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Author Notes: This is my Oregonian version of ants on a log. Oregon is the largest domestic producer of hazelnuts so instead of peanut butter I used hazelnut butter. I sprinkled the "logs" with some finely grated blue cheese "lichens." I topped it with a slice of yellow pear coated in a honey vinegar dressing to mimic a slimey banana slug. The result is a fun and tasty snack. —hardlikearmour
Hazelnut Butter (makes about 1 3/4 cups)
pound roasted and salted hazelnuts
tablespoon walnut oil
- Place hazelnuts in the work bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment. Pulse until the nuts are coarsely ground, then run the food processor until the oils start to release from the nuts, and the ground nuts start to adhere in clumps. Stop the processor and scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Drizzle the walnut oil evenly over the nuts. Process until a smoothish butter forms, stopping and scraping as needed. Transfer to a suitable container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- If you aren't lucky enough to have access to roasted salted hazelnuts you can start with raw ones. Roast the nuts at 325º F for 8 to 12 minutes, until they become fragrant and the skins start to split. Shake or stir the nuts every 3 to 4 minutes to promote even roasting. Allow the nuts to cool, then transfer them to a clean kitchen towel. Wrap them in the towel, and use the towel to rub the nuts to help remove most of the skins. Proceed with making the butter, tasting at the end and blending in salt to taste.
Assembling the logs - each pear makes 14 to 16 logs
Blue cheese (I used Rogue River)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
celery stalks - preferably the paler green but still large inner stalks
- Put your blue cheese in the freezer for at least an hour before proceeding. Grate the cheese using a microplane into a small pile - you will only need a tablespoon or 2 of the grated cheese. If you have extra you can grate it over salads or roasted beets.
- Whisk the honey and vinegar together in a small bowl. Cut slabs of pear that are about 3/8th-inch thick. Cut the slabs into sticks, then toss them in the honey mixture to coat all sides.
- Clean and slice the celery stalks into about 3-inch slices. You want them to be slightly longer than the pear sticks, and you want an equal number of pear sticks and celery pieces. Remove a thin slice of celery lengthwise from the convex surface. This will help it to stay flat on the plate.
- Use a blunt knife to fill the concave side of the celery with the hazelnut butter, keeping the knife at about a 45º angle to leave some space in the center of the celery. Lightly sprinkle the grated blue cheese onto the hazelnut butter filled celery. Place a slice of pear skin side up into the hazelnut butter, lightly pressing it to adhere. Repeat. Devour!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Celery Recipe