Tag Archives: almonds

Almond and pear cake and how to disable a despot

Picture me, happily driving along in my nice new car — I don’t know much about cars, but I can tell you it is very clean and white, and that the seats do back massages — when out of nowhere someone barks ‘keep both hands on the wheel’. I drive on, now nervously gripping the wheel more tightly, and the voice says ‘you are driving over the speed limit’. I’m pretty sure that I left my husband at home, my son is back in Bordeaux, and the dogs aren’t allowed in the new car (and anyway they don’t bark orders; they’re far too busy chewing the upholstery). The orders continue: ‘stop swearing at other road users’, and ‘are you sure you brushed your hair this morning?’ Is this a case of bossy karma? For the first time in my life I’m forced to open an instruction manual; why can’t I find ‘how to disable the despot’ in the index?

I wake up confused every single morning, and it takes me a good few minutes to sort things out in my head. As if ‘where am I?’ and ‘what day/month/year is it?’ weren’t taxing enough, I now have to contend with ‘am I allowed out of the house?’ and, if so, ‘do I need to fill out a form?’ and then ‘on how many counts do I need to avoid the police if I do venture out?’. And now, to add insult to injury, I’m the proud owner of an autocratic car, that has so far managed to dodge being silenced (the manual got the better of my puppy-like attention span). I’m very thankful France isn’t a nanny state, because ‘today you can hug three adults and a toddler inside, while turning your head away’ would send me into a tailspin.

Almonds are a great source of fibre and protein, and are a great source of vitamin E, selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins.

Research by the British Journal of Nutrition shows that moderate nut consumption is beneficial, not only for heart health, but also substantially helps reduce hunger and cravings. A study in China showed that eating almonds resulted in lower levels of insulin and glucose, which is good news for diabetes sufferers. Almonds are also beneficial for gut health, as they alter the composition of the gut microbiome.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

2 large pears, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons Amaretto

150g cane sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons almond extract

150g einkorn flour (you could use ordinary flour, or spelt flour)

50g ground almonds

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

Half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

75ml melted virgin coconut oil

75ml olive oil

Handful flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare and grease a loaf tin. Lightly poach the pears in the Amaretto and a small amount of water. Once the pears are soft (about 5 minutes), drain the excess cooking juice and set aside.

Beat the sugar and eggs together until homogeneous, add the almond essence and then gradually add the flour, ground almonds, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the melted coconut oil and olive oil, mixing well. Lastly, stir in the poached pears, transfer the mixture to the tin and add the flaked almonds on top. Bake for 35/40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Coronation chicken and adolescent hens


This was topical a week ago, but I’ve been rather over-stretched. Amongst other things, the horses flooded their barn (our mare enjoys turning on taps with her nose), and one of the hens is in the midst of a phanton pregnancy. Actually our mare’s passion for taps might be a blessing in disguise.  The flooding reached the hens’ nest which meant that the phantom nester had to abandon ship (not without much cussing) and go back to being a hen that struts around (with wet feet!), as opposed to a hen that skulks in bed, hissing at anyone that approaches and only getting up once a day for food. This, I assume is the hen equivalent of a ‘fags and booze run’. Thinking about it, maybe she’s just hit adolescence and it’s not a phantom pregnancy at all…

This coronation chicken is made with Greek yoghurt as opposed to mayonaise, which makes it a healthier option, without sacrificing any of the creamy taste or texture.

Ingredients (serves four)

4 chicken breasts

1 glass red wine

butter

bay leaves

2 greek yoghurts

2 tablespoons mango chutney

1 shallot

2 cloves garlic

fresh grated ginger

chopped cucumber

seasoning (salt, pepper, curry powder, cumin)

half a cup of sultanas

half a cup of chopped almonds

fresh mint

Poach the chicken breasts in the wine, a little water and melted butter (there should be enough liquid to just cover them), seasoning and bay leaves. Strain and put aside to cool.

Mix the yoghurt, mango chutney, chopped shallots, crushed garlic, grated ginger, seasoning (plenty of curry powder), sultanas, almonds and chopped cucumber and add the cooled poached chicken. Mix well and then chill for at least two hours. Add the fresh mint and serve.

Almond chocolate cake

You may have noticed that I never use normal flour in my recipes. This isn’t only because eating refined wheat flour is about as nutritious as snacking on yesterday’s newspaper, but because I’m wheat-intolerant. It’s not something I harp on about a) because it’s boring and b) because I’ve noticed that not ‘tolerating’ is something that brings out the devil in a lot of people. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have offered me something that is quite patently going to have me doubled up in agony within the next twelve hours and refused to take no for an answer when I decline: ‘Oh go on, I’ve just made it, a little bit won’t hurt, surely…’ It’s as if I’m saying no to be awkward, or to be interesting or different. Err no, if I wanted to be awkward I’d ask you to serve it to me sprinkled with powdered rhino horn, and if I wanted to be interesting or different I’d dye my hair indigo and take up mud pit belly flopping.

This cake, regardless of your ‘wheat status’, is divine. It will leave you wondering why you ever made chocolate cakes with wheat flour. The fact that it uses powdered almonds means that, for a chocolate cake, its GI is quite low and that it contains valuable nutrients. It also has a fairly low sugar content.

Ingredients

5 eggs

130g cane sugar

140g powdered almonds

60g butter

60g coconut oil

125g dark chocolate (preferably 90% coco)

pinch of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Melt the chocolate with the butter and coconut oil. Once melted, add to the sugar, egg yolks, almonds, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and pour into a 20cm cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes.