Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Nut Butters and Cashew Carrot Soup

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
There was much ado about this months challenge. A few people were in an uproar about the simplicity of this months challenge. While I understand waht they are saying, I was happy about the simplicity and used it as a challenge to try something completely different. I made cashew carrot soup.

How did it taste? Eh, it was okay. My husband went crazy over it. I will play with this recipe a little because I think it has potential. In all fairness I had omitted the onion.  What was I thinking?

What I did like was mixing the cashew butter I made with soy sauce, etc, the recipe follows. Its really a typical dish around here - mixed with soba noodles. The cashews ground down fresh were amazing and totally beat out the peanut butter that I usually use. No pictures though.

Cashew Dressing:
½ inch (1 cm) slice of fresh ginger, chopped
8 cloves garlic, more or less to taste, chopped
½ cup (120 ml) cashew butter
¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) sugar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) vinegar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) toasted sesame oil
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (75 ml) water
Hot sauce to taste (optional)


    * The process for making various types of nut butters is essentially the same. Pour nuts into bowl of food processor. Grind the nuts in the processor until they form a paste or butter. The nuts first turn into powdery or grainy bits, then start to clump and pull away from the side of the bowl, and finally form a paste or butter. The total time required depends on the fat and moisture content of the nuts; grinding time will vary from roughly 1 to 4 minutes (assuming a starting volume of 1 to 2 cups [240 to 480 ml] nuts). Processing times for a variety of nuts are described below.
    * You may add oil as desired during grinding to make the nut butter smoother and creamier or to facilitate grinding. Add oil in small increments, by the teaspoon for oily nuts like cashews or by the tablespoon for dryer/harder nuts like almonds. You may use the corresponding nut oil or a neutral vegetable oil like canola.
    * The inclusion of salt in the nut butters is optional and to taste. If you make nut butters from salted nuts, peanuts or cashews for example, you will not need additional salt. We recommend making unsalted nut butters for use in the challenge recipes (and other savory recipes) since the recipes call for salt or salty ingredients. You can then adjust the salt to taste. If you are making nut butter for use as a spread, you should add salt according to your preference.
    * Roasting the nuts before making nut butters is optional according to your preference. To roast nuts in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4). Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until nuts are fragrant and a shade darker in color. Allow nuts to cool before grinding. Roasted nuts will make butter with darker color than raw nuts.
    * It’s helpful to keep in mind that the yield of nut butter is about half the original volume of nuts. If you start with 1 cup nuts, you’ll get about ½ cup nut butter.
    * The consistency of nut butters varies from thin & soft (almost pourable) to very thick and hard depending on the fat content of the nut. (See links below for nutrition info on variety of nuts.) Homemade nut butters will probably not be as smooth as commercial products.
    * Homemade nut butters are more perishable than commercial products and should be stored in the refrigerator. The nut butters harden & thicken somewhat upon chilling.
    * See links at bottom of post for additional information about making nut butters at home.

Additional Information:

    * Here are three links for additional information about making fresh nut butters at home: the Nut Butter Primer from Cooking Light online, India Curry website, and the Cook’s Thesaurus online.

    * Click here for a summary of nut nutrition from the University of Nebraska extension. Scroll down the page for a helpful chart comparing nutrition facts for both peanuts and tree nuts.
    * Click here for a detailed table of nutrition facts for a variety of tree nuts from the International Tree Nut Council. Click here for a detailed table of nutrition facts for dry roasted peanuts from The Peanut Institute.

    * Here’s a helpful video on making peanut butter at home in a food processor.
    * Here’s a helpful video on making macadamia nut butter at home in a food processor.

    * We tested this recipe for homemade toasted sesame seed butter (or Tahini) from this website featuring Middle Eastern cuisine. It was definitely not as smooth as commercial Tahini, but tasted fresh and intensely nutty. If you’re looking for a good recipe in which to use your homemade Tahini, we recommend Mollie Katzen’s recipe for Tahini Lemon Sauce.
    * Click here for a recipe for sunflower seed butter from Gourmet Sleuth online. Please note, we did not test this recipe.
    * If you are interested in fruit butters, check out the Pear Butter and Apple Butter recipes at the Simply Recipes food blog.
    * For inspiration on cooking with nut and seed butters, check out these recipes from Futters Nut Butters, a company that sells a variety of jarred nut and seed butters.

Carrot Cashew Soup
adapted from this recipe

12 ounces carrots -- sliced or diced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water -- as needed
1 ounce cashews -- dry-roasted, unsalted
salt and pepper -- to taste

Place carrots in a saucepan with broth. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, and simmer until completely tender; adding up to 1 cup of water as needed. Set aside.

Blend the cashews in a food processor with a little broth until smooth as a puree as possible. Add the carrots and blend to make a smooth and velvety soup. Pass through a fine sieve if you want the soup to be smoother. Taste and season with a little salt. Serve pepper at the table.


Ingrid said...

I like nuts. I like butter thus I like nut butter, hee-hee.

vanillasugar said...

i love making my own nut butters. i made this honey-almond nut butter and it was so good. why didn't i think of using it in creamed soup is beyond me.

kat said...

I think its nice for Daring to have something a little easier from time to time. ANyway I think this sounds so interesting.

PJ said...

very good info about making nut butters.. i have never made them at home but they seem easy enough. thanks for sharing!

chef_d said...

Cashew Carrot soup sounds very yummy! I love how yummy the cashew butter looks in the bottle :)

cuppy said...

I always like your pictures; they're so clean and clear!

I took the opportunity to do something completely out of the norm for me, too, and added the nut butter afterward. I liked that the challenge was "here's this little technique, now go do awesome things".

The soup certainly sounds tasty, with or without onion! ;)

grace said...

people complained because it was too simple? how silly. wonderfully informative post, lori, and the soup sounds delicious!

Mary said...

You've given us another great response to a challenge. This is definitely something that I'd try. I hope the day is treating you kindly (I know the kids are home :-)). Blessings...MAry

The Blonde Duck said...

That looks so good!

dana said...

I wish I had more experience with nut butters, other than peanut butter. Alas, all of the nut allergies in my house don't allow me to. I wonder, could you make a seed butter out of sunflower seeds? That might be tasty...

Lori said...

Dana- The Db'ers with allergies to nuts, they used seeds instead. The sunflower seeds would be really tasty.

LittleRed said...

I really enjoyed this challenge too. I did misread it initially thinking that we were to find our own recipe using a nut butter...but the one i found was really very similar to one provided so i made it anyway. the soup looks wonderful and I have been tempted by the noodle salad as well. Lots of variety available with these nut butters and I really appreciated the challenge for pointing that out.

Lisa Michelle said...

Lori...very creative and pretty soup! Even though you didn't flip over it, like you said, a little tweaking will probably result in something you prefer. I swear, I think I can eat anything with that cashew dressing! BTW, your photos are simply awesome :)