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.
I was really happy with the choice this month because so many bloggers have posted about how easy and delicious making your own nut butters is and I’d been wanting to give it a try. Nutrition research suggests that nuts are good for your health. Nut butters add complex & interesting flavors to dishes, provide body & thickness to sauces, and can be used to replace the dairy fats or other oils in recipes.
We were provided several recipes from which to choose, Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushroom, Asian Noodle Salad, and Chicken with Curried Tomato Almond Sauce. They all looked delicious and I hope to try them all one day, but the Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew dressing was getting rave reviews on the Daring Bakers forum. It sounded like the perfect summer meal and it was! The cashew dressing added so much creamy, delicious flavor. It would be fabulous on any number of Asian dishes.
1 cup cashews*
½ inch slice of fresh ginger, chopped
8 cloves garlic, more or less to taste, chopped
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons vinegar
3 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon water
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
1/2 pound linguine or thin rice noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large chicken breasts, grilled and diced
1 small zucchini, halved and sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved and slice
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped cashews (optional garnish)
Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*Or start with 1/2 cup prepared cashew butter.)
Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*Or start with ½ cup prepared cashew butter.)
Prepare cashew dressing: Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and water in food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Be sure to process long enough to puree the ginger and garlic. The dressing should be pourable, about the same thickness as cream. Adjust consistency – thinner or thicker -- to your liking by adding more water or cashew butter. Taste and add your favorite hot sauce if desired. (If the cashew butter was unsalted, you may want to add salt to taste.) Makes about 1 ½ cups dressing. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.
Prepare noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Rinse and drain noodles. Set aside.
Combine noodles, squash, carrots, cucumber, onions, and chicken in a large bowl. Add about 1 cup cashew dressing; toss gently to coat. Add more cashew dressing as desired, using as much or as little as you’d like. Sprinkle with chopped cashews if desired.
Customize the salad by adding or substituting your favorite vegetables. Shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, and slivered carrots would make nice additions. Obviously, you can omit the shrimp, or substitute chicken or tofu or the protein of your choice. The dressing is equally as good with peanut butter rather than cashew butter. We tested the dressing with nut butters made from salted cashews & peanuts with good results.
Visit the Daring Kitchen Recipe Achieve for all three challenge recipes and visit the Daring Cooks Blogroll to see other great nut butter recipes/ideas. Thanks Margie and Natashya for an easy and delicious challenge.
An extra but optional challenge this month was to use a homemade nut butter in a sweet recipe. My son is a cashew lover and we love Martha Stewart Peanut Butter cookie recipe, so I turned to her for a Cashew Butter Cookie recipe. We were not disappointed. These have the same sandy texture as a peanut butter cookie, but a much lighter flavor. More reminiscent of a pecan sandie. Definitely scrumptious. I underbaked mine a bit because I like a softer cookie, but they still had that yummy crumbly peanut butter cookie texture.
2 cups roasted unsalted cashews, divided
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the raw)
Coarsely chop 1/4 cup cashew nuts, and reserve for garnish. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1 3/4 cups cashews with canola oil, and process until smooth, 5 to 7 minutes. (You should have about 3/4 cup puree.) Set aside until completely cool.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour and salt together; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, cashew puree, and both sugars, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture, and mix on low speed, just until combined, about 20 seconds. Wrap dough in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and set aside. Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough and shape into a ball. Roll ball in Turbinado sugar. Place dough balls 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Press tines of a fork into the dough balls to make vertical and horizontal indentations. Sprinkle reserved cashew nuts on top.
Bake 16 to 18 minutes, depending on whether a soft or crisp cookie is desired. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
adapted from Martha Stewart