Monday, January 23, 2006

St. Filibert Bless Us

I'm probably a bit biased since they grow here, but all my life, my favorite nut has always been the filbert. That's what most Oregonians call hazelnut. It's an older European word for the nut, named so because they're harvested close to the same time of the year as St. Filibert's Day. Oregon is the nation's top producer of the nut, growing about 99% of the US crop. In fact, I live about a mile from the nation's oldest commercial filbert orchard, Doris Ranch. Worldwide, the top producer is Turkey, but the Oregon crop gives them competition. In recent years, we've had a problem with Eastern Filbert Blight, a fungal infection that came from the east coast (thanks ever so much) and for which there is currently no solution except the destruction of the infected orchard. Let's hope we get a handle on it.

One of the things I've grown to appreciate about filberts is their versatility. Their rich, mild flavor goes equally well with sweet or savory foods. I've used them in desserts, in salads, in main courses, and of course, they're popular as a flavoring for coffee.

It's been a while since I blogged on any new recipes, mostly because life has been too hectic for me to experiment with any. But this weekend, I tried two new ones, both of which went over well. Both used filberts. They neet some tweaking before I consider them ready to post here, but I intend to try them both again as soon as possible. One was a pork medallion recipe using a grannysmith apple and filbert stuffing, the other was crab ravioli with a filbert pesto. The medallions were perfect, but I'd like to work on a reduction sauce for them next time. The pesto was also almost perfect, but the ravioli needed something -- mainly something to mic the crab meat with to make it hold together while scooping it onto the ravioli dough.

So for those of you who enjoy my recipes, sit tight -- I'll get more to you ASAP.