Tag Archive: chestnut

Ode à la Châtaigne

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




Sinemage Flagged Chestnut and chocolate truffles

I remember when we were chatting with Graeme, the owner of the chestnut orchard, how his passion for the produce he grows was noticeable. The way he spoke about it and sparkles in his eyes. He then asked how we most like to enjoy chestnuts.

Chestnut cream! I spontaneously replied.
I never fail to make each year the chestnut cream, however the process is long and tedious.

This year though and given the fact that I have so many chestnuts I promised myself to venture on the savoury side too.
I’ve jotted down ideas and also bookmarked interesting recipes in order to use up all the fresh chestnuts we have at home.

Sinemage Making chestnut and chocolate truffles

To start with what will may be a chestnut series, I first propose a simple confection.
I’ve made the usual chestnut cream and this time I’ve omitted the additional cream and drained very well in order to get a very thick cream, almost like a paste.
Initially in the first batch I did, the pearls were generously coated with chocolate, which I found was overpowering the delicate taste of chestnut.
This alternative keeps the same flavour combination but the chestnut pearls are wrapped in a thin skin of fine chocolate shaving. It makes a whole difference. The result is much more subtle and well balanced.

Sinemage Chestnut truffles & Hot Chocolate

Chocolate and Chestnut Pearls (makes 20)

For the chestnut Cream:
500g chestnuts
100g caster sugar
500ml milk – vanilla pod, split in two
1tbsp rum

Cook chestnuts for 20 minutes in boiling water. Remove from fire and keep covered. One by one, pick a chestnut from the pan, rinse under cool water and with a sharp knife incise the top of chestnut and peel. Then in a sauce pan over medium fire, dissolve sugar in the milk. Add the split vanilla pod and peeled chestnuts. Cover the sauce pan and simmer until chestnuts are tender. Strain chestnuts (You may keep the milk and reuse it later in a preparation that requires milk.) and mix it in a blender.

250g very thick chestnut cream/paste
30g fine chocolate grated

With a teaspoon, scoop a little of chestnut cream, the size of little cherry and roll between your palm to shape it like a bowl. Drop and roll it in the chocolate shaving to coat. Repeat until all the cream is used. Keep in a cool dry place until serving.

Sinemage Chestnut and chocolate truffle closeup

La suite en français…

Under the Chestnut Tree

Sinemage Chestnuts On The Ground

I was elated.
We were finally on the way to the chestnut orchard.

Since last year and our first experience with picking fruits and vegetables I was dreaming to go and collect fresh chestnuts.
At that time it was too late when I started to investigate where we could do so, but this year there was no way we should miss it.
It was not as easy though. Most orchards open to public are based in Auckland and Waikato regions, a pretty long drive -eight hours- from Wellington. So it took a while to find an orchardist nearby.

When we got the phone call at the beginning of last week to confirm that chestnuts were falling, I directly checked the weather forecast for the week-end…

Sinemage Chestnut Cupule
Sinemage Chestnut cupule open and mushroom
Sinemage Basket of Chestnuts and chestnuts on tree

So on a beautiful Sunday, we took the road, direction north. Graeme, kindly accepted to open the door of his orchard located one hour from Wellington.

And what a pleasant place !
The trees lined up were forming an arch, nicely filtering the light and providing shade. The ground was already strewn with countless chestnuts. And a gentle breeze was refreshing us on this warm sunny day.

It felt so charming, I would imagine having a picnic there.

We spend a couple of hours collecting with gloved hands chestnuts, chatting with Graeme about the different varieties and ultimately having a peek at the workshop where the crop is processed.

Sinemage Chestnuts & Scale
Sinemage Chestnuts
Sinemage Chestnut Trees

We came back home happy. A basket full of fruits.

And now the schedule is boil, roast, crumb 4Kg of chestnuts…

La suite en français…