17 August 2010
AUGUST COOKING CLUB-ALMONDS!
The Almond - arguably one of the most versatile nuts around, was the star in this month's cook-up, and I think our cooks did it justice with their dishes.
First up was a heady aperitif mixing Galliano with champagne served in flutes rimmed with a fine dust of sugar and almonds. Can you taste it? I still can - delicious! We nibbled at a selection of smoked almonds, spiced almonds and almonds that had been salted and left in a fine kernel much like that of a pistachio, a perfect teaser really.
Our starter was a fine Almond and Tofu Tart drizzled with a deep emerald emulsion of basil oil that really lifted the nuttiness factor a good few notches - it was unctuous and the pastry was beautifully short and crisp. It was pretty substantial, and paired with a good leafy salad would make a great lunch dish too.
Our newest member, CookV put her thinking cap on and created (via some pretty thorough trials) a dish of boned leg of lamb, which had been stuffed with a mixture of ricotta, peppadews, spinach and various spices before encrusting the entire thing with crushed almonds and roasting it to perfection. Succulent and tender medallions were served atop a fresh and vivid herb pilaf. The ricotta provided plenty of moisture while the peppadews added a bright flecks of crimson and extra sweetness to the dish. Served alongside was a clean, piquant salad of green beans, feta and pinenuts.
While I would have gladly had more, I had to make sure there was enough room in my maxi dress to hide the blancmange made TWO ways, for dessert!
CookEl, thanks to some experimenting with different recipes couldn't quite decide which was she liked it best, so luckily for us she let US decide! One was made just with almond milk and was perhaps the more delicate of the two, with a fair bit more wobble and therefore closer to a true blancmange. It was served with poached strawberries and wild Iranian figs (thank you, CookEl for your laborious efforts tracking this elusive ingredient down!) The other blancmange was made with the addition of buttermilk. In taste it was not not unlike a pannacotta, which I love anyway so it was win/win either way! It was served with a fresh citrus segments that cut through the rich creaminess perfectly.
Special mention must also go to CookN, whom, only having returned from a holiday just two days previous, found some time amidst all the unpacking and washing to whip up some fabulous, home made almond facial scrubs! I've posted some pictures so you can get an idea of the feast we polished off effortlessly!
Do you have any suggestions for themes the Cooking Club could try out? Let us know and we will see what we can do and report back. :-) September holds something different for us so watch this space to find out what the CC cooks get up to next month!