Tag Archives: orange

Zesty Almond Biscuits and Zabaglione

When I googled ‘almond biscuits’ yesterday the second item that turned up (after the obligatory wikipedia page) was from the website of the Producers of McLaren Vale, with a recipe from my Mum! Freaky but true – I guess Google have really worked out who I am now.

So clearly this was the recipe I was after. I’ve followed it fairly exactly, but have added some orange zest and a dash of amaretto liqueur. These are honestly the easiest biscuits to make. There are very few ingredients, and no complicated processes – just mix, form and bake.

For the italophiles out there, these are also known as amaretti. The biscuits are crisp on the outside, but wonderfully chewy in the middle. They also happen to be the best accompaniment to an espresso in the world.

But the thing about this recipe is it only uses egg whites, so you have three egg yolks left over. This is your chance to make an unbelievably good Italian dessert – zabaglione with amaretti.

Zabaglione is kind of  like a custard, but very thick, almost like a mousse. It’s traditionally made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet marsala wine, but I like to make it with amaretto liqueur (are you sensing a trend). Amaretti biscuits dipped into hot zabaglione is, well, heavenly.

Three yolks makes just the right amount for two people, so if you’re feeding more just make more biscuits and you’ll have more egg yolks!

Before I get into that though, a quick note on blanching almonds. This is really easy, particularly when you have the beautiful Johnston almonds grown by my parents. This variety is typified by large kernels with thick, wrinkly skins.

To remove the skins you just need to soak the almonds in boiling water for a few minutes. After draining you’ll be able to pinch the skin off of the kernels in a trice.

Almond biscuits (Amaretti)

200g almond meal (I used ‘brown meal’ which is made from skin-on kernels)
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
zest of 1/2 an orange
1-2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
3 egg whites at room temperature
24ish whole blanched almonds

to make

Pre-heat your oven to 160°C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl, mix the almond meal, sugar, flour, orange zest and Amaretto liqueur. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then mix the egg whites into the other ingredients. You should end up with a thick paste.

Form the mixture into balls, one tablespoonful at a time and place on the baking trays. Press one blanched almond into the centre of each biscuit and flatten the ball slightly.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the biscuits are just blushing with golden colour. When cooked, remove the biscuits immediately to wire racks to cool.

Zabaglione

3 egg yolks, at room temperature
50g castor sugar
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur

to make

Get a few centimeters of water boiling in a pot. Pick a bowl that will sit well on top of your pot, then add all of the ingredients. Turn the pot down to a simmer then sit the bowl on top and whisk like crazy. Depending on how fit you are this may be a job for two people.

Your zabaglione is done when it is a lighter colour, fluffy and doesn’t have any raw yolk taste. This should only take a few minutes.

Pour the zabaglione into glasses (martini glasses are perfect because they are easy to dip the biscuits into), serve with some of your amaretti biscuits, and ascend instantly to a sugary heaven.

J

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Slow roasted lamb shoulder served with warm lentil, pumpkin and feta salad with mint and orange dressing

Phew! You probably need a rest after reading the ridiculously long title for this recipe, but you really need to know the whole story because it’s the combination of flavours that makes this dish so delicious.

I’ve had a lovely long weekend spent cooking in my Mum’s kitchen. It’s been a bit of a working bee around here, with deck repairs and house painting going on all over the place. My assigned role was as scullery maid, keeping everyone fed, watered and in clean clothing (well, I did one or two loads of laundry).

I served this slightly unconventional version of the classic Sunday roast to a hungry crowd last night and it was very well received.

The seed idea for this dish, which I’ve made once before, started with the combination of unctuous slow-cooked lamb and lentils. I like a bit of tang with legumes, so I mentally wandered on and thought it might be fun to dress the lentils in a version of mint sauce, the classic accompaniment for roast lamb.

The end result is a winter-warmer that still has loads of fresh flavour thanks to the orange and mint.

The lentils I used were beautiful black lentils grown in South Australia. They were lovely and plump and held their shape perfectly after cooking. French-style Puy lentils would be a good equivalent.

To make

for the lamb:
1.5–2kg lamb shoulder, bones in
4ish cloves garlic, whole
3ish sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper

for the lentils:
1.5 cups dried lentils
1 small brown onion
2 centimetre-wide strips orange peel
4ish mint leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt

for the dressing:
2–3 tablespoons chopped mint
juice of 1 large orange
white wine vinegar (quantity equivalent to the orange juice)
1–2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

the rest:
1.5 cups pumpkin, in 1.5cm cubes
200g feta cheese, also in 1.5cm cubes

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

2. Place the garlic cloves and rosemary in the bottom of a roasting tin. Season the lamb and place it on top of the garlic and rosemary, skin side up. Cover loosely with aluminium foil and place in the hot oven. After 15 minutes turn the heat down to 150°C. Roast for 4–5 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.

3. Do other things for a few hours.

4. Peel and cube the pumpkin then roast on a tray for around an hour (if it’s at 150°C with the lamb) or until it is cooked through and a little coloured.

5. As you’re putting the pumpkin in the oven take the lamb out and drain off the liquid that has collected in the bottom of the pan. Cover the lamb again and return it to the oven. Allow the liquid to sit for 10 minutes or so and then skim the fat off of the top. You should be left with lovely clear juices. Reduce these in a small saucepan until you have just a few tablespoons of lovely lamb essence.

6. In a large-ish saucepan boil 2ish litres of water (I’m so precise!). Meanwhile peel the onion and chop it in half, prepare the strips of orange zest and the mint leaves. Add these to the boiling water along with the lentils. Cook until the lentils are tender but are still holding their shape. Drain then pour back into the saucepan. Stir the olive oil and a pinch of salt through the hot lentils (remember the feta will be very salty so go easy at this stage).

7. To prepare the salad dressing, mix the finely grated orange zest with the orange juice, white wine vinegar and most of the chopped mint.

8. Mix the lentils, pumpkin and the dressing.

9. Prepare the lamb meat by pulling it apart into chunks. It should just fall off the bone.

10. Assembly! At the last moment mix the feta into the rest of the salad and then pour the lot onto a large serving dish that has a bit of a lip (there will be juices to contain). Add the lamb meat and then pour the reduced juices over the meat. Garnish with a final flourish of chopped mint.

11. Devour and collect the praises that will be heaped at your feet by admiring fans (particularly if they are ravenous after a hard day of house painting!)

J