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Archive for February 16, 2014

RECIPE: Almond Butter Cookies (Chinese Almond Cookies)

almonds-bowl-niederegger-230

We buy jumbo packages of raw almonds at
Costco. Photo courtesy Niederegger
Marzipan.

 

February 16 is National Almond Day. Almonds are great for snacking, roasted or raw; and are so flavorful they don’t need added salt or salted seasonings.

Enjoy some almond triva, and scroll down for a butter-enhanced recipe for Chinese Almond Cookies.

ALMOND TRIVIA

  • Historians generally agree that almonds and dates, both mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, were among the earliest cultivated foods. The only other nut mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11) is the pistachio nut.
  • Between 600 and 900 C.E., almond trees began to flourish in the Mediterranean, in Greece, Israel, Spain and Morocco. Because of their portability, explorers consumed them while traveling the Silk Road between the Mediterranean region and China.
  • Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, plums and peaches. In this case, it’s the “stone” that is eaten. The botanical name of the almond tree is Prunus amygdalus.
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  • California produces 80% of the world’s supply of almonds. The world’s largest almond factory is in Sacramento; it processes 2 million pounds of almonds a day. California produced 998 million pounds of almonds in 2004. The largest crop on record was in 2002: 1.084 billion pounds.
  • It takes more than 1.2 million bee hives to pollinate California’s almond crop, which spans more than 550,000 acres.
  • Chocolate manufacturers use 40% of the almond crop (and 20% of the world’s peanuts).
  • It takes 1,000 pounds of almonds to make 1 pint of almond oil.
  • There are 5,639 people in the U.S. listed on Whitepages.com with the last name “Almond” (source: Mark Morton, “Gastronomica,” Fall 2010).
  • The Jordan almond, a large plump variety of almond from Malaga, Spain, is considered to be the finest cultivated almond. It is frequently sold with a hard colored sugar coating.
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    ALMOND NUTRITION

  • Almonds are the most nutrient-dense tree nut. One ounce of almonds (20-25 almonds) contains 160 calories and only 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol. The unsaturated fat in almonds is “good” fat, with 13 grams per one-ounce serving.
  • Almonds are also an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a good source of protein and potassium.
  • Almonds are highest in protein and fiber of all the tree nuts.
  • The protein in almonds is more like the proteins in human breast milk of all the seeds and nuts, which is why it is the choice of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine as the base for its baby formula.
  • Almonds are known for high satiety, almonds provide the perfect pre-workout boost, are easy to keep in your office drawer stash, for snacking alone or with yogurt or fruit.
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    RECIPE: ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES

    These almond butter cookies are a whole-wheat and almond butter version of the classic Chinese almond cookie. The recipe was developed by Ellie Krieger, author of So Easy:Luscious Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.

    You can find more almond-based recipes at the Almond Board of California’s website..
     
    Ingredients For 36 Cookies

  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, or regular whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth, unsalted almond butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 36 raw whole almonds (a heaping 1/4 cup)
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    almond_butter_cookies-almondboard-230

    Almond butter cookies. Photo courtesy The Almond Board.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.

    2. WHISK together the flours, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In another large bowl beat together the butter, almond butter and sugars until fluffy.

    3. ADD the vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, bending well.

    4. SHAPE the dough into 3/4 inch balls, and place on the baking sheets. Place an almond in center of each cookie and press down lightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

      

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    RECIPE: Red Lentil Soup, Other Greek Yogurt Delights & Aleppo Pepper

    Choabani

    Red lentil soup is golden and glorious. Photo
    by Marcus Nilsson | Chobani.

     

    What do you do after your start-up Greek-style yogurt brand becomes the number one brand in the country?

    You continue to share your love of your homeland’s foods by opening a café.

    Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya moved to New York from his native Turkey and couldn’t find thick yogurt as widely available as it was back home. The rest is yogurt history; now, hopefully, the other wonderful yogurt-based foods at his Chobani Soho café* will find as many fans.

    The current café is a revision of the initial concept, which focused on yogurt with savory or sweet toppings†. They’re still on the menu, not joined by soups and simits—the bagel-like, sesame-topped street food of Turkey, available with a variety of fillings.

    We’re a sucker for a simit—we had our first one just a year ago when a simit sandwich shop opened on our block.

    Chobani Soho’s simits include “Bagel + Cream Cheese” (the cream cheese is actually labne, also spelled labneh, and called “Lebanese cream cheese”; Seasonal Preserves + Labne, Smoked Salmom + Herbed Labne; Spiced Chicken + Pomegranate Onion; and Tomato + Olive Tapenade.

     

    We were invited to a media reception where we got to taste everything, all of it terrific. But for us, the star on the menu is the red lentil soup—easy to make, and so luscious and comforting that you’ll be making it again and again. Thanks to Chobani for sharing the recipe.

     
    *The cafe is located at 150 Prince Street at West Broadway in New York City; 1.646.998.3800.

    † SWEET CREATIONS: Blueberry + Power, Fig + Walnut, Fresh Fruit + Granola, Peanut Butter + Jelly, Pistachio + Chocolate, Toasted Coconut + Pineapple. SAVORY CREATIONS: Hummus + Za’atar, Mango + Avocado, Pomegranate + Caramelized Onion (our favorite!) Red Pepper Harissa + Feta, Zucchini Pesto + Tomato.

    RECIPE: CHOBANI RED LENTIL SOUP

    Red lentils (which range in color from yellow to orange to red) are sweeter than the green lentils typically used in American lentil soup, and the brown lentils used elsewhere.

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups lentils
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon salt
  • Pinch Aleppo pepper‡
  • 4 quarts water
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup plain 2% Chobani Greek yogurt
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    ‡A substitute for Aleppo pepper is 4 parts sweet paprika and 1 part cayenne. See the section below on Aleppo pepper.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE lentils in a strainer and rinse under cold water.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes.

    3. ADD yogurt. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.

    4. COOL in an ice bath and then refrigerate. Reheat before serving. Blend with immersion blender after reheating to eliminate lumps and smooth out soup.

    5. MAKE garnish: Melt ¼ pound butter in a small sauce pan until foaming. Add ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper and remove from heat. Drizzle ½ teaspoon (for an 8-ounce portion) or ¾ teaspoon (for a 12-ounce portion). Keep butter warm and garnish with a spoon of Aleppo pepper butter before serving.

     

    Choabani

    Simit, the “Turkish bagel,” ready to meet thick labne. Photo by Marcus Nilsson | Chobani.

    WHAT IS ALEPPO PEPPER?

    Also called halab pepper, halaby pepper, Near Eastern pepper and Syrian red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper hales from Turkey and northern Syria. The town of Aleppo, a famous food mecca, is located in Syria near the Turkish border.

    Aleppo pepper is used to add heat and pungency to Middle Eastern dishes. It is not a berry, like peppercorns, but a moderately hot red chile that is sun-dried, seeded and crushed. (Ever since someone in the crew of Christopher Columbus came across a chile in the New World and called it “pepper,” the confusion has endured. Here’s the scoop on pepper, here’s the story on chiles.)

    The Aleppo chile’s high oil content provides a deep, rich aroma, somewhere between coffee and smoke; it has been compared to the ancho chile. It has fruity notes with mild, cumin-like undertones. It can be compared to—but is much more flavorful, complex, and less harsh than—that generic pizza staple, crushed red pepper.

    USES FOR ALEPPO PEPPER

    The moderate heat of Aleppo pepper is used:

  • With proteins: fish stews, roast chicken, grilled meats (including kabobs)
  • In veggie dishes: rice pilaf, simmered beans and lentils, to add kick to green salads (it’s delicious with yogurt and cucumbers or melon and mint salad)
  • As an attractive red garnish: on deviled eggs (or with any eggs), on potato, chicken, tuna and pasta salads
  • In any Mediterranean dish: tagines and couscous, for example
  • In classic American dishes: chili, pizza, soup, stews
  • As an everyday seasoning: add the flakes to olive oil to infuse for a vinaigrette, marinade, rub or for sautéing
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    If you can’t find Aleppo pepper locally, you can buy it online. When you empty your jar of crushed red pepper flakes, replace it with Aleppo.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sneak Veggies Into The Pasta

    ravioli-brussels-fennel-redonion-giovannirana-230

    Brussels sprouts and fennel accent
    mushroom ravioli. Photo courtesy Giovanni
    Rana Pasta.

     

    Just about everyone likes to eat a big plate of pasta; a smaller percentage of us enjoy a big plate of vegetables. Pasta Primavera, “spring pasta,” with a complement of spring vegetables like asparagus and zucchini, has long been a way of combining both. Often, a fun shape—bowtie or corkscrew pasta is used.

    We’re still some weeks away from spring asparagus, so how about “Pasta Inverno”—a pasta recipe with winter vegetables. Think bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, onion, winter squash and other seasonal choices.

    The winter-hearty dish below from Giovanni Rana Pasta unites their refrigerated mushroom ravioli with winter veggies that don’t naturally come to mind when you think pasta: Brussels sprouts and fennel. Try—it’s delicious.

    The second time you make it, add an even larger percentage of vegetables, with the goal of achieving a 1:1 ratio of pasta and veggies. And of course, serve with a big side salad. That’s how to get everyone to eat more vegetables!

     
    RECIPE: MUSHROOM RAVIOLI WITH ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 package (12 ounces) refrigerated mushroom ravioli
  • 16 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts, dark green outer leaves removed
  • 1 small bulb fennel, stalks removed and cored
  • 1 small red onion or red bell pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
  • 4 whole sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Cut off the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and cut into quarters lengthwise. Place in a mixing bowl.

    2. SLICE fennel into 1/8” pieces and add to bowl. Cut both ends off the onion, peel and cut in half. Then quarter each onion half, for a total of 8 chunks. Separate the onion layers and add to the bowl, along with the garlic cloves.

    3. ADD enough extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat all pieces (about 3 tablespoons). Lay the vegetables on a sheet pan in one layer and roast without flipping for 15 minutes. Add the whole sprigs of fresh thyme and flip all pieces.

    4. CONTINUE roasting vegetables until they are tender and well browned, flipping every 5-10 minutes; about 35 minutes total. Remove garlic cloves and sprigs of thyme. Season vegetables to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. While the vegetables are roasting…

     

    catskill-brussels-sprouts-230

    Who’d have thought up pairing Brussels sprouts with mushroom ravioli. It’s a yummy recipe. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    5. MELT butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Prepare ravioli according to package instructions. Drain ravioli, reserving ¼ cup of cooking water. Toss ravioli in the butter along with roasted vegetables. If necessary, add enough cooking water to achieve a sauce-like consistency. Plate ravioli and vegetables together and serve.

      

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