1 cup hulled millet
½ tablespoon duck fat, ghee or raw sesame oil
3 cups well seasoned stock, I used chicken
1 cup peeled, par cooked chestnuts
1 knob fresh young ginger, roughly chopped
12 fresh or raw dried walnut halves soaked overnight in lightly salted water, drained well
Bring the stock to a simmer
Heat a separate pan and add the fat or oil
Toss in the millet
Stir using a wooden spoon, keep it moving until the millet is evenly lightly toasted and nutty smelling
Pour the hot stock into the pan, being careful of the steam created
add the chestnuts and ginger
Stir to combine and cover with a tight fitting lid
Place on a diffuser and turn the heat to low
Cook for 30minutes
Turn off the heat but leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes
Stir gently to combine, the grains should be fluffy and very slightly sticky. For greater fluff factor toast a little more and add ¼ cup less stock
Serve with soaked walnuts, freshly steamed green beans and broccoli
We ate this with sticky slow roasted pumpkin, parsnips, onion and garlic and cultured red cabbage pickles; it was declared a big hit. A little grain and lots of vegetables, a fine meal makes.
Note: The fat and chicken stock are optional, I use them because they not only increase the nutrient value of this dish, they also contribute fantastic flavour, great texture and slow the absorption of sugars in the grains; so you stay satisfied for longer. The cultured vegetables assist your body to utilise the nutrients and provide plenty of vitamins, live enzymes and probiotic bugs; to aid digestion. These are some of the principles of nutrient dense dining.
I brought several kilos of each home, I will be finding good places to include both over the next few weeks, I may even make some chestnut flour; for a dense divine Italian style cake. Iv’e spent a fair bit of today admiring, photographing, peeling and cracking, this is my kind of fun.
JUST PICKED OR STORE BOUGHT CHESTNUTS…Contain the chestnuts in a bag that breathes and place them in the fridge for up to six weeks. When you are ready to use them pierce the flat side with a small sharp knife and make a slit. Place on a roasting tray and roast at 200˚C until the skin splits and they are soft. Wrap in a cloth to allow them to steam and both skins to soften, peel and eat whilst warm. Or place on embers and turn frequently until cooked through, then do the cloth trick and peel. If you want the flesh intact to cook with, place the chestnuts in cold water and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove to cool water and peel the outer skin off whilst they are still warm. return to the water and simmer 5-8 minutes and then peel the inner pellicle (brown inner skin) from the nut, which will leave you a wrinkly, crinkly chestnut; to use as you will. I like to cook these a bit more, add a little fat (duck fat or coconut fat work well, depends on your taste) then squash the chestnuts into mush and squish them into little balls, I then roll them in chopped roasted almonds, these are a treat after dinner or in the lunchbox of someone you adore- could be you?
If you are buying chestnuts from the markets or a shop look for deep, rich colour with lots of lustre, they should be heavy for their size and hard when lovingly squeezed.
JUST PICKED WALNUTS….spread them out in the sun or in a dry spot to air for a few days, the idea is to dry them out enough that they keep well for a few months. If you contain them damp you will end up with mouldering blacked nuts, these wont taste or do you any good; an old nut or mouldy nut is never a good nut. When your ready crack the nuts and remove the walnut halves. You could skip the drying, crack the lot and store them in a bag in the freezer, that works well. A fresh nut is unlike anything you can buy, they are clean tasting and crisp as anything try a few this way. Due to being hard to digest its a great idea to soak all nuts overnight in salted filtered water, next day rinse well and drain. These can either be used as is or you can dry them out at under 42˚C until they are very crisp, this will help retain their active enzymes and you can treat them as ‘raw’ food. Once dried store in an airtight glass jar, in the fridge. That recipe, the one I’m making as I type, has evolved, no brown rice at home so its become Millet and chestnut instead, the texture of millet gently toasted before boiling in chicken broth should go fabulously, well see….recipe coming later, once I’ve cooked and eaten it.
I recommend buying nuts in small amounts frequently and buying from a supplier who does a roaring trade. The organic food network supply excellent organic nuts in Brookvale and Nobby’s is a conventional supplier with a massive turnover, in Ramsgate I think. Consume them whilst they are fresh, rancid nuts will taste awful and be deleterious to your health.
Chestnuts and Walnuts resemble the brain, in macrobiotic philosophy a food that has a likeness to an organ is said to feed that organ, here’s hoping…
Autumn means it’s time for sweet fresh chestnuts and crisp white walnuts. These go with many seasonal delights including, new seasons apples, sweetcorn, pumpkin, tender pink ginger, purple garlic and on…. I adore chestnuts and don’t mind the work that they are when they are only around and at their best for a few weeks of the year. Picked now and kept in the bottom of the fridge, you will have six weeks to discover how many things they are good for. Fresh walnuts need to be spread out and sun dried; so they do not moulder and spoil. Slow cooked brown rice and chestnuts with walnuts is delicious and paired with some sticky roasted pumpkin, ginger, parsnip and garlic and lots of green beans it makes a fantastic, seasonal meal.
Yesterday, whilst India baked for a party, I sought an adventure of my own, it is best that a mother leaves her daughter alone when she is in charge of the kitchen. I headed 150k’s west to Kookootonga Nut Farm at Mount Irvine in the Blue Mountains. Here chestnuts and walnuts can be collected from beneath hundreds of their gorgeous trees and bought for a mere $8 a kilo, what a treat I thought. The weather could not have been more perfect and I had so much fun all morning foraging and taking in the beauty of the parklike setting while I gathered up shiny chestnuts and damp, heavy walnuts. Kookootonga is owned and operated by the two current generations of the Scrivener family; who have lived on this property since settlement at Mount Irvine in the 1890’s. Buckets and gloves are supplied, I wore a cloth pair but when next I visit I will be sure to take a thick leather pair; for protection from the chestnut spikes and the spiders there. My trip was rather more eventful than planned and involved a high speed ambulance ride to Lithgow Hospital! A female funnel web or perhaps trap door spider grabbed my index finger, left two red welts and gave me the fright of a lifetime. I have only the highest praise for the Scriveners and Mark and our kind and attentive emergency services. I give great thanks for the end result being a false alarm as apparently no poison was injected. All I suffered was a nasty case of shock and ambulance sickness. Today my heart has returned to a more normal rate and all is well. This is a day I will truly ‘never’ forget, I will use it to remind myself of my great fortune and gratitude for life. Mark tells me this is the first ever such incident and so I think it safe to say do go, take a picnic, it’s a fabulous outing for all the family-with leather gloves on! Recipe to come…
This Quinoa was grown in Bolivia by the Irupana collective. It is sold in Sydney by “Olive Green Organics” a company with the sort of integrity that warrants our support. I have used 40% white, 40% red and 20% black quinoa to make this delicious salad. The Quinoa was soaked overnight in acidulated water to ensure that once it has been cooked it will provide the best nutrition and be easily digested. Smoked corn kernals, coriander and green beans add freshness, texture and flavour there is fresh jalapeneo chilli for those that like it hot .
Perfectly cooked fish is complimented by crisply fried kombu shreds. Cooking fish is easy when you let it dictate its needs. The fish let me know that 17 minutes was all they required and the result was delightfully juicy morsels flaked from the bones. A fish kettle is a fine investment and mine has never let me down.
- Warm spiced sesame crusted beef balls -platter with bamboo fork
- Cannelini bean puree with preserved lemon in cucumber cups or would you prefer on a crisp cracker or crostini? on platter to pick up by hand
- Grilled Yamba prawns with fragrant coconut spice mix;if there are green Yamba prawns at market if not ill find another green prawn On platter on spoons or with a fork, depends on size
- Assorted leaf salad with aged cabernet and Lakelands olives biodynamic olive oil vinaigrette
- Whole fish Steamed to perfection with crisp kombu Freshest and best suited to be chosen on the day, current offerings at market include Snapper, Blue Eye Cod and Hapuka.
- Minted whole egg mayonnaise
- Rare grilled lamb fillet salad with heritage tomatoes, basil and rosemary
- Multi coloured Quinoa salad with citrus Romano beans
- Beetroot and arame salad with garlic chive flowers
- Radish and ginger pickles
And ends with….
- Sweet spiced late summer peaches with a spoon of coconut panacotta and fresh blueberries
The plan made it’s time to shop and gather, pick and pull ingredients and then prep and carry and cook and clean and deliver and prep and cook and serve and clean up return home unpack clean up put away and…….phew lucky I love this work. Only the crazy do!
I have been in Holland working on Nourish a new and very exciting restaurant. The menu offers a range of omnivorous wholefoods and raw food platters. It is in the Twijnstraat in Utrecht and very funky extention of the Oude gracht with many delightful artisan shops along the way. Well worth a visit when next you pass that way! Ask for Carla Visch she is the creator of this Nourish and you will find my book of the same name well represented there.