November 25, 2010

Simple Almond cake from Andalucia: Tartes de Almendres de Andalucia

Looking for a simple cake for Thanksgiving or something to please a no-gluten glutton? Here is a recipe from the Spanish trio of Kim Schiffer, Ashley Mulligan in Mallora and myself from the last program in Spain that we did together. Be sure to check it out for next year!

This almond cake rocks my socks~ it's easy and delicious..that is if you have almonds on hand or happen to have a place to buy almond flour. Bob's Red Mill has a nice one~ but not cheap~ 13.99 for 1 lb bag. But almonds are not cheap either and take a while to blanch, skin and grind. Depends on the day, right? Cheaper than champagne.

Tartes de Almendres de Andalucia

Butter for the pan
Flour (use almond) for the pan
2 cups of ground blanched almonds
1 cup of sugar (or alternative~ honey, etc.)
9 eggs
1/2 t cinnamon
Zest of one orange or lemon
Use confectioner's sugar for dusting or use jam or orange marmalade.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and dust a 9 in. spring-form pan and shake off excess.
Grind the almonds to a powder (or use pre-ground), set aside.
Separate the yolks from the whites. Beat the whites to a stiff peak and set aside.
Beat yolks and sugar together until thick and light in color. A standing mixer is best.
Add cinnamon and zest. Add the almond flour and mix well.
Fold in the beaten egg whites. 
Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on
a rack. Undo the sides and present the cake dusted or topped with marmalade.

November 23, 2010

Antoniazzi Tuscan Family Recipe: Turkey Stuffed with Sausage, Prunes and Chestnuts

 I just received a beautiful letter from my friend Raffaella Antoniazzi in Florence. It was written in Italian and I have translated it. Oh how I wish I could send it in Italian, as it is written so sweetly.

'La tacchina, deve essere una femmina perche la carne e piu morbida.....'
"il ripieno e di salsiccie di maiale, prugne secche senza nocciolo, e castagne che vengono cotte
sulle brace, pelate e ripassate in una padellina con il burro e l'alloro..'

Italians don't celebrate Thanksgiving of course, but they do eat turkey for Christmas. I would like to  pass this along to you to use if you are looking for something unusually good for your Thanksgiving table this year, or save it for Christmas...that is if you can wait.

Raffaella collects Primitive American quilts and has some of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen.
She has a passion for true American design from her days at Biedermeyer in New York. Looks like she has taken a bit after her grandmother Antoniazzi.

Hello Dear,

I'm sending you the turkey recipe from 'La Nony' Antoniazzi, the mother of my father and aunt Bebi.
She was born in San Pellegrino, near Bergamo in Lombardia and was the daughter of Tommaso Manfredi, the doctor of the village. A handsome man who attended to the sick by horseback from village to village.

La Nony (Erminia, said Mimmina), is also my middle name. she was the second of three children between Tommasina and Pino. She was a fantastic cook, but not only. She painted, wrote (the story of her life!) and had other brilliant ideas that were too forward for her time. She was an Aquarius. I adored her.

Here is the recipe. She must be a female turkey because the meat will be more tender e 'non troppo grande' for 8-10 people.

(Italian recipes are often written out in sentence or paragraph form as is this one.)

Clean the cavity of the turkey well, then sprinkle good 'sale marino' (sea salt) inside and out, but don't exaggerate.

The stuffing is pork sausage, pitted dried prunes, and chestnuts that have been cooked on an open fire, peeled and mashed in a pan with butter and bay leaf.

You stuff the turkey with this delicious mixture and set it in a pan with high sides. The base of the pan should have generous olive oil and butter, (don't exaggerate) as the pork has fat as well. We want it
to be tasty but not too heavy. Put in a few bay leaves and whole black peppercorns also.

The oven should be hot at the beginning to brown the meat for the first 20 minutes. (400F?) It's important to use a baster to marinate the meat from above. Then turn the oven down to let it cook more slowly until done. (350F?) During the cooking, bathe with a heated broth that you have prepared before.

Take out of the oven, let rest, then carve! Bon appetito~

November 19, 2010

Being Like Bob.

I was not surprised when Ms. Kinney told me she wanted to bring her husband of 30 years along on her trip to Morocco.

It was, however, a surprise that he was 93 and able to travel well. My father would have not wanted to go anywhere at 90; he was quite content to stay at home.

Bob Kinney, on the other hand, was ready to go. Each morning in Morocco Bob showed up for breakfast bright eyed. I would ask him, "How are you?" and he would say, "I'm fine! Just happy to be alive! You know, I never expected to live this long."

I asked him, do you have a motto? He replied with certainty, "Do it now." That's different than "Just Do It," I thought. "Do It Now" means that we have no time to waste on not doing, on complaining or sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves. He seemed to understand the "go with the flow" mentality that my guests must slip into, once they realize that I am absolutely in charge not only of our itinerary, but also of their relaxing.

Bob was born in Maine and still speaks of it fondly. He wasn't drafted into the war, as he was better suited to run a certain food company called "General Mills." He would have liked to go straight into officer's training, but stayed home instead to his company like a tight ship. "You must put the responsibility of the product into the hands of the workers. This way, you will always have them listening and working on your behalf, because they feel invested in the success of the company." Bob was in charge of 120,000 employees.

It was with that same spirit and dedication that he accompanied his wife Margee, equally adventurous and enthusiastic about everything, on this fall's program to Morocco. Bob's other motto was, "Say YES to everything." Even riding up to 6,000 ft, to the Kasbah du Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains, on the back of a mule. I was more reluctant at first, having had folks 10 years his junior not comfortable with such a thing. Bob is not a jock, but he has a lot of joie di vivre.

He stayed well the whole trip and delighted us all. On our final night, he was even up dancing alongside the belly dancers. I asked, "Okay Bob, which was more exciting: the mule ride up and down the steep slopes or belly dancing with those lovely women?" He looked at me shyly and said, "The belly dancers for sure!"

I'm printing tee shirts that say, "Be like Bob." Happy to be alive. We should all take that as our motto for living a long life.

Giving thanks for all that we encounter and for the incredibly inspiring people I get to meet on my trips.

Here's a toast: Crumbs on tongues! Sips on lips! Wild Adventures at home and on trips!

With love and wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving,


November 12, 2010

Bahija's Pineapple Upside-Down and Turned Around Date Cake

Bahija Lafredi's sensibility for the extraordinary in food, never ceases to amaze me. It comes easy to her.  Unpretentious in her kitchen whites or traditional tunics, she is like a neutral book cover to a colorful, classic novel. Full of surprises, her imagination takes something as simple as a sponge cake and dresses it to the nines with a flip of the wrists.

This basic pineapple upside-down cake came out of the oven beautifully caramelized and mouthwatering. It would have pleased a Queen. Then Bahija said, 'but if you like, you can turn half of it over'. The underside was studded with dates and almonds. Quite a contrast to the yellow caramelized pineapple. She studied it for a minute, then got an idea to quarter it. What started out as a festive cake, now became more so~ A work of art and a feast for the eyes.

Cooking is not always about following a recipe. It's about learning to follow someones way of seeing.


9 eggs
200 grams flour (1 cup)
200 grams of butter
100 grams of sugar (1/2 cup)
6-8 apples ( pears optional)
1 pineapple
1 cup of sliced, pitted and chopped dates
1 cup of slivered almonds
2 T orange or strawberry marmalade 
2 T baking powder
a pinch of salt

caramel sauce:
100 grams sugar
Melt the sugar on a low flame until it turns a clear light brown. Pour the sauce to coat the bottom of a ring mold, or springform pan. (Caution! Sauce is very hot!)
Slice the fruit and put around the pan. Pineapple first, then the apples.

Beat the eggs with the butter, salt and sugar.
Mix baking powder with the flour, then add to wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour the batter over the fruit. Decorate the top with the chopped dates and almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Invert the cake carefully!
If you want to make the presentation more interesting, cut the cake in quarters and turn only half of it over. You will have pineapple upside down cake on one side, and dates and almonds on the other.