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These are the semiprecious nuts; hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamias.

The elite of the nut kingdom--pistachios, macadamias, and hazelnuts--have long been prized by cooks and munchers alike for their distinctive flavors and textures. all have become truly Western--macadamias are grown in Hawaii, pistachios in California, and hazelnuts in Oregon and Washington.

Their relative scarcity and high price have set these nuts apart, but thanks to increased production and better distribution techniques, they're becoming more available and affordable. What is a nut?

Botanically, a nut is a seed or fruit with an edible kernel. A hull (or husk) forms from the blossom. Inside is the hard, brittle shell that encases the kernel (nut or nutmeat). Pistachio and hazelnut kernels are covered with a thin skin or membrane. A bit of history

Hazelnut or filbert--which name is correct? In the West, filbert was the common name, but the industry here is encouraging hazelnut, the term used in Europe. (One more complication: horticulturists use hazelnut for the native nut-bearing shrub, Corylus cornuta californica, and filbert for the larger, commercial nut-bearing tree, C. maxima.)

It takes about 3 pounds of nuts in the shell to provide 1 pound (3 to 3 1/2 cups) of shelled nuts. You'll most likely see hazelnuts in the shell for $1.50 to $1.95 a pound, and shelled whole natural (unroasted) hazelnuts for $3.50 to $4.50 a pound.

Pistachios, a colorful relative of the mango and the cashew, grew wild in Biblical times in the high-desert regions of the Middle East. They were first brought to the United States in the 1880s.

Some trees were planted here in the 1930s, but it wasn't until the late '60s and early '70s that the 'Kerman' variety of pistachio, with its large chartreuse to pale yellow kernels, was introduced.

In 1960 there were only 600 acres of pistachios in California; now there are about 47,000 acres. Of those, 27,000 are in production; it takes at least seven years for pistachio trees to bear fruit.

If pistachios are not hulled and dried within hours of picking, the pink husk stains the light tan shell; most imported pistachios are dyed to cover the stains. Modern technology allows immediate processing, so you're most likely to find California pistachios in natural tan shells.

It takes 1 pound of nuts in the shell to make 2 cups shelled nuts. Pistachios are most commonly sold roasted and salted in the shell; expect to pay $5 to $8 a pound.

Macadamias were sent to Hawaii from Australia in the late 1880s and for 40 years were primarily grown as ornamentals. The University of Hawaii spent 20 years developing commercial varieties; because the nuts do not reproduce predictably, all seedlings are grafted with cuttings from bearing adult trees.

It takes about 5 pounds of macadamias in the shell to make a 1 pound (about 3 1/3 cups) of kernels. Whole roasted and salted macadamia nuts (kernels) are the most common form sold; expect to pay 75 cents to $1 an ounce. Harvesting, processing, packaging, and purchasing

Before theyhre harvested, all three nut varieties are enclosed in a moist hull or husk (see picture inserts on opposite page). At maturity, hazelnuts fall from their hulls and are gathered from the ground. Ripe macadamias fall from the tree in their hulls. Pistachios are mechanically shaken from the tree when the shells split open. The hulls of macadamias and pistachios are removed, and all the unshelled nuts are dried to reduce the kernel's moisture content, shrinking it somewhat and making it possible to remove the shells without damaging the kernel inside.

Most macadamia nuts are sold shelled, and most hazelnuts and pistachios are sold in the shell. All are available whole and natural, but you may have to shop nut stores to find them. Shelled macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are roasted with or without oil; macadamia nuts are usually salted; hazelnuts may be salted. Pistachios are plain or salted and dry roasted.

You can purchase the nuts in jars, cans, and moistureproof airtight bags in many plalces--supermarkets, nut shops, and health food stores, and by mail order through catalogs and advertisements in magazines such as Sunset.

Packaged pistachios, macadamias, and hazelnuts have a shelf life of at least two years. Once they have been opened, you should store them in moistureproof containers and refrigerate (nuts absorb moisture and can become stale and rancid).

To show off the individual flavors of these nuts, we offer the following desserts. Oregon Hazelnut Torte with Chocolate Glaze

2 cups (10 oz.) whole natural hazelnuts

6 eggs, separated

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Chocolate glaze (recipe follows)

Place nuts in a rimmed 10- by 15-inch pan. Roast in a 350[deg.] oven until nuts are golden beneath skin, 8 to 10 minutes; shake pan occasionally. Pour nuts into a towel and rub with cloth to remove as much of the skins as possible; pick out 24 perfectly skinned nuts and set aside.

Lift remaining nuts from brown bits of skin and whirl nuts in a food processor (or a few at a time in a blender) until finely ground; set aside.

In small bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar until doubled in volume. Stir in peel, crumbs, lemon juice, and ground nuts.

Wash beaters; in a large bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form when beaters are withdrawn. Stir half the egg whites into batter to blend well. Gently fold batter into remaining whites. Spoon batter into a buttered and flour-dusted 9-inch cheesecake pan with removable sides.

Bake in the center of a 350[deg.] oven until center springs back when lightly touched, about 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on a rack. Remove pan sides; cool cake completely. If made ahead, wrap airtight and store at room temperature up to 2 days.

Spread cake top with chocolate glaze, leting some drizzle down sides. Set reserved nuts decoratively on top. Let stand until glaze firms, about 30 minutes; or chill, covered, as long as 2 days. Cut into wedges to serve. Serves 6 to 8.

Chocolate glaze. In a 1- to 1-1/2-quart pan, combine 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (coarsely chopped) and 1/2 cup whipping cream. Stir constantly over low heat until chocolate melts completely. Let cool, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes. Use as directed above. Central Valley Pistachio Cake with Citrus Sauce

2-1/3 cups shelled (4-2/3 cups or 20 oz. in shell) natural, roasted, or roasted salted pistachios

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup (1/3 lb.) butter or margarine

5 eggs, separated

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

Natural or roasted pistachios in the shell for garnish (optional)

Citrus sauce (recipe follows)

Coarsely chop nut; set aside 1/3 cup. In large bowl, beat 3/4 cup of the sugar with the butter until creamy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually sprinkle in the bread crumbs and the 2 cups chopped pistachios; blend well.

Beat egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted. Stir half the whites into batter until blended. Fold in remaining whites.

Beat egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted. Stir half the whites into batter until blended. Fold in remaining whites.

Spoon batter into a greased and flour-dusted 9-inch cheesecake pan with removable sides. Bake in the center of a 350[deg.] oven until golden brown and center is set when lightly touched, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack. If made ahead, wrap airtight and store at room temperature up to 2 days.

Run a sharp knife around edge of cake to loosen, then remove pan sides. Cut into wedges and garnish with whole pistachios. Serve wedges with citrus sause and sprinkle with reserved pistachios. Serves 6 to 8.

Citrus sauce. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan, combine 4 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, 1/j cup each lemon juice, orange juice, and whipping cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickly coats the back of a metal spoon, about 8 minutes. Gently rub through a wire strainer; discard residue. Use, or cover and chill up to 3 days. Makes 1-1/2 cups. Kona Torte--Macadamia Caramel

2-1/2 cups (12-1/2 oz.) whole roasted salted macadamia nuts

2-1/2 cups sugar

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine

1 egg

1 cup whipping cream

1 egg white, beaten untl frothy

Whole roasted salted macadamia nuts for garnish (optional)

Rub macadamias in a towel to remove salt; lift nuts from towel and set aside.

With your fingers or a food processor, mix 1/2 cup of the sugar with flour; work in butter until fine crumbs appear. Add egg and mix until dough forms; pat into a ball.

Press 2/3 of the pastry into bottom and up sides of a 1-1/2-inch-deep 9-inch round cake pan with removable bottom. Cover and keep cold. Roll remaining pastry between 2 sheets of waxed paper into a 9-inch circle. Chill flat.

Meanwhile, pour remaining 2 cups sugar into a 10- to 12-inch frying pan and place over medium-high heat; stir until sugar melts and just turns amber color. Pour in cream; sugar will harden. Cook, stirring, until sugar melts and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in nuts. Let cool 10 to 20 minutes; spoon into pastry shell.

Peel off one sheet of waxed paper from pastry round and invert over nut-filled torte. Peel off remaining paper. Fold edge of pastry under if necessary to make flush with pan rim; press with the tines of a flour-dipped fork to seal. Brush top of torte lightly with beaten egg white.

Bake in a 325[deg.] oven until golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 10 to 20 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edge to loosen from pan; remove pan sides and let cool completely. Garnish with remaining macadamia nuts. Cut into thin wedges. Or store airtight at room temperature up to 2 days. Serves 10 to 12.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1984
Words:1715
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