Toasted hazelnuts on a baking sheet. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )
When you come across a recipe that calls for peeled hazelnuts, have no fear. You don't need to spend the better part of the afternoon whittling away at each one to remove those stubborn skins.
Roast the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet for about 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven. When the skins have darkened and the nuts are fragrant, place the nuts on a large kitchen towel that you've dampened slightly. Rub the skins off of the hazelnuts using the towel. The steam from the nuts will loosen the skins, and they should crumble off easily. Don't worry if the skins don't come off completely; a little color from the skins shouldn't hurt a recipe.
In a pinch, I've also microwaved the nuts under a damp paper towel, checking them every half-minute or so to see if the steam is working its magic. The only downside to a microwave is it doesn't toast the nuts like the oven does, releasing the oils to give the nuts their wonderful fragrance and flavor. But it makes quick work of the job!
If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Braised red cabbage with toasted hazelnuts
Total time: 1 1/2 hours
Servings: 8 to 10
Note: For the best flavor, use tart apples such as Gala, Winesap or Arkansas Black. This recipe can be prepared several days in advance and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup peeled and diced apples (approximately 1 large apple), cut into half-inch pieces
1 medium red cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds), cored, tough outer leaves removed and thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup dry red wine, divided
1 tablespoon honey
4 sprigs of thyme
12 juniper berries
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed and coarsely chopped
1. In a large casserole or Dutch oven, melt the butter and cook the shallots and apples over medium-low heat until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the cabbage, vinegar, three-fourths cup wine, the honey and 1 teaspoon salt. Tie the thyme and juniper berries in a cheesecloth bag and stir in with the rest of the ingredients. Cover the pot and bring to a slow simmer.
3. Simmer the cabbage until tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure that the cabbage doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir the remaining one-fourth cup wine into the pot halfway through cooking, and add additional water throughout the cooking process if the liquid evaporates and the cabbage becomes dry.
4. When the cabbage is almost done, toast the caraway seeds in a small saute pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Shake the pan frequently so the seeds do not burn. Remove from heat.
5. When the cabbage is tender, remove the pot from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the toasted caraway seeds, then cool, cover and refrigerate until needed. Reheat, adjust the seasoning if needed and serve sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts.
Each of 10 servings: 166 calories; 4 grams protein; 13 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 6 mg. cholesterol; 259 mg. sodium.