About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Almond Cake | Main | A Farm Wife's Fresh Pear Tart »

Walnut Cake


I've been looking forward to this week's post as an opportunity to evangalize on behalf of Juglans Nigra. Here in North America, where we have a tendency to believe imported food delicacies to be automatically superior, I'm proud to proclaim that I am a black walnut snob.


I grew up in rural Missouri, the world's largest producer of black walnuts. I didn't taste a Persian walnut (commonly known as English walnut) until my family moved to the city and we began to buy our nuts from grocery stores instead of picking them up in the woods. Faced with having to pay real money, my mother tried the much cheaper, English walnuts.

My family quickly learned that compared to the robust flavor we were accustomed to, the English walnut is boringly bland.

I'll acknowledge that some people may prefer the prettier but anemic English walnut. Those people probably also prefer cafe Americano to a fresh bold espresso.

Marcella's recipe for Walnut Cake is a most delicious way to prove for yourself the superiority of the black walnut. I challenge you to make two - one with black walnuts, and one with English walnuts. Then come back here and tell my what you think.

The ingredients include butter, sugar, egg, grated lemon peel, flour, baking powder, rum, and walnuts. The cake is baked in a springform pan.

After finely grinding the roasted walnut meats, combine them with the rest of your ingredients. You will have a stiff batter. bake it at 325 for about 45 minutes.


As Marcella advises, "The concentrated flavor of this walnut cake makes a modest slice amply satisfying." I served ours with freshly churned pear ice cream, tying the flavors together by drizzling both with my homemade Black Walnut & Pear Brandy.


If you would like to learn more about the uniquely North American black walnut -- www.hammonsproducts.com

Comments (4)


Your photo of the walnuts being ground is spectacular! Great action shot. I love black walnuts too....this cake sounds wonderful :) Your addition of pear brandy and pear ice cream is the "icing" on the walnut cake!!
(the dessert recipes are making up for the liver recipes from months ago), hahaha.

Thanks Mindy! Someday you are going to HAVE to visit me. You make a menu of your favorite recipes and we'll have a dinner party. We'll have Jen & Chris come over from Columbia. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Marcella Hazan:

I didn't know about black walnuts, but I have bookmarked yhr Hammons page. Try to find a recipe for nocino and perhaps you can make it if you get a batch of walnuts in June, before the shells harden.

When Mindy comes over for dinner, please make the grilled pork liver wrapped in caul.

Deborah responds:

I've heard the only way to make genuine nocino is to start it on June 24th. We'll be driving through rural Estonia on June 24th, so I guess I'll have to wait until next year.

Marcella Hazan:

June 24th, St. John's Day, is traditionally the day in Emilia-Romagna that walnut shells are at the ideal stage of tenderness for chopping up and macerating to make nocino. Another tradition is that the maceration must last 40 days before racking and bottling. But you'll have to research the actual recipe yourself the next time you are in Emilia, if you can get someone to reveal it. Homemade nocino, when done right, is the greatest of sweet fruit or nut liqueurs.

I wouldn't be able to tell you when the black walnut reaches the St. John's Day stage of tenderness.

Buon Viaggio in Estonia.

Deborah responds:

I think I'd better call the folks at Hammonds and find out what they recommend as the best date for Missouri walnuts.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 19, 2011 6:33 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Almond Cake .

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