Showing posts with label almonds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label almonds. Show all posts

Friday, February 26, 2016

Almond Shortbread

Adapted from Favorite Irish Teatime Recipes

I promised you another cookie recipe, so here it is. Well, it’s not exactly a cookie, it’s a shortbread. They’re pretty easy to make, and not too sweet. This one’s a little different because it has a sort of meringue frosting on top, plus sliced almonds, which gives a nice crunch.

A note: a lot of recipes call for “rubbing in the butter” by hand. I often cheat and use a food processor, because (a) it’s faster, and (b) the butter is distributed more evenly. If you’re a traditional baker, go ahead and get your hands into the mixture. The result tastes good either way.

Almond Shortbread

5 oz./1 cup flour
1 heaping Tblsp ground rice (you could grind your own, 
   but I happened to have some rice flour on hand)
2 heaping Tblsp sugar
4 oz. (one-half stick) butter, at room temperature
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 egg white
4 oz./1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 oz. sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (yes, that's low). Grease a 7” round pan.

In a bowl, mix the flour, ground rice and sugar, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (or use a food processor for the whole thing here).

Add the egg yolks and mix to form a stiff dough. Knead until smooth, then roll out on a lightly floured surface until it will fit into the pan. Press in until flat, then prick with a fork. 

Cover the dough with a piece of foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.

I had to include this--it's my antique sifter
Whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks, the sift the confectioner’s sugar and fold it in.

Remove the pan from the oven, take off the foil, and spread the icing mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the almonds, then return to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes.

After the first baking

After the second baking
Cool the shortbread in the pan, then cut into wedges when it is cool.


A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mystery #4) is a Barnes and Noble mass market bestseller for three weeks in a row! You can order it at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, or look for it in your local bookstores.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Writer's Snack: Maple-Cinnamon Glazed Almonds with Pink Salt by Cleo Coyle

If you live in New York City, you better like nuts. (It goes with the territory.) 

These nuts are the kind you eat. They're deliciously addictive, and they'll make your kitchen smell like a Cinnabon store...

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.
Cleo Coyle's
Extra Crunchy

Glazed Almonds
with Pink Salt

My husband remembers glazed nuts like these being cooked and served at his first ever "New York" party. That was over thirty years ago. "It was the first time I ever saw parchment paper," he said. (Spoken like a co-writer of culinary mysteries.) And, yes, you will need parchment paper to prevent the process from making a royal mess of your pan. 

The basic recipe (using egg whites to bind seasonings to nuts before roasting) has been around for decades. My husband and I didn't invent it, but we did create this particular combination of ingredients. We think the coarseness of our sugar and salt choices (Sugar in the Raw and roughly ground Himalayan pink salt) gives extra crunchiness to the coating, which makes them especially satisfying. They're easy to stir together and roast, outrageously addictive, and you can change the seasonings to your own liking. Here's how we do it...

For the PDF, click here.
To download a free PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.


1 egg white

1 teaspoon maple syrup

2 cups whole, raw, shelled almonds

3/4 cup Sugar in the Raw (aka Turbinado sugar)

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground Himalayan pink salt

Directions: In a large mixing bowl, combine egg white and maple syrup and whisk well. Pour in the almonds and stir them gently until well coated with the egg white mixture. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado sugar), cinnamon, and pink salt. Now taste the mix of seasonings. Is it too salty or sweet for you? Do you want a stronger cinnamon flavor? Adjust to your liking. Pour the final dry seasoning mixture over the wet nuts and gently fold until well coated. Dump the bowl's contents onto a baking sheet that's been lined with parchment paper. Spread the nuts out in a single layer. Bake at 300° F. for about 30 minutes. Using a spatula, gently flip the nuts and cook for another 10 minutes. This flipping ensures that any dampness on the underside of the nuts will be cooked. Nuts are done when the outside coating becomes crisp. Cool completely before storing in a plastic bag or airtight container, and...

To download
the free PDF,

click here

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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"...a highly satisfying mystery."
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See the book's
Recipe Guide
by clicking here.


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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Welcome our guest, Jeri Westerson!

Welcome our guest, Jeri Westerson!
Noir and hard-boiled fiction seem to be in Jeri Westerson’s blood. She was born and bred on the mean streets of Los Angeles, inhaling smog and enduring earthquakes. Raised in a household that not only embraced history, but medieval English history specifically, Jeri came by her interest in all things medieval honestly. She worked in a bevy of careers prior to setting her sights on becoming a novelist. Would-be actress, graphic artist, theology teacher, tasting host and tour guide for a winery, and newspaper reporter were among them. She wanted to create her own brand of medieval mystery, and combined the concept of medieval mystery with hard-boiled detective fiction into what she calls “Medieval Noir.”

The Alchemy of Medieval Cookery
By Jeri Westerson

My newest medieval mystery SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST, with hunk-on-a-stick disgraced knight turned detective Crispin Guest, hits the shelves. While researching for this book, I had to delve into the art of alchemy, how it was done, who were the practitioners, and what did it all mean. Writing about a different place and time comes with its own sets of problems, including learning what life was like for the everyday person in medieval London. It includes a lot of hands-on research. And since this blog deals in food, I can talk about some of my adventures in medieval cookery.

Cooking is alchemy. Of course it is. And what is alchemy but transmuting elements into different elements. Cooking is just that. Changing eggs into a soufflé, for instance. The amalgamation of eggs, flour, and sugar into a cake. We know how we do it now, but how did they do it then?

My books are set in the fourteenth century, and it just so happens that in about this time, cookbooks were coming into their own. Cookbooks started out life in the Middle East as a physicians’ prescription book, with folk remedies and potions to heal the sick. Eventually, they became recipes for the table. But even so, these were not the kind of cookbooks that included medieval meatloaf. These cookbooks didn’t have recipes that everyone already knew how to cook. These were for manor houses and palaces, showcasing the very special top-of-the-line recipes. How to cook a Cockatrice, for instance, that mythological creature part bird and part beast. (How do you cook a cockatrice, you ask? Veeeerycarefully.)

Still want to make that Cockatrice? (Oh Mom, we had that last night!) Here’s the Middle English version:

Take a capoun and skald hym, and draw hym clene, and smyte hem a-to in the waste overthwart. Take a pige and skald hym, and draw hym in the same manner and smyte hem also in the waste. Take a nedyl and threde, and sewe the fore partye of the capoun to the after parti of the pygge and fore partye of the pigge to the hinder party of the capoun, and then stuffe hem as thou stuffiest a pigge. Putte hem on a spete and roste hym an than he is y-now, dore hem with yolkys of eyroun and pouder ginger and safroun, thenne wyth the ius of percely with-owte and than serve it forth for a ryal mete.

Did you get all that?  Basically, cut a chicken and a pig in half at the waist, sew the front half of one to the back half of the other, stuff them, and roast them on a spit. Glaze them with eggs yolks and powdered ginger and parsley and serve as a royal feast. Sometimes the feathers would be carefully put back on the bird, as when one serves swan. That makes a really good presentation. Don’t forget to stretch your meal with Cockatrice Helper!

I have to admit, I’ve never made this, but I sure want to. Don’t you?

Medieval fare made good use of seasonal foods. Sort of had to with limited ways of food preservation (there was smoking, salting, pickling, and preserving like jams.) But mostly, you had to rely on what was growing and what was able to be caught or bought in terms of meat, and they ate a LOT of meat. But only if you were a middle class merchant or craftsman or higher. Poorer folk relied on lots of pottages or soups and stews, with lots of low-brow ingredients like dried peas and beans. Which was technically healthier than all that bleached bread and meat.

Milk wasn’t really drunk. It was far too valuable for that. They made it into cheese, something that could last for days and weeks. Fruit juices likewise were used for cooking and sweetening other food (sugar was expensive. If you had a sweet tooth, you used fruit or homegrown honey from your own bees.) Thirsty? You had to rely on water, but mostly ales, which were sweeter then. No hops yet, at least in England. They looked down their nose at that. Hops served as a bittering agent but it also preserved the beer. Without it, you had to drink that beer up mighty quick, within days of brewing.

Bread, then as now, was a staple, and baked every day. Sometimes you brought your loaves to a baker and, for a fee, he would bake it for you, using his expensive fuel to keep ovens warm all day.

One common recipe included stuffed loaves, called rastons, which I have made.  

1 large round loaf
½ cup butter
1 tablespoon poppy or crushed fennel seeds

·       Cut the top off a loaf and save for a lid. Scoop out the bread from the loaf and crumble.
·       Melt butter in a heavy skillet and add the crumbs. Toss so that they are evenly coated. Mix with seeds. Replace all into the loaf and put on the “lid”.
·       Bake in moderate oven before serving. Use your hands to pull bits away.

Almond milk was another common fare. It was used as a dipping sauce for bread, a thickener for sauces, and a flavoring agent for meat and fruit dishes. It’s funny that in our diet culture today, almond milk is back on the store shelves as a substitute for milk for the lactose intolerant or for folks who want to cut carbs from the diet. I have used this for a dipping sauce for medieval parsnip fritters. 
½ cup blanched almonds
1 cup boiling water
1 ½ teaspoon of honey
Dash of salt

·       To blanch almonds, boil the nuts in water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. Pour cold water over them. Pop off the skins.

·       Grind almonds in ye olde blender or mortar, adding a few tablespoons of ice water during the process to prevent the paste from becoming oily.

·       Add honey and salt to 1 cup of boiling water and dissolve. Pour liquid over almonds. Allow to soak for about ten minutes. Strain out almonds if a smooth texture is desired. (Or go to Trader Joe’s and get almond meal. Skip the blanching process and go directly to adding boiling water. No need to strain.) 

Any of these are wonderful for a medieval party, and easy to do. The amazing alchemy that happens when you cook proves the magic of the process. A lot easier to turn almonds into a sauce than lead into gold, but it is no less mystical.

Jeri works her alchemy on her medieval mysteries. The latest is SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST.  

You can see her series book trailer and discussion guides on her website.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cranberry Almond Brownies Recipe

Our cookie contest is on!!!!  What beautiful cookies (including bars) coming our way...and therefore your way.

And I am having so much fun.

Denise Zaky offered this recipe, which she found from King Arthur Flour, but she amended it, so we’re using the recipe that she provided. King Arthur Flour asked for candied cherries and their flour, of course. Denise amended to suit her cupboard’s needs – as I would have done.

Now many of you know that I need to eat gluten-free, so I made two batches of these. One with all of Denise’s ingredients and one gluten-free. 

{And one more, which I’ll explain at the end of this post.} My taste-testers were over on Thanksgiving and loved the brownies!!!  All of them. What was interesting is they couldn’t taste the difference between my first batch of brownies, GF or regular. Ha!  But again…read on for the “rest of the real” story.

Cranberry Almond Brownies from Denise Zaky


           1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

·         1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur (brandy or apple juice)

·         3/4 cup semisweet chocolates

·         1/2 cup butter

·         1 cup sugar

·         1/2 teaspoon salt

·         2 large eggs

·         3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour  [**NOTE: for gluten-free, use ¾ cup sweet rice or rice flour and 1 teaspoon Xantham gum]

·         1/2 teaspoon baking powder

·         1/2 cup diced almonds

·         1/2 cup Semisweet Chocolates

            If you want to have chocolate for coating these delicious morsels, you’ll need one more cup of Semisweet Chocolate and 2 tablespoons water or milk.  (*see note below)


1) Place dried chopped cranberries in a microwave-safe container,  
sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Amaretto and cover. Microwave for 45  
seconds. Set aside to soften and cool. (Note, I forgot to chop these. But they were fine because they’re small.)
Gluten-free 9" round

Regular mix 8x11" rectangle
2) Melt together the semisweet chocolate and butter over low heat, or in the microwave. {If you do in the microwave, which I did, only go on medium high for 15-20 seconds at a time so they don’t overcook.) Stir in the sugar and salt. Whisk well. Set aside to cool to lukewarm. [Okay BIG NOTE -- the rest of the real story – I forgot on the first batches to add the sugar and they turned out great, so I think that’s because the original recipe called for unsweetened chocolate and sugar. Since Denise had called for semisweet chocolates, the sugar was already in the mix, so to speak. When I remade the brownies using the sugar, they were a tad too sweet, but I think they both worked. It just depends on what mood you are in, don’t you think?]

3) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8" x 8" square pan or  
9" round pan.  [I used an 8 x 11 rectangle for the regular brownies and an 9" round for the GF to make sure I didn't get them mixed up.]

4) Whisk the eggs, one at a time, into the chocolate mixture. Stir in  
the flour (or gluten-free flour and Xanthan gum) and baking powder, then the soaked cranberries and extra semisweet chocolates.

5) Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 25 to 30  
minutes, until set. Remove from the oven, and cool before cutting.

6) To dip brownies in coating chocolate: Cut brownies into 1 and 1/4" squares,  
patting crumbs into sides of brownies. Wrap and place in the freezer.  [Note: I did not put them in the freezer. Once cool, they were fine to dip. But you could freeze. I’ve got extras in there right now. Yum!]

All the brownies looked like this without chocolate! Light and fluffy.
7) Melt the 1 cup of semisweet chocolates and water or milk.  Melt coating chocolate by microwaving it in 15-second  bursts, and stirring between bursts until most of it is melted. To  make a dark, shiny glaze, mix ½ cup + 1 tablespoon hot milk with the  melted coating chocolate. Stir vigorously, until the grainy mess  smoothes itself into a dark, shiny glaze. The glaze will be firm but  not hard, like the chocolate glaze on your favorite snack cakes.

8) Using a chocolate dipping fork [I used wooden skewers], skewer a brownie and plop the brownie into the glaze, and  pull it out. Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the dipping bowl to remove excess coating.  Place on parchment to set.  [Note: I used a long barbecue-style toothpick; I could have used a fondue fork, I imagine]  **Also, I had two separate bowls to do the dipping between regular brownies and gluten-free brownies.

Yield: Denise said 3 dozen dipped brownies but I only got 16 brownies from 8 x 11 pan. I think perhaps mine were cut too big? Whatever...delicious!!!! And so pretty and glossy.

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