Tag Archives: almond

A New Year and a New Book: Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture

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My new book: Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture
with Barbara Bryant, Betsy Fentress and photographs by Robert Holmes

I am very excited to share with you the upcoming release of a new cookbook, “Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture” for which I created and developed the recipes. And what perfect timing: With the start of a new year bright with possibilities and resolutions for good luck, good health, and prosperity, there is no better symbol than the almond. Ancient and worldly, almonds have appeared throughout civilization from antiquity to modern times, celebrated as a symbol of good luck, fertility and love. Almonds are also a precious ingredient in myriad cuisines, viewed as a staple and a delicacy and touted as a superfood for their nutritional and health benefits.

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This book was a collaboration, born from the inspiration of Barbara Bryant and Betsy Fentress to showcase the timeless almond. My delicious role was the creation of all 60 recipes, taking inspiration from the world’s kitchens including cuisines as far flung as China, India, Lebanon, France, Italy and Mexico and adapting them to the modern kitchen. The book was brought to life under the direction and creative vision of Jennifer Barry and captured by the impeccable photography of Robert Holmes. It takes a village.

06jAlmondMilkGranita_DSC7509modAlmond Granita with Raspberry Syrup

Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, and will be available as of March 1st. Happy reading, happy eating, and happy new year!

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All photos by Robert Holmes

Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs

~ Orange Almond Semifreddo, Port Wine Poached Figs, Almond Praline ~

This dessert has the whiff of Christmas. The good news is that you don’t need to wait until December to taste it. It’s really a 2-part dessert, with each component stand-alone good. Fresh figs are poached in a heady reduction of Port wine, balsamic vinegar, citrus and spice yielding intense results reminiscent of Christmas puddings and mulled wine. You could stop there and serve the figs in their stew as a simple dessert soup, but why hold back? That was my thought, when I ladled the figs and their sauce over a wedge of melt-in-your-mouth semifreddo. Semifreddo is a fancy way to describe this frozen Italian concoction of whipped cream and meringue, which, in this case, is flecked with toasted almonds and orange zest. Each bite is ethereal, light and airy, disappearing on the tongue in a teasing poof. For a little structure and lasting crunch, I topped the dessert with a shard of caramelized almond praline. Like I said – why hold back?

Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs 
Serves 8

Semifreddo:
3/4 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon Amaretto or almond liqueuer
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Figs:
1 cup Port wine (or heavy bodied red wine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
12 ripe medium-large figs, halved

Praline:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Prepare the semifreddo:
Line a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic, leaving a 3-inch overhang. Place almonds and ¼ cup sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add orange zest and salt; pulse to blend. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until they begin to hold soft peaks. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat cream, Amaretto and vanilla extract in a clean mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream until no traces are visible. Gently fold the almonds into the egg whites until evenly distributed. Spoon into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Cover with plastic. Freeze at least 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare the figs:
Bring all of the ingredients except the figs to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil until liquid is reduced by half. Strain the liquid and return to the saucepan. Add the figs and toss to coat and submerge. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely in the liquid. (Figs may be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate until use. Allow to come to room temperature before serving).

Prepare the praline:
Heat the sugar in a heavy small saucepen over medium heat until sugar melts, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sugar turns amber in color. Add the almonds and sea salt and stir quickly to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread into a thin layer.. Do not touch with your fingers. Cool completely. Break into small pieces.

When ready to serve, remove the semifreddo from the loaf pan. Working quickly, cut in 3/4-inch slices and arrange on serving plates. Spoon figs and juice over the semifreddo and garnish with praline shards. Serve immediately.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Cranberry Orange Trifle with Candied Walnuts from TasteFood
Pistachio Pound Cake from Oui Chef
Holiday Pumpkin Roulade from TasteFood
Fig Crostata from The Wimpy Vegetarian

Roasted Salmon with Green Olive and Almond Tapenade

I’ll be honest. The real star of this salmon dish is the Green Olive and Almond Tapenade. No offense to the salmon, which is sublime as always.  But, frankly, this tapenade is positively addictive, adding salty, briny brightness and crunch to the buttery salmon. So, if possible, make a double batch of the tapenade. Then you will have extra to smear on a slice of bread or swipe a carrot stick through. You might even find yourself eating it straight up from a bowl with a spoon. I’m speaking from experience.

Roasted Salmon with Green Olive Tapenade

Serves 4.

For the tapenade:
1 1/2 cup pitted green olives
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
2 anchovies, drained
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons capers
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salmon:
4 – 6 to 8 ounce salmon fillets, pin bones removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Make the tapenade:
Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process to a coarse paste. (Tapenade may be made up to two days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.) Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Make the salmon:
Preheat the oven broiler. Arrange the salmon in one layer in a roasting pan, skin side down. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt. Broil about 6 inches under the broiler until the salmon is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer to serving plates. Top with a spoonful (or two) of the Green Olive and Almond Tapenade. Drizzle with a little olive oil and additional lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Olivada from TasteFood
Artichoke Tapenade from David Lebovitz
Shrimp and Feta Salad from TasteFood
Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip from Healthy Green Kitchen

Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti


~ Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti ~

Biscotti are a twice-baked crisp Italian cookie, famously crunchy and perfect for dipping in coffee or milk. Many variations exist, including the traditional anise or almond biscotti, as well as cocoa infused chocolate biscotti. In this recipe I threw in everything I like in a cookie: chocolate, raisins, toasted almonds and orange zest. It sounds like a busy list of ingredients, but the resulting cookie was delightfully simple and not overly sweet.

Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti
I added raisins to the biscotti as an afterthought for a little sweetness and texture; they may be omitted if you prefer a drier biscotti. I recommend using golden raisins for their color and flavor if you can find them.

Makes  approximately 30 biscotti.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping tablespoon orange zest
3.5 ounces (100 g.) finely chopped or grated dark chocolate
1 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
3/4 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a bowl of an electric mixer. Mix briefly to combine. Whisk eggs, oil, orange liqueur, vanilla and zest together in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the flour. Beat on medium speed until combined, 1 minute. Stir in chocolate, raisins and almonds.
Divide dough in half. Transfer to baking sheet and shape each half into a log the length of the baking sheet. Flatten each log into a 2 inch wide strip. Bake until firm and beginning to color, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes.
Reduce oven to 300 F. (150 C.)  Transfer biscotti to a cutting board. Cut in 3/4 inch strips with a serrated knife.  Arrange cut side down on baking sheet. Bake until they are lightly golden, about 20 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Orange Spiced Pound Cake
Coconut Blondies