Edible Monterey Bay

Pumpkin-Maple Cheesecake with Walnut Crust

The thing that’s always bothered me about pumpkin pie is the absence of a true pumpkin flavor. The spices that characterize the pie—nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger—are so overpowering that one can scarcely taste the pumpkin at all. This pumpkin cheesecake foregoes any spices at all, allowing the true heroes of the dessert— the pumpkin, maple and walnuts—to stand on their own. An extra thick walnut and graham cracker crust and a maple walnut topping ensure that each piece of cheesecake delivers a distinct walnut crunch.

CRUST:

18 whole graham crackers
1½ cups walnut pieces
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

FILLING:

1½ pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup cooked, puréed sugar pie pumpkin (or organic canned pumpkin)
1/3 cup … Read More

WALNUT MILK

Walnut milk is non-existent on grocery store shelves and it just happens to be my favorite type of nut milk, because it is so rich and creamy.

First, soak 2 cups of walnuts overnight in water to remove the bitter tannins and make them more digestible.

Pour out the water.

I use an electric nut milk maker called the Almond Cow, which makes short work of nut milk, but a blender and a nut milk bag work just fine. Put softened walnuts in the blender or in the nut milk machine with 7 cups of fresh water, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt and cinnamon. Blend until creamy, about 2–3 minutes.

Strain through nut bag.

Store in the refrigerator and use within 4 days for best flavor.

Save … Read More

Muhammara: Turkish Walnut Pepper Dip

Use walnut meal left from making walnut milk to make walnut meal pâté, by folding in minced olives of any variety, sundried tomato pieces, fresh herbs like parsley, basil or thyme, juice and zest of a lemon, and salt and garlic, to taste.

Try making muhammara, a Turkish walnut pepper dip, by adding roasted red peppers.

Blend the walnut meal with three, roasted and peeled red bell peppers, 3/4 cup olive oil, 4 raw garlic cloves, the juice and zest of one lemon, 1½ teaspoons paprika, ½ teaspoon cumin and 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses (this is optional; if you don’t have it, just leave it out).

Pulse in the blender until creamy, add salt and pepper, to taste.

Great with warm bread, as a sandwich spread or on top … Read More

Nocino

Get your hands on some green walnuts and make some nocino. In Italy there is a special day for gathering green walnuts called the Feast Day of San Giovanni. Italians like this liqueur in their coffee, where it is called caffè corretto or corrected coffee. It is also poured over gelato or used in place of vanilla extract in making biscotti or simply as an after dinner digestif. The flavor is nutty, slightly bitter, yet sweet, with the taste of vanilla and oak.

All you need is about 30 immature green walnuts chopped into quarters (be sure to use gloves or your hands will turn black!), a sliced open vanilla pod, a few allspice berries, a portion of a cinnamon stick, long strips of zest from 1 large lemon and … Read More

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