My daughter, Daphne was determined to find a job once she turned 16 and got her license. Well, one week into her 16th year, she found a job. She was shocked that she was able to find one so quickly. I was shocked that she wanted to work at a burger restaurant. Then again, my sister Julia, who is a vegan, worked at a barbeque rib restaurant for many years. So, I shouldn't be too surprised. Daphne got a job at Sonic. She delivers food to cars wearing roller skates. Luckily, her blue hair matches the uniform perfectly. Yesterday, we drove down there to see her in action. She was adorable. I couldn't be more proud.
I've never been to Sonic before. I decided to try the jalapeno poppers and tater tots. Claud got a large double cheeseburger and a lemon and strawberry slushy. They have tons of different slushies and milk shakes. Other than the brain freeze that traveled down Claud's back, he was impressed. We were there at the end of Daphne's shift. So, we all headed home and got ready to have a dinner party for my friend Karen's birthday. I don't know how Claud was planning on eating at home after that big burger. Sometimes, it's better not to ask questions.
I had been preparing an appetizer for two days before her party. That sounds intense but it was actually really simple. I usually put out dips like hummus or ranch and different types of cheeses for a party. This way the people can snack and socialize before the dinner is prepared. This time, I wanted to try a different type of spread by using cashews. Cashews have high antioxidant content. They contain mostly monounsaturated fat. Studies have shown, eating nuts helps people lose weight. I liked the idea of a spread that was low in unwanted fats and high in nutritional content. Furthermore, this spread doesn't use any added oil. Hummus, which I love, usually has added oils. I have made hummus without adding oil but it isn't as good.
Cashew herb spread on crustini, with a slice of avocado and a sprig of cilantro.
Ingredients for the spread.
The spread is drained in a strainer and cheesecloth.
The finished spread can be served as a spread with crackers.
I love the creaminess of cashews. They are commonly used in Indian cuisine as a base for creamy sauces, like korma. They taste delicious when blended and used as a cashew butter to be spread on toast or celery. The problem with cashews is the price. After looking into cashews further, it makes sense that they would be expensive. When you have a look at the cashew tree and the nut in the tree it becomes obvious. Each cashew apple only produces one cashew nut, which is actually a seed. These trees are native to Brazil. One nut per apple is crazy. It must be quite a process to get tons of cashews together.
Since I was going to blend these cashews together, I chose the container of nuts with "halves and pieces." This makes them much less expensive than buying them whole. Once I soaked them over night, it took about ten minutes to mix everything together. I wanted it to have lots of herbs to make it more flavorful. I added chives, scallions and flat leaf parsley. Then, this mixture had to return to the refrigerator to drain and firm up. When we returned from Sonic, I flipped the cashew spread onto a plate. I could have just served it like this with some French bread or crackers. Instead, I toasted some crustini and spread the cashew cream over the bread. I then topped it with a slice of avocado and a cilantro leaf.
As people arrived, I got a lot of questions about the cashew spread. I think it was a new concept for most people. The tray of crustini with the spread did get gobbled up so I guess it was well received. That is usually how I judge if a food item is liked. If everyone eats it, it must be pretty good.
Cashew Herb Spread:
1 cup cashews
Juice from half a lemon
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
cup chives, chopped
cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon paprika
In a large bowl, soak the cashews in water overnight. Drain the cashews from the water. In a food processor, blend together the cashews, lemon, garlic and vinegar. Add in water a tablespoon at a time to make it creamy if it isn't already. Transfer to a large bowl. Mix in chives, parsley and scallions. Add salt and pepper, garlic salt and paprika until it has the flavor you desire. Transfer to a strainer, which is layered with a piece of cheesecloth. Cover the cashew mixture with the cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a bowl. Place this into the refrigerator. The remaining water will drain through the strainer and cheesecloth into the bowl overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and flip over onto a plate.
The following morning, I cut open a loaf of French bread and spread the cashew mix over the bread. I added cucumber slices, roasted red peppers, onions, and lettuce. This combination created a delicious sandwich. I made one for a couple of the people who slept over. Later in the evening, I added the spread to a pasta sauce I made, which made the sauce a little thicker and creamier. I loved it. I was happy I had some leftover. Who knows what I will think to add it to next. There are so many possibilities.