by Heather Harris Brady

As you know, I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment thorough. What can I say, I’ve always had an endless fascination with food and how its made. In second grade I read Little House on the Prairie (hence the title of this blog) and went straight out to tap the maple tree in the front yard. . .With a little help from my understanding grandpa I collected the gallons of clear sap and watched the huge clouds of steam waft up through the kitchen as we boiled it down. The syrup was delicious.

So since we’ll be making a traditional buche de noel this weekend, we need to do a little prep work – including chestnuts for the filling. I found some beautiful fresh chestnuts at our local organic co-op to roast. Buy a few extra because some of them are probably moldy inside. You won’t know until you open them. Although the outer brown coverings look like shells they are actually more like husks, so cutting into them isn’t as hard as you might think.

Roasted Chestnuts, Makes about 2 cups

1-1/2 pounds fresh chestnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 (you could use 325 on convection if you have it). Cut a little X into each chestnut, like so:


Slide the pan into the oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes. Make sure they all have an X or or they will explode in your oven, and who needs to clean up another mess right now?


They will puff up and you can see the nuts peeking out from inside the husks.


Some open more than others. Peel the husks off the hot kernels and discard any wrinkled or moldy ones, about 20% of mine fell into this category. Store the peeled nuts in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. We’ll be mashing them for our buche filling later on. No, I’m not grinding my own cocoa beans for the chocolate ganache (yet) but a girl can dream!


One year ago: Viennese Crescents