Thursday, 6 August 2015

Aldmond financiers

Almonds are almonds. It seems quite evident, as a matter of fact. But if you always buy them packed, it is difficult to imagine all the work that lies behind those tiny things. I did not know it  until my uncle's almond trees started to produce. You had to pick the fruit, remove the wrapper it has to leave only the shell, remove the shells one by one, blanch to remove the skin and then finally toast them before eating them. A couple of times he gave us several boxes, and after all the process, my mum prepared an absolutely spectacular nugat. However, I never forget all the work behind those almonds  and they were only a few tens of kilos.

Almond Financiers 

Ingredients (for about 10 units)

120 grams of egg white
125 grams sugar
55 grams of flour
 55 grams of almond flour
zest of 1 lemon
150 grams of butter

Heat the butter over high heat in a medium saucepan. When you begin to acquire a tan and the smelle of hazelnut (noisette point), remove from heat immediately to avoid burning and acquiring a darker color. Pass through a fine sieve and let cool.

Mix egg whites with sugar. Add the flour and ground almonds and mix. Slowly add the clarified butter while continuing mixing. Leave this mixture in the refrigerator for 4 hours (or 20 to 30 minutes in the freezer if you are in a hurry). Preheat oven to 180 º.
Paint your moulds with oil, divide dough among them, and bake at 180 º for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and unmold.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Coffee, lemon and cardamom granita

For someone who loves coffee anytime and in almost all versions, coffee granita is a common dessert. In summer it is refreshing and closes a meal by mixing dessert and coffee. Now, it is more or less the same idea. This recipe gives you a point of extra flavor by adding lemon and cardamom. The result is more refreshing thanks to the lemon juice and more intense due to cardamom. If you prepare it  with decaffeinated coffee, you can have it any time without fear of spending the whole night awake. Just a precision: with or without caffeine, coffee for this grantia should always be a good espresso.

Coffee, lemon and cardamom granita
Ingredients (for 2)

1/2 liter of espresso (can be decaf, but espresso)
Sweetener to taste
Juice of a lemon 
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Put the coffee in a metal container that can be introduced in the freezer, add sweetener and taste. It should be rather sweet, because freezing  will make it bitter. Add the lemon juice gradually, testing, and do not incorporate all of it  if it gets too acid. Add the cardamom and mix well. Put in the freezer and stir with a fork every hour or so to prevent freezing altogether.
Serve with a slice of lemon.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Tomato and green apple jam

I must confess that I only learned to eat tomatoes (like so many other things) when I was already grown up. Really grown up, I mean. I was a picky eater as a child, and my poor parents were desperated, especially with tomatoes. I remember just so clearly  my father's frustration whenever he offered me the best of summer ripen tomato, open in half with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt, as the best dish in the world. I was young, but not enough not to realize that I had to do my best to eat it. But for me, it was a viscous thing, with uncertain taste, which I could  never really eat. As soon as I felt it in my motuh, I felt sick, and I could see my father's disappointment. Even today he eats so often tomatoes in summer, freshly picked, chosen at the point that he likes, but now he just does not invite me to try.
I can now eat them, but still they are not one of my favorite snacks. And the proof is that I can only eat them ripe, very ripe.  Still green and crisp tomatoes are a test that I failed to overcome. Another unforgivable stain on my record of culinary tastes.
What I really love  is to make jams and jellies. Never prepare them for preserving, though. At one time in my life I spent too many summers preparing canned fruit so I think I'm done for my entire existence. No, sterilized jars, then boiling and everything else is not for me.

But adding sugar to fruits and allow to slowly cook them in their own juice, for that, I am always ready. In fact, in most recipes that include jam, I prepare it myself at the moment. This way, I can give it the sweetness that I like, and just the texture that is usually lost in the manufacturing process.

And yet, I never did before a tomato jam, even though I wanted long ago. Simply I  had not done it yet. But a few days ago, at the site of Saveur Magazine I  saw this tomato and green apple jam, and I had to try it. Mine is quite different from the original, which is much more spicy and perfect to accompany savory dishes, but I just add green apple as an alternative to the idea I had in mind.
You can see the result below. A highly recommendable jam, not overly sweet, and delicious to replace oil and tomato on toast for breakfast for a couple of days.

Tomato and green apple jam


1 kg. ripe red tomatoes
2 medium green apples (Granny Smith), peeled and diced
500 grams superfine sugar


Peel the tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Score the bottom of each tomato with an X.  Once water is boiling, drop tomatoes in for 15-30 seconds; remove with tongs and immediately plunge into cold water.  Slip off the peels with your hands, then roughly chop the peeled tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, apple, and sugar to a medium saucepan set over medium heat and stir to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil very slowly, then lower heat and gently cook, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the mixture is thick and jammy.  When the jam is ready, remove from heat and, if desired, use a  fork to break down tomato and apple chunks to your preferred consistency and leave to cool.

Tip: This jam is perfect on a slice of bread freshly toasted and a little Brie or other creamy cheese. But try also to add a few tablespoons of jam to a vinaigrette for the salad. Mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablesppon apple vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the jam. Salt and pepper, emulsified and pour over salad just before serving. Can not be easier nor tastier.