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Saturday, September 02, 2006 

Saturday is Farmer's Market Day

Well...true, there are Farmer's Markets on other days, but Saturday is the most social and has been "around for a long time" and the one that I try to get to every week. Every other week on my "to buy list" are pistachios from the Santa Barbara Pistacho Company. I love their product, perhaps, a little too much...but nuts are good for you right? Although pistachios are a bit, well...dangerous at times.
When the fruit ripens, the shells split open partially. This happens with an audible pop, and legend has it that lovers who stand under a pistachio tree at night and hear the nuts popping open will have good luck. ..Pistachio nuts are highly flammable when stored in large quantities, and are prone to self heating and spontaneous combustion.

All the more reason to use them up in scrumptious meals! Since California is one of the top producers of this tasty nut in the world, the California Pistachio Commission has some great ideas on using them in recipes and they are offering up a free cookbook, "America's Top Chefs Got Nuts for California Pistachios" (PDF version)

Pistachio Macaroon Meringues

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups ground California pistachios
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
4 egg whites (large size)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Baking parchment
1/4 cup chopped California pistachios
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions:

Mix ground pistachios with 3/4 cup sugar and almond extract. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff, then gradually beat in salt and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Fold in the pistachio-sugar mixture with a wire whip. Line cookie sheets with baking parchment. Spoon batter into pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain, round tip then press walnut-sized portions 1-inch apart onto parchment. If you don’t have a pastry bag, just portion out heaping spoonfuls of batter. Sprinkle lightly with chopped pistachios. Let cookies air dry on pans for 2 hours then bake at 300 degrees F for 30 minutes. Cookies should get lightly browned on bases, with the tops dry but the centers still chewy. Partially cool, then release cookies from parchment. Sift powdered sugar over if desired.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Tip: Pulse pistachios in a food processor until coarsely ground.

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