Posts Tagged ‘Almonds’

Lamb Tagine via Relishing It

I woke up to the welcoming rumble of thunder this morning.  Now that may not seem too interesting, but with a quick glance out the window, I saw heavy snowflakes falling everywhere and blanketing the ground.  Thunder and snow– brilliant!  I know I may be the last person in Minnesota (aside from my husband) who isn’t quite ready to let Winter go yet.  Yes, I know it has been a long season this year, but the prospect of one last snowstorm made for a lovely start to my day.  And this has to be the last one of the year right?  Right?

Moroccan Lamb Tagine via Relishing It

This lovely dish will keep you warm while you wait for the snow to melt.  It’s a delicious Moroccan lamb tagine, which is technically a “Spring” dish.  So, even if you’re not able to frolick in the fresh Minnesota snow, you can enjoy this delightful meal.  What is a tagine?  It’s a North African “stew” that is simmered in a special pot.  The pot itself is called a tagine.  It’s an interesting vessel with a conical lid which allows for less steam loss.  Less steam loss means you don’t have to add as much liquid in the first place, which concentrates the flavors.   The stew itself consists of a meat, paired with fruits and nuts.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine via Relishing It

As it turns out, you don’t actually have to use a tagine.  I don’t have one, so I turned to my trusty Dutch oven with it’s tight fitting lid.  It worked wonderfully.  We’ve made this tagine several times, and it’s become a favorite in our house. Lamb pairs beautifully with dried fruits.   It’s full of dried plums, cilantro, turmeric, and pearl onions.  The dried plums disintegrate to form a splendid, slightly sweet sauce that coats the lamb perfectly.  The pearl onions add a nice contrast.  The dish can be served with whole wheat couscous or even quinoa and topped with chopped almonds for a bit of crunch.  Add more cilantro or fresh mint  for a burst of freshness.  Traditionally preserved lemons or Harissa (recipe coming soon!) can be served along side, so feel free to experiment.  One pound of lamb feeds our family of four perfectly, since this is a rich dish– you don’t need a pile on your plate.  We serve it with a nice salad or a vegetable on the side.   However, if you have more people, or are wanting leftovers (highly encouraged), feel free to double the recipe.  Enjoy!

Moroccan Lamb Tagine via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Lamb Tagine

(Serves 3-4 people)

olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 pound lamb stew meat, cubed

10 saffron threads (optional) broken with a mortar and pestle or with your fingertips   *See note

2 tablespoons honey

1 3/4 – 2 cups beef broth, or more

1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric

1-inch piece of whole cinnamon or 1/4 teaspoon ground

pinch of nutmeg or mace

3/4 cup dried plums (prunes)

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

15 frozen (or fresh) pearl onions

fresh mint or more chopped cilantro,  and chopped toasted almonds to garnish

Note: Saffron is a wonderful spice that is used often in Moroccan dishes.  However, it is quite expensive.  This tagine is delicious with or without it–so, you decide.

If you are fortunate enough to have a real tagine, of course use that for this dish.  If you don’t have one, a Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid is a wonderful alternative.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Always use a paper towel to pat your meat dry  before browning it– you will get a wonderful color this way.  Season the lamb with a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper.  Brown your meat in two batches, so the pan does not get overcrowded.   Make sure to let the meat develop a nice dark color.   Add more olive oil, as needed.

Remove the meat from the pan.  Add a bit more olive oil to the pan, (and even a splash of beef broth, if there is a lot of color on the bottom) and brown the chopped onion.  Scrape up all of the brown bits, as they have a ton of flavor.  After a few minutes, add the lamb, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron, cilantro, prunes, and honey.  Saute for 30 seconds, then add the beef broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and place in the oven for about 50 minutes.  Check during the baking time to see if you need to add more broth.  The consistency is your choice, so add as much or as little as you want.  It will thicken near the end.  When it seems done, add the pearl onions and return to oven so they heat through, about 5 minutes.  Garnish with chopped cilantro or mint and chopped almonds.  It’s delicious served with whole wheat couscous or even quinoa.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine’s Special Soups & Stews Issue 2010

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


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Apparently this is the month I make treats that I’ve had in mind for years, but never gotten around to.  First it was this amazing chocolate mint cake that I thought about for a decade, now it’s a gorgeous stollen.  Hey, I’ve only lusted after this fantastic bread for 9 years.  I know many of you plan to entertain family and friends for the holidays, so put this one on your list.  It really stands out from the crowd.  This stollen is not only beautifully interesting, it’s absolutely delicious.  It’s loaded with good things like dried fruit, almonds, lemon and orange zest; and great things like…cognac!

The sweetness is very subtle, mostly coming through the dried fruits, though the icing is there just to make you want to keep coming back for another bite.  Though there’s a real heft, somehow the the bread stays so tender and almost delicate.  Don’t let the thought of dealing with yeast deter you here, either.  This bread may look or even seem a bit daunting, but it’s not.  The recipe is simple.  I used a stand mixer, though the entire recipe can be made in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.  It’ll take a little muscle power, but not much.  One of the reasons this bread turns out so brilliantly is due to not overworking the dough.

One final perk is that the stollen keeps well.  Of course I had a slice of it when it was still warm– because really, there was no stopping me.  It was incredible.  But here’s the thing, it was still incredible the next day and the day after that.   To store it, I simply applied plastic wrap around the cut ends and kept it in a air-tight container.  If you are busy and don’t want to deal with breakfast, this works perfectly.  Serve it along with juicy clementines and maybe even a mimosa.  Your guests will love you even more than they already do.

The Recipe:  Stollen

(makes one large wreath-shaped loaf)

5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for work surface

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup milk, warmed

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted plus 2 more melted tablespoons for brushing, plus more for bowl

1 1/2 ounces (2 envelopes) active dry yeast or 1 ounce fresh cake yeast, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/4 cups currants soaked in 1/4 cup cognac or brandy

1 cup golden raisins and 1/4 cup dried cherries soaked in 1/4 cup orange juice

1 1/4 cups blanched almonds, chopped (see note)

3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

Zest of 2 oranges

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3-4 tablespoons orange juice

Note:  To blanch almonds place them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let sit for a minute.  Then begin to “slip” the peelings off of them with your fingers.  Don’t let them sit in the water too long, or they will become soggy.  It’s best to blanch the almonds in advance, so they have time to dry before being mixed into the dough.

In two small bowls — soak the raisins and cherries with the orange juice and the currants with the cognac.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan with the heat on medium, combine the butter and milk until melted.  Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, mace, and nutmeg into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on low, add the milk and butter.  Add the yeast and eggs and mix until combined.   Detach the paddle attachment and put on the dough hook.  On top of the dough, sprinkle the currants, raisins, and cherries along with their soaking liquids.  Add the orange zest, lemon zest, apricots, and almonds.  Turn on the mixer and “knead”  until everything looks combined, roughly 2-3 minutes.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead by hand for a few seconds, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky.  Form a ball and place into a large buttered bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

Punch down the dough.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a 16 x 24 rectangle and 1/4 – inch thick.  Starting with the long side,  roll the dough tightly into a long, thin cylinder.  Carefully transfer dough to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Form a wreath shape and join the ends together by pinching with fingers to make it stick.

Using a sharp kitchen shears, make cuts along the outside of the circle, in 1- inch intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.  Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 1 hour. The dough all not rise all that much. Brush dough with remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Bake until golden brown and crusty, about 35-45 minutes.  Place baking sheet on a wire rack to cool.

Mix the confectioners’ sugar with the orange juice.  Drizzle over the stollen.  Serve warm, if desired.  Keeps very well in an airtight container and plastic wrap snug around the cut ends.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Holiday Baking Special Issue, 2002

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I hope you all had a lovely Memorial Weekend.  Ours was fun, though not ENTIRELY relaxing– both kids were sick Friday and Saturday– so we didn’t get out as much as we would have liked.  Thankfully, by Sunday all was well and we enjoyed a fantastic barbeque at our friends’ house down the street.  The dodgy weather even complied!  Much of the neighborhood was there, with kids running to-and-fro.  Everyone brought something to share.  I made these beauties and this dish from my friend, Angharad’s blog.  Fantastic!

Today I’m offering you another one of my favorite recipes to try before rhubarb season comes to a close.  (Hopefully you’ll freeze some rhubarb so you can enjoy it throughout the year).  I love coffee cake.  It’s simple and uncomplicated, not fussy, and almost always tastes sublime.  It’s one of those cakes that makes afternoons so much better– brew a pot of French-press coffee and enjoy.  The rhubarb makes this cake very moist, yet it doesn’t become mushy.  Even better, it’s not overly sweet– like many rhubarb dishes can be.  I added orange  zest for a hint of citrus, and topped it with almonds.  Together these three really came together to make a fantastic, delicious flavor.

The Recipe: Rhubarb Coffee Cake

For the Cake:

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup white suger

1/2 cup, butter (at room temperature)

1 cup sour cream (at room temperature, if possible)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon almond extract (vanilla can be substituted)

1 egg (at room temperature)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Zest from 1-2 large oranges

1 cup whole wheat flour  (If you don’t have whole wheat flour, all-purpose can be substituted)

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more to coat the rhubarb

3 cups diced rhubarb

For the Crumb Topping:

1/2 brown sugar

1/4 cup butter (at room temperature)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare a springform pan by buttering it, placing parchment paper on the bottom, buttering the parchment paper, then flouring. Shake out excess flour.  (Note: a 9×9 square pan can also be used)

To make the topping:  Mix the sugar, butter, and cinnamon together using a fork.  Then gently add the 1/4 cup of almonds.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl, toss the diced rhubarb with a little bit of flour so it is evenly coated.  Do not mix the excess flour into the cake.  This will prevent the rhubarb from falling to the bottom of the cake.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugars and butter until creamy, 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the egg.  Next,  add the sour cream, almond extract, and orange zest and combine until just mixed.  Add the flour mixture and blend until just mixed (over-mixing any cake when the flour is added will yield a very tough cake).  Next,  fold the rhubarb into the cake using a rubber spatula.  Pour into prepared pan, making sure it is even.  Sprinkle the topping on top of the cake (I found that using my fingers worked the best).  Then finish with the remaining sliced almonds.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Let cake cool completely in pan on a cooling rack.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Cakes and Frostings with Schmecks Appeal by Edna Staebler

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