Dedicated drawers are essential in any cooks’ kitchen because they keep you organized, they remind you to always have certain ingredients on hand, they make life easy. I have a drawer in my kitchen dedicated to chocolate, another to cordials, another to home-baked cookies, crackers, rice cakes, one to sugar, one to flours and another to…you got it, Nuts!

Frozen nut drawer

My nut drawer isn’t actually in the kitchen, it’s in the freezer. The reason for that is simple – nuts are volatile, they need to be kept cold to stay fresh. You can keep them for a week or ten days in a room temperature spot, but any longer and they risk getting rancid, and a rancid nut not only tastes awful, but it really isn’t good for you.

All nuts in my home, except those I’ve toasted and salted for immediate consumption, go right in the freezer. My friend and colleague Harold McGee www.curiouscook.com insists that nuts should be stored in air-tight plastic containers and I agree. Not only does this help them stay fresh, but it enables good nut organization. And as everyone knows, there is no straighter path to a happy life than having nuts well organized.

I went to my weekly farmers’ market today, which is three blocks from my house, to find it radically changed. Oh, all the farmers and vendors were in their same spots, chickens were roasting on spits and scenting the air with tempting aromas, Makram was hawking his almond-stuffed olives and herbed feta cheese and Vincent was filling bag after bag with delicately perfumed Cox Orange Pippins. But there at Baptiste Bourdon’s stand were the season’s first green asparagus. Twisted, curling, dirty, gorgeous asparagus, dug from the ground not twelve hours ago, “shipped” five kilometers by Baptiste’s zippy Renault van, there they sat, indelibly altering the market by signaling the true start of spring. I bought a kilo and they constituted lunch today, along with a quick Macadamia nut oil mayonnaise. Tender, green, juicy and wonderful, I don’t think they can ever possibly taste better than they did today at noon.

The first asparagus of spring with Macadamia Nut Oil Mayo

A note here on mayonnaise – it is so easy to make you’ll be amazed you never made it before. Ignore the complications. Ignore the rule that all ingredients must be at room temperature. Ignore just about everything you’ve heard. Get out one egg and separate it. Put the yolk in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar. Whisk in 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and a generous pinch of salt, then slowly whisk in about ½ cup canola oil. The key word is slowly – you cannot be in a hurry and you don’t need to be. It doesn’t take long to incorporate the oil. When the oil is incorporated, add 3 tablespoons macadamia nut oil (or any nut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil). Taste it, season it, serve it along with asparagus, which you’ve steamed for 5 minutes. Call it lunch, call it dinner, call it absolutely sublime.

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5 Responses to A NUT DRAWER AND A NUTTY SPRING LUNCH

  1. Amy Mauldin says:

    I’m going to try for tonight’s dinner!

  2. Madelyn says:

    Oh no, now you are making me feel home sick …talk about transporting me back to a place in time! I absolutely loved my time at your cooking school in Louviers (August 2007) and can still call to mind the lavish scents, sights and sounds of your market, not to mention the tastes! Each name you mention calls to mind a happy and friendly face. I am currenlty cooking up a storm out of one of your books so will have to make do tonight with a lovely slice of apple and thyme tart …! Thanks Susan for your continuing inspiration!

  3. nutsin says:

    My internet was down for sev eral days so your apple and thyme tart is long gone, and so are the nuts I suspect! Thanks for the above.

    Susan

  4. Angela says:

    Great post, Susan! I often wondered if I should store my nuts in the freezer instead of the fridge. Good to know. And hurray for the arrival of asparagus! I got just as excited when I spotted morels the other day at our Takoma Park market. Spring has indeed arrived. What better way to celebrate than pairing freshly plucked asparagus with delicious macadamia nut mayonnaise. Splendid idea!

  5. nutsin says:

    Angela,
    Thank you! It was a heavenly combo. And yes, always store nuts in the freezer unless you plan to eat them up within a week or so. Morels??? Try them sauteed with hazelnuts. You’ll love them.

    Susan

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