hazelnut

hazelnut amaretti with orange and vanilla

hazelnut amaretti with orange and vanilla // image: Olaiya Land

Have I mentioned what a sap I am about Christmas? This morning I might have teared up a little bit listening to Michael Bublé sing I’ll be Home for Christmas. (Don’t judge.)

I’ve always loved Christmas. It probably started because my birthday is on Christmas day. When I was little, the holiday season represented a shower of gifts and cake and celebration after a year-long drought spent watching my friends celebrate their non-Christmas birthdays.

People always think Christmas birthdays suck. But they only suck if your family and friends suck. My family has always celebrated Christmas on December 24th and my birthday on the 25th. And I’ve never once received a combo Christmas/birthday present. So I think it’s a pretty sweet deal.

hazelnut amaretti with orange and vanilla // image: Olaiya Land

Now that I’m an adult and no longer staying up to catch a glimpse of Santa and his reindeer, I still love Christmas. I love the decorations and the food and the music. I love the baking and the wrapping and the anticipation that if we're lucky, there just might be snow. 

But Christmas and I had a dark patch.

There was a period when I had let things spiral up into Martha-Stewart-level insanity and was crumbling under the pressure to buy amazing gifts, decorate the perfect tree, bake and ship an assortment of holiday cookies and plan a Christmas Eve feast like no other. 

As I wrote in this post, it struck me (probably while I was stuck in holiday traffic) that I was super pissed about Christmas. I wanted to abandon the whole thing, book a flight to a sunny beach somewhere and drink margaritas for about a week. Not exactly holiday cheer.

That was the year I decided to reign in the crazy. I took a step back and asked myself what the essence of the season was for me. And of course it was all about people. Letting people know they’re loved and appreciated. Spending time with our friends and family. And also taking some time away from work to recharge our batteries (possibly by watching many holiday movies snuggled on the couch with said loved ones).

hazelnut amaretti with orange and vanilla // image: Olaiya Land
hazelnut amaretti with orange and vanilla // image: Olaiya Land

So now I’m on a mission to keep Christmas easy, breezy and fun. Like it should be. To that end, I’m teaming up with Megan from Cream & Honey to bring you a month of posts centered around celebrating the holiday in style without losing your mind. We’ll have recipes, entertaining tips, gift guides. Maybe even a holiday playlist with Michael Bublé crooning I’ll be Home for Christmas. (Don’t play it cool. You know you secretly love the Bubs.)

I’m kicking things off with this recipe for Hazelnut Amaretti with Orange and Vanilla. This is my version of a cookie I saw in my friend Caroline’s Instagram feed. She was kind enough to translate the recipe from Dutch and send it to me. After I tasted them, I decided these cookies would be perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Because I am incapable of following a recipe as written, and because I love hazelnut with coffee, I played around with Caroline’s recipe until I came up with this version. 

That I was the year I decided to reign in the crazy. I took a step back and asked myself what the essence of the season was for me. And of course it was all about people. Letting people know they’re loved and appreciated. Spending time with our friends and family. And also taking some time away from work to recharge our batteries (possibly by watching many holiday movies snuggled on the couch with said loved ones).

Calling these cookies is a little misleading. They lie somewhere between a cookie and a confection. On the first day, they are crisp on the outside with a bit of softness in the center. On the next day, however, they are tender and chewy under their crisp, airy crust. I like them better the second day. I imagine that, like most amaretti-type cookies they will hold for ages in a well-sealed tin. But they have yet to make it past a second day in our house, so I can’t tell you for sure. 

To help you keep things simple this holiday season, these are super easy to make. These come together in about 10 minutes (plus additional chilling and baking time, when you can be sipping a glass of wine and waiting for these to come out of the oven so you can dunk them). You don’t have to candy citrus or roll out shortbread or make a citrus glaze like I asked you to do for last year’s holiday cookie (it was so good though!). You can freeze the dough and bake these off as you need them. Aaaand these little guys are sturdy. They will happily hold their shape if you decide to ship them across town or to the other side of the globe. Ta-da!

That I was the year I decided to reign in the crazy. I took a step back and asked myself what the essence of the season was for me. And of course it was all about people. Letting people know they’re loved and appreciated. Spending time with our friends and family. And also taking some time away from work to recharge our batteries (possibly by watching many holiday movies snuggled on the couch with said loved ones).

And for even more inspiration on how to keep the holiday season Classy Not Crazy this year, click on over to Megan’s recipe for Pine Shortbread Cookies. In addition to this awesome recipe (Pine, people! It's hip. It's a thing. Look it up.), you'll also get Megan's tips on how to plan a killer holiday party with ease and some great gift ideas.

Let me know in the comments below what sort of holiday tips you'd like more of. And I’ll be back next week with more ideas for keeping your holiday baller status high and your stress-levels low.

xo,

Olaiya 


Hazelnut Amaretti with Orange and Vanilla

  • 200g (1 1/2 cups) raw hazelnuts
  • 200g (1 cup) granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour (All-Purpose flour or cornstarch will also work)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • Whites from 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

*Notes: I highly recommend using weight measurements for all baking, since it is so much more precise than volume measurements. I especially recommend it for these cookies since the size (and thus volume) of hazelnuts can vary so widely.

- I also made a batch of these with almonds instead of the hazelnuts and lemon zest instead of the orange that was lighter in flavor, but also delicious. Feel free to play around with the nuts and flavorings to make these cookies your own. The only test batch I didn't love were the 100% pistachio version. They were way too rich. If you want to make a pistachio version, I would use roughly half pistachios and half almonds.

Preheat your oven to 300°F/150°C. 

Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and toast until fragrant, about 12 minutes. Remove the nuts from the pan and place them in the middle of a large kitchen towel. Bring the four corners of the towel towards each other and twist them together to make a little parcel. Vigorously rub the hazelnuts together inside the towel for a minute or so. When you open the towel most of the skins should have fallen off. Lift the nuts off the towel with a slotted spoon, leaving the skins behind (it's ok if some are still attached) and place them on a plate to cool. Set aside.

When the hazelnuts are completely cool, place them in a food processor along with 150 g (3/4 cup) of the sugar, the coconut flour, baking powder, orange zest, and the salt. Using a sharp paring knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds from the pod. Add the seeds to the mixture in the food processor. Process until the mixture looks like sand. (Take care not to over-process or your nuts will start to turn to nut butter.) Set aside.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed with the whisk attachment. (You can also use a hand mixer or beat the eggs by hand with a whisk.) When the whites look foamy, increase the speed to high and gradually sprinkle in the remaining 50g (1/4 cup) sugar. It should take about 30-45 seconds to drizzle in the sugar--don't rush it. Continue to beat at high speed until the whites are dense and glossy and just hold soft peaks.

Gently fold the nut mixture into the egg whites. The egg whites will deflate quite a bit, but try to use a light hand so the dough retains some of the lightness from the whipped eggs. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes (this makes it easier to scoop).

When the dough has chilled, place the powdered sugar in a rimmed plate or pie pan. Use a small scoop (I used a 1-tablespoon scoop) to form walnut-sized balls of dough. Drop them in the powdered sugar and roll them around until they are coated in sugar. Transfer the coated dough balls to the refrigerator or freezer to rest for another 30 minutes. I prefer to freeze mine. If you want to freeze them for later use, just pop the coated dough balls in a freezer bag once they're sold and bake from frozen.

If the dough balls have absorbed most of the powdered sugar coating, roll them in the powdered sugar again before baking. Then place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow "X" onto the top of each cookie. This is what gives these cookies their crispy, craggy surface. Bake for 15-20 minutes. You want them to be golden on the bottom with crispy edges and soft in the middle. Keep in mind that they will crisp up as they cool. For a softer, blonder cookie, bake closer to 15 minutes. For a crispier, slightly darker cookie, bake closer to 20. Bake completely frozen dough balls for 18-20 minutes.

When the cookies are done, cool them on their pan for 5-10 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an air-tight container after baking.

That I was the year I decided to reign in the crazy. I took a step back and asked myself what the essence of the season was for me. And of course it was all about people. Letting people know they’re loved and appreciated. Spending time with our friends and family. And also taking some time away from work to recharge our batteries (possibly by watching many holiday movies snuggled on the couch with said loved ones).

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto, pears and celery root

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

Hello from Paris!

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas. I was a bit under the weather/jet-lagged, so Beau and I had a pretty mellow holiday: a walk over to Notre Dame to hear the Christmas bells toll, a leisurely stroll through the Luxembourg gardens with a stop for coffee at the Café de Flore. A seafood extravaganza for two and early to bed. We didn’t even pop the bottle of champagne we bought!

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com
Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root

But I’m planning to make up for our rather subdued Christmas celebration in a few days. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better place to ring in the new year than the city of light. Beau and I have a table booked at one of our favorite restaurants. There will be oysters. There will be champagne. There will be all manner of other deliciousness and then there will be heading out into the chill to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle over the city. 

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com
salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

But before all that, let’s talk about your New Year’s Eve dinner. 

If I were home, I’d be fixing this Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root. My friend Kyle and I served this at the pop-up dinner we hosted earlier this month. This beauty is Kyle’s invention. How he comes up with such creative dishes, I have no idea. Also, it takes him about two seconds to whip up an entire menu. Without cracking a cookbook. While I am jealous, I am also thrilled to be the beneficiary of his chef-brain. And even more thrilled that I got to eat this dish three times in one month: once while we were testing it, once at the dinner and again when I shot it for the blog with my friend Carrie

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

This roast sits at the intersection of easy and impressive. Exactly what you want on a holiday where you should be sipping champagne with your guests instead of sweating away in the kitchen. The salt crust seasons the meat while sealing in all the delicious juices. The roasted pears and celery root are a meltingly soft, subtly sweet base for the beef--far sexier than mashed potatoes. And the bright, herby pesto makes it all sing. Plus, how often do you get to smash open your meal with a hammer? Very exciting stuff.

However you decide to ring in 2017, I hope it brings you joy. Thank you for following along here and for all your kind comments and emails over the past year. You make this adventure I’m on so much more fun! 

With much love,

Olaiya


Salt-Roasted Beef with Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto, Pears and Celery Root

  • 2-3 lb boneless cross-rib roast (also known as a flat iron roast)
  • 6 cups kosher salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup cold water
  • Freshly-grated black pepper
  • 1 recipe Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto (below)
  • 1 recipe Roasted Pears and Celery Root (below)

Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto

  • ½ cup hazelnuts

  • ¼ cup mint, gently packed

  • ¼ cup parsley, gently packed

  • ¼ cup cilantro, gently packed

  • 2 tablespoons dill

  • 1 preserved lemon

  • ¼ cup minced shallot (about 1 large)

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup hazelnut or olive oil

 

Pears and Celery Root

  • 2 slightly underripe pears

  • 1 large celery root

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

 

*Notes: My wonderful neighborhood butcher turned me onto the boneless cross-rib (or flat iron) roast called for in this recipe. I love this cut because it’s flavorful and a great value when you’re feeding a crowd. It does have more connective tissue and marbling in it than some other cuts (sort of like a prime rib roast). If that’s not your thing, you might want to consider a different cut of beef. They’re considerably more expensive, but a tenderloin roast or strip roast never disappoint. 

- If you roast or grill a larger cut of meat even once a year, I recommend you purchase a corded meat thermometer like this one. You stick the probe in the middle of your roast, while the display sits on the countertop by your oven. Set the desired temperature and it will beep when your meat is ready. No opening the oven door and letting out the precious heat. No guessing as to when your roast will be the exact doneness you like. A corded thermometer will take your roast game to a whole new level. 

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

Remove the beef from the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it so it can warm up slightly.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and toast until the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. When cool, roughly chop the nuts or crush them with the side of a chef’s knife or with a mortar and pestle (no need to peel). Place the nuts in a medium bowl. Roughly chop the herbs and add them to the bowl. Cut the preserved lemon into quarters and scoop out the flesh and toss or reserve for another use. Finely dice the peel and add it to the bowl. Add the minced shallot, lemon zest and juice, salt and olive oil and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Set aside to let the flavors come together.

To prepare the beef, mix the salt, egg whites and water in a large bowl until the salt is evenly moistened. Place a thin layer of the salt mixture just wider than your beef roast on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the beef on top of this layer and generously sprinkle with black pepper. Use the rest of the salt mixture to cover the roast, pressing to seal the beef in. Place in the oven and roast to desired doneness: 120°F for rare, 125°F for medium rare, 130°F for medium. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest, without breaking open the salt crust. (Don't worry if the crust has a few cracks in it when it comes out of the oven; that's fine.) Rest the beef for at least 15 minutes before you crack open the crust and slice it. 

While the beef is roasting, prepare the pears and celery root. Remove the skin and any roots from the celery root and slice into ⅓-inch thick pieces. Core the pears and slice into ⅓-inch thick pieces. Place the pears and celery root on a parchment-lined rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and  toss with olive oil to coat. When the roast is about 10 degrees under the desired doneness, place the pears and celery root in the oven. When you remove the beef, increase the oven temperature to 475°F and roast until the pears and celery root are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, 30-35 minutes. 

When the pears and celery root are done, crack open the salt crust on the beef using a rolling pin, meat mallet or hammer. Brush the salt off the beef and slice. Transfer the roasted pears and celery root and the beef to a serving platter. Spoon some of the pesto over the beef and serve immediately, passing the rest of the pesto alongside. 

Makes 6-8 servings.

Recipe by Kyle Wisner

salt-roasted beef with lemon-hazelnut pesto on millys-kitchen.com

roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate and hazelnuts

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

For those of you in the US, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Ours was much better than I expected. As I wrote in my last post, I had been having a hard time getting in the holiday spirit after the election. A few days before Thanksgiving (with no menu whatsoever in place) I happened upon this article, which gave me the idea to draw on Middle Eastern flavors for our holiday meal. The bright flavors of Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and Israel felt like just what I needed to lift me out of my funk.

So I decided to scrap the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce in favor of lemony leek meatballs; a basmati pilaf with chickpeas, currants and dill; homemade flatbread with za’atar; cucumber yogurt and a beautiful pink beet hummus. The star of the dinner, though, was this roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate and hazelnuts. 

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com
roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com
roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

The recipe comes from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi--one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. This salad is earthy, nutty, sweet and tart all at once. The silky texture of the roasted cauliflower is balanced by the crunch of raw celery and toasty hazelnuts. The fact that this salad sits at the unlikely intersection of so many contrasting flavors and textures is a large part of it’s appeal. The fact that it’s beautiful and healthy doesn’t hurt either.

After I made this for Thanksgiving, I realized how festive those jewel-toned colors are--perfect for adding a bright splash to your holiday table. Or a quick weeknight supper. Either way, you can’t go wrong. 

cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

And in case you’re wondering, my post-election blues seem to be fading. I’ve been talking to friends about meaningful ways to take action and stand up for what I believe in. And gathering around the table with loved ones as often as possible. Which, in my opinion, is the best ways to cure any sort of blues.


roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad

  • 5 tablespoons hazelnuts, raw or toasted
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 large stalks celery, cut on the bias into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves

*Note: I recommend toasting your own hazelnuts for this recipe so their dark, nutty flavor really comes through. But pre-roasted nuts will do in a pinch.

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com

If you are using raw hazelnuts: preheat your oven to 325° F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and roast until the skins start to loosen and the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes  Transfer the hot hazelnuts to a clean tea towel. Gather the four corners of the towel and twist them together to form a parcel around the hazelnuts. Rub vigorously to remove as many skins as possible. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Increase the oven temperature to 475° F. Place the cauliflower on a parchment lined sheet pan, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss with a generous pinch of salt. Roast until browned in spots and tender, 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts and place them in a large bowl along with the cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, celery, celery leaves, parsley and the vinaigrette. Stir to coat, taste, and adjust seasonings.

Serve at room temperature.

Makes 3-4 side-dish servings.
Adapted slightly from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad on millys-kitchen.com