The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


Considering the time of the year, I too had some revelations.

Revelation number #1: French macaroons are in reality Italian (from maccherone or the verb ammaccare, crush into chunks, probably due to their main ingredient which is ground almonds, and brought to Henry II from Caterina dei Medici).

Revelation number #2: R. can produce a ragu' (aka Bolognese sauce) that is almost better than mine. It is true: making a good sauce is a "labour of love". And I guess I don't have much love to give to pork lately. The secret: mix some pork to lean mince meat . R. boned a leg of pork, diced it into small pieces, and cooked all together which definitely added taste to the general yum of the thing. I guess you could use pre-diced pork but I suspect it will lose the freshness.

Revelation number #3: you cannot improvise with biscuits. They are not easily fooled. The original recipe required only ground almonds. As I only had a third of it, I decided to top it up with normal flour and some semolina. The result? Good but a bit sandy...and reasonably hard but perfect to dip in sweet wine or in your tea! If you use entirely ground almonds the biscuit becomes really soft. I will give it another try!

Almond biscuits

Makes around 30

300g ground almonds (or 100g almonds, 100g flour, 100g semolina)
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
zest of a lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
150g icing sugar
50g butter

1. Work the butter with the sugar. Add the zest and the cinnamon.

2. Mix the flour or almonds with the baking powder. Sift it into the wet mix and knead well. The mixture will be quite wet and soft.

3. Make out of the mix little balls (walnut size) and squash them down on icing sugar that you will have placed on a plate. Pick up the squashed ball making sure you don't drop the sugar on the other side of the biscuit. If you think there is too much, shake any excess.

4. Place the biscuits on a greased try and cook in the oven at 180C for 15minutes.

For the moment with all my revelations I am enjoying a cup of festive tea with my biscuits next to the fire. This morning the frost was so thick that it appeared like snow...leaving a fairy-tale effect everywhere.

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