

It’s what we had at home most nights when I was a teenager. Every evening dinner included a main course, a salad, perhaps cheese, and, invariably, yogurt — plain, with a generous spoonful (or two) of jam or honey. And when one (or two) yogurt(s) left us with a feeling of not enough, we grabbed the nutcracker, the figs, and procrastinated with dessert before getting back to our homework.


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Walnut tarte with Chartreuse

24 February 2012

Some years ago I developed an interest in cocktails. It was triggered by an arcane email correspondence about absinth and Sazeracs leading up to our yearly skiing vacation in Haute Savoie, and quite quickly developed into a somewhat obsessive search for the perfect Sazerac in New York, at a time when few bartenders here knew what a Sazerac is, let alone how to make a good one.

My interest in Sazeracs grew into a more general curiosity for all things cocktail — mixer’s alcohols, bitters, techniques for making larger ice cubes — which happily coincided with the beginning of the cocktail trend in the city. Had I been writing then, cocktails would have featured prominently.

These days I drink mostly wine, except when my cocktail-fiend friend and then fellow-bar-stalker comes over for dinner, a bottle of gin or good rye in tow; I don’t have cocktail recipes jotted down on every second page of my little black notebook; and my cocktail bar recommendations would probably have a taste of five years ago. But I do still own a ludicrous number of partially full liquor bottles.

I will have to find creative ways of using Luxardo and Lillet, in the meantime, this tarte is a good excuse to tackle the Chartreuse.


This recipe is part of my “Schindler book” collection. Judging by its position in the book, which I copied in chronological order, I found it when I was about twenty. Unfortunately I can’t remember its exact origin, though I’m pretty sure I wrote it down after a vacation in France in the Vercors close to Grenoble, the region of walnuts and Chartreuse.

Unsweetened pie crust

250 g flour

125 g butter plus a little more to butter the pan

The filling

3/4 cup (200 g) crème fraîche

1 cup (200 g) sugar

2 generous cups (200 g) shelled walnuts

1 1/2 liquid ounces Chartreuse


The pie crust

Prepare the pie crust at least 1 hour in advance, as it needs to rest.

Place the flour in a large bowl, cut the cold butter into 1-inch pieces and work it with the fingertips into the flour, to obtain the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Add drops of cold water, little by little, until the dough sticks and can be shaped into a ball.

Cover the ball of dough with a damp cloth and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, and up to one day.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes beforehand so it has time to soften at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and generously butter a 12 inch (30 cm) pie pan.

To roll out the dough, lightly dust a clean, flat surface with flour and roll out the dough into a circle until it is 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thin.**To prevent the dough from sticking to the the floured surface, turn it at the beginning then lift it regularly, all the while adding a little flour on either side and on the rolling pin.**

To transfer the dough to the pie pan, gently fold it in half once, then fold it in half again, and carefully place the folded dough in the buttered pie pan, positioning the angle in the center. Unfold, pressing gently onto the pan and sides, and cut off excess dough from the edges.

Bake the pie crust blind for 15 minutes. **When baking blind either poke a bunch of small wholes into the crust with a fork, or use dried beans or ceramic baking weights on the crust to prevent it from rising.**


The tarte

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).

In a large bowl mix the crème fraîche and sugar, add the walnuts and the Chartreuse. Pour the mixture into the blind-baked crust.

Place the tarte in the oven on a larger baking sheet or aluminum foil, as the filling is likely to bubble over. Bake for 20 minutes.

Let the pie cool before eating. It becomes sticky and brittle, reminiscent of baklava. Mmmm!


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Endive salad with apples, walnuts, and comté

27 January 2011

Salads are one of the reasons I look forward to winter. Endive salads in particular, because they are from my childhood, but all the other crisp, bitter, cold-weather greens, reds, and yellows: dandelion, escarole, frisée, radicchio…

In a month or so I may be looking forward to fresh peas and longing for tomatoes, but right now I am excited by the falling snow and this crunchy endive salad. It’s ready in 5 minutes and made a perfect lunch yesterday.


4 endives (should be tightly compact, white and pale yellow, without a hint of green)

1 red apple

1/2 lemon

About 8 walnuts

Comté (also Guyère or a hard sheep-milk cheese from the Pyrénées)

5 Tbsps good olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsps apple cider vinegar

Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Cut off endive stub and remove one outer layer of leaves. Rinse quickly under running water, shake dry, and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces. Wash apple, cut into quarters, core, and slice quarters thinly crosswise. Immediately toss the endive and apple with the juice from 1/2 a lemon, as they oxidize quickly.

Shell the walnuts and break them into pieces. Cut the cheese into strips about 1 in (2.5 cm) long and 1/3 inch (1 cm) wide. There should be about as much cheese as there are walnuts.

Mix the walnuts and cheese with the endive and apple. Season with the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well.

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