Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sweet Chestnut Pudding

Horses at Golega
 
One of my favorite foods in the fall are chestnuts. When I lived in Portugal, the chestnut festival was held at this time of year in Golega along with the famous horse fair that dates back to the 18th century . I could smell the delicious aroma of roasted chestnuts as I wandered down the narrow, cobbled streets towards the rabble of fair goers. It seems that the local red wine is considered the perfect companion to the the rich nutty delicacy of chestnuts as it flowed in plentiful supply . The festival itself is full of horses of all colors and sizes. In the middle is a huge arena where the famous Lusitano stallions, ridden mostly by very macho men in traditional costume, leap, gallop and dance. There is a great display of different equestrian events and parades over the few days . I love the festival as it is happy, lively and full of richness both in taste and character.
Dried Chestnuts

Today I am going to use dried chestnuts which are a bit sweeter and less floury in texture than fresh roasted. They need to be soaked before cooking, just as you would dried beans, for at least 4 hours or longer. Dried chestnuts can be stored free of moisture in an airtight jar.
Sweet Chestnut pudding is a wonderful dessert if you are looking for something a bit substantial and not baked. I actually created this recipe about 25 years ago and found out much to my amazement that they make one in Korea that is almost the same. It is funny how recipes come about and how we align with other styles of cooking even if we are not aware in the moment.
By the way you can pressure cook fresh chestnuts in their shell and they taste fabulous. Simply cut a cross in the bottom of each nut. Place in the cooker with enough water to generously cover the bottom. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. The skins will peel off easily.


Sweet Chestnut Pudding

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sweet rice rinsed
2 cups dried chestnuts rinsed
1 apple diced
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup aduki beans rinsed
1 inch strip kombu rinsed
6 cups spring water
2 cups apple juice
I teaspoon grated orange rind 
1 tablespoon rice syrup




  Preparation:

Place the sweet rice, chestnuts and aduki beans in a bowl, and soak overnight in 6 cups water.
Place all the ingredients into a pressure cooker, cover with lid, and bring up to pressure on a medium flame.
Place a flame deflector under the pressure cooker and cook for about 1 hour on a low flame.
Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
The dessert should have plenty of juice. If it seems dry, add a little more apple juice.
Mix gently and place in a large bowl for serving.



Sweet Chestnut Pudding




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