Without almonds, I’d go nuts!

Do you have a favourite nut? Yes, yes, very funny. Maggie says that too.

Or a nut that you can’t abide – say, brazil, or the leader of Brazil? No, seriously, I do NOT like brazil nuts. And I’m not all that enamoured of peanuts either; well, not since I stopped drinking beer on a regular basis.

However, I do enjoy several other varieties of nut: toasted pecans, in a superb dessert cake; walnuts, toasted or raw, in various sweet and savoury dishes; roasted and peeled hazelnuts, ditto, including a chocolate torte, Sara’s favourite cake; and macadamias, as the source of fat in an ‘Australian’ Christmas pudding.

Choc cake 5

But the king of the nut bowl in our kitchen is the almond, and I simply do not care to imagine what my life would be like without it.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

We buy almonds in three forms: blanched – halves and flakes; and, very occasionally, raw almonds, which I dry roast to have on hand for a mid-afternoon snack.

I grind the blanched halves in our blender to make a coarse meal for at least three different cakes: the aforementioned chocolate torte, for special occasions; a plum cake, when ‘blood’ plums are in season; and my version of the well-known Middle Eastern orange and almond cake. The navel orange season has just begun, so I will make the last of these cakes soon and share my recipe.

Plum cake

I also grind some of the halves to small chunks. These go into the mixture when we make meringues, which we enjoy with fresh strawberries that have been macerated in a generous drizzle of Cointreau. Naughty but nice!

IMG_0633

And, as some of you would have noticed, we have begun to use almond halves that have been lightly browned in vegetable oil before we scatter them over a biryani-style dish.

The flakes? Raw, they form part of my homemade muesli. This is the first food I consume on the mornings of Maggie’s workdays, and the morning after the last day of her working ‘week’, when she gets a sleep-in.

But, when they are toasted, the almond flakes really come into their own.

By toasted, I mean cooked dry in a pan over low heat, and tossed every 30 seconds or so, until they have become lightly coloured and crunchy. In this form, I use almond flakes to add texture and flavour to an uncomplicated apple cake; and we like to sprinkle them over fresh strawberries or poached peaches for a simple yet satisfying summer dessert.

And that, in a nutshell, is our almond story.

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About rmgtravelsandfood

Maggie and I were both born in the early 1950s and we live in Melbourne, Australia. This blog is mainly devoted to our shared passions for travel and fine dining at home. Recently, I added Australian politics to the scope of the blog, inspired by the election of a Labor Government at a national level. Rick Grounds
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