Sunday, 25 January 2009

Les Noix – Walnuts

The Touraine is famous for its walnuts, although it does not hold an AOC for them. Still, there is a walnut tree in almost every field and along roadsides. There is no real need to possess your own walnut to secure a year round supply – just go for a walk and pick them up off the ground – everyone does it.

Walnut trees in a field, le Grand Pressigny

I buy walnuts these days though. There is an elderly man from Boussay who comes to the market in Preuilly. He sells the excess of whatever he is growing in his garden, and I often buy my lettuce, onions, garlic or potatoes from him. I also buy walnuts, and the reason is that I can buy this season's freshly shelled nuts from him. I can also buy unshelled walnuts from him, but since 1kg of unshelled or 500g of shelled is the same number of nuts and the same price it seems mad to buy the unshelled. According to him, there are 40 walnuts to a kilo, and they net you une livre (a pound) of shelled nuts. He charges €3 a bag, shelled or unshelled. He always refers to half a kilo as une livre, and recommends the nuts as a nibble to go with an aperitif.

Shelled walnuts from Boussay

A while ago I wrote about making Pear and Walnut Cake, and one of our readers recommended Jane Grigson's recipe for Burgundian Walnut Bread. This is a savoury bread, with onions as well as walnuts. I made it while my parents were here in the summer and we had it with soup, and with cheese.

Walnut bread dough proving

Kneading the walnuts and onions into the dough

Fresh Burgundian Walnut Bread

Susan

5 comments:

purejuice said...

yummo.

Dedene said...

I love walnuts. We have some around here too, but it's a bit hit and miss to find them. The recipes look great!

Anonymous said...

Your bread looks quite good. I admire anyone who has the courage to make breads.

(perhaps you meant unE livre? )

Susan said...

Anon: LOL, no, no, 40 walnuts weigh the same as a book :-)
(For non-French speakers, une livre = a pound, either in weight or in sterling; un livre = a book)

I make bread a lot. I recommend Andrew Whitley's 'Bread Matters' (un livre weighing a good deal more than une livre) to anyone who wants to make good bread at home.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm rather late in leaving this comment, by about a month but I came across this post when trawling through "back issues" of your blog. Our neighbour in Grand Pressigny, Mme Andre, is such a sweetiepie. Every time we are in residence, she leaves a little gift on our doorstep; a bunch of flowers from her garden and a basket of haricots verts from her son's allotment have been previous gifts. When we were "home" last October she gave us a whole basket full of fresh walnuts and I now wonder if they came from this tree. Not only that, the basket was one of the collection that hangs from the beams in her grange and were originally her mother's. That makes them about 100 years old, I think. Unfortunatley we had to give the basket back but the walnuts were delicious.