Ode à la Châtaigne

April 13, 2013

Chestnuts | At Down Under | Viviane Perenyi

There's a kind of nostalgia settling when comes autumn. The light gets subtler and days shorter.

I don't have any childhood memories related to autumn since I grew up in a tropical island, where the only chestnuts came in a box usually around Christmas time: Les marrons glacés. There was also the chestnut cream. This tube filled of pure bliss... It's much later in Paris, that I had a taste of roasted chestnuts and ate my first dinde aux marrons -roasted turkey with chestnuts- prepared by my aunt.

If you are a long time reader, you may know already that I'm a real chestnut lover.

Chestnuts | At Down Under | Viviane Perenyi

Each year is the same. First, the excitement at the sight of these plump, shiny, deep brown nuts. And the anticipation of their sweet taste. Then, the procrastination, knowing how long it takes to peel them...

The second never stops the first though.

Better choose a rainy day, with no interesting book to read, plenty of time and a helping hand. The task is tedious, but it's worth the effort.

Roasted Chestnuts | At Down Under | Viviane Perenyi

For once, I went the savoury way with chestnuts. And I made a velouté. Fairly simple, served as a starter for dinner.

If you like butternut and sweet potato for their sweetness, there are chances you'll like this chestnut velouté with a strong nutty taste. I suggest to serve it in small portions as it's rather filling. Roasted bacon would make a nice addition too.

Peeling Chestnuts | At Down Under | Viviane Perenyi

Chestnut Velouté | At Down Under | Viviane Perenyi

Chestnut Velouté

400g / 14oz whole chestnuts 1 onion, finely diced 25g / 1 1/2 tbsp butter 750ml / 3 cups vegetable stock 100g / 1/2 cup crème fraîche Salt, pepper and nutmeg

In a deep saucepan over medium fire, melt butter and add onion. Stir constantly until soft. Add chestnuts, pour stock and season with salt. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce fire and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the chestnuts are soft. Using a blender mix the chestnuts and the stock into a thick and smooth velouté. Transfer into the sauce pan, add crème fraîche and stir over medium-low fire for a couple of minutes. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve with freshly grated nutmeg and cracked pepper.

Chestnut Velouté | At Down Under | Viviane Perenyi

All images © 2013 Viviane Perényi

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Il y a une sorte de nostalgie qui s'installe quand vient l'automne. La lumière de plus en plus subtile et les jours de plus en plus courts.

Je n'ai pas de souvenirs d'enfance relatifs à l'automne étant donné que j'ai grandi dans une île tropicale où les seuls marrons venaient dans une boîte en général au moment de Noël: Les marrons glacés. Il y avait aussi la crème de marrons. Un tube de bonheur concentré... Ce n'est que bien plus tard à Paris que j'ai pu goûter des marrons chauds et manger ma première dinde aux marrons, préparée par ma tante.

Si vous êtes un lecteur depuis un certain temps, vous devez savoir déjà à quel point je suis une vraie addict de marrons.

Chaque année c'est la même chose. D'abord, l'excitation à la vue de ces noix rondes, lisses et brillantes. Et l'anticipation de leur goût sucré. Ensuite, la procrastination, sachant combien de temps cela prend pour les éplucher...

Ce dernier n'empêche pas l'enthousiasme néanmoins.

Mieux vaut choisir un jour de pluie, sans un bon bouquin, plein de temps devant soi et de l'aide. La tâche est longue et pénible, mais ça vaut l'effort.

Pour une fois, je suis allée sur le côté salé avec les châtaignes. Et j'ai fait un velouté. Plutôt simple, servi en entrée pour le dîner.

Si vous aimez le goût doux de la courge butternut ou de la patate douce, il a des chances que vous aimiez ce velouté avec un goût prononcé de noix. Je suggère de le servir en petites portions parce que c'est très rassasiant. Quelques tranches de bacon grillé serait une bonne addition également.


Such pretty photos and that soup looks divine! I haven’t tried chestnut yet and now, am wondering why ? Kankana

What a coincidence, a packet of chestnut flour fell out of the baking drawer today and reminded me to look out for some chestnuts for real. This soup sounds delicious. Domestic Executive (@domesticexec)

I’m eating chestnuts right now, we got them via post from good friends in Auckland, we’re roumanian and we grew up in one of the two areas where you can find chestnuts in Roumania. Maramures. I’ve got many memories regarding chestnut picking, we’ve got a Chestnut festival back home, but what I love most is a special dessert: chestnut purée ( that I make when I have enough chestnuts :)) Where do you find pick your own near Wellington? All the best Anca

Anca, there’s no place I’m aware of in the Wellington region for picking your own chestnut. A couple of years ago I contacted a chestnut grower in Horowhenua who kindly accepted to open the doors of his orchard for picking. Maramures looks like a beautiful region. Thank you for dropping by and enjoy the chestnut season ! Vanille

Beautiful. The colours of your gorgeous photographs almost make me long for fall again. Almost. :-) Enjoy your weekend! xx Karin - The F Girl

Beautiful photos! I love chestnut and your soup looks delish! mycookinghut

How lovely! :) Bluejellybeans

Lovely! Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark this to try! tomorrowswisdom

Its not even Spring in England but I’m enjoying remembering my days in Wellington in January! Katie Venner

I adore chestnuts and remember getting them on the streets of New York City! lea

Beautiful photos. Chestnuts are something that many americans are not familiar with. I love to hear the descriptions of them and memories they evoke in European dishes. thyme (Sarah)

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Oh I am a big chestnut lover as well, I wish they were available all year long. Sylvie Shirazi (@gourmandeinthek)

Thanks for your reply, All the best, Anca Anca

I’m soooo glad that we’re leaving that time of year. Finally we get some sun here :) but when the time comes, I will definately try it! Je suis sure c’est tres tres bon :) vlaamschtoerhuis

A beautiful velouté and lovely post! Chestnuts are so flavorful and versatile. Cheers, Rosa Rosa Mayland

Vlaamschtoerhuis, I do feel the same at the end of each winter. Enjoy Spring on your side of the world ! Rosa, thank you. Going to make something sweet with the next batch ;) Katie Venner, which Wellington, the English or NZ one ? Lea, that’s a simple yet delicious treat ! Thyme, thank you. I’m surprised to hear so. I assumed chestnuts were commonly part of fall/winter time in the US too. Karin, ah ah ;) Enjoy the blooms and celebrate the return of the light ! Sylvie, I would vote for the availability of chestnut all year round ! Tomorrowswisdom, you’re welcome ! Hope you’ll enjoy it ! Kankana, thank you ! You need to try them at least once. Bluejellybeans, thank you ! Vanille

These photos, so gorgeous! It’s only just springtime here, but autumn is my favorite season and you have me yearning for it. Postal Salute

[…] this is clear, but I’m still fascinated by this fact – that you can find on her blog warming soups when all our flowers are blossoming, light salads when the leafs of our trees in Europe are turning […] Food blogs I love: @ Downunder | nadel&gabel