Posts Tagged ‘almonds’

A Cake for Berlin:
Rhubarb Cake with Marzipan
and Almonds

Almond and rhubarb cake (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This September, I’ll be coming up on my seven-year anniversary in Berlin. It’s funny. I never expected to stay here that long. Hadn’t even been to Berlin before I decided that this was the place I was going to move. “Du bist verrückt mein Kind, du musst nach Berlin,” composer Franz von Suppe is said to have said. You are crazy, my child, you must go to Berlin. “You’ll like it there,” my mother said. My grandma said New York had made me brittle, which in its own way is possibly a kind of crazy, too.

Seven years ago, I wasn’t really moving towards something, but running away. From New York, sure, but also from the person I’d become there and the person I saw myself still becoming. Two of my dearest friends had not long before sat me down on a dock in St. Croix, the sun setting out over the ocean, sand curling over our sunburned skin and said to me, “What’s going on?” by which they meant, Where has our friend gone? And I’ve always admired the bravery of that, because it takes courage to tell your friend she’s been behaving badly. Because it’s true, I had been behaving badly, had let the less pleasant sides of my personality run the show. In drawing comparisons now, retrospectively, I’m not sure if I’d call it armor (sarcasm, skepticism, an easy sneer) or lack of buffer. New York is a city that strips you. Maybe it was a little of both.

Rhubarb (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Candied orange (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Lemon (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Rhubarb cake without cream (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Lemon and orange zests (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Macerating rhubarb (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

But leaving New York was hard. I’d loved it more than any place I’d ever lived. And for everything it took from me, it starkly outlined my strengths. I knew I could make my own way, knew I could start from nothing and build a life. And I’d never known such fierce creativity. » Continue reading this post...

The Element of Surprise: Moroccan-Style Burgers with Apple-Balsamic Reduction

Moroccan-style burgers with balsamic-apple reduction (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Cinnamon had been a rash last-minute decision. It settled on the mound of ground almonds and beef like a smug crop dusting. I looked at my hand in surprise. Who told you that was a good idea? my brain said to my hand. The body works in mysterious ways, my hand said to my brain. But by then there was nothing to do but move on with the bold decision, adjusting the plans accordingly.

In Chopped, it’s all about surprises anyway. It’s a game where you have to create an entire, cohesive dish from three disparate ingredients on the spot. There’s no time to research or prepare. You have nothing, and then suddenly, you have to have an idea. You’re already thinking creatively, open to the unexpected.

Whole almonds (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Almonds (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Chopped almonds (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

When we made these burgers the first time for the family Chopped competition in Italy, the ground, toasted almonds mixed with minced garlic and onion piled on pillowy beef reminded me somehow of chicken bastilla, one of my favorite meals in the entire world. Bastilla is a Moroccan dish in which saffron chicken, egg, and toasted almonds are sweetened with orange water and cooked inside crispy, thin phyllo dough. Though it’s garnished with powdered sugar and cinnamon, the filling is a perfect blend of savory and sweet, crunchy and soft.

Ground beef (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Toasted almonds (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Ground beef and spices (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Burger mash (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I don’t think my thought process at the time was as rational as all that, but adding the cinnamon to the burger mash felt right, even though my brain was surprised at quickness of my hand’s action. » Continue reading this post...

The Spanish Christmas Candy That Wasn’t: Turrón

turron (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I had the feeling, as I was making it, that it wasn’t exactly what it was supposed to be. The pictures I’d seen had seemed somewhat more… nougat-y.

Nevertheless, I continued to melt sugar into a deep brown molten liquid on the stove. I had a bowl of blanched, peeled almonds beside me, and what I didn’t up snacking on as the sugar melted, I poured into the pot just as the sugar had entirely liquefied and started popping up dangerous bubbles of hot candy.

sugar (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

melting sugar (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

almonds in sugar (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I poured the caramel and almonds onto a buttered piece of parchment paper and watched as it slowly oozed out from the center. Beautiful. But definitely not what I had been anticipating. Although I’m not sure what sort of magic I was expecting to occur – that just sugar and almonds would magically turn into something chewy and cream colored. Maybe I shouldn’t have settled for the easiest turrón recipe I could find on the internet. On the other hand, when I broke apart the brittle and bit into the cracking-crystal sugar, deep and smoky sweet, tempered with the gentle crunch of almond, I didn’t really care what it was, just that it was good.

turrón recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

turrón (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This is a short story. I took my brittle to a few parties. It was a hit. So the moral, I guess, is that sometimes the easiest recipe on the internet is best. This faux-turrón looks pretty, tastes delicious and is exceptionally easy to make. But don’t tell anyone that last bit.

turrón (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Turrón (or Almond Brittle)

1 cup sugar 1 cup whole almonds

If your almonds are unpeeled, blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain and quickly run cold water over them for 30 more. Allow them to cool for a bit, then slip the skins off until you have a whole bowl of beautiful, peeled almonds. » Continue reading this post...

I Prove Myself Wrong and Bake Delicious Cookies: Brutti Ma Buoni

Brutti ma buoni recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I keep telling people I can’t bake. This, for the most part is true. My numerous attempts at banana bread are too dry or too soggy or too awkward. Regarding a dense and lumpy batch, a friend told me, “It tastes like vegan banana bread,” which I guess could be a compliment.  Or…

But today, while looking for recipes to use for my Thanksgiving dinner, I chanced upon this gem for brutti ma buoni. The name translates to “ugly but good” and these nubby little cookies are just that. They taste like something from my childhood, like afternoon walks in the fall and honeyed granola. And they’re easy enough to make that not even I can screw them up.

Tray of ugly cookies (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post...