Chewy Almond Pistachio Cookies

Crunchy. Chewy. Nutty. These are the trifecta of yum. And, gluten free!



I’ve had torrone with almonds and pistachios on the brain lately. But dayam, it is sooo expensive to get here. But then I started to think about these cookies – ricciarelli – and how they have some of the same ingredients (almonds, egg whites)….and I wondered. What if I put pistachios in those? And almond slivers, too? So……I tried it. I bastardized the wonderful Ricciarelli recipe from Pinch Me, I’m Eating! and himself gives it two thumbs up.



CHEWY PISTACHIO ALMOND COOKIES
Ingredients

1/2 c. egg whites (or 4 egg whites if you’re actually crackin’ and separatin’ those puppies)

Juice from half a lemon

*******

4 c. almond flour

3 c. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1.5 Tbsp. almond extract (or one vial of Dr. Oetker’s bitter almond essence)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

*********

1.5 c. raw shelled pistachios

********

Plus – 1.5 ish cups slivered almonds and another cup-ish of powdered sugar.

Steps

Whip the egg whites and lemon juice until stiff peaks form. Dump in the rest of the ingredients (except the nuts), gently stir to combine. It will make a thick, sticky ball-ish dough. Mix in the pistachios. In a flat bowl, toss about half a cup or so of the additional powdered sugar. Line a couple large baking sheets with parchment. Roll (with your hands) the dough in to ping pong ball-sized rounds, roll them in the powdered sugar and set them on one of the trays.
Once all the balls are formed, toss the slivered almonds into the bowl that held the powdered sugar (it doesn’t matter if there’s a little left in there.) Take each ball, slice it in half along the equator. Dip the freshly cut side into the slivered almonds and then place them (almond side down) on the lined baking sheets, kind of pinching them a little as you set them there so make kind of a pyramid shape. They are supposed to look rustic and malformed. Space them and inch or so apart; they don’t really expand or spread much. Once you have them all done, preheat the oven to 300*. Leave them on the counter to dry out (now, this is Arizona time – if you’re in a humid place, it’ll be different – in fact you might want to wait til it’s not humid) while the oven pre-heats. When it’s time, flatten them ever so slightly (to get more cracks in the surface) and put them in the oven. Bake about 25-30 minutes. The almonds should be golden around the edges and the cookies firm. You don’t want the cookies to brown.

Strawberry Cream Pops

Sweet, creamy, tangy, with little bits of strawberry – these hit all the bases for a summertime treat in our lactose-impaired household.

La saison des fruits is finally here! It’s my favorite – so of course we overbought melon and mango and berries because the prices were awesome. There was a quart of strawberries, and half were amazing but about half looked to be that “I’m mostly red and all but I’m not really ripe and sweet.” So I thought I’d quarter them and roast them. The original plan was going be a frozen yogurt (made with that miracle of miracles, Fage lactose-free Greek yogurt), but mine had grown a full head of hair in the fridge since I last used some, so……..sigh.

Then himself mumbled about how I was making strawberry icecream for me, but how come I never made him fudgcicles. (We are all twelve year olds on the inside, aren’t we? But ah lurfs him). So I started Googling that and found an AMAZEBALLS recipe for those (five ingredients? Are you kidding? The were in the freezer in five minutes. SOOOO GOOOD, too!) Anywho, that got me thinking. I had a cup of roasted strawberries in the freezer. I bet those would be good with the coconut milk, too. So, there you have it. I’m glad the berries were frozen, because when I took the stick blender to it that meant there would be little bits of berry. This is forking deeeelish and you should make these immediately.

I got the little zippie bags and the funnel on Amazon a couple years back. Depending on your pop consumption, that bag lasts quite a while. Ok – try these!


Roasted Strawberry Coconut Cream Pops
1 pint of strawberries, washed trimmed and quartered.

1 14.5oz can of light coconut milk
1/4 c. agave syrup
1/4 tsp. salt

Heat the oven to 375* while you’re cleaning the berries. Spread them out on a sheet of parchment on a baking tray, and roast about 20-25 minutes. The house should smell like strawberry pie, and they should be just starting to caramelize around the edges.

Cool and freeze.

Once the berries are mostly frozen, put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until almost smooth but still slightly chunky.

Fill your pops, lay ’em flat in the freezer, and have an awesome treat the next day!

My only counsel would be about the coconut milk. Be sure to use the light kind; the heavy kind has a lot more fat/coconut cream in it and once it’s frozen that masks just about every other flavor.

Carrot Salad with Pistachio

Refreshingly crisp carrot mixed with raisin and pistachio in a wonderfully tangy and slightly sweet dressing with just a hint of celery seed. This is deeeeeelicious. Picnic season is upon us – make this!

It’s getting warm (finally!), so I’m thinking about salads. We had a smoked brisket potluck at the office a while back, and our Google Overlords helped me find an awesome (and I mean AWESOME) coleslaw recipe over at The Spruce Eats.. It’s a vinegar slaw, but the dressing is cooked first. This was so alien to me, I had to try it to see if it worked. I’ve made it twice so far for the office and several times at home, and it gets inhaled every time.
I started to wonder if I could tweak the sauce to work with a carrot salad, and the answer is yes. We had this last weekend with some fried chicken (so yummy!), and plan to have it with sammiches for lunch this week. It’s light and crunchy and lets the sweetness of the carrots shine. Himself loves it, and I hope you do, too.

Carrot Salad with Pistachio

1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar or rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. mild vegetable oil
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1.5 to 2 pounds carrots, shredded
1/3 cup pistachio meats
1/4 cup raisins
Two green onions sliced, greens and whites separated

In a small saucepan, put the sugar vinegar, oil, and celery seed. Sift in the mustard powder (so you don’t get mustard lumps – you could also smoosh it in with the sugar and slowly stir in the vinegar to make a smooth paste before stirring in the rest.) Anywho, whisk it all together, put over medium high until it comes to a boil, whisk again and remove from the heat. Stir in the white parts of the onion, and set aside.

Peel and shred your carrots. I like to cut mine in 2-3” chunks and then lay them flat to shred them in the Cuisinart – I like the longer shred – but however you like. Toss the shredded carrots, raisins, pistachios, and green parts of the onion to combine. Once the dressing has cooled to room temp/just tepid, toss it with the carrot mixture. This makes one generous quart. And it’s delicious.
Bon appetit!

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam

We had a mimosa mocktail potluck at the office on New Year’s eve, and I wound up taking home two half-pints of raspberries that didn’t get used. They’ve been sitting the fridge for a week and today was clean out the fridge day. I couldn’t bring myself to toss them, and decided to use them up in some jam. This is yummy – nice raspberry-forward with a little heat at the finish. This is going to be awesome on some grilled chicken kebabs, layered on some goat cheese in a savory-sweet crostata, or on a grilled cheese (if you’re lucky enough to eat cheese.)
Bon apetit!

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam
Yield: two 4-oz jars.

12 oz fresh raspberries
12 oz sugar
2 medium jalapenos, sliced into ⅛” crescents
1/4c water
½ juicy lime

Toss everything but the lime in to a saucepan on low. (You need the water at first to keep things from burning until the berries release their juices.) Simmer about 20-ish minutes until it passes the spoon test. When it’s almost done, squeeze in the juice of half a lime and stir (should be about 2 Tbsp.) and heat up/sterilize your jars – drain out the water and fill them with the jam. Lid them and either water bath them to can, or let them cool and keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Cranberry Cornmeal Coffee Cake with Orange Drizzle

There’s not a lot of narration with this one. I’ve been wanting to make cranberry orange muffins for a few weeks, and when I got up this morning I thought cornbread – so this is a smoosh. We couldn’t come up with a really catchy name. But the coffee cake? Oh, man – that is really yummy. Not too sweet (unless you go nuts with the glaze.) Nice tooth and corny flavor from the cornmeal, pretty red bits from the fresh cranberries along with their unmistakable zing. Then some nice orange to round it out. This one’s a keeper. I’m thinking this flavor profile would make some really good corn shortbread cookies – just need to develop a recipe.

Stay well out there, peeps – and have some cake.

Cranberry Cornmeal Coffee Cake with Orange Drizzle
This will make two 8” round cakes, or one 9”x13” rectangular cake. So, one for you and one for the neighbors – or just cut the recipe in half for a nice little breakfast cake.

Cake:
1.5 c AP flour
0.75 c yellow corn meal
2 Tb corn starch
1.25 c sugar
2 tsp. Baking powder
¼ tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp orange zest (about half an orange’s worth)
0.5 c butter, room temp
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 c. fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

Drizzle:
2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. orange zest (so, the other half…)
Juice of the orange

Grease or line your pan(s). Preheat your oven to 375*.
In the bowl of your mixer, mix together the dry. Add the butter and beat with your paddle attachment until the mixture looks like fine crumbs (about 2 minutes). Add the wet, change to the whisk attachment and beat on high for about three minutes until it looks lighter in color and a bit fluffier than when you began. Stir in ¾ of the chopped cranberries (we’ll sprinkle the rest on top) and pour into your prepared pans. Bake about 30 min until a tester comes out clean (for the rounds; for the oblong, start checking at about 40 min).

Once cool, mix your drizzle. Put the sugar and zest in a bowl, and slowly squeeze in enough juice to make a thick icing. You want to almost so think you could use it as a frosting. This way it will hold it’s shape nicely when you zig-zag it across the cake. (Can you make it thinner? Why not? You’re a adult, do whatchuwant.) Pop it in a piping bag or a quart ziplock, snip the corner and go to town.

Damn Fine Cowboy Beans

I love pinto beans. No, I mean I really love them. Nothing beats a nice bowl of frijoles straight out of the pot, with lots of broth with some minced onion and cilantro and a big squeeze of lime. It is comfort food at its finest.

For years I made shite beans. Then I went to my friend D’s for a dinner party, and his beans were awesome – so of course I had to ask how he did it. He looked at me like I was a simpleton (hey, he’s from New Mexico and I’m from Arizona – knowing how to make a pot of beans is a basic life skill.) Then he said dry beans, bay leaf, ham hock, beef broth. That’s it. Kaplowie – mind blown. And I’ve never looked back – or stopped thanking him. No soaking, no weird mumbo jumbo with baking soda and what not. Just toss it in the pot and snap, Bob’s your uncle.

Himself is highly partial to charro-style beans – you know, the kind with lots of broth and bits of bacon and jalapeno. Here’s our version. We think it’s damn good – and hope you do, too.

Damn Fine Cowboy Beans

1# dry pinto beans, picked and rinsed

3-4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced

½ white onion, diced (½ c.)

½ – 1 jalapeno, in ⅛” discs

2 Tbsp chili powder (I use New Mexico, medium)

2 Tbsp. Mexican oregano, crushed

½ tsp. Ground cumin

1 bouillon cube or 1 Tbsp better than bouillon (beef, chicken, pork – doesn’t matter.)

2 ½ qts water.

You do NOT need to soak the beans.  Throw everything in the crock pot on low and in about six or seven hours you’ve got some damn fine cowboy beans.  (In other words, before you go to bed or before you leave for work in the morning.) They are good as-is, refried, or made in to some pozole de frijol by adding some hominy.  I love a big bowl of these with some fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro and white onion. SO tasty!
I usually make a crock pot of these about every third Sunday, and freeze them in ½ quart deli containers – they’re easy to thaw in the microwave and are a perfect size for the two of us for dinner during the week.

This cooks in about four hours stovetop.
This recipe yields about two quarts of beans, with some broth left over.

Buen provencho, my friends.

Apple Cranberry Crumb Pie

y – u – m !

I had half a batch of Martha’s pâte brisée in the fridge and needed to use it up.
Deciding what kind of a pie to make, I remember my work friend, A., and how he waxes poetic about a local diner’s apple-cranberry. He loves it – but “only the crumb top one.” And ya know what? There are apples in the fridge and cranberries in the freezer. Let’s give this a whirl!

I’ve always thought it would be my kind of pie – tart and just a little sweet – like a strawberry-rhurbarb. Plus, in our post-election decompression time, Apple Pie seems incredibly appropriate.

Two six-inch galettes, ready for the oven!

Sweet, tart, soft, crunchy, and full of buttery goodness. You taste what it is – cranberry and apple, with a touch of love. This mofo is definitely a winner and I will make it again many times.

Apple Cranberry Crumb Galette

Ingredients:

1/2 batch pâte brisée, or hell a deep dish pie crust from the grocer’s. (I’ll try not to judge)

Filling:
4 crisp apples, peeled, cored, sliced in 1/4″ slices, then cut those in half.
3/4 c. fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. Grains of Paradise (opt)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. AP flour
1/4 c. sugar
juice of half a lemon

Topping:

1/2 c. AP flour
4 Tbsp. corn starch
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt (or omit if using salted butter)
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. Grains of Paradise (opt.)

What on earth is Grains of Paradise, you ask? It’s a spice that tastes kind of citrusy/peppery. Alton Brown had it in a pie recipe ages ago and so I ordered some.

Preheat your oven to 375*.

Roll your dough, put it in your pie pan (either one 9″ deep or two 6″ shallow) and pop that in the fridge. You can do a fancy crimp or a galette-type edge if you’re lazy like me.

After you peel and chop the apples, put them in a bowl. Sprinkle on the salt, sugar, and lemon juice. Give it a stir. Then sprinkle on the flour, add the rest of the ingredients, and give that a stir. Set aside.

In your food processor, put in all the dry ingredients for the topping. Give a couple quick whirls to combine. Then, chop the butter and toss it in. Pulse until you have very fine crumbs that stick together if you smoosh some between your fingers.

Assembly time! Take the crust(s) out of the fridge. Spread in the filling. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly on the top, paying special attention to the edges. Leave no space for things to bubble up and out to make it a pain to clean. (Now you know what motivates me.)
Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. About 35-40 mins for the 6″, about 45-55 m for the 9″.

Bon apetit!
This was positively DELICOUS, and I think it is my new favorite. Give it a try. The 6″ size would be perfect for a quarantine-stay-home-just-the-two-of-us meal, with second one to leave with the neighbors or a friend.

Sooooo good! Hope you try it!


Tamales de Jamaica con Chipotle

I’ve attempted making red chile with jamaica once before, and it was an EPIC disaster.  Oh, lawdee lawd – so gross.
Then a few weeks back, there was an article in the NY Times about a vegan chef in LA, and how she makes carnitas and al pastor tacos using jackfruit and jamaica.  I ordered her cookbook then and there. (Check it out – she is forking brilliant!!)

I wanted a red chile style filling for tamales, and alas that recipe is not included – but her techniques are, so I cobbled together a few things and this turned out pretty tasty. This is one of those recipe in many steps – I did it over a couple days.  And, I gotta confess, I just bought the damn masa preparada – my local meximart makes a vegan one, and it is pretty good.  So, I boiled the jamaica one day (and used that for aqua fresca) and then stuck the cooked flowers in the fridge, and then got them out today to finish.

And – heads up!  I’m not going to go in to tamale fabrication steps here – the interwebs is chock full.  This is more about how to make that vegan filling. Just know that in all seriousness, if you were to cook these in the Instant pot, you could have home made fresh tamales ready in an hour.  No shit, bro. For reals.

Ingredients:

The Tamales
Corn husks, soaked in hot water and drained
Green olives – about 16
4# masa preparada para tamales

The Filling:
1 c. dried jamaica/hibiscus flowers that have been boiled and drained twice, then chopped. This will yield about 3 c. final product.
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ a 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, or one big red tomato, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ c. chipotles en adobo
½ c. prepared red chili paste (see the barbacoa post for the recipe – I make it in batches and freeze ½ c. portions in otter pop zippies in the freezer)
½ c. water
1 Tbsp. dried Mexican oregano leaves
¼ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. smoked paprika

Ok, in a saute pan cook the olive oil, garlic and tomato on medium-low for about ten minutes – until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic is cooked. Puree that mix along with the chipotles en adobo.  Return that mix to the pan, and add the rest of the ingredients except the jamaica.  Simmer on medium about five minutes to let everything cook together.  While that’s going, coarsely chop the jamaica.  When the time’s up, stir the jamaica in to the red chile sauce and remove from the heat.  That’s it.  You’re ready to assemble.

Assemble and steam for about 45m. stove top (or follow the directions for your instant pot). And enjoy!

I got sixteen tamales out of this batch. But honestly, they started to get a little fat at the end there – so if I’d been more consistent I would have had 18 or 20. Try to make them all the same size, btw, so they cook evenly and are all done at the same time. My heavy-handedness cost me additional cooking time.
Either way, though, your reward is this:

OMG these are so good. And yes, indulgent – but we both commented on how they were not as heavy as the meat kind. Which is dangerous, because then maybe you think you can eat four in one sitting instead of just two.

Sweet Hot Jammy Jams

Remember to wear gloves!

This all started with goat cheese. We’d gone down to Willcox for our annual corn/squash/green chile splurge, and on the drive back I was mentally planning what to cook. I decided on a green chile/sqash/chèvre enchilada with verde sauce. So of course, we had to stop for the goat cheese on the way home and I got the big package.

Thing is, I made the dish (and it was delicious and took a bajillion cheese pills to eat some), but now I have 3/4 of this big log of chèvre frais in the fridge. So, I’ll take it to work. Only, you can just take nekkid cheese to work – that would be sad. I got out some onions and balsamic to make some quick jam to go with when I remembered I had a lot of jalapenos in the fridge. And I thought, mmmmm jalapeno jam on that smooth creamy cheese would be forking delicious. Time to consult the Google Overlords.

So, turns out this is a huge thing. It even has a special name – Cowboy Candy. I went through a bunch of the recipes, got a feel for the commonalities, and adjusted from there. I had to go small batch – I only had about seven peppers. But this made exactly one 8-oz jar. Perfect to take to work with the cheese. Hell, I might get ambitious today and make some crackers, too. Woo – goin’ crazy!


I love savoury-sweet with a little tang. Yum!

Well, here ’tis. Give it a whirl. Apparently pouring this over a block of cream cheese is quite a thing.

Cowboy Candy
1 1/2c. sliced jalapenos (about 7 medium)
1/3 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. celery seed
1/8 tsp. tumeric
Sprinkle Cayenne
In a small pan, bring everything but the jalapenos to a quick boil, turn the heat down to simmer and add the jalapenos. Simmer about 20ish minutes, until it is reduced to jammy thickness*. Take it off the heat and stir in one tsp. more of cider vinegar. Pour in to a clean hot jar (I always rinse mine with boiling water right before filling. Use common sense if your glass is cold. )

That’s it – I imagine this would be super scrumptious on a grilled chicken breast or shrimp kebab, as well as the aforementioned cheese.

Give this a whirl – hope you like it!

* To test the thickness, dip spoon in the jam then let that cool. Run your finger through it – is it thick like jam and your finger streak remains? Then it’s done. If not, reduce some more



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Salsa Verde

Hello, my lovelies.  I’ve finally come across something new and worthy enough to share.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my Spanish listening skills and learning how to make traditional Mexican recipes.  I had nothing new of my own worth sharing for a bit. It didn’t make sense to post what I’d been cooking when there was a recipe/video already out there, and I hadn’t developed the recipe myself.  Add to that a forceful internal debate going about entitlement and cultural appropriation, and it just wasn’t the right time. Yet. But then I did some tweaking on a couple recipes I’ve been trying and was ecstatic with the results.  The gals at the office loved it.  One tried the recipe at home and her husband loved it.  Actually, she was really kind – she said he loved it so much it inspired them to do a big asada for dinner.  (S! You made my day!) So, time to share.

Salsa verde had never been my favorite -there is something off-putting to me about the cooked tomatillos. They’re not exactly slimy, but they have this certain viscousy mucus quality (especially the jarred kind) and that olive green color that just are not appetizing to me. I want something more vibrant and fresh. 
In my journeys with my new YouTube friends and The Google, I discovered that tomatillo salsas fall into three main categories where the ingredients are either cruda/raw, charred, or boiled.

Not exactly attractive as it cools off. But just wait!

I was ecstatic when I found the first raw recipe – finally! Yes! But……..no. it was way too acidic.  Then I started to think – why do I have to follow the rules? Who says I can’t blend a couple techniques?  I prefer the tomatillos cooked, but the garlic and cilantro raw in terms of flavor – what if I just barely poached the tomatillos, and some of the other ingredients were raw? Would that fix what I didn’t like? The answer was a resounding yes.  This is spicy. And garlicky. And truly outstanding on carne asada, fish and chicken – hell, even eggs with avocado.  It’s really good – and I hope you make it and love it, too.

Ready for the boat motor – my Mueller stick blender that is so powerful I can use it to make cashew cream.
Oh, yeah! Power tools!
Oh, my inner obsessive was so pleased – exactly 16 ounces. One perfect jar to take to the office Monday! And then Himself says, “Why the office? None for here? I like this salsa!” And this, my betches, is why I love him.

Salsa Verde
Put the following in a saucepan, and cover with water:
Fresh tomatillos, with the cascara (husk)* removed and washed (this is about 8 small, [a little bigger than a ping pong ball.] They should fill the pan.)
1 large jalapeno, pierced (or two if you like things REALLY hot)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
Bring just to a boil, then remove the heat and let them sit in the water and cool down til they’re just warm.
The tomatillos will go to a drab green color.

In your blender or food processor, put:
2-3 fat cloves raw garlic
1/2 a small white onion (about 1/3 c. worth)
a handful of cilantro(remove most of the stems)
1/2 tsp salt
The cooked tomatillos, garlic and jalapeno (but trim the stem first)

Puree until mostly smooth.  Add some of the cooking water from the saucepan to thin it out if needed.
You can add lime if you want, but the tomatillos are pretty acidic already.  This is garlicky and spicy – but not inedible. It’s that good kind of hot that warms your mouth and makes you want to keep eating it.
That’s it.  Munch away!

*In case you’ve never removed the husk of a tomatillo, be aware that the fruit are sticky under the husk.  You need to wash them really well with water after removing the husk to remove those sticky plant juices. 

Love that fresh color from the cilantro – much better than solid olive green!