I love Cashews. Whether bound in crunchy caramel as a brittle or chopped through a curry or stir fry, the oily, calorific, kidney shaped nut never fails to satisfy. You could say I’d “bust a nut” about this nut… well you could say that but it might be a little gross. We seemed to have a glut of this nut in the hut so I thought I should try and do something with them. I recalled the very tempting savoury almond butter I read about on Cream Puffs in Venice and thought about trying my own version but with Cashews.
I set about creating the base for my cashew butter by following Alton Browns recipe. I ended up adding more walnut oil & salt and using a pestle and mortar to finish the butter but to all intents and purposes the basis for the butter finds it’s genisus in the aforementioned recipe. I used a magi-mix/food processer to get the show on the road but soon discovered the ancient processor that is in my possession couldn’t emulsify the mixture to a satisfyingly creamy consistency. The result I got was a kind of chunky, crunchy, dryish blend that though morish, wasn’t of a fine enough emulsion to my tastes.
Having gotten this far I grabbed the pestle and mortar and plucked some fresh rosemary from the garden, duly chopping it finely and adding it to the mix. At this stage I could have left it as it was but to get an accent on the sweet & savoury dimension I added some lemon zest. I hesitate in saying this but in actual fact I think I was too clever for my own good. The zest brought out the sweet honey element more than anticipated so I can’t really call this butter a strictly savoury kind of humous/tapenade type concoction. Such is the nature of experimenting in the kitchen though. Whilst creating the butter I was very much reminded of a book I bought at an Exhibition last summer hosted by the excellent Collective Gallery in Edinburgh
While the typical cookbook format gives you a recipe for obvious success it does not take into account the many ways in which its execution can fail due to the cook’s lack of experience. Based on Aleksandra’s personal history of cooking disasters, the project invites 1000 people from all around the world to give their advice of how NOT to cook. With this volume, any reader will be more than well equipped to avoid making the same mistakes in their kitchen.
Aleksandra is interested in how we are taught or teach ourselves through trial and error. By making our guilty failures public we may even be creating an original and subversive form of art, rather than simply be aspiring to obvious and repetitive results.
—Kate Gray, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh
I could say much more about the exhibition, I urge you to follow the links and submit your entry for her new book as well. I’ll leave it at that though, I think that sort of discourse is best saved for one of my other blogs…
We return, the Cashews ensue. So I took the sweet savoury butter and liberally dolloped it onto an approximation of melba toast. A spoonful of strawberry preserve atop it and a serious snack had been created. Lemon and Strawberry is a good combination and rosemary with cashew works nicely too. Give it a shot some time but don’t forget a large helping of elbow grease will be needed – it’s worthwhile to work for such treats, isn’t it?
I’ve since used the basic cashew butter for Thai Green Curry, Spread in wraps with chicken, carrot, peppers, chilis and coriander and with the remaining batch I’m sure I’ll be roasting something en croute. A useful addition to my store.