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Handful of Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are grown right here in the Pacific Northwest! Did you know that 99% of hazelnuts grown in the United States are grown in Oregon alone?

Eating them raw is d’lish but have you tried roasting them? Many recipes call for roasted hazelnuts – don’t let that stop you. It’s pretty easy; you just have to know the tricks!

Place them on a baking sheet in a 350o F degree oven and toaste for about 6-8 minutes. Make sure to keep your eye on them and set a timer! As soon as you can smell their nutty aroma, they’re done! They’ll keep cooking once they’re off the heat, so it’s easy to overdo it.

When the nuts are cool enough to handle, put them in a clean dishtowel, and rub as much of the skin off as you can.

They not only add a great flavor to recipes, but also add texture and a great crunch. Both those things come through in my recipe for Cheddar Ale Spread. Made with lots of other NW ingredients like Tillamook Cheddar Cheese and local beer – it’s perfect for parties!

Sprinkled on a salad, tossed in baked goods, or just eaten out of hands, hazelnuts are d’lish any way you enjoy them. –Kathy


Photo from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.

Cheddar Ale Spread
The spread can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days. Bring it to room temperature about 1 hour before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

8 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, such as Tillamook
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flavorful Northwest beer
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skinned, and coarsely chopped (optional)
crackers, or crostini
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnishing

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, Cheddar, half-and-half, Tabasco, and salt in a food processor. Process for about 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley and hazelnuts until just dispersed.

Serve in a nice-looking container with the flat bread attractively broken up around it. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.

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