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Macadamia nuts are evil. Dress ‘em up however you want; you can not hide the fact that they are high fat and not good for you. “Don’t worry!” the producers say, they’re high energy and have no cholesterol! Don’t worry about the saturated fat; it won’t hurt you!

According to this website, 1 cup of macadamia nuts contains 962 calories, 101.5 g of fat (16.2g saturated; 78.9g monounsaturated; not sure where the other 6.4 g of fat comes from).  962 calories is 20 Weightwatchers points. When I did Weightwatchers, I was allowed 20 points per day. That means, if I had 1 C macadamia nuts, I couldn’t eat the rest of the day.

It goes without saying; macadamia nuts are not good for you. And (I’m going to be annihilated for this), they’re not even that good. So why do people eat macadamia nuts?

Ask my brother-in-law, Brad. Bring home a container of white chocolate, macadamia-nut cookies, and even if Brad is full, he’ll sit and eat the entire container. Tears running down his face; the whole bit.

Where does that come from?

I almost, almost bought a container of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Macadamia Nut ice cream.

chocolate macadamia nut

Except that, well, I really don’t like macadamia nuts. To me they taste like unadulterated butter. Just, well, fat.

With fat sauce.

I opted instead for, “Barenaked Ladies, If I had 1,000,000 flavours” (gotta love the Canadian spelling), “A collision of chocolate & vanilla ice cream mixed with chocolate-covered toffee, white chocolate chunks, peanut butter cups & chocolate-covered almonds”.

I would buy you a house...

mmmm ice cream!

I still hate macadamia nuts. But I love good ice cream. Look elsewhere if you want a macadamia nut recipe.

You won’t find it here.

~ Eva

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[Eds: We are pleased as punch to have the lovely Diana blogging with us for the first time today. Please give her a warm welcome! (and leave lots of comments!]

What is… ssssnails?

During my seven-year stint schlepping plates in a Greek restaurant, I heard this question a thousand times. I could always tell the question was coming when customers, mostly tourists, ESL students and new Canadians, in the desperate search for something familiar, inevitably arrived at the “Snails and Prawns” menu item. With furrowed brows and wonder in their eyes they would ask, “What is…..ssssnails?”

Finding an answer is trickier than you might think. For starters, snails do not make any noise, so impressions are out. Come to think of it, snails don’t really do anything you can imitate; but sometimes I would try. Usually, I started with this:

Failing that, I would whip out my pen and pad and draw this:

Sooner or later, if I was lucky, someone at the table would exclaim, “Ohhhhh! Makigai!!” or, “Ahhhhhhh! Caracol!” or, “Aha! 와우!” That last one is sure hard to pronounce.

Eventually, I got wise and started a list of the various words for ‘snail’ in other languages on a piece of paper next to the cash register. Over time we amassed quite a multilingual collection.

I don’t know the word for snail in every language. What I do know is: snails make excellent vehicles for garlic butter….which is really the only way to enjoy them. I also know they are no good on pizza, trust me. Blech!

Sure, you can fancy them up; braise them in red wine or wrap them in pastry. But let’s make like the French and le garder simple. I think the best way to battle these garden demons is to subject them to a fate of Escargots à la Bourguignonne. Comme ça:

Blanket 12 snails, either in the shell or in a baking dish, with a hearty ½ cup of butter mixed with one tablespoon each of minced garlic, parsley, and shallots. Add a generous dash of salt, pepper and celery seed. Pop ‘em in a 300F oven for about 10 minutes, give ‘em a squeeze of lemon and enjoy.

Sometimes, I look in my fridge, find an ingredient, and think “what goes with this?”. Since this blog has started, I’ve also been faced with the question of “huh. cashew day. I wonder what I should make?”. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

I think matching food, building complimentary dishes, is somewhat of an art. We’ve all had those wondrous pairings, where you take a bite and think “Fantastic! I never would have thought of putting that together!”. But it isn’t all alchemy. There are some rules to be found. One of my old timey favorites is “what grows together, goes together” i.e. strawberries and rhubarb, both being spring produce, compliment each other nicely.

But what if you really want to explore flavour pairings? For my birthday this year, my sister bought me THE FLAVOR BIBLE by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. This book looks at every ingredient you can think from the most basic to very exotic and lists out the best ingredients that go with it. It has the most recommended pairings bold and in capital letters. Find your ingredient, and then see what you should consider tossing in the pot with it. The book also recommends the method of cooking to get the best flavour from that ingredient. It’s not a cookbook per say, but more of a reference book – one website says ” a groundbreaking reference of contemporary compatible flavors that is as useful to anyone who cooks as a thesaurus is to anyone who writes.”

So, shall we try it, on today’s food? It’s National Asparagus Month (it’s also National Cherry Cobbler Day… but we’re letting the cobbler pass us by…). Lets see what they have to say about this spring veggie. Here is a shot of the first page about asparagus (click on the photo for a bigger view):

So lets see – Pecorino sounds good. Butter, of course. I have some peas and basil in the fridge, which are also listed. Finally, on the next page (not shown) I find SHALLOTS in bold all caps. And for techniques, I choose stir-fry/steam.

So, based on the book, here’s what I concocted:

DEANNA’S “FLAVOUR BIBLE” ASPARAGUS & PEAS

1/4 c shallots, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, cut in 3/4 inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbls butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
2 tbls fresh grated pecorino

Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Cook shallots for about 4 minutes, until just softened. Stir in asparagus, peas, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium heat for 8 min. Stir in basil, recover and cook for an additional 2 min. By this point the veggies should be just al dente. Remove from heat, garnish with cheese, and enjoy.

I REALLY liked this dish. Everything seemed to sing – salty cheese, smooth butter, a little richness from the shallot, and fresh fresh vegetable *pop*. In fact I kind of wished I doubled the recipe and made more–it’s mostly healthy, and I could eat it by the bowlful. Hurrah for a new way to cook asparagus… and with the help of the Flavour Bible, almost anything else you can think of!

~Deanna