Hazelnuts for Every Meal

Posted on Friday, July 31st, 2015

Written by Emma Drake, Communications Summer Intern

You may not think of hazelnuts as a local food, but researchers at the University of Guelph are working to make hazelnuts just as “Ontarian” as strawberries, asparagus and peaches. Hazelnuts could soon be added to the long list of Ontario produce available to consumers who are looking to buy and eat local.

The local food movement has taken flight over the past couple of years. In fact, you could say it has soared. Restaurants have been changing their menus, retailers adapting their products and more and more people have been choosing to shop at farmers’ markets.

Anita Stewart poses with two cookbooks, Anita Stewart's CANADA and the Flavours of Canada.
Anita Stewart has published eleven cookbooks, including Anita Stewart's CANADA and The Flavours of Canada

This is all music to the ears of Canadian food advocate Anita Stewart. Anita, who is the University of Guelph’s Food Laureate, was celebrating and promoting the importance of local food long before the trend became popular and she continues to do so today.

Over a decade ago, in 2003, Anita Stewart founded what would become Food Day Canada, a day to celebrate local ingredients and Canadian cuisine. Canadian cuisine, describes Anita, is all about possibilities. There are many different food cultures across the country and Food Day Canada looks to recognize those cultures and the importance of using Canadian ingredients.

Food Day Canada is held annually, on the Saturday of the August long weekend. Food Day Canada 2015 will be celebrated on August 1st.

To help Canadians discover and cook with Canadian ingredients, Anita has published eleven cookbooks showcasing our country’s best recipes. Her cookbooks embrace and celebrate Canadian ingredients that are both traditional and new to our landscapes.

In her most recent cookbook, Anita Stewart's CANADA, she chronicles the long history of hazelnuts in British Columbia. “The story of hazelnuts in Canada is far reaching. Hazelnuts go back well into the last century in the Okanagan,” she explains.

Having a thriving hazelnut industry in Ontario would further their identity as a Canadian ingredient; an ingredient that is versatile and delicious according to Anita.

“I love cooking with hazelnuts,” shares Anita. “I especially love the flavour of roasted hazelnuts.”

The opportunities to incorporate hazelnuts into a meal are endless, explains Anita. They can be pressed for their oil and used in salad dressing, used as a topping to an add extra ‘crunch’ to salads or incorporated into pastries and other baked goods, just to provide some limited examples.

Many more hazelnut ideas can be found in the collection of Anita’s cookbooks. Some of the best hazelnut recipes from Anita Stewart’s CANADA, and The Flavours of Canada are featured below.

This article is the fifth in a series on Ontario hazelnuts. Funding for this article was provided by the W.S. (Stan) Young Memorial Communications Grant through the OAC Alumni Foundation.

Breakfast: Giant Pumpkin and Apricot Muffins with Sugary Nut Topping

a recipe from Anita Stewart’s CANADA

“There are lots of good muffin recipes, but this one is part of my own personal story. It was in an article I wrote for Homemakers magazine on the trend toward giant muffins in the late 1980s. It was in a later piece for that publication that a talented young photographer made my food look better than anything that had ever come out of my kitchen. His name was Robert Wignington. It’s still a joy to watch what he and his team do with my creations. He just sees things differently.

If you have access to local walnuts, heart nuts or hazelnuts, use them for the topping. They’ll make these muffins even more special.”

Yield: 12 large muffins

½ cup (125mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) puréed pumpkin
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
½ tsp (2 mL) almond extract
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup (250 mL) slivered dried apricots
½ cup (125 mL) buttermilk


2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped hazelnuts – changed from chopped walnuts or slivered almonds

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin, vanilla, almond extract, orange rind and juice.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg; add it to the creamed mixture along with the apricots. Stir in the buttermilk, mixing until no dry spots remain.

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Lunch: Saskatchewan Wheat Berry and Wild Rice Salad

a recipe from Anita Stewart’s CANADA

 “This is another one of Joan Heath’s excellent recipes, and she says the salad can be made ahead, without the nuts and sunflower seeds, and refrigerated for up to three days. While the cooking of various grains may seem a bit fussy, the results are worth it. Serve the salad on a bed of spinach or baby salad greens.”

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 cup (250 mL) wheat berries
¾ cup (175 mL) wild rice
1 cup (250 mL) pot barley
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup (45 mL) raisins
½ cup (125 mL) roasted hazelnuts, chopped
½ cup (125 mL) toasted sunflower seeds


¼ cup (60 mL) canola oil
¼ cup (60 mL) soy sauce
¼ cup (60 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground pepper

In a saucepan, cover wheat berries with water and bring to a boil. Salt lightly, reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender but firm, about 1 ¼ hours. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, do the same with the wild rice, simmering until tender and most of the grains have split, about 45 minutes. Drain.

In a third saucepan, do the same with the barley, stirring occasionally and simmering until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the wheat berries, wild rice, barley, green onions, red pepper and raisins. Toss to combine. Stir in the hazelnuts and sunflower seeds.

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Snack: Date and Nut Loaf

a recipe from Anita Stewart’s CANADA

“The sweet offerings of the homemakers in my family always included Date and Nut Loaf. The loaves were wrapped and donated to bake sales or sliced and lightly buttered to serve with tea at baby and bridal showers, and, of course, at funerals.

This recipe was my mother’s. She often doubled it and froze the second loaf. While she used walnuts, I like the heart nuts from the Niagara region of Ontario.”

Yield: 1 loaf

1 ½ cups (375 mL) chopped dates
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
½ cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder
½ cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or heart nuts

In a small bowl, combine the dates, boiling water and baking soda. Set aside to cool completely.

Cream the butter with the sugar, egg and vanilla, beating until fluffy and light.

Sift or stir together the flour and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the date mixture; mix until no dry spots remain. Stir in the nuts. Transfer the batter to a well-oiled and parchment-lined 9-x-5-inch (2 L) loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 325°F (160°C) oven for 1 hour or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.

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Dinner: Rack of Pork Stuffed with Apples and Roasted Hazelnuts

a recipe from Flavours of Canada

Picture of stuffed pork on a plate with a glass of wine.
Photo courtesy of Robert Wigington.

“Hovey Manor’s Chef Roland Ménard creates entire menus around the ingredients of L’Estrie, or the Eastern Townships. He buys his apple cider from the abbey at Saint-Benoît-du-Lac. If you cannot purchase Fine Sève, the maple eau-de-vie, substitute Calvados in the sauce.”

3 lb (1.5 kg) rack of pork (4 – 6 bones)

Maple Marinade:

1 green onion, finely chopped
½ small carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup (75 mL) maple syrup
1/3 cup (75 mL) Dijon mustard
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
½ sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper

Apple Stuffing:

1 large apple, peeled and diced
½ tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
½ cup (125 mL) toasted hazelnuts, chopped
¼ cup (50 mL) finely diced red onion
¼ cup (50 mL) maple syrup
3 tbsp (45 mL) apple cide
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cider Sauce:

1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil
½ red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup (50 mL) Fine Sève
½ cup (125 mL) apple cider
1 ¼ cups (300 mL) chicken stock
1 tsp (5 mL) tomato paste
Fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place pork roast in a shallow dish. In a bowl, combine green onion, carrot, garlic, maple syrup, mustard, thyme, rosemary and pepper. Spread marinade over roast. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning occasionally.

To prepare stuffing, combine apple, cinnamon, hazelnuts, onion, syrup and cider. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain meat. With a very sharp knife, make an incision through the meatiest part of the roast. With your fingers, enlarge the incision until it is 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Stuff with apple mixture.

Place roast on a rack in a small roasting pan lined with foil (the marinade and filling may stick to the pan during cooking). Roast in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven 60 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in centre of meat reads 165°F (72°C).

Meanwhile, prepare sauce. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook about 2 minutes or until just softening. Stir in Fine Sève, cider, stock, tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Strain. Season with salt and pepper. Serve thick slices of pork (1 bone per serving) with Cider Sauce. Garnish with fresh thyme. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Maple vinegar is becoming a staple in many commercial kitchens. It is magnificent in salad dressings with a bit of dry of Dijon mustard, a few fresh herbs, some canola oil, freshly ground black pepper and a touch of salt. Make your own by stirring together 1 cup (250 mL) cider vinegar and ½ cup (125 mL) maple syrup. Refrigerate until needed.

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Dessert: Pinot Poached Plums with Hazelnut Shortcakes and Crème Fraîche Ice Cream

a recipe from Flavours of Canada

Picture of poached plums and hazelnut shortcake served in a white bowl.
Photo courtesy of Robert Wigington.

“This wonderful dessert recipe was developed by Chef David Forestell of Amphora, the bistro at Hainle Vineyards, a winery near Peachland.”

Pinot Poached Plums:

3 cups (750 mL) Hainle Vineyards Pinot Noir
¾ cup (175 mL) sugar
1 3-inch (8 cm) cinnamon stick
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 whole star anise
5 whole clove
12 black peppercorns
4 cups (1 L) purple plums (2 lb / 1 kg), pitted and quartered

Combine Pinot Noir, sugar and spices in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduce to 2 cups (500 mL). Strain and return liquid to saucepan. Add plums, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, just until skins begin to loosen, about 5 minutes. Pour into glass bowl; cover and chill overnight.

Hazelnut Shortcakes:

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (50 mL) sugar
4 tsp (20 mL) baking powder
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) finely ground toasted hazelnuts
½ cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
½ cup (125 mL) cold butter, cut in cubes
1 ¼ cups (300 mL) whipping cream (35%)
2 tbsp (25 mL) sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon

In a large bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in all of the hazelnuts. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Reserve 3 tbsp (25 mL) of the cream; stir remaining cream into flour mixture until it begins to clump, eventually using your hands to gently knead into a stiff dough.

On a clean work surface, roll dough to 1/2 –inch (1 cm) thickness. Using 2-inch (5 cm) cookie cutter, cut into at least 16 rounds. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate 15 minutes or until firm. Brush tops with reserved cream. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over cakes. Bake in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on rack.  

Crème Fraîche Ice Cream:

½ cup (125 mL) sugar
¼ cup (50 mL) water
6 egg yolks
2 cups (500 mL) crème fraiche
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream (35%), whipped into stiff peaks

To make crème fraîche, combine 1 ½ cups (375 mL) whipping cream with ½ cup (125 mL) buttermilk or sour cream and refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Place egg yolks in a double boiler over simmering water. Gradually whisk in sugar syrup and continue whisking about 8 minutes or until mixture is frothy and very thick. Pour into a clean bowl. Whisk in crème fraiche. Cool completely. Fold in whipped cream. Freeze in ice-cream making according to manufacturer’s instructions, or simply cover and freeze, as is, in the bowl.

To Serve:

Icing sugar
Freeform caramel decorations (optional)

To make freeform caramel decorations: Line several baking sheets with baking parchment. In a small heavy saucepan, over medium-high heat melt 1 cup (250 mL) sugar, stirring constantly to dissolve. Sugar will become lumpy then a golden liquid. Remove from heat. Pour and swirl in a thin stream onto the parchment to make 8 freeform decorations. Let harden. Can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.

Gently reheat plums and place in 8 individual serving bowls or on dessert plates. Split shortcakes in half. Scoop a small spoonful of ice cream onto one half and top with the other half, making two ice-cream cakes per serving. Place on top of plums; sprinkle with icing sugar. Garnish with blackberries and freeform caramel decorations. Makes 8 servings.

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