Tag Archives: Hammon’s

Thanksgiving: Wine Pairings & Pies for Sandy Relief; Bonus Black Walnut Recipe

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings from an Expert

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine,...

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while back I asked Laurent Chapuis, proprietor of Princeton Corkscrew wine shop, for his preferred quaffs for that mixed bag of flavors that is the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. If dinner starts with a first course – say, butternut squash soup –  he suggests sparkling wine, either Champagne or prosecco. For the turkey and trimmings he prefers light red wines. Below are his recommendations – and comments – for reasonably priced reds from producers who employ sustainable agriculture methods. btw: I cook up a heritage breed turkey each year, and my favorite wine with that fuller-flavored bird is another equally affordable wine from Chapuis’ shop, Elio Grasso Dolcetto.

Domaine Haut Lambert Beaujolais Vielles Vigne (Beaujolais): “From old vines and harvested by hand”
Corte Gardoni Bardolino (Veneto): “A luxury bardolino blend”
Ca La Bionda Valpolicella Casal Vegri (Veneto): “A surprise for those who only know mainstream valpolicella, like Bolla”
Talley Vineyards Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara): “Honest and true”

Holiday Pies = Sandy Relief at Maritime Parc Restaurant

English: A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pump...

English: A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pumpkin pie served on a glass plate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Liberty State Park in Jersey City was badly damaged in the storm, and Maritime Parc is helping out. Nestled in the Park’s marina, Maritime Parc may have reopened for events, but à la carte dining is not expected to be up and running until the end of November. So Pastry Chef Elizabeth Katz is selling pies this Thanksgiving — and Maritime Parc will donate half the proceeds to Liberty State Park for restoration after Sandy. Plus, they’ll be selling “Pies for the Park” again in December for the holidays.

Each ten-inch pie is $30, with 50% being donated. Flavors: chocolate pecan, pumpkin spice, and sour cream apple crumb. Orders are being taken through Tuesday, November 20, with pick up at the restaurant on Wednesday, November 21 between 10 am and 8 pm. Orders must be placed by phone: 201.413.0050. For December pie updates, continue to check the restaurant’s website.

Gotta Love Black Walnuts

A while back I posted about my love affair with black walnuts, and it continues to get many hits. So when the Hammons, the black walnut people, recently sent me an email with holiday recipes, I couldn’t wait to share the one below for Virginia Black Walnut Cake. It’s too late to order black walnuts for Thanksgiving, but still plenty of time for the December holidays. Find more tempting recipes – including a great-sounding pie – here.

Virginia Black Walnut Cake
Virginia Black Walnut Cake

2 cups butter, softened
1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup Hammons® Black Walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whip butter and cream cheese together in large mixing bowl. Gradually add sugar and beat until thoroughly dissolved. Add eggs one at a time until well mixed. Blend in flour gradually, and then add salt, vanilla, and black walnuts. Grease and flour a Bundt or tube pan; spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; invert ont0 a plate.

Black Walnut Cookie Recipe; Mallery’s Grazin’ Meats Market Opens

Simply Grazin’ Organic Farm Opens Its Own Market, Complete with Custom Butchering

The 100% grassfed organic beef, pork, and poultry from Mark & Lynne Faille’s Simply’ Grazin’ has drawn loyal customers to their Hillsborough farm for years now. And some of it is carried by Whole Foods markets up and down the Eastern Seaboard. So why did the Failles feel the need to open Mallery’s, their brick-and-mortar market just up the road in Skillman? And why did about 1,000 people show up on opening day? I tell all in the August 22nd issue of US 1.

Black Walnut Love

My favorite ice cream flavor growing up was black walnut. Looking back that seems like a pretty sophisticated choice, since the Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra, to biologists) has a particularly robust, rich, earthy flavor and, to my mind at least, an attractive fermented quality.

You don’t come across black walnuts much these days. They somehow became old-fashioned, losing ground to the more common English walnut. By rights they should be a darling of the current craze for foraging because the American Black Walnut is a 100% natural, wild, sustainable crop that grows naturally in the woods, pastures, and yards of the Midwest. It is virtually unchanged since the days it was a staple of the Native American diet.

Each October when the nuts naturally fall to the ground, local residents collect the nuts and sell them to hulling stations, like those of the Hammons Company of Stockton, Missouri, now in its fourth generation. You can imagine my delight when while trolling the aisles at this summer’s Fancy Food Show I came across Hammons, a.k.a. “the black walnut people.” When I asked what stores in New Jersey carry their bags of raw, chopped nuts, they mentioned Wegmans. Alas, only their stores south of Princeton carry them. Undaunted, I ordered two bags of Hammons chopped raw nuts over the company website, and began experimenting.

English: Black walnuts - one in its husk, and ...

English: Black walnuts – one in its husk, and one already cracked (with a hammer). Bloomington, Indiana. Русский: Чёрный орех, толстокорый североамериканский родственник грецкого ореха. Один в кожуре, другой уже расколотый (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the way: black walnut trees grow in New Jersey, too. In fact, the one in my neighbor’s yard when I lived in Hightstown branched over into mine. But Miss Embly, my elderly neighbor, warned me that trying to crack the shells was almost impossible and would result in my hands being stained black. Which is why Midwest foragers take them to Hammons, where the nuts are run between large steel wheels to crack the hard outer shells.

I have to admit that straight out of the bag, raw black walnuts don’t taste very good. Once they meet heat, though, it’s another story. Ice cream and baking are traditionally where the black walnut shines, as it does in the buttery cookie recipe below. It’s from my favorite baking book:  I have probably reprinted more recipes from Jim Fobel’s excellent tome than any other over the years.

Here are even more reasons to embrace the American black walnut tree (figuratively speaking, of course). Black walnut shells are eco-friendly, inert, nontoxic, and biodegradable, which is why they’re used in the industrial blasting industry to clean brick, metal, and wood, especially in historic preservation projects. The oil industry uses the shells as a filtration media. And in a completely different sphere: black walnut wood is among those used to make wands in the Harry Potter series. (American black walnuts were transplanted to Europe in the 1600s.) A wizard with such a wand should have “good instincts and powerful insight.” I submit that home cooks with good instincts and powerful insight might want to give black walnuts a try.

Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book (Lake Isle Press)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped black walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup milk

1. Position two racks so that they are evenly spaced in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Grease two baking sheets.

2. In a medium bowl combine the butter and sugar. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until blended. With a spoon, stir in the black walnuts and vanilla.

3. On a sheet of waxed paper stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and then stir in half of the milk. Stir in half of the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining milk. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients to make a sticky dough.

4. Using 1 level tablespoon of the dough for each cookie, drop it onto the prepared sheets, leaving 2-1/2 to 3 inches between them (1 dozen per baking sheet). Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer with a spatula to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

Makes about 30 cookies.

(Reprinted in part from the August 21, 2012 edition of The Princeton Packet.)