This is not a typical Valentine’s Day post. I don’t have a cute pink raspberry cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream puffed into fluffy love hearts. Not a pink kind of lovely dovey Valentine’s Day post.
Ok, this is not entirely true because if you scroll down you’ll see that I couldn’t help myself by decorating the photo of the purée de châtainges, French for chestnut purée, with some pink love hearts.
Also, you might be thinking that I’ve really lost it here because it’s not chestnut season, so it’s rather impossible to buy a single chestnut here now. I know, I tried unsuccessfully last year. These photos where from around November of last year when there were plenty of chestnuts in the Papaya Pieces household. We decided to make some chestnut purée because Mr. H. had lovely memories of when he was small and his grandmother used to make them.
We decided to make them the same way. He then understood why his grandmother would start making it one day in advance: the peeling part. Peeling the hard shell around it required a lot of muscle work and resulted in broken, painful fingernails. Actually, I’m guessing the broken part will apply to most ladies. This was not so in my case because my nails are always as short as can be so I can play tunes on the piano. (I do not recommend this after a manicure). Not only was it hard work and painful, it took forever. Wait, there was also the inside softer shell covering the chestnut. Those required a lot of patience to take off too. It took us hours. We were going to have it for lunch but ended up having it for dinner!
What we learnt from this is that food can be an expression of love. Preparing chestnuts for hours, breaking your fingernails, just so that your loved ones can enjoy some purée de châtaignes, is a way of showing love. In the same way, my mum will spend hours preparing spring roles for us, and it’s so worth it.
Now that we’ve also spent many hours making our chestnut purée, was it worth it? Definitely yes. The flavour is amazing.
1 teaspoon butter
2/3 cup milk
Put the chestnuts in a large pot with water. Bring to boil then let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Take out of the water. Pour cold water on top. Carefully make a small cut on each chestnut with a sharp knife. Peel all the chestnuts.
Put all the peeled chestnuts in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to boil. Let it boil for 45 minutes. Add more water if too much evaporates.
Remove the water. Add some butter, a tiny pinch of salt and black pepper. I wrote about 2/3 of a cup of milk, but just add as much as needed to make the consistency how you like it. Mash with a potato masher.
Have a lovely Valentine’s Day!