100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love by Jill Silverman Hough, includes recipes like Smoked Paprika Fried Almonds; Cold Peach and Mango Soup Shooters ; and Edamame Wontons with Gingered Soy Sauce.
Makes 3 cups
The hardest thing about making this recipe is finding blanched whole almonds, so I've suggested a few ideas for doing that below. But the effort is well worth it, because these easy-to-make nuts have a warm, haunting flavor that makes them absolutely, positively addictive!
In a large bowl, combine the salt, paprika, and cayenne, if using. Set aside.
In a large skillet, combine the almonds and olive oil. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the almonds are lightly browned, 4 to 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the nuts to the bowl with the salt mixture. Toss to thoroughly and evenly coat.
Allow the almonds to cool at least slightly before serving warm or at room temperature. (You can prepare the almonds up to a week in advance. Cool them thoroughly, then store them at room temperature in an airtight container.)
To blanch raw whole almonds: Place the almonds in a large heatproof bowl. Cover with 1 or 2 inches of rapidly boiling water, then let them sit for 2 minutes. Drain, then place the almonds inside a folded kitchen towel and rub them vigorously. Most of the skins should be loosened and can be easily slipped off with your fingers (it's tedious, but it works). Let the almonds dry completely before using them in this recipe.
Smoked paprika is without a doubt one of the best new ingredients—to us in the States at least—of the last five years. It's available in the spice section of most major supermarkets and at specialty food stores. Besides using it in this recipe, you can use it in Serrano Shrimp (page 123 of the book) and Spice-Rubbed Chicken Wings (page 152). You can also stir smoked paprika into salsas, soups, stews, and sauces—and sprinkle it over meats, poultry, and fish.
For blanched raw whole almonds, call around before you shop, and try the natural and specialty food stores in your area. You can also order them via Amazon.com or, even better, order whole blanched raw Marcona almonds, also available at Amazon.com. Marconas are round, flat Spanish almonds with a lovely soft texture, not unlike that of a cashew.
If you find whole Marcona almonds that have already been roasted and salted, you can use them, too. Just follow the same recipe, but cook them for only 3 or 4 minutes, until they're only slightly browned.
Finally, you can also blanch raw whole almonds easily at home (see above).
This page created August 2010
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