Since I can remember, my family has been stocking up on walnuts.
From that stock, my mum reserves a small amount for me.
The first recipe I make with the new produce of walnuts is always this. Walnut biscuits. Simple, not too sweet and crunchy, just the way I like them.
My Family tradition
On time, as the first autumn fog envelops the Po Valley, comes the phone call from my parents. The one I’ve been waiting for, announcing the arrival of the new walnuts.
My mother carries on the tradition that used to belong to my grandmother.
That is, buying enough walnuts to last the whole family for a year.
Today, as in the past, they rest in the cellar that, to my childhood eyes, was a place I wanted to explore from top to bottom.
That cellar is now a beautiful memory and gives me a better understanding of the peasant habits of the past when families baked bread at home, slaughtered pigs, made preserves and jams, and bought potatoes, apples, and nuts in large quantities.
The supermarket of the past was the home. Cupboards, pantries, attics, and cellars were places where food was stored and preserved while waiting to be eaten.
When my family moved from a flat in the city center to a home with a garden and cellar, Grandma restored her peasant habits, creating a vegetable garden and storing food.
My mum buys and stores walnuts in the cellar in a big jute bag, just like nonna did before her.
Little by little, she uses them in the kitchen, but not only.
She often picks up generous handfuls of walnuts and shells and puts them in glass bowls, ready to eat during the card games that accompany the winter evenings without interrupting the game.
A few kilograms of those walnuts are for me. Not a huge amount, just enough to last twelve months. I store them in my home studio in a woven wicker basket.
Walnuts cookies and Nocino
It is a dark, digestive walnut liqueur made from the unripe walnuts harvested on St John’s Day.
Every family has its recipe.
There is who makes a spiced version. Some add a secret flavoring. I have seen with my eyes recipes for nocino with so many ingredients that they seem like old elixirs.
My family’s recipe is rich in scents and flavors, and I often open the bottle only for the pleasure of inhaling the aroma (HERE, you can find out how to do it).
My grandmother made these crunchy, buttery, and delicious biscuits, always adding a few tablespoons of nocino (but read the food tips below to find a substitute).
She blends all the walnuts finely, but for a more rustic effect, you can chop some walnuts with a knife and add them when the ingredients are well mixed.
I mainly make cakes and biscuits with walnuts.
But, recently, I made a savory carrot and walnut cake.
Buona cucina, Monica
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Store the biscuits in a metal box. They will be fragrant for a long time.
If you don’t have nocino or prefer not to use it, substitute 30g of maple syrup.
Walnut cookies recipe
about 35-40 cookies
List of Ingredients
wholemeal flour, 280 g
finely chopped walnuts, 100 g
walnuts, coarsely chopped, 50 g
butter, 160 g
brown sugar, 100 g
walnut, 3 tablespoons (or 30 g maple syrup)
1 pinch of salt
In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the coarsely chopped walnuts.
Then add egg, walnuts, and cold butter into small pieces.
Start mixing in the bowl, then transfer to a clean work surface.
Knead until the ingredients are well blended, add the chopped walnuts, form a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a height of 4 mm.
Shape the biscuits into the shape you prefer, place on a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven (180C degrees), for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.