Walnut and Cheese Crackers

There is everything to love about crackers that combine cheese and walnuts here at Quillisascut Farm. These two cracker recipes, Quillisascut Blue Cheese and Walnut and Quillisascut Viejo Walnut, share those sentiments.

Walnuts and cheese crackers at Quillisascut Farm

The blue cheese recipe is a savory shortbread that melts in your mouth. This is a modified recipe from All recipes

Blue Cheese Walnut Cracker

1/2 cup unsalted butter
*8 ounces Quillisascut blue cheese
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 egg white plus 1 Tablespoon water (whisk together for egg wash)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Salt for topping

If your walnuts are in large pieces, place them in the food processor and process until they are finely chopped. Remove from processor and set aside.

Put butter, blue cheese, flour, salt and pepper in food processor bowl and process until combined. Roll in quarter sized log and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Brush on egg wash and roll in walnuts. Slice thin, place on parchment lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until they have a little color. Remove and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
* for a milder version try replacing the blue cheese with a Quillisascut Farmer Cheese

Crackers
Walnut Blue Cheese Crackers Quillisascut Style

The next recipe is a thick and crunchy style cracker that features Quillisascut Viejo cheese, with walnuts incorporated in the dough.

Quillisascut Viejo Cheese

Walnut Viejo Cheese Crackers

1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups shredded Quillisascut Viejo cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup of water

Mix together all the dry ingredients, then pour in the water and stir until incorporated.
Let rest for 15 minutes
Roll out on a floured surface to your preferred thickness. Cut into small 1 inch rounds, use a cute small cookie cutter or simple squares. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until firm.
Cool on wire rack, store in a air tight container.

crackers
Walnuts and Viejo Cheese Cracker from Quillisascut Farm

Next time I am going to try substituting 1/2 cup of our walnut flour in both of these cracker recipes, to replace that amount of wheat flour.

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Walnuts Forever

This fall we have been obsessed with walnuts. Our trees were very productive. Rick and I and several groups of friends picked up more then 300 pounds of walnuts. Thank you walnut trees and a big GRATEFUL to everyone who shared in the joy of the harvest.

walnuts, quillisascut, farm school, cookery
Walnuts under the tree at Quillisascut Farm

Many of the nuts fall clean from their outer husks, but as you can see in the photo some of them still cling to the thick green outer jacket and need to be liberated before storage.

Walnuts, Leeks, farmlife
Fall Harvest of Persian Walnuts and Leeks at Quillisascut Farm

The first step was getting them picked up, second was cracking them, which has been an on going theme for the last two months.

We used our Dave Built Nutcracker to get the shells open and picked through saving all the meats. It took about an hour for one person to liberate a pound of nutmeats. Having friends to share in the process lightened the task with lots of stories, conversation and laughter.

As of yesterday all of the main crop has been cracked giving us close to 100 pounds of walnuts out of their shells to cook with and share with the Quillisascut community!

All along we have been eating them, raw, toasted, with cheese and experimenting with recipes. One of the easiest to make was walnut butter. Here is how I did it.

Walnut Butter
Fresh ground Walnut Butter at Quillisascut Farm

Walnut Butter Recipe:

Walnuts
Salt

Toast walnut meats in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, until they take on a slight golden toasty color. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Let cool slightly. While still warm place in blender or food processor (the Vita-mix™ worked like a champion for this making a creamy silken butter, the food processor took a little longer and the resulting butter was a little grainier, but equally as delicious). Add salt blend and it’s ready to eat! I keep mine stored in a jar in the refrigerator to protect the fresh flavor. Iv’e used it as you would any nut butter on bread, and have also stirred it in salad dressing which is especially wonderful on a green salad with ripe pears! (We are enjoying organic Anjou and Bosc Pears from Cliffside Orchard)

Grateful harvest at Quillisascut Farm
Thank you, soil, earth worms, microbes, water, compost and walnut trees!

Green Sour Plum Pickles

What to do with an embarrassment of Shiro plums? Some of you may have been here in the summertime when we experienced an abundance of Shiro plums and witnessed Chef Kären mutter something about “An embarrassment of Plums”. Here at Quillisascut we have been pondering this question for several years. One of our summertime quests!

Shiro Plums when ripe are a sweet, cheery sunny yellow. We have made plum jam, spicy plum sauce, and Japanese style umeboshi plums. Sometimes we have them on the table at every meal asking every one to have their daily ration of sweet yellow fruit.

Rick has taken to thinning some of the fruit from the tree so the remaining plums will get larger. Offering us an embarrassment of little under ripe green plums. The goats do like them fresh out of hand.

Then I remembered reading about mock olives made from plums and thought I would do a little research and see if I could find a recipe or two.

In my search I found they are a favored snack in the Middle East. They eat them out of hand, fresh and crunchy with a dash of salt. They are refreshing on a hot summer day.

I came across a pickle recipe that claimed “these taste just like green olives”. Hot vinegar is poured over the plums, add a few spices and let them set. The second day you drain off the vinegar brine, reheat it to boiling, let it cool a little then pour back over the plums. So far they don’t taste like olives to me, but maybe in a month they will?

Some of the Middle Eastern recipes called for covering the plums with a salt water brine. I decided to try a lacto-fermented version that are still fermenting so I don’t have the taste results, but as you can see in the picture, they look beautiful. And they will offer up wonderful probiotic benefits.

You can bet they will show up with our cheese samplers when guests arrive this summer!

Harvesting Between the Rows

I am working on making peace with weeds, especially the edible ones. All of the weeds have an important job. Probably the most important is clothing the soil (soil doesn’t like to be naked)! Weeds move in to disturbed areas, like our open gardens, and set up camp.

This spring I have been playing with ways to cook and dress up pig weed (wild amaranth). It is a super easy plant to grow, it comes up everywhere without encouragement. It also pulls out of the ground without too much tugging, especially when it is young and the soil is loose, and in my garden there is an abundance of these plants!

Pigweed has so many great characteristics. It draws nutrients up from down deep in the soil, bringing nutrition to the plants that come up next. It shades the soil and helps keep it moist. It doesn’t seem to have pests, the leaf miners leave it alone, no worms on the leaves, no aphids, the deer don’t even seem to eat it.

Most important it is delicious. It tastes similar to spinach. I like it cooked better then raw, although the tiny seedlings can be used as micro greens!

The stems are my favorite part, especially when they get longer and fatter, but before they get tough. Pan-fried in a little olive oil and seasoned with salt, they were reminiscent of asparagus. Chopped stems can be steamed like green beans. But the bulk of the greens are wonderful quickly stir fried until bright green and tender, they taste fresh and retain a little crunchy texture, or braised until they soften into a creamy mouth full of joy.

Simply top with butter or olive oil, maybe a splash of vinegar. Serve them with a bit of sesame oil and soy sauce, or as I did last night, pour on a glaze of walnut oil and top with toasted walnuts.

You can dress it up with bacon or any pork product to add a layer of flavor. Our friend Roong said it is a familiar green from his home in Thailand, he braised some for us with a bit of bacon and onions. And when Gary Nabhan was here he cooked up the greens with some spices and used them to fill empanadas for dinner.

Yep, these weeds are turning in to one of my favorite garden foods, free, abundant, and delicious!

Food and Family Traditions

Most of us have family traditions that revolve around food, a special birthday meal or a unique dish that is served at Thanksgiving.  Some of us have a cultural connection to a cuisine like Italian, Middle Eastern or Asian, these are the foods that we share with family and the ingredients that tie us to a culture.

This July 16-19 we are excited to share with you the opportunity to learn a few of the cooking techniques that make up New Mexican cuisine. These include cooking with chile, corn and the most important ingredient; cooking together with family and friends. Bel Candelaria Harrison has written this blog post about some of her food connections. The beginning of a conversation that we will build upon during the July 16th through the19th workshop, A New Mexican Christmas in July.

Family and Food
TamaleFamilyW
Cooking in our large family was woven into our daily existence. Ten of us, eight siblings and Mom and Dad would often sit around the kitchen table to share various cooking chores. Whether the task at hand was shelling salted and roasted piñon (pine nuts) we had harvested earlier that day, and piling the shelled piñon into a single pile just for the sheer pleasure of stuffing all of them into our mouths at once, or processing chile, chopping garlic and onion, cleaning beans, making tortillas, or just having a cup of coffee, we were really quite rich. We were rich not because we were preparing an expensive meal, but rather, most often, a humble meal of beans, chile and tortillas. We were rich because we formed relationships together around our table as we laughed, talked, teased, argued, and sometimes cried. Almost every important event was discussed around the kitchen table. And, the food always tasted soooo good!TamaleNMW
Today, we relive that sense of family and togetherness every time we gather to share a meal. Friends and family gathering to prepare food and sitting down together to enjoy the results of our joined effort may sound overly simplistic but it is joyful to me, even more so when you have grown your own vegetables, or collected fresh eggs from your chicken coop. I can’t wait to cook with my sisters at Quillisascut Farm just for that reason.

Learning and Food
My personal food revelation included discovering Lora Lea and Rick, their farm and the idea of “slow food.” My husband and I have a garden for which he deserves full credit. My appreciation for garden fresh, organic, and sustainable food has grown along with my very first herb garden to our large garden today. My daughter now also has her own garden and chickens. Passing on a passion for good, healthy food is a blessing. The learning continues.

Memories and Food
Some of my first “food” memories are those with my father and brothers, from sardines, scallions and scrambled eggs, Mexican Pizza, refried beans at 2:00 in the morning to the surgical removal of the egg yolk from a fried egg. The sardines, scallions and scrambled eggs were dad’s creation and he made the best tortillas.CornHusksW The Mexican Pizza however, was nothing I recognized until years later as a counterfeit Italian Pizza. The Mexican Pizza was made of a tortilla, red chile and cheese. Refried beans, well, you add bacon drippings to anything and it is absolutely fabulous! My brother could get anyone to do anything with just a smile like getting me up at 2:00 in the morning to make refried beans. He once removed the egg yolk from a fried egg with a table knife and a fork (I mean no egg white on the yolk at all and egg yolk unbroken) and transferred it on to a piece of tortilla in the shape of a scoop. He proceeded to eat the entire thing with laughing, dark brown eyes wide open!

Today, my sisters and I continue to make memories with food. We love to get together with friends and family to cook, laugh, talk and share whether it is a birthday, a holiday, or just dinner.

Come to Quillisascut for A New Mexican Christmas in July where we will learn, laugh, talk and share with the Candelaria Sisters!