Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Daring Cooks Nut Butter Challenge

Last month I joined the Daring Cooks and was absolutely thrilled to find my first challenge was nut butters. I've been cooking away all month and these are my adventures...

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

You can find a PDF of all the recipes here.

My experience with nut butters is completely limited to peanut butter which I find sickening or delicious depending on the day of the month and while my well documented obsession with Indian food has lead to me cooking with whole nuts my nut butter cooking is limited to house warming gifts and ex-boyfriends.

The first of the challenge recipes I tried was the Chicken with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms. Can you guess my alterations? Yes the chicken went. Out of all the challenge recipes this was the only one I was disappointed with. For me it was just too creamy, to bland and it just didn't much taste of anything. It wasn't bad, it just didn't sing. but it was a good introduction to cooking with nut butters.

So then we turn to safer ground, from my perspective at least. Chicken with Curried Tomato Almond Sauce. Again I changed the obvious, replacing chicken seasonal new potatoes and courgette, but I also veganised the dish and made some slight alterations to the spices.

My Ingredients List:

1 Tablespoon (15 ml) oil
About 8 new potatoes halved and half a courgette sliced.
Salt to taste

Spice Blend:
1.5 tablespoons (20 ml) garam masala seasoning
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder

4 oil
1 large onion, cut in half pole to pole
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce/425 g) can tomato sauce
⅓ cup (80 ml) almond butter
¾ cup (120 to 180 ml) vegetable broth or water, more as needed

Hot basmati rice for serving
Chopped coriander garnish

It's cooked in the same way only with veg instead of meat. And please, give this one a try. It's perfect for those moments when you just want something light and full of sauce to swirl into your rice. And, of course, any seasonal vegetables can be used instead of the potatoes and courgettes. just cook them in whatever way you want and dunk them in the curry in the end.

The other star of the challenge recipes for me was the stunning sauce of the Noodle Salad With Cashew Dressing. As you can sea I messed around with the ingredients and in the weeks since I made it first I've used the leftover dressing on almost any veg you can think of. Having it in the fridge is prefect for picnics and quick suppers. Here the dressing is used over chard, peppers and mushrooms. Slightly charred around the edges, just how I like it.

Last of the challenge recipes was Walnut White Bean Dip with Rosemary and Sage. I had to add a little balsamic to sweeten it up and bind the flavours which added a cute pink hue. I took this to the parents evening at Guides and the girls ate it before their parents arrived. There is no winning with that lot.

Of course I wasn't about to let my experiments in nut butters keep me from my continuing adoration of Viva Vegan! So I thought I'd whip up a batch of the traditional peanut butter for Llapingachos. Mashed potato pancakes with peanut sauce. Simple words. Doesn't really sum up how light and refreshing, yet filling these little guys were. The peanut dressing added a touch of sweet and salty that added up to a perfect dish.

One month on and there is no way I'm going to stop cooking with nut butters. Most of these recipes demand to be eaten again and again. I might even end up liking them on their own, cashew butter was an unexpected treat, but I won't be packing the PBJ just yet.


  1. Well done! I always envisioned that vegan cooking/food would be boring - but your dishes look fantastic! I love potato anything and those pancakes look great - I might have to give those a try!

    Sara @

  2. Wow, those mashed potato pancakes with peanut sauce look fab! You're a compelling advocate for vegan cooking. All of your dishes turned out beautifully. Love your photo of the mushroom pecan pasta, even if it didn't sing! Welcome to the Daring Cooks.

  3. Welcome and hello to the Daring Cooks' and congratulations on your 1st challenge.

    WOW those potato pancakes look smashing LOL LOL and your descriptions of the recipes are superb I could taste them as I was reading the post. Great to hear that you liked most of them a lot. I adored the Asian noddle sauce. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  4. Fantastic job on your first challenge! Everything looks absolutely perfect! The mashed potato pancakes looks awesome, by the way, I want one! :)

  5. Great first challenge! I love the veggifying of the dishes. I like to do that, too! I especially like the look of the Llapingachos -- maybe you could post your recipe for these? :)

  6. I love how you made these dishes work meatlessly!! (is that even a word?) I am going to have to learn some of your tricks! And those mashed potato pancakes look SO good. I think I am going to have to check out that cookbook! great job, and I can't wait to see your next challenge. Welcome to the Kitchen!!

  7. I made the pecan mushroom sauce, too. It was indeed rather blah... but my mom really liked it! Good pictures.

  8. We don't have to substitute out the Chicken, but your interpretation of the curry dish has us thinking we may have stumbled across a nice non-standard potato side dish. Thanks!

    Well done!
    Stay JOLLY!