The required challenge specifically was to use nut butter in a savory preparation and the optional challenge was to use it in a sweet preparation. Having skipped all last month's challenges and moved relatively close to the amazing Sahadi's I decided to go all out and do something savory and something sweet.
Per their extensive research "making nut butter is a simple process of pouring nuts in the food processor and grinding them until they become a paste or butter.The total time required depends on the fat and moisture content of the nuts; grinding time will vary from roughly 1 to 4 minutes (assuming a starting volume of 1 to 2 cups nuts). The yield of nut butter is about half the original volume of nuts."
These instructions are probably true if you have a full size, high powered food processor but in my mini-prep processor getting to the Play-Doh stage was an act of sheer will that took much longer than 1 to 5 minutes. My cashew butter and pistachio butter both were halted at this stage as the machine was overheating. The results still were tasty but until I have a high powered processing device I plan to continue buying my nut butter rather than making it.
I made a variation on the provided Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing recipe for my savory dish. I halved the amount of cashew dressing (I want to eat the rest of the cashew dough by itself!), skipped the red bell pepper, substituted soba noodles and added a bag of broccoli slaw from Trader Joe's and 3/4 cup of julienned carrots. The resulting salad was rich and was incredibly filling.
I loved the crunch of all the veggies in contrast to the soba noodles and shrimp's smoothness but the highlight is the thick dressing with its creamy, sharp flavor. Between it and the onions this is definitely a dish you'll want to brush your teeth after eating! That said I'm sure I'll make it again. It will be a quick meal to put together with pre-prepared nut butter. This recipe and the full challenge instructions can be found here.
My dessert was Pistachio Oatmeal Lace Cookie Towers with Honey Macerated Cherries. I alternated Katy at Sugarlaw's Oatmeal Lace Cookies and a Pistachio Nut Cream (made by mixing greek yogurt and the pistachio butter to taste) to create the towers and served cherries macerated in buckwheat honey on top and to the side. Katy's cookies are nutty, chewy, crispy and are the real star of the dessert. They are delicious on their own but the unsweetened filling is a pleasant contrast to the quite sweet cookies.
My only substitution to her recipe was using dark corn syrup as I had it on hand. Be sure to use parchment paper so they don't stick to the pan and watch the time as they brown quickly. Don't assemble this in advance the cookies disintegrate losing their pleasant contrast to an otherwise soft dessert. I'd be happy to eat this again too. Yum.
It looks similar to kiwi sorbet!