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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CHESTNUTS - Are Not Just for Roasting!

All photo Copyright - ©2010 - La Casa e Il Giardino - picasaweb

Now, let's roast chestnuts.
Mention chestnuts and people think of winter, open fires, and street vendors roasting their chestnuts on the street corners. Chestnuts are also used in soups, stuffing, braised, pureed to accompany many dishes and desserts. Chestnut flour can be found in Italian specialty shops or some health food stores.

When purchasing chestnuts, look for glossy, firm and lovely nuts. They should feel heavy for their size. If they feel light, then they are not fresh and are drying out.

Don't have a fireplace or a chestnut roasting pan with holes, sold by many mail order outfits, no problem. I use a cheap, thin steel skillet or roasting pan over a stove.

Before roasting your chestnuts make a cut into the round side of each to keep it from exploding. Put the chestnuts into the roaster, cook them over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes (depending upon their size), shaking them frequently to keep them from burning. When they're done the skins will have pulled back from the nuts, and the nutmeats will be firm but fork-tender. Remove them and place in a deep dish. Wrap or cover with a cloth or dish towel and let them sit in a warm place for five minutes. Peel back the cloth and enjoy!

Roasted chestnuts (Castagne arrostite)

Desserts by the Spoonful: Chestnut and Apple Pudding
This chestnut and apple pudding is tasty but not too sugary since there is no added sugar except that of the fruit used. It’s delicate and natural. It’s prepared with boiled chestnuts and cooked apples with raisins and mixed in a blender. If thick, a few drops of water may be added and possibly even a pat of butter can be used to soften it. Pine nuts or dry fruit may be added as decor.

Cestnut and Apple Pudding
 (Crema di castagne e mele)
For 5 persons

1 lb. chestnuts
½ cup of raisins
1 lb. apples
½ teaspoon of salt
½ cup pignoli nuts or dry fruit


Wash the raisins and leave them in cold water. In the meantime, boil the skinless chestnuts in slightly salted water. Drain. Wash the apples, remove the core and slice. Cook apples and raisins. After cooking, mix ingredients in a blender. If thick, just add a little water. Pour cream in cups and decorate with pignoli nuts or dry fruit.