pistachios and olives
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Dave and I went out to the Queen Creek Olive Mill for their special “Olive Affair” lunch in the olive grove. The Mill offered three different packages, we chose their “Ciao Bella” (Antipasto), which included roasted vegetables, sausage, roasted garlic, artichoke and sun-dried tomato tapenades, a French baguette, tuxedo strawberries, candied pistachios, pistachio bark, a bottle of Chianti and more. It all came beautifully packed in a lovely “Olive You” bag with a corkscrew, high quality clear plastic stemless wine glasses and plates plus a cute red-heart tablecloth. They had live music, it was a gorgeous day outside, and the place was packed! I highly recommend you treat yourself and your loved one next year. Until then, I’ll treat you to recipes for candied pistachios and pistachio bark. I decided to use the candied pistachios in the bark, but plain pistachios may be used instead.
The candied pistachios call for an ingredient you may not be familiar with, Turbinado sugar. The first pressing of the sugar cane yields Turbinado sugar, which is considered to be healthier since it receives less processing than granulated sugar. One teaspoon of Turbinado sugar contains 11 calories, while granulated sugar contains 16 calories. Because of it’s higher levels of moister, it should be stored like brown sugar, in an airtight container. One of the most popular and easy to find brands of Turbinado sugar is “Sugar In The Raw.” A fabulous use for Turbinado sugar is on crème brûlée because it melts and caramelizes easier than granulated sugar.
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon hot tap water
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar (such as Sugar In The Raw brand)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat, foil, or parchment paper.
In a bowl, stir the granulated sugar with the hot water. Add the pistachios and turbinado sugar; stir to coat. Spread the pistachios and liquid from bowl on the baking sheet and bake until browned and crisp, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely, then break nuts apart from each other. Store airtight at room temperature.
Makes 1/2 cup
1/2 cup candied or plain pistachio nuts
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried, dried cranberries
Line an 8-inch square baking dish with waxed paper, allowing paper hang over the edges. The overhang will be used to lift the bark from the dish after chilling.
Microwave the semi-sweet chocolate in a microwavable bowl on high for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Return to oven for an additional minute, if needed, stir until completely melted.
Melt the milk chocolate separately in another bowl, following the same directions.
In a third bowl, combine the nuts and cranberries, then stir half of the nut-berry mixture into the melted semisweet chocolate. Using a spatula, spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish. Use a spoon to drop the milk chocolate in the dish. With the tip of a table knife, swirl the chocolates together to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts and berries on top.
Refrigerate the bark for about 1 hour or until firm, then break it into pieces. Store the bark in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Makes about 1 pound