We have been riding our bikes in the afternoons taking advantage of the beautiful weather. All over.
“What is that smell?” Jon screamed while he was riding way behind me. “It smells good!”
“Good!” Miren screamed as she repeats everything Jon says.
I could smell it too.
It was the chestnuts that one of our neighbors was roasting. A smell that puts me back on the street corner of my hometown where every winter the castañera (the chestnuts lady) sets up shop without fail. Brown paper cones filled with sizzling roasted chestnuts.
I came home thinking about my uncle’s chestnut trees back in the Basque Country. Tucked away at the bottom of his hill, there is a dark, chestnut tree-filled corner where we like to spend hot summer days. We spent time down by the chestnut trees this past summer where some chestnuts had already begun falling. It was early in the season, but perfect as I was able to show the children what a chestnut looks like with its green and spiny outer shell.
“I now remember what a chestnut looks like, amatxu. We saw them at Javi’s” Jon said to me as we continued to ride.
After that, I made sure to bring some chestnuts home. It never quite feels like winter without roasted chestnuts and clementines, right?
Miren and I spent the morning outside while Jon was in school. She helped me peel the roasted chestnuts that I was going to use to make soup. Roasted chestnut, potato, and celery root soup garnished with goat cheese, parsley, and small pieces of roasted chestnuts.
We decided to eat outside. I wasn’t sure how Miren would like the soup, but she devoured her entire bowl and even took some more from mine. Always a good sign.
I am also a big fan of chestnut flour, which I use all year round. It is another great gluten-free flour. I add it to our pancakes quite often and I also make a really good chocolate cake with it. I order it online as I have yet to find a store around me that carries it, but it is well worth it.
I made this gluten and casein free chestnut and lady apple clafoutis a couple of weeks ago. Chestnut flour, a touch of sweetened chestnut cream, and vanilla bean make this creamy custard very fragrant. It is topped with sauteed lady apples for added flavor and texture.
Did I mention I love chestnuts?
I think it’s time for a mont blanc.
Roasted Chestnut, Potato, and Celery Root Soup
serves 6 to 8
12 ounces (340 g) chestnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large stalk celery, diced
10 ounces (300 g) diced russet potatoes
8 ounces (225 g) diced celery root
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock
1 cup (125 ml) water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces (60 g) goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Cut a cross on top of the chestnuts. Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel them. Reserve about 3 of them, which we will use as garnish.
In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the leek, onion, garlic, and celery and cook for 5 minutes or until soft but not brown. Add the potato, celery root, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the roasted chestnuts, chicken stock, water, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
Puree the soup with a blender. Adjust seasoning and liquid if needed. Serve the soup with goat cheese, some torn flat leaf parsley, and crumbled roasted chestnuts.
Gluten and Casein Free Chestnut and Apple Clafoutis
This is a very versatile clafoutis. You can omit the chestnut cream if you cannot find it or use almond flour instead of chestnut flour.
makes a 10-inch deep pie dish
1 pound (450 g) lady apples, sliced and seeded
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons ghee, plus more for dish
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (115 g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
2 tablespoons sweetened chestnut cream
1/3 cup (35 g) chestnut flour
1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
1 1/4 cup (310 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Brush the inside of your clafoutis dish with melted ghee and set aside.
In a small bowl, toss together the sliced apples and lemon juice. In a medium saute pan, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the apples, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and half of the vanilla bean and seeds. Cook the apples for 3 minutes until soft, but not mushy. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, rest of sugar, chestnut cream, and rest of vanilla seeds until smooth. Add the chestnut flour, cornstarch, salt, and coconut milk and whisk until free of lumps and smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve if necessary.
Pour the clafoutis into the pan. Top with sauteed apples and pour in any juices left in the pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.