Chocolate Praliné

Probably the evilest most addicting thing that can be made with simple ingredients. This is better than Nutella. You’ve been warned.

Ingredient
300g almonds
300g hazelnuts
400g sugar
2/3 cup water
355g Milk Chocolate chips
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 300F.
Mix the nuts and spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put in the oven for 5 minutes then turn off the oven (leave the nuts in the warm oven)
nuts

2. In a thick bottomed pan, combine the sugar and water. Attach a candy thermometer, making sure the probe touches neither the bottom nor the sides.
sugar1

3. Over medium heat, bring the sugar to 224F.
sugar2

4. Working quickly, add the warm nuts. From this point on you’ll want to be stirring constantly.
sugar3

5. The sugar will crystallize. This is normal. Resist the urge to panic and think you messed things up. Keep stirring until it melts back down into caramel (5-10 minutes after step 4).
sugar4

6. Spread the nuts on a parchment lined cookie sheet and allow to cool fully.
nuts2

7. Break the cooled down nuts into small clusters. Add them a few at a time to a food processor and pulse until mostly broken down. Go slow at this step. You don’t want to burn out the motor of the food processor.
buzz1

8. Repeat until all the nuts are in.
buzz2

9. Slowly increase the length of time the blade runs. Take the time to stop and scrape down the sides every other pulse. As it processes the nuts will turn first into a dry mass.
buzz3

10. Then eventually into a nice, shiny, elastic paste as the oils emulsify. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside. The paste will likely be warm from the friction of the blade.
buzz4

11. Measure out the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set-up a double boiler.
choco1

12. Melt the chocolate (no need to temper it)
choco2

13. Add the melted chocolate to the nuts paste.
combine1

14. Mix to combine.
combine2

15. Seal and allow to cool to room temperature. Resist the urge to eat with a spoon.
done

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Fiddleheads amandine

Fidddleheads are the furled fronds of a young fern. They are only available for a brief period in spring (afterward they unfurl and become a proper fern). They are a tasty, different green to prepare, but can be toxic if eaten raw or under cooked.

This is a simple preparation, great as a side dish with fish.

Ingredients
220g fiddleheads
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 table spoon butter
3 french shallots, diced
salt and pepper
ingredients

***

1. In a dry skillet, toast the almonds on medium heat, tossing often.
almonds

2. Once they have gained some color, set aside.
almonds2

3. Rinse the fiddleheads under lots of water. Make sure to remove any brown scales from them.
clean

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the fiddleheads into the boiling water.
blanch1

5. Boil for 12-15 minutes. The water will turn a weird dark color.
blanch2

6. Drain the boiled fiddleheads, discarding the water. Rinse well, then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
blanch3

7. In the skillet, melt the butter and add the shallots. Cook for 3 minutes or until the shallots become translucent.
shallot

8. Drain the fiddleheads from the ice water and add to the skillet. Coat well with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a further 3 minutes.
saute

9. Add the toasted almonds and continue cooking for an other 2-3 minutes.
saute2

10. Serve warm.
plate

Sausage and lentil stew

Warm, filling and re-heats well. Great for the cooling days of fall.

Ingredients
2 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 toulouse style sausages
2 carrots, diced
2 onions, minced
1-2 garlic clove, minced
pinch of ground cumin
1/2 cup duPuy Lentils
2-3 large tomatoes, in large dice (about 4 cups)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 handful green or yellow beans
almond slivers
salt and pepper
ingredients

***

1. Cut the sausages into segments about 1 inch each. I leave the casing on because I don’t mind it. If it bothers you, you can remove it first.
cut-sausage

2. In a large soup pot warm the oil. Add the sausages and cook for a few minutes until colored but not cooked all the way through. Remove from the pot.
color-sausage

3. Turn down the heat to a medium-low. Add the onions and carrots and sweat for 5 minutes.
onions

4. Add the garlic and cumin. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
garlic

5. Rinse the lentils and pick through to remove rocks and debris. Add to the pot. Stir well to coat in the oils.
lentils

6. Add the tomatoes and broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes.
tomatoes

7. Towards the end of the simmering time prep the beans… I used green, yellow and purple because I had them. You can use just one color, doesn’t matter.
Cut them in chunks 1-2 inches long.
beans

8. Return the sausage to the pot and add the beans. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning.
add-beans

9. Serve with a bit of slivered almonds on top.
plate

Peaches and Blackberries crumbe

Satisfying with a bit of a crunch from the almonds. I would probably remake this with less sugar. Will update the recipe if I do.

Ingredients :

For the filling:
6 peaches
2 pints of blackberries
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lime
Juice from 1/2 lime

For the crumble:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 almond meal
5 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tea spoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 slivered almonds
pinch of nutmeg and ground cardamom
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Rinse the blackberries. Slice the peaches and combine in a bowl.
slices

2. Combine the sugar, flour and cornstarch in a mixing bowl.
dry-filling

3. Add the zest, lemon juice and vanilla to the fruits.
zest

4. Add the dry ingredients and gently mix to coat the fruits.
combine

5. Turn the fruits into a baking dish (about 11×7).
turn

6. Start on the crumble. Combine the flour, almond meal, brown sugar, oats and salt. Add the spices, to taste.
crumble1

7. Add the butter. Mix until the dry ingredients are well combined and the whole thing turns to a pebbly texture.
crumble2

8. Fold in the almonds.
crumble3

9. Add the crumble on top of the fruits.
Bake 35-40 minutes.
add-crumble

10. Take out of the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
baked

11. I never mastered the art of serving a crumble prettily. Tastes good anyways.
serve

Butter Chicken

Funnily enough, a butter free version of butter chicken. Delicious, tender chicken and a savory sauce. It uses both a “Butter chicken masala” pre-made mix and some whole spices.

This is a two step recipe. First the marinade, then putting everything together.

Marinade ingredients :
3 chicken breast
1/2 cup plain greek yoghurt
2 tea spoon butter chicken masala
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tea spoon salt
ingredients1

Butter Chicken ingredients :
Marinated chicken
4 onions
6 black pepper corns
6 green cardamom pods
1 thumb length cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 tablespoon butter chicken masala
1 small can of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup cream
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup water
2 table spoon oil
salt
ingredients2

***

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.
marinade1

2. Add the diced chicken.
marinade2

3. Stir to coat with the marinade. Cover and set aside (several hours, up to overnight).
marinade3

4. Peel and quarter the onions. Put in a pot with water and boil for 10 minutes until soft.
onions

5. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Pour the chicken into an oven safe dish and cook for 10-15 minutes. You want it mostly cooked.
chicken

6. Drain the water from the onion and transfer them to a blender.
onions2

7. And puree them.
onion3

8. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions to the skillet.
onions4

9. In the mean time grind the cardamom, black pepper corn and star anise.
spices

10. Cook until the onions have given up most of their water and start to form a paste. You can go a bit further then I did, almost caramelizing them. Add the ground spices and the butter chicken masala.
add-spices

11. Cook for 2 minutes to fry the spices a bit and make them fragrant.
spices+onions

12. Add the tomatoes.
add-tomatoes

13. Add the cream.
add-cream

14. Take the chicken out of the oven­.
chicken2

15. And using a slotted spoon transfer the chicken to the sauce. You want to leave behind any water or “broken” marinade. Stir in and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
add-chicken

16. Add the ground almond. Stir it in, it will thicken the sauce. Add the water to loosen it up.
add-almonds

17. Serve with warm naan bread.
serve

“Snapdragon” preserve

Delicious and boozy. Notes and quantities here, recipe of at the spicetrekkers’ website here.

Ingredients
1 cup dark rum
1¾ cup dried apricots (370g)
2 cups dried figs (460g)
2 cups raisins (300g)
1¼ cups cane turbinado sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange
½ cup whole almonds
5 cm cinnamon
1 vanilla bean

Notes

  • Cut apricots in half
  • get large dried figs and cut in 6ths

Acorn Cookies

The last cookie that was in my Holiday gift bags. Aren’t the little bags pretty?

bags

This is a variation of the Meringue cookies, made more solid and sturdy by the addition of ground almonds. One recipe makes 24 cookies,

Ingredients
1 cup ground almonds
1 1/4 cup dark chocolate pastilles
3 egg whites
1 table spoon white vinegar
1/4 tea spoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla extract
* optional : almond flakes or ground pistachio for decoration
acorn_ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 250F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a mixer, combine the egg whites, salt and white vinegar.
acorn_eggs

2. Beat until firm.
acorn_beat1

3. Stream in the sugar and keep beating until stiff and shiny and shiny.
acorn_beat2

4. Chop 1/4 cup of chocolate until only small chunks remain.
Add the chocolate, ground almonds and vanilla extract to the eggs and fold to combine.
acorn_fold

5. Spoon unto the prepared cookie sheets and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
acorn_spoon

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully.
acorn_baked

7. In a double boiler, melt the remaining cup of chocolate. If you want shinier cookies temper it, but I was on a time crunch so meh.
acorn_melt

8. Dip the cookies into the chocolate then allow to set.
If you want, dip the chocolate into almond flakes or ground pistachios to decorate.

acorn_dip