This years almond crop is being harvested and the creamy fresh nuts always make me think of Ajo Blanco, a cooling and delicious soup that is a speciality of the area around Cordoba. The best one that I was served there was in the restaurant Casa De La Judia in the old town. Pale and smooth with no one flavour dominating and the consistency of a light cream, it was garnished with tiny cubes of sweet apple and halves of white grapes which added to the balance of the flavours.
Of course once I got home I had to perfect my own recipe – but you are going to have to wait until the next post for that, firstly I want to use up the few remaining almonds from last year.
At some time in the dim and distant past I remember making sugared almonds but with a difference – they had spices mixed into the caramel. They were delicious and I may well make them again, but this time I wanted to include the spices but cut down drastically the amount of sugar used, and I like the mixture of salt and sweet, so I added some salt. Here is the resulting recipe.
SWEET, SALTY AND SPICY ALMONDS
200 grams almonds – with or without the brown skin
Half teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
6-8 allspice berries
Half a teaspoon coriander seeds
The contents of 3 green cardamom pods
Quarter of a teaspoon hot chilli powder
Firstly we need to toast the spices before grinding them. Put the cloves, allspice berries, coriander seeds and cardamom seeds in a thick based pan and toast them on a low heat shaking from time to time until you can smell the aromas of them starting to be released.
Put them in a mortar and grind to a powder.
Add the chilli powder, salt and pepper, and mix.
Warm a thick based shallow pan on a low heat and add the almonds. Toast slowly moving the almonds around for even browning.
After a couple of minutes add the spice mix and continue toasting and stirring.
Once the almonds are browned add about a tablespoon or so of water and stir to mix well.
This will help the spice and seasonings stick to the almonds.
The water may disappear quite quickly, or you may need to continue on the heat until the almonds are dry again.
Let cool and serve as an aperitif……. and try not to sample too many before your guests arrive!