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Psoriasis is the kind of condition that can drive you nuts, so I thought it was time to work some nutty ingredients into my latest dinner party menu! When you look into superfoods, nuts often appear as one of the key ingredients and most are full of protein and vitamins to help promote healthy skin. Nuts are also said to have anti-inflammatory properties. I found this article a good in depth guide on the properties of nuts.
There is so much you can do with nuts; eat them as they are, cook with them, extract the oil to cook with or use on your skin, you can even drink them! To show the possibilities, I decided to invite some friends over and produce a whole menu based around nuts. Much of the inspiration for this came from a cookbook which is simply called Nuts, which is a Parragon publication as part of their Love Food series.
The all-important guest arrival
When your guests arrive, there should always be nibbles and drinks and just to point out, this was a party, so I decided to balance out all the goodness with a few naughty treats. For the nibbles, I made my usual honey roasted nuts which is just a bag or raw mixed nuts which you lightly toast in a pan. As they start turning brown add a good dollop of honey and turn the heat up to caramelise. You’ll notice the honey bubble and just before it burns, turn the nuts onto a sheet of baking paper. To shake things up a bit I also added a tablespoon of English truffle oil and a good grind of black pepper. The second snack was lightly toasted nuts which I added flaked sea salt and rosemary to and sealed up for several hours. You can do this the day before and the rosemary will really come through.
The welcome drink
For the welcome drink, I decided to go shopping, which resulted in an much more inspired idea! Coconut water is extremely popular at the moment, so I bought a carton which was flavoured with pineapple. Of course, the classic spirit to go with this is rum. Muddle a lime wedge in a cocktail shaker, add a shot of rum, ice and the coconut water and shake. Strain into an ice filled tumbler or hi-ball glass and garnish with a wedge of lime and sprig of mint. A great drink to enjoy if we set to continue to have good weather this summer.
Start as you mean to go on
On to the food. To start, I seared scallops in coconut oil for just a minute on either side. Once seared, I added some hazelnut butter, which you then spoon over the scallops. Serve up with water cress, some of the butter spooned over the top and a drizzle of walnut oil. To make the butter, take even weight of roasted hazelnuts and butter. Put the nuts in a blender and pulse a few times before adding the butter. This will keep in the fridge for a few days.
The main event
For a good boost of Omega 3, the main course was salmon fillets in a macadamia nut crust. The crust is quite simple to make as you just lay it on top when cooking. Take 150g of roasted and chopped macadamia nuts, 50g breadcrumbs (panko is possible), 55g of melted unsalted butter and mix together. Brush oil on both sides of the salmon and season. Lay the fillets on a baking tray covered with baking paper and pile on the topping. These should take about 10-15 minutes at 220 degrees/gas mark 7. They are ready when the topping is golden brown.
The fillets can be served with a mixed peppery salad and pineapple salsa. I made mine with one red onion, chopped tinned pineapple, a chopped red chilli and small bunch of chopped coriander. Add a little rapeseed oil, juice of one lime and season. You can make this whilst the fillets cook or a little earlier. Try not to serve it too cold though. You can of course use fresh pineapple - I used tinned for convenience.
Dessert – the grand finale
For dessert, I made a raspberry cheesecake. Now you’ll be wondering what is so nutty about that. The base it made from chopped almonds, hazelnuts and porridge oats mixed up with a little butter and maple syrup. It forms almost a flapjack-like base. The topping is a mix of ricotta, mascarpone and low fat yoghurt. To set you need to add a little gelatine. Once mixed you crush in some raspberries, lemon zest and maple syrup. I haven’t put the full recipe in as you can do whatever you like on top, just replace the usual biscuit base with equal parts of oats and the two nuts. Only add 25g of butter and the maple syrup will set it once baked for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
For those that don’t have a sweet tooth, there is always the alternative of the cheese board. For this, I made my own walnut oat cakes which you can find various recipes for. It is a really easy pastry recipe so you don’t need to worry about your baking skills. I am not a baker and manged to make them without hassle. You just need to make sure the pastry isn’t too wet and that you roll it thin enough. To serve with the cheese I added a few raw and pickled walnuts and a naughty addition of sultanas soaked in calvados.
That concludes my naughty but nice, skin-friendly nutty dinner party and hope it inspires you to find some nutty recipes of your own. I will not claim this is the healthiest food, it is just a fun way of getting more goodness into you without having to compromise on flavour.
UK/IE MAT-10537. Date of preparation: July 2017