Here is the final installment of the series of holiday appetizer recipes from California Walnuts. Here is recipe that I just know my palate and my hubby's palate would love! Walnuts, apple jelly, honey and cinnamon you say? all on a puff pastry? Count me in! What I like about this recipe is the simplicity of it all. If you serve this one to guests, I would recommend serving this apple pie-like cookie with some vanilla ice cream.

Recipe and photo from California Walnuts. Permission was granted prior to posting.

*Disclaimer: the recommendation to use California walnuts is strictly from California walnuts and from the creator of this recipe. Food Tastes Yummy does not fully endorse products.*


Makes 32 palmiers

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Baking time: 35-45 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups California walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple jelly
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 (450g or 16 oz) package of puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine walnuts, apple jelly, honey and cinnamon.

Divide mixture between two sheets of puff pastry and spread mixture evenly. To shape the palmier, roll one edge of pastry to form a pinwheel; stopping at the middle. Roll the opposite edge to make a second pinwheel. Repeat with the second puff pastry sheet.

Transfer the palmiers onto a cutting board or plate and cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

After the palmiers have been refrigerated for 30 minutes, remove them from the fridge and slice each palmier roll into 16 even slices and place onto a baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time on the centre oven rack for at least 35-45 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!




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MATT'S BEER WE GO! SAPPORO PREMIUM BEER


For some reason I felt compelled to add this music to this post...

Hello (or "kon ni chi wa") fellow beer-enjoyers, welcome to a new edition of Matt's Beer We Go!  It's been a while, and as noted in my previous wine post, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, so, no more monkeying around (pun intentional), let's to it!  Bonzai!

First, as always, a little background story.  My friends at Wikipedia note that the brewery originally behind this Japanese beer was founded back in 1876, during the reign of Emperor Meiji.  (That's a freakin' long time ago, just in case you didn't realize.)  Their famed beer was also brewed in that first year, and now Sapporo is a major beer owner and producer, having acquired Canadian brewer Sleeman in 2006.  (In fact, most of the Sapporo beer consumed in North America is made in Canada - thank you globalization!)


*Pop!* (Sound of can opening.)  This lager (I had to actually find that out, as there is no writing on the can of any note describing the product!), coming in a very generous 650 mL can, poured a medium gold colour, and was very effervescent (i.e. bubble-tastic).

The smell, or "nose" as we say in connoisseur circles *cough*,  was a sweet, hoppy, grainy smell; very inviting, and very standard for a lager beer.

Tasters!  Dry, medium strength and body is what I can say, and to be ever so precise, "hoppy for sure" as I wrote in my notes.  This beer dries more on the end, and the grains inherent in the drink come to the fore more so as well.

Well.  What can I say.  Standard beer fare!  Nothing offensive, nothing outstanding, a good, solid, basic, lager beer (it being of Japanese origin I may have expected otherwise - but that's the point of these things - to taste and find out!).  So, if you need a fine beer to chug or have with your wings or pizza, pick up this Asian beer - don't say sayonara; say: HAI!!!!

**3/4 out of 4

Purchased at  Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$3.45 (US$3.36).

From LCBO.com:

SAPPORO PREMIUM BEER, 650 mL can
  • LCBO #699009
  • Beer, Lager, Lager/Pilsner
  • 5.0% Alcohol/Vol.
  • Sugar Content: 2
  • Made in: Ontario, Canada (!)
  • By: Sleeman Brewing & Malting Co.




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WALNUT WANDS

This is another delectable holiday appetizer from California Walnuts. Bread sticks are always a party favourite and go great with any cocktail that you serve at your holiday party. The people from California Walnuts say that these wands are, "a perfect addition to a cheese tray or [makes for] a satisfying snack".

Recipe and photo from California Walnuts. Permission was granted prior to posting.

*Disclaimer: the recommendation to use California walnuts is strictly from California walnuts and from the creator of this recipe. Food Tastes Yummy does not fully endorse products.*


Makes 15 to 18 servings

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Baking time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup California walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup dried figs, finely diced (about 4)
  • 6 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp each: salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 (10 x 10-inch or 25 x 25 cm) sheet of puff pastry, thawed

Toasting walnuts: In large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast walnuts, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Walnut Mixture: In a food processor, combine walnuts, parmesan, figs, olives, capers, vinegar, thyme, salt, pepper, water and blend to a paste. Set aside.

With a sharp knife, cut sheet of puff pastry into 4 equal squares. Spread walnut mixture evenly among 3 of the squares, then stack, placing the clean pastry square on top.

To Assemble Wands:

Step 1: Cut two 1/4-inch (5mm) thin strips from the pastry stack
Step 2: Take one strip and twist into a spiral towards the right. Repeat with second strip.
Step 3: Lay both twisted strips side-by-side and pinch one end together. Take the right twisted strip and cross over the left one. Keep crossing the two twisted strips until completely spiralled together. Pinch the ends together to form a tip.

Repeat steps 1 to 3 until pastry is all finished.

Lay wands on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool and serve.




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STILTON, PORT AND WALNUT PATE

Next up on this holiday appetizer line up from California Walnuts, Stilton, Port and Walnut Pate. Isn't it a looker? This would definitely be a beautiful presentation at your next holiday party. I would add some beautiful fruit all around so people could help themselves. Cheese anyone?

Recipe and photo from California Walnuts. Permission was granted prior to posting.

*Disclaimer: the recommendation to use California walnuts is strictly from California walnuts and from the creator of this recipe. Food Tastes Yummy does not fully endorse products.*

Ingredients:
  • 1 small pear (firm but ripe), diced
  • 1/3 cup Port
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup Stilton, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup California walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

Toasting walnuts: In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast walnuts, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Poached Pear: Heat a small heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Add pear, port, water and sugar. Bring to a simmer and redice heat to medium to soften pear, about 10 minutes. Increase to high heat to reduce juices to a syrup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Stilton/Walnut Mix: In a small bowl, add stilton, cream cheese, butter, parsley and lemon juice and mix until well combined. Add walnuts.

Line a 1 cup (250 ml) remekin or custard cup with plastic wrap and fill with half of the stilton/walnut mix. Then layer with half of the poached diced pear. Repeat steps with remaining stilton/walnut mix and poached pear.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Remove plastic wrap; slice pate into wedges and serve.

Tips: Pate can prepared a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Serve with crackers, fresh baguette, grapes and/or as part of a cheese tray.

 




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OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER

Here is yet the fourth installment of the holiday appetizer recipes from California Walnuts. This is what they call, "a unique take on a classic appetizer". If you're a big fan of oysters like me, I think you will like this different take on this holiday party favourite. Enjoy!

Recipe and photo from California Walnuts. Permission was granted prior to posting.

*Disclaimer: the recommendation to use California walnuts is strictly from California walnuts and from the creator of this recipe. Food Tastes Yummy does not fully endorse products.*

Makes 6 servings

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Baking time: 7-10 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup California walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 tbsp sambuca or anise liqueur
  • 24 oysters, shucked
  • Red pepper sauce
  • Lemon
  • Rock salt (optional)

Toasting Walnuts: In large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast walnuts, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown about 1 to 2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Walnut/Panko Mixture: Combine panko, walnuts and parmesan cheese in a small bowl; set aside.

In a small frying pan, heat butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic and saute. Spoon out 2 tbsp (30ml) and stir into the walnut/panko mixture.

Add shallot, spinach and anise liqueur to frying pan and saute on high heat until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes; remove and let cool slightly.

On a rimmed baking sheet, space oysters evenly. Top with 3 to 4 spinach leaves, a few drops of red pepper sauce and 2 tsp (10 ml) walnut/panko mixture.

Bake for 7-10 minutes or until light golden brown.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges on a bed of rock salt.


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PROSCIUTTO SUSHI ROLLS

Here is the 3rd installment of the series of holiday appetizer from California Walnuts. For me, anything with asparagus gets a thumbs up! The tangy goat cheese, the salty prosciutto, and the earthy flavoured asparagus are definitely a match made in heaven!

Recipe and photo from California Walnuts. Permission was granted prior to posting.

*Disclaimer: the recommendation to use California walnuts is strictly from California walnuts and from the creator of this recipe. Food Tastes Yummy does not fully endorse products.*

Makes 16 pieces

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup California walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (140g or 5 oz) goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 8 sliced prosciutto
  • 10-16 spears of asparagus, blanched and cooled
  • 18 roasted red pepper strips

In a medium bowl, combine walnuts, goat cheese and parsley.

Lay 4 slices of prosciutto on a cutting board, slightly overlapping each slice, to form a square shaped layer.

Spread half of the walnut mixture across the centre of prosciutto square. Lay 5 to 8 asparagus spears (horizontally) over the mixture and top with 9 strips of red pepper. Carefully pick up the prosciutto ends closest to you and roll firmly into sushi shaped roll. Repeat these steps with the remaining ingredients.

To serve, slice each roll evenly into 8 pieces.

Tip: Goat cheese can be substituted with cream cheese.


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WALNUT LAMB EMPANADAS

FTY readers, here is the second walnut party appetizer recipe coming your way. Brought to you by California Walnuts. I first tried empanadas a couple years ago from a former co-worker of mine. She is from Colombia and told me that she had been making homemade authentic empanadas for years. She learned the recipe from her Grandmother, and of course the recipe was passed down for generations. She passed one along to me and I absolutely fell in love with them. They kind of reminded me of Jamaican patties but they had much more veggies and other goodies in them. Since then whenever people offer me empanadas I hardly ever say no. I always wish I had asked for that tried and true recipe from my old friend. Here is the California Walnuts take on one of my favourite bite size foods empanadas! Enjoy!

Recipe and photo from California Walnuts. Permission was granted prior to posting.

*Disclaimer: the recommendation to use California walnuts is strictly from California walnuts and from the creator of this recipe. Food Tastes Yummy does not fully endorse products.*

Makes 24 pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Baking time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 cup California walnut pieces
  • 1 potato, cooked and diced
  • 3/4 cup green peas
  • 1/3 cup tomato, diced
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp each: cumin and nutmeg
  • 2 (400 g or 14 oz) boxes of frozen pie pastry (like Pillsbury)
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil, garlic and onion. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add lamb, stirring frequently, until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain excess fat in colander. Transfer lamb to a medium sized mixing bowl and combine remaining ingredients: walnut pieces, potato, green peas, tomato, olives, lemon juice, sea salt, paprika, cumin, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Roll out pie pastry and cut out 24, 4-inch (10 cm) rounds with a bowl or cookie cutter. Brush the outer edge of a round with egg wash and spoon about 1-1/2 tbsp (20 ml) lamb filling into the centre of the pastry. Fold one side over the other and crimp edge with a fork to seal.

Repeat until all the pastry and filling has been used. Brush tops of empanadas with remaining egg wash before baking. Bake in 3 batches on centre rack for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.


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Hi Food Tastes Yummy readers! I have a special line up of holiday appetizer recipes coming your way. All brought to you by California Walnuts. As a huge fan of walnuts I just loved the idea of using this nut as a main ingredient in these appetizer recipes. I know a lot of you have asked for more party appetizer ideas so hopefully this will help solve your party dilemma. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Recipe and photo from California Walnuts. Permission was granted prior to posting this recipe.
*Disclaimer: the recommendation to use California walnuts is strictly from California walnuts and from the creator of this recipe. Food Tastes Yummy does not fully endorse products.*

Makes 15 to 18 pieces

Smoked Salmon Ingredients:
  • 1 cup hot smoked salmon, flaked
  • 1-1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 slices rye bread
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

Walnut Salsa Verde Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup California walnuts
  • 2 tbsp sweet gherkins, minced
  • 2 tbsp each: chopped fresh dill, mint and parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp capers, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine the salmon, mayonnaise, honey, dijon mustard, shallot and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, combine the walnut salsa verde ingredients.

With a cookie cutter or shot glass and a knife, slice the rye bread into 1-1/2 inch (3.5 cm) rounds and brush each side with melted butter. Toast the rye bread rounds in a non-stick skillet on medium heat until browned on both sides.

Place rye bread toasts on a plate and spoon 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the smoked salmon mixture on top. Follow with 1 tsp (5 ml) of walnut salsa verde.

Garnish each with a sprig of dill.

Serve immediately.

Tip: Smoked salmon can be substituted with canned or leftover baked or grilled salmon. The smoked salmon and walnut salsa verde can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Cut out rye toast rounds, butter and toast right before serving, or serve on store-bought crostini.




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MATT'S WINE NOT! QUEULAT CARMENERE 2008 CHILEAN RED WINE

Greetings once again all wine connoisseurs (if you're one of those, why are you reading this!?), wine appreciators, and booze hounds alike, welcome back to the 124687th re-launch of Matt's Wine Not!  Yes it's been a while, and as usual, I have no good excuses! So why waste your time or mine any more, let's get to the wineeeeeeeeeeeee.  (And yes, that's me taking a pic in the wine glass and bottle - a good photographer I am not.)

I'll admit, I haven't been the greatest fan of South American wines - many are often spicy, and on their own (meaning not consumed with food), they aren't as cracked up as some other wines I've had.  (But that's just me - I'm not a spicy kinda guy!)  Carmenere is a variety of grape found chiefly in South America, and I've reviewed only one other bottle of wine made with this grape, and gave it an average score (2 3/4 out of 4).  So, whilst in my local Lickbo, I came across this one, and thought to give this grape another run - and I'm glad I did!

As an "FYI," the wine is made by Ventisquero, which has been in the biz for almost 12 years, and has been aged in French oak (yum).  Its name, in case you were wondering, was derived thusly: "Queulat wines take their name from southern Chile's most spectacular hanging glacier, a sight that is both imposing and elegant."  Thanks to their website, at http://www.ventisquero.com for that tidbit of info!

Now!  Wine time!  At a whopping 14.5% alcohol/volume, this naturally corked beauty poured a lovely deep blood, crimson red - perfect for Hallowe'en (which was the day I first popped this one open)!  (Oh, and I chilled it for 10 minutes or so before pouring *nod*.)

The nose was very robust, featuring notes of raisin, cherry, and spice, and dark berry - it was very deep, not unlike some ridiculous philosophy books I had to read during university...but this is far more interesting (and fun!).

But the test is in the taste, and it passed with flying colours.  It had a full bite, and was rich, fruity, deep, dark, with more dark berry and cherry flavours, which really masked the dryness present.  There was no bitterness or real dryness of any note until the very back aftertaste.  The flavour was so full and enveloping, it was almost jammy.*

*DISCLAIMER: I do not recommend spreading this wine on toast.  It may, however, go great with a peanut butter sandwich; who the hell knows!
My friend the website, which is of course infinitely more educated than I, presents these tasting notes:

"This cherry red carménère with burgundy notes showcases...a bouquet charged with ripe black and red fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, redcurrant, strawberries and cherries, enhanced with spicy notes....with touches of chocolate, coffee and tobacco. The mouth offers a rich structure, well-balanced and full-bodied...tannins...with an aftertaste evoking chocolate and tobacco."

So, who ya gonna believe?  Them, or me?? (My money is on them.  And of course, LCBO.com offers more tasting notes as well!)

In any case, whomever you believe, and whatever you taste, this wine changed me around on not only South American wines, but Carmenere as well.  This was a beautiful bottle, powerful, full, absorbing, and damn tasty.  Viva Queulat!

***1/2 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$17.95 (US$17.62).

From LCBO.com:

VENTISQUERO QUEULAT GRAN RESERVA CARMÉNÈRE 2008, 750 mL bottle
  • LCBO/Vintages #243386
  • Wine, Red Wine
  • 14.5% Alchol/Vol.
  • Sugar Content: XD
  • Made in: Maipo Valley, Chile
  • By: Vina Ventisquero Ltda.





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