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Posts Tagged ‘almonds’

Flourless Carrot Cake

I am very behind on posting recipes right now. I still have recipes from Thanksgiving dinner, that I have yet to post. We are in the thick of one of our busiest times of the year. Our store is busy for the holidays, our web sales have been killer, we have two pretty big jobs on the books and we have been traveling to many different holiday events selling our stuff. On top of all of this, a week and a half ago, Buffalo got slammed with a really nasty snow storm that dumped about 3 feet of snow at our house in a very short amount of time. Our street wasn’t plowed for days and we were stranded at home. This all wasn’t so bad, except my husband Mark was supposed to be in Chicago selling our wares at the Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale. And worst of all, our fridge and pantry were pretty bare, I had planned to shop that coming weekend. So, I couldn’t even make the best of the situation by baking and cooking. Needless to say, I have been craving to have a few days to just relax, sip on a cocktail or two and just cook!

I came across this recipe just days before Thanksgiving and I had still been looking for the perfect dessert option to bring to my parent’s house. I made a huge feast at our house beforehand for just Mark and I, complete with a pastured turkey from our farm and tons of healthy and gluten-free dishes. Admittedly, I had my hands full and didn’t get the best pictures, so I am unsure on how many of the dishes I will be able to feature this year (I still have to go through all the photos), but that just means I may have to recreate them again some time soon, so I can get them on here. Darn.

This cake was the perfect light finish to a day full of eating and it was so incredibly easy to make. I loved that it was naturally gluten-free and didn’t have many ingredients at all. It had a lovely spice to it, reminiscent of pumpkin pie filling and the flavor from the almonds was so great. It’s like this recipe was created just for me on the day.

Make sure to grate the carrots on the fine holes of your grater, or they’ll be too crunchy. For best results, wrap the cake tightly in plastic after it cools and serve it the next day. It will keep for five days in the refrigerator if wrapped airtight.

Flourless Carrot Cake
Adapted from Recipes for Health by Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times
serves 10-12

1 1/2 cups (1/2 pound) unsalted toasted almonds
1/4 cup organic dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
4 large farm fresh eggs
1/3 cup organic raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated organic carrots (about 10 ounces)
a bit of raw sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle. Oil a 9-inch springform pan, and line it with parchment. Lightly oil the parchment.

Combine the almonds and the brown sugar in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend until the almonds are finely ground. Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest, and pulse together.

Beat the eggs until thick in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with an electric beater. Add the organic raw sugar, and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and forms a ribbon when lifted from the bowl with a spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Add the almond mixture and the carrots in three alternating additions, and slowly beat or fold in each time.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place in the oven, and bake one hour until firm to the touch and beginning to pull away from the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and carefully remove the spring form ring. Allow the cake to cool completely, sprinkle lightly with raw sugar, then wrap tightly in plastic.

I realized in all the excitement of my first Thanksgiving dinner and sharing this dessert with the family, I never took a photo of the cake sliced, so I am doing something I never do and including a photo from the original recipe. The photo is what sold me on the recipe, so I figure it only fitting you get to enjoy it (and drool over it), as well.

Flourless Carrot Cake - Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
©Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

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Toasted Spicy Almonds

Sorry for the lack of posts – we have been very busy over here. We were in Chicago this past weekend for the Pitchfork Music Festival and Flatstock 26 and before that we were busting our butts designing and printed, getting ready for the festival. I have still been cooking, but pulling out the camera, trying out new recipes, etc., gets put on hold when life gets this crazy. Before we left town I did get a chance to make this delicious snack to munch on in the car on the road trip to Chicago.  I know most of the reason I crave salty snacks in the car is due to boredom, but I have accepted that and I am happy to enjoy not having a mountain of work and a long to-do list, and to sit back watch the road and enjoy my hubby’s company. Rather than salty processed potato chips from a random gas station, I thought that these would be the perfect alternative. We also packed up some of the gluten-free blueberry muffins that I had previously made and froze and some chipotle hummus with sliced cucumbers from our garden. No reason to hit a drive-thru for lunch or to eat junk!

These almonds were so satisfying and easy to make. I started with roasted almonds since that is what I had on hand, but you could also start with raw almonds, and just toast them even longer. Mark and I both really love spicy food, so you can adjust the peppers accordingly. I used a premade salt-free Black and Red Spice mix from Penzeys, that was a mix of Tellicherry black pepper and hot cayenne red pepper.

We leave again in less than one week for San Francisco for the Renegade Craft Fair, then we are back home for a bit. Hoping to be able to cook a bunch and really use all the goodies we’re getting from the garden.

Toasted Spicy Almonds

1 tablespoon organic butter
8 ounces organic roasted almonds, unsalted
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Slowly melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the nuts, peppers and salt. Toss with a rubber spatula to coat the nuts and spread them out in the pan in a single layer. Allow the nuts to start to brown a bit, then toss or stir to flip, allow them to continue to toast. This process only takes a few minutes (3-5), remove the pan from the heat when the desired amount of doneness is achieved. Adjust spices and salt to taste. Allow to cool before serving.

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This was a recipe I came up with this morning while I drank my tea, after doing a quick inventory on the refrigerator and pantry and thumbing through my Flavor Bible. I wanted to use some of the goodies we got at the Farmer’s Market this weekend and make something Springy and tasty. The wild rice had a beautiful earthy and nutty flavor. The spinach and fennel had a lemony tang and the perfect amount of that fresh crisp that I crave. The little bit of fresh country bacon brought a salty and smokey flavor and the toasted almonds brought a robust, toasty sweetness that really enhanced the flavor of the dish as a whole and finished it off nicely.

If you wanted to make this a vegetarian dish, you could easily leave off the country bacon and the dish would be equally delicious. I rarely cook with bacon, but when we saw this beautiful fresh bacon at the Farmer’s Market, that we bought directly from the farmer, I knew I would find the perfect dish for it to compliment. The country bacon was a cross somewhere between traditional bacon and ham, not too salty and not too greasy. This is the first time I have ever cooked with it and I most definitely will again.

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Wild Rice with Spinach, Fennel & Toasted Almonds
serves 2

4 cups of fresh spinach, stems removed and washed
2 cups fennel, chopped
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup whole raw almonds, unsalted
2 slices of local farm fresh country-style bacon, diced
1/2 lemon
2 cups wild rice, cooked
salt
freshly ground pepper

Prepare 2 servings of wild rice, according to the directions on the package. While it is cooking, over a medium-high heat, toast the whole almonds in a large dry non-stick saucepan. Remove the almonds from the pan once they begin to brown up and make slight popping sounds. Set aside. Once cooled, crush the whole almonds to your desired size.

Add the diced country bacon to the pan and brown it up over a medium-high heat (if the pan is too dry, add a drizzle of olive oil). After the bacon is browned up and heated through, remove it from the pan, cover and set aside.

Using the little bit of grease in the hot pan from the bacon, add the garlic and fennel, sauté over medium-high heat, stirring often, being careful not to burn them. Once the fennel is beginning to soften and brown up a little, about 6 minutes, add the spinach. Stir to combine the ingredients. Add a dash of salt, freshly ground pepper and the juice of half of lemon. Once the spinach has cooked down but still has a slight crisp, about 5 minutes, place 1 cup of wild rice on each plate, top it with the spinach and fennel mixture, then the bacon, crushed toasted almonds and freshly ground pepper. Serve.

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(I am super unhappy with these photos, the lighting in the kitchen was horrible and the photos don’t even begin to show how beautiful this dish was)

I am a carboholic, there I said it. I love pasta and grains. Being that I have a gluten intolerance I have been exploring and finding new carbs and various grains and I love it. Brown rice pasta is soo delicious and far lighter than the usual wheat pasta. Mark actually prefers rice pasta to regular pasta now. It is very easy to find and works in all regular pasta recipes. I am planning on trying to learn how to make my own gluten free pasta soon.

I will pretty much eat pasta any way it is prepared and I am always playing around with new recipes. This one was fantastic. After being on a cleanse for 30 days and avoiding all dairy and really going light on the carbs this was a great and light way to celebrate. There is very little cheese in this, but by adding back some of the pasta water when mixing the sauce, it give it this delicious and creamy texture. Roasting the broccoli is something I have never done before and it was brilliant, it still had a great crunch, but had that delicious brown-edged roasty flavor and the red pepper flakes gave it just the perfect amount of heat. Mark actually said “this is the single best pasta dish I have ever had, EVER!” I love when I can make something that makes him that happy.

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Roasted Broccoli and Almond Penne

Adapted from Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs via So Good & Tasty
serves 6*

3/4 cup almonds
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan reggiano, grated
salt & pepper
1 pound brown rice penne pasta

1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

Preheat the oven to 450˚F.

In a large bowl, toss the broccoli florets with a couple of glugs of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Transfer to a large baking sheet and spread the broccoli into one even layer. Roast for about 20-25 minutes, until some of the edges have started to brown.

Meanwhile heat a large pot of water, it will take a while for it to come to a boil.

Place the garlic and salt in the food processor, and pulse to a fine paste. Add the almonds and grind into a chunky pesto paste. (I left it pretty chunky since I wanted to enjoy the bits of nut)

Transfer the nut mixture to a bowl. Stir in the olive oil, then add most of the herbs. Stir in the parmesan, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

Salt the pasta water generously, and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and reserve a big cup of the pasta water. Toss the almond pesto with the pasta and broccoli, if you need to thin out the sauce use the reserved water. Serve topped with a sprinkling of the remaining herbs.

* A quick note on the serving sizes I follow, I tend to make recipes at their full serving size as most of what I cook makes beautiful and light lunches in the next day or two. Feel free to cut the recipes in half if you don’t brown bag it to lunch or don’t like leftovers.

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