Here I am on the 33rd floor, in a suite at the San Moritz Hotel in New York City. Daughter, baby Sammy, and I were treated to this stay by my son-in-law’s grandmother. Our patio overlooks Central Park. The majestic horses, as their hooves pound the pavement, pulling the hansom cabs, seem to type the story of New York.
My mind wanders for a moment, and the realization that this copy is due, comes alive. This is the finale to the bridal luncheon serial, with the recipe for the dessert, Almendrado. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must before I leave, and then the public library for a brief history of the almond tree for this column.
The almond tree may have been native to western Asia, but no positive data exists. It is a member of the rose family and the same genus as the peach tree. The almond most closely resembles the nut of the peach, which confirms their common remote ancestry. It occurs to me that this might be why almond flavoring is often put in peach pie. Oddly, the peach is a native of China. The Arabs brought almond cuttings to Spain during their occupation of that country. Today, it is still a major ingredient in Spanish desserts and roasted almonds are served regularly as a “munchie” with their superb dry sherries.
Here is the almond dessert I served at Vicki’s shower:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup water
6 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 pkg (2 3/4oz) chopped almonds, or 3/4 cup lightly toasted in the oven.
Mix gelatin with the water in a small saucepan. Stir gently over medium heat until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Beat egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Gradually beat dissolved gelatin into frothy egg whites. Slowly beat in sugar. Continue beating until mixture forms stiff peaks. Beat in almond extract and fold in nuts. Line a 1 quart loaf pan with plastic wrap. Spread egg white mixture evenly into the loaf pan. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serves eight.
Prepare Natillas de Almendrado (sauce).
NATILLAS DE ALMENDRADO
6 egg yolks
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups hot milk
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp finely grated fresh lemon peel
In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks, salt and sugar until blended. Stirring constantly, slowly add hot milk. Pour into top of double-boiler. Cook over simmering water until mixture coats a metal spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in almond extract and lemon peel. Cool on a rack, then refrigerate at least 1 hour. Makes about 3 cups. Slice Almendrado into eight pieces, and spoon on Natillas sauce.
And thus I complete the saga of the menu at Vicki’s shower. A little bit of work, but worth every morsel of flavor!
Got to go. The museum closes in a couple of hours, and we have to culture Sammy!