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Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ... it's a hearthside party.

Chesnuts roasting on an open fire ... it's a heartside party From the days of Dickens, the aromatic popping of roasting chestnuts has evoked winter cheer. Roast the nuts over the traditional open fire or cook them in the oven for our hearthside party for a dozen.

Your guests enjoy the scent and sound of the chestnuts roasting. Then they peel some nuts to eat plain or to splash with a sweet or savory sauce. To round out the menu, offer English cheeses with crackers, celery, fruit, mulled wine, and a classic Scottish Dundee cake.

You'll need a total of at least 1 1/2 pounds of cheese (more, if you want a bountiful look) and about 1 pound of crackers. Also allow at least 1 piece of fruit and several celery sticks per person.

Chestnuts are easiest to peel when they're hot, so have a spot ready to rest the roasting pan--as well as hot pads and napkins to proctect hands. You'll also need a container for shells. Be sure each nut is scored (see recipe below), and don't let any go directly into the fire; exploding chestnuts are messy and very hot.

Roasted Chestnuts

With a small, sharp knife, cut an X through shell on a flat side of each of 4 pounds chestnuts. (If prepared ahead, chill nuts, covered, up until next day.) Cook nuts in batches, in either of the following ways.

On an open fire. Place 1 layer of nuts in a long-handled pan--a fireplace popcorn popper, fire-safe frying pan, or chestnut roaster (like a long-handled frying pan with holes in the bottom). Place over a low fire, balancing utensils on logs, and shake often until nuts are mealy in center when broken open, 30 to 35 minutes.

In an oven. Place nuts in a 10- by 15-inch rimmed baking pan. Roast in a 400 [degrees] oven until nuts are mealy in the center when broken open, about 30 minutes.

Using thick napkins to protect hands, crack roasted nuts 1 at a time between hands; pull off shell and thin skin inside. Eat plain, or dip in (or, on small plates, drench with) tarragon-Riesling sauce or port wine syrup (recipes on page 134). Serves 12, about 5 nuts each.

Per plain chestnut: 59 cal.; 0.8g protein; 13g carbo.; 0.5g fat; 0mg chol.; 0.5mg sodium.

Dundee Cake

About 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine 1 tablespoon grated orange peel 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel 1 cup sugar 5 large eggs 2-1/4 cups sifted cake flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup each golden raisins, dark raisins, and dried currants 1/3 cup sliced almonds Port wine syrup (recipe on page 134; optional)

With a mixer, beat 1 cup butter with orange and lemon peel and sugan until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each.

Combine flour, baking powder, golden and dark raisins, and currants. Stir into butter mixture until smooth.

Generously butter a plain or fluted 9-inch (9-cup) tube cake pan; press almonds into butter. Evenly spread batter in pan.

Bake cake in a 325 degrees oven until a toothpick inserted in center comes out barely clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool 10 minutes, then turn cake out onto rack; cool completely. Serve cake, or store airtight up to 1 day. Freeze to store longer. Offer sauce to spoon onto thin slices. Serves 12 to 16.

Per serving without sauce: 281 cal.; 4.1g protein; 35g carbo.; 15g fat; 117mg chol.; 167mg sodium.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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