quick and easy dessert

almond butter

8th April 2012

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Spring is here and the garden is exploding with colours and fragrance.  The Jasmin is in full bloom and the wisteria is in its full, lilac beauty.  This also means there is so much work to do in this explosion of growth and enthusiasm.  I just unloaded my car with bags and bags of manure and a whole box full of summer seedlings, which need to be planted today after I write this post.  But first, a favourite and a constant staple in our house – toasted almond butter.

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Roasting the nuts before grinding is optional.  I like how it brings out the wonderful nutty aroma of the almond.  If you decide to keep them raw just keep in mind the grinding process will be much longer and you will require a very powerful grinder. You can try all sorts of nut or seed butter creations, like sunflower – brazil or combining sesame – macadamia, almond – hazelnut.  Just make sure with hazelnuts you remove the bitter skins by rubbing them together after roasting.  I prefer using just almonds, as their qualities are less heating than most other nuts and seeds. 

If the nut butter doesn’t come together or you need to speed up the process, add a tablespoon of walnut oil or oil of your choice after the first 4 minutes of grinding.  The process is a bit daunting, but just have patience and don’t quit too early.

My favourite way of eating almond butter is smeared on two halves of a Medjool date for a sweet at the end of a meal.  My son loves to eat crunchy apple slices dipped in almond butter and enjoys it with home-made strawberry jam on bread.

Makes a wonderful welcome gift for someone special.

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toasted almond butter

Makes approximately 2 cups

Preparation – 30 minutes

Ingredients 

4 cups whole raw organic almonds

¼ tsp rock salt (optional)

preparation 

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

2.  Toast the almonds – spread the almonds out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 12 – 15 minutes until fragrant and they are just starting to brown lightly inside; if not then return to the oven for another 2 minutes and check again.   Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

3. Grind the almonds – transfer to a food processor, add salt and blend, using the highest setting for 1 – 2 minutes to grind them to a powder.  Scrape down the sides of the container.  The whole process takes between 12 – 18 minutes, all depending on the machine you are using, the quality and quantity of the almonds and how well they are roasted.

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After two minutes, it should look like a coarse almond meal:

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After 4 minutes, the oils will start to release:

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As it keeps blending it will release more of the oils and look like this.  You may need to stop and scrape down the sides.

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After 8 – 10 minutes it will look like this.  A ball may form, break it up into a few pieces and keep blending and scraping down the sides…..

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After 12 – 14 minutes, it will look like this.  Keep going….you want to wait until the oils are fully released.

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And finally, 2 – 4 more minutes, blend until it is completely smooth with a slight sheen.

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I find that the almond butter needs to sit for 1 – 2 hours after making it for the flavours to develop and come together.  Store in a jar in the fridge and use within 1 month.

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Goodness shared from Stacey

simple marinated strawberry sauce (vegan)

3rd January 2010

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What a wonderful start to a promising new decade.  Surrounded by so many extraordinary, warm and loved family members and dear friends who are a constant presence in my daily life, inspiring and guiding me!

This is my wish for the new year.

May we live in the moment and see the joy in ordinary things, may we love with our hearts and may we know how lucky we are.

I have my sister with me at the moment and her presence in the kitchen and our home has been so very missed and welcomed.  I also have my husband’s parents over from London so it has been a wonderful time spent all together and it will be very sad to see everyone go.  Having them all here with us and the children makes the void of having no family living here with us in Israel more evident. I realise how supported and held I felt having them physically a part of our daily lives.  Also, because we are not together day in day out, our time together is much more appreciated and loved.  There has been a lot of wonderful, special meals eaten together over this period which we will share with you.

One of them is this delicious strawberry sauce recipe that has filled our bellies at the end of most evenings. What is nice about this one is that it is pretty much pure to its source.  The sauce is so simple and tasty.

Our Friday dinner is always a special meal that brings the family together, where the candles are lit and the bread is blessed.  For the dessert, Donna made chocolate brownies which were cut into small, decadent chocolate squares, topped with vanilla bean ice-cream, strawberries and drizzled with this strawberry sauce. Delicious! Another option is to pop a crunchy biscotti biscuit into the ice-cream or maybe a chocolate mint one.

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marinated strawberry sauce

ingredients 

400g ripe strawberries, hulled and halved

juice 1 large orange

juice 1 lemon

2 tablespoons maple syrup, brown sugar or honey

preparation 

1.  Prepare the strawberries, wash thoroughly and cut in half, then half again. 

2.  Place 300g of the strawberries in a shallow bowl and set aside the remaining 100g to be used for garnishing.

3.  Whisk the orange, lemon juice and sweetener together, then pour over the strawberries.  Leave to marinate for at least 3 hours (the longer it sits the stronger the flavours will be.)  Stir once.

4.  Puree the strawberries into a sauce-like consistency. I leave a few chunks, as it gives a nice texture when serving.

5.  When ready to serve, place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in an individual serving bowl, drizzle over a good helping of the sauce, garnish with the strawberry halves and sprinkle with grated dark chocolate.  And you have the most delicious and the simplest dessert!

Shared goodness from Stacey

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