Now we tend to use nuts either as a snack or as a flavouring and we forget exactly how important various nuts were on our ancestors. For European hunter-gatherer the autumnal nut harvest was critical since it provided them with protein, carbohydrates and fats in the diet. Certain nuts, most especially hazelnuts, could be roasted and turned into a flour that could last during the winter.
Even through the period nuts were crucial to the diet plan. In the period before refrigeration, and with the development of large cities milk wasn’t commonly available and milk supplies could not be relied upon. Because of this, a milk-like liquid (almond milk) was made from ground almonds and this was typically utilised in recipes where we would use fresh milk today.
We’re very used to using nuts for sweet recipes, make sure that desserts, cakes and biscuits/cookies but that which we tend to overlook now is that nuts are extremely versatile. All over Africa peanut butter is used as a thickener for meat and vegetable stews. Almond milk is still used in soups in North Africa and we’re all familiar with Oriental stir-fries comprising cashew nuts.
Below, therefore, are two classic nuts based recipes.
1kg stewing beef, cubed
3 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp salt
360ml coconut milk
4 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tbsp flour
80g smooth peanut butter
5 garlic cloves, minced or pounded into a paste
3 complete hot red chillies
Several entire okra, with tops removed
Add the margarine to a pan, heat and apply this to brown the beef. Remove the beef to a bowl, then use the remaining oil from the pan to fry the garlic and onions until they are golden brown. Now add the pasta, curry powder, salt and the peanut butter. Heat for a minute then gradually add the coconut milk (so it does not split) and then add 300ml. Continue cooking (stirring all of the while) until the sauce thickens. Add the meat and chillies and simmer, covered, until the beef is tender (about 90 minutes).
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
240ml almond paste (tinned)
80g ground almonds
Cream together the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and flufy. Add the egg and stir to thoroughly blend then stir-in the almond extract. Sift the dry ingredients into a different bowl then add this to the wet ingredients and beat until thoroughly blended. Set the bowl in the fridge to chill for 2 hours afterward take heaped teaspoon of the dough and shape into balls with the palms of your hands.
Put these in an ungreased baking dish and flatten with a little glass dipped in icing sugar till approximately 12mm thick (divide the cookies by about 5cm). Put in an oven pre-heated to 170? C and bake for about 12 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I hope this article has given you an indication of the versatility of nuts also that you’re now keen to learn just what type of dishes you can make with this seed.