almond

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

Once upon a time, on a cold dark winter night, I was living in a tiny condo in downtown Toronto. The condo was a furnished short-term rental, and the kitchen was bare-bones - not a pan, whisk, or mixing bowl to be seen. It was about this time of the year, and I wanted to make a festive treat to enjoy with my sweetheart. Something easy. Something beautiful. Something familiar, but different...

I perused some of my favourite food blogs, and was inspired by this stellar recipe for peanut butter cups. I imagined a variation with 2 of my favorite things: super-fine dark chocolate and smooth almond butter. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and whoa ~

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

I've been hanging on to this lovely recipe for over a year now, and finally have a drop of time to share it. ¡Feliz Navidad mis amigos!

Almond Rice Horchata

Home-made horchata is definitely where it's at. I don't think I'll ever buy rice milk or almond milk again, as home-made almond/rice horchata is similar, but much better. I've just started making my own horchata with: almonds, rice, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, lime zest, and a pinch of salt. I would love to make this with agave syrup too, but, funnily enough, agave syrup is impossible to find in this part of Mexico. It's even possible to make "sugar-free horchata" with no sugars at all, or a little bit of stevia... I'd really love to make horchata from sprouted/germinated almonds - though I haven't been able to find any raw almonds that are still "raw" since California has been irradiating their almonds. Anyways, after several experiments, here's my new horchata recipe:

Recipe: Almond Rice Horchata


My first ever horchata in progress: almonds, rice, cinnamon, and lime zest soaking in water.


Wish you were here: A refreshing and nourishing glass of almond horchata hits the spot when it's too hot to cook. When it's +44C (with humidity) this is a good thing!

Disfruta! Enjoy! 

PS - I'm just starting another wave of traveling, so my posts will still be super-sporadic. I wish I had more time to post all the wonderful things I'm learning, but there's always mañana. ;) Next stop: Costa Maya

Me Encanta Horchata

I'm back on the grid! Living in a little Mexican town, on a tropical lake, with a lovely fresh produce market, in a sweet little casa with wifi and a gear-laden kitchen. Soy muy afortunada. The jungle was awesome, but I was ready to move on. The rainy season is just starting, which means even more bugs, and I was getting eaten alive out there. Serves me right. ;)

There's so much that I've learned, and so much I want to share...

One amazing drink I discovered is an elixir of the gods called horchata. Every now and then, I'd see vendors at the side of the street selling it, and wonder what it was. Really, I wasn't that curious because the name didn't sound that appetizing. I even noticed it in the grocery stores, as a thick white substance sold in bottles. I ignored it, since to me it looked like mayonnaise or something creamy, yuk. One day, I noticed a bottle in an otherwise empty fridge of a kitchen palapa where we were staying. I picked it up and read the ingredients, which were: rice, sugar, water, almond, cinnamon, vanilla. What?! That sounds awesome... The directions said to mix some of this syrup with water, and enjoy over ice. I tried it. ¡Fantastico!

I learned that Mexican horchata is basically a sweet aromatic rice milk, usually made with raw rice and flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla, served on ice. Originally from Spain, it's traditionally made with tigernuts (chufas), so Spanish horchata probably tastes quite different than Mexican horchata. It's also made with ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, or barley. I'd love to try all the differnet kinds.

Mexican horchata makes a great drink on it's own, or spiked with rum. I like adding horchata syrup to coffee or black tea as a dairy-free creamer/sweetener - or mixed with hot fresh ginger tea. Adding a teaspoon or two of concentrate to an agua de fruta (fruit blended with water), or smoothie is awesome too. Here is one of my favourite combos:

Recipe: Papaya Horchata Smoothie

Generally, the commercial horchata concentrates you can find here are mega-sweet, so I recommend using a lot less than the directions call for. You can find the concentrate in most grocery stores down here, the quality varies and different brands have different ingredient ratios, and some are less sweet. Of course, it's best to make your own! This rice and almond Yucatecan horchata recipe sounds awesome.

I'd eventually like to concoct my own horchatas, like: almond honey horchata, sugar-free brown rice horchata, sesame ginger horchata, chocolate spice horhchata, maple walnut horchata, agave jicama horchata... and of course, a traditional Spanish horchata de chufa.

The little bit of reasearch I did revealed some fascinating history, and that people are very passionate about this drink. I'd love to learn more - please share your horchata info, recipes and links - gracias!

Thanks for the pic Crispin!

Whole Almond Bread

Here's my new favorite protein-rich quick bread, made with whole ground almonds, eggs, and yogurt.

Recipe: Whole Almond Bread

It's a really substantial and dense loaf, having 2 1/2 cups of whole almonds. Grinding the almonds is pretty easy too: just pulse them in a blender or food processor.

I based my recipe on this one. It's taken me several delicious experiments come up with my own version of this satisfying bread - note the summer photo!  The last one I made domed very nicely on top - wish I took a photo - oh well. ;)

Great for slicing and toasting. You can also pan-fry slices in a bit of
butter, then serve topped with fruit and maple syrup "french toast"
style - yum!

This healthy satisfying (delicious) bread is wheat-free, gluten-free, corn-free, soy-free, yeast-free, and sugar-free. (You could probably make it dairy-free by using soy yogurt.)

Enjoy ♥

Festive Persian Cookies


Nan-e Nokhodchi (Roasted Chickpea Four-Leaf Clover Cookies). Image from Vegtarian Times

I'm back on the scene with some great recipes to share. (Selling our condo + (moving x 2) = super busy...) I have a couple of killer recipes to post before taking off for Mexico too - but first, Persian cookies!

I love Persian cookies. They're aromatic, pretty, and wonderfully flavoured with awesome things like rose water, cardamom, cinnamon, honey, saffron, pistachios, almonds, walnuts... perfect for festive cookie season. Here are some classics from the web, all wheat-free, beautifully flavoured, shortbread-like, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Nan-e Gerdui (Walnut Cookies with cardamom, topped with pistachios)
A fantastic cookie recipe + a history lesson.

Persian Rice Cookies
A traditional aromatic and delicate little cookie flavoured with rosewater, cardamom, and adorned with pistachios.

Another recipe for Persian Rice Cookies from an accomplished traveling food blogger. Included on this page are 3 other stellar cookie recipes from around the world. I love the sounds of the Ricciarelli (Sienese Almond Cookies): "Snow-white outside and meltingly soft inside, they're a fragrant, cloudlike version of the best marzipan you've ever eaten." Yum!

Rice Flour Poppyseed Cookies (naan-e berenji)

A middle eastern shortbread-like cookie flavoured with orange blossom water and poppyseeds. Super step-by-step photos. Check out this recipe for Rice Flour Butter Cookies from the same blog. (I'd up the rosewater to 3 tsp - I'm a freak for aromatic cookies.) Good stuff.

Nan-e Nokhodchi (Roasted Chickpea Four-Leaf Clover Cookies)
I LOVE these cookies, and like this recipe because of the easy directions, flavourings, and great photo. Here's another recipe for the same cookie made with half ghee and half oil, rather than all oil. (I prefer the addition of ghee, and the extra cardamom in this recipe.)

Gluten-Free Cardamom Shortbread
Here's a wonderful sounding treat, made with rice flour and inspired by Persian cookies. I'd increase the cardamom to at least 1/2 tsp.. I can't help it. ;)

Please share your favourite Persian and Middle Eastern cookie recipes in the comments. Happy festive baking!

Chocolate Chip Almond Banana Bread

After several delightfully tasty experiments, I came up with my new favourite banana bread:

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Almond Banana Bread

Made with freshly-ground whole almonds, natural sugars, vanilla, nutmeg, and dark chocolate (to mention just a few of the stellar ingredients) it's incredibly flavourful, moist, and heathy too. The almonds give the bread a satisfying bite, and lend their own natural sweetness. Speaking of sweet, I've tweaked the sugar (agave nectar) till it hit that wonderful sweet but not-too-sweet balance, which allows all the flavours and textures to shine. This recipe is dairy optional, wheat and gluten-free. Use high quality dark chocolate chips for a supremely delicious treat. I'm not one to push brands, but Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips are pretty awesome!

Happy healthy baking :-)

New Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis are one of my favourite summer treats. These baked fruit and custard desserts are absolutely delicious made with fresh local fruit (traditionally cherries), they look beautiful, and they're very easy to throw together. I discovered some interesting facts about clafoutis while searching the web and re-visiting the English wikipedia entry I started on the topic:

  • A "clafouiti" is more commonly called a "clafoutis" ("clafoutis" in the plural too)
  • When other kinds of fruit (plums, prunes, apples, cranberries, blackberries..) are used instead of cherries, the dish is called a "flognarde" or "flaugnarde" (I still prefer calling them clafoutis!)
  • Clafoutis originated in Limousin France and spread throughout the country in the 19th century
  • Baking whole cherries (with the pits intact) in a clafoutis imparts a wonderful flavour

Out of curiosity (and laziness) I made my first cherry clafoutis with whole un-pitted cherries. The result? The cherry clafoutis (+pits) had almond-like undertones from the cherry pits, totally delicious! You do have to spit the pits out while you're eating it, but it's totally worth it.

Since I'm off wheat, I experimented until I came up with a delicious nice-textured wheat-free clafoutis -
Recipe: Classic-Style Cherry Clafoutis + Variations


And here's a splendid variation with a slivered almond crust -
Recipe: Cherry Clafoutis with Almond Crust

Both of these clafoutis can be made with other fruit like blueberries, raspberries, halved fresh figs - mmm...

Please share your favourite clafoutis recipes, facts and tips in the comments!
xo Patty

Thanks Michelle for intoducing me to clafouits years ago - you're a great baking buddy. Thanks Crispin for the top photo, you really have a knack for making my baked goods look sexy ;-)

sweet snack


One of may favourite snacks/breakfasts:
rice cakes + nut butter + cocoa nibs + honey + cinnamon

...particularly delicious with almond butter, fairtrade raw organic cocoa nibs, local honey, and very fine cinnamon :-)

Marvelous Macaroons


The first time I had a real fresh almond macaroon was in French Switzerland. After one sweet crisp chewy almondy bite, I was hooked. Later, I looked up recipes for classic French-style almond macaroons, and was pleased to see how simple they are (basic ingredients; almonds, egg whites, sugar) and easy to make. Another bonus: they're gluten-free! After several delicious experiments, I came up with this lovely not-too-sweet version of classic French-style almond macaroons, here made with fresh almond flour, fragrant orange zest and honey.

Recipe: Honey Almond Macaroons

Miam miam!

Almonds :-)

almond tree in Spain
A beautiful blooming almond tree in Spain. (image from the wikipedia)
The food of the week on one of my favorite sites (the world's healthiest foods) is the amazingly tasty, versatile, nutritious almond! High in protein, healthy fat, vitamin E, manganese - also containing a good amount of magnesium, copper, B2 and antioxidants (read the full low-down here) - almonds are truly a super-food :-) I love enjoying them dry-roasted, sprouted, in baked goods...
Recipes:

Flourless Sesame Almond Cookies

Blueberry Fig Sprouted Almond Clafouti

Awesome Almond Buckwheat Pancakes

Orange Mexican Wedding Cakes

Chocolate Almond Bran Biscotti

Super Pancakes (for one or more)

Gluten Free / Sugar Free Cheesecake

Sprouted Almond Smoothie