Tips Of The Month-April 2008

Thanks to their health perks, nuts are fast becoming a staple in cooking. While high on the fat scale, nuts are good for your heart. High in monounsaturated fats, they have a positive effect on your arteries, unlike the saturated fats found in meat and full fat fairy products. Researchers claim that eating a handful of nuts at least five times a week could reduce heart disease risk by a stunning 50 percent..Almonds ,pistachios and walnuts also contain phytochemicals ,vitamins, including vitamin E, folic acid and essential trace elements. They are also high in fibre.But the other plus point about nuts must surely be that they taste great!!

Add nuts to pancake batter,scones,cakes ,pastries,crumble toppings and breads by substituting anything between one quarter to a half of the weight of flour with finely chopped almonds,pistachious,pecans or walnuts.This will result in baked goodies with a far more interesting flavour and texture than those made with plain white flour .

Almonds: have a more versatile ,neutral flavour than other nuts,and are equally useful in desserts or savory dishes. Toasted ,they are delightfully cruncy,blanched or simmered ,they become gentle and sweet.Add a luxurious touch to fried rice ,tomato rice or pilaf by sprinkling the top with lightly toasted sliced almonds.When a recipe calls for milk or coconut milk, substitute with almond milk instead.Soak a scant handful of blanched almonds in water for several hours or overnigh and then blend finely in an electric liquidizer.Strain and use as required.Alternatively, use almond milk to make a delicious drink - sweeten the milk with a touch of sugar or honey and add lots of ice.Hazelnuts : look plain ,but have a voluptuous depth of flavour.Their natural allies include chocolate,game meats,caramel,truffles and mushrooms and butter.Hazelnut oil makes a lovely salad dressing.

Walnuts : are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.When toasted,they acquire a mellow elegance often complemented best by just a single other flavour - pepper,butter,chocolate or caramel.

Pine Nuts : have an irresistible ,buttery smoothness and make a luxurious garnish for salads,seafood and rice dishes.

Pecans: are so rich in fragrant oils that they often need to be paired with sharp or intense flavours like chilli, pepper and bitter chocolate.

Pistachios : besides their beautiful hue, have a unique fragrant and addictive sweet savoury character used to enhance desserts,pastries ,pilafs and kebabs across teh Middle East.

Cashew: are the quintessential cocktail nuts, and can be ground into cashew butter ,a luxurious substitute for peanut butter.Famous for its use as topping or to thicken or give a rich flavour in Indian cooking.

Macadamias : dubbed the king of nuts because of their price and subtly sweet richness ,are really best savoured on their own if they're perfectly fresh.

Chestnuts : are perhaps teh least nutlike, being large ,starchy and soft, as opposed to small and crunchy.

Oily nuts such as walnuts, macadamias,and pine nuts go rancid very quickly in warm conditions like ours, so buy them in small quantities,keep them cold and use them up fast.

After measuring what you need, return the remainder to the freezer,without letting them sit around .Nut oils,like walnut oil and hazelnut oil,should be stored in teh fridge.If they smell strange or muskily sweet, or taste sour or astringent,they 've gone off. Discard them .