Homemade almond milk

This is the purest way to enjoy nondairy milk. Raw almonds and water. That’s it. None of the other ingredients added to commercial almond milk. It also tastes the best. Truly like almonds.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2812.jpgThe task might sound intimidating at first, but with the right tools, it is quite simple. I make a batch every two weeks and it takes about one hour. Very much worth it. Taste-wise and health-wise. Please, do try for yourself and let me know your thoughts.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2623.jpgIngredients:
500 g raw almonds (about 4 cups)
8 cups filtered water + for soaking

Special equipment:
Food processor fitted with a steel blade
Chinois and pestle (or fine sieve)
Cheese cloth

Plan the day before.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2627.jpgPlace the almonds in a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2641.jpgThe almonds will plump and the water will become cloudy.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2643.jpgDrain the almonds.
Now there are two ways to proceed. You can peel the almonds to obtain a pure white milk, a very lengthy process, or simply not peel them and use them as is. I will show both ways.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2647.jpgPeeling the almonds is not complicated, just time consuming. If you have help in the kitchen, it can be a fun task to do together around the kitchen table/counter and enjoy sharing time this way. You can use a paring knife, or simply your fingertips. Whichever works best for you. You may want to add a little water in the unpeeled almond bowl to keep them moist, as they dehydrate quickly and are easier to peel when fully hydrated.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2654.jpgI’ve peeled half of my almonds to show you both ways. Same process, slightly different results.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2657.jpgPlace the almonds in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Depending on the size of your bowl, you may want to do this in separate batches so the bowl doesn’t overflow when adding the water.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2664.jpgFirst, grind the almonds alone.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2671.jpgThen add about 1 cup of filtered water for 1 cup of almonds slowly through the feeder while processing.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2684.jpgYou will obtain a creamy milk.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2686.jpgSet out your chinois (or sieve) for straining the milk.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2692.jpgPour the milk through the chinois, over a tall container where the milk can drain.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2698.jpgMix the pulp around with the pestle until all the milk has been extracted.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2708.jpgScrape the sides of the chinois with a spatula.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2710.jpgPlace the pulp back in the food processor for a second round. Process by adding the same volume of water as the first time around.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2719.jpgPlace through the chinois again to extract the milk.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2729.jpgScrape the pulp from the sides of the chinois onto a baking sheet so you can dehydrate it to transform it into almond meal. Set aside.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2742.jpgDrape a cheesecloth over another container and pour the almond milk through it to remove the finer almond grains remaining.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2760.jpgPull up the cheesecloth to let the almond milk drip.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2764.jpgSqueeze the milk out of the pulp inside the cheesecloth.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2771.jpgOpen the cheesecloth to remove the fine pulp and combine it with the previous pulp onto the baking sheet. Set aside.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2780.jpgPour the milk into a bottle with a tight cap. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. Shake the bottle before using as the particles will separate while refrigerated.
Now for the unpeeled almonds.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2786.jpgPlace the unpeeled almonds directly in the food processor, and proceed as for the peeled almonds.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2784.jpgGrind them.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2785.jpgAdd the water.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2789.jpgExtract the milk through a chinois.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2790.jpgWhen the pulp remains, place back in the food processor for a second round. Pour through a cheesecloth.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2796.jpgAnd finally put the remaining pulp onto a baking sheet.
To make the almond meal, I place the baking sheet in the oven on the proof setting for a few hours. Sift the almonds when dry enough. Place back on the baking sheet and back into the oven, on proof setting, for another few hours until completely dehydrated. If you have a dehydrator, that would work very well as well. Then store in your pantry and use in your baking or cooking recipes as you would store-bought almond meal.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2800.jpgHere is the difference between the two milks. Purely visual. Taste wise, no noticeable difference. Either way, I wish you to enjoy it in your coffee, hot chocolate or in your baking and cooking recipes.
Delicious for your taste buds and your body!

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Homemade Granola

As much as I grew up starting the day with a bowl of Chocolate Chaud and Tartines of French bread (not toasted) with butter and lavender honey or homemade jams, I love my American breakfast: granola.20140523-154704-56824770.jpgI particularly enjoy making it because I only include the ingredients I want, and none of the ones I do not want, such as considerable amounts of sugar and oil which are present in most store bought, packaged or bulk, granola. I typically make it with gluten free oats, gluten free old fashioned rolled oats from Bob’s Red Mill, but you can use regular rolled oats if gluten is not an issue for you.  Just be sure they are not instant or quick cooking oats. Finally, I serve mine with almond milk.  Be sure to select the unflavored, original kind that is unsweetened. Whenever ingredients include ‘natural flavor’ or ‘natural flavoring’, often to impart a vanilla flavor, that is synonymous of ‘castoreum’ (animal product), which is not one I want to be putting in my body.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup dried coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 dates
  • 12 dried figs
  • 8 prunes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

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Start by chopping the almonds and walnuts or pecans into smaller bites.20140523-160954-58194907.jpgCombine the oats, almonds, walnuts or pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.

20140523-160955-58195263.jpgThe blackstrap molasses, honey, cinnamon and vanilla quantities are given as a guide.  Please adjust to your preference.
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Add the honey, blackstrap molasses, vanilla and cinnamon to the oat, nut and seed mixture.
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Mix thoroughly until well combined and not lumps remain.
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Spread on two cookie sheets so that the layer is not too thick, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
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Spread the sesame seeds and dried coconut on separate cookie sheets and bake the sesame seeds in the 350F oven for 3 to 4 minutes.
After the granola has been in the oven for 10 minutes, lower the oven to 225F, toss the granola on the cookie sheets and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat tossing the granola every 10 minutes 4 or 5 times until the granola has reach your desired golden brown color.
Meanwhile, place the coconut in the 225F oven for 5 minutes, and toss every 5 minutes for a total of 15 minutes.
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Personally I like the sesame seeds and coconut lightly golden. You can keep baking them darker to exude a more intense flavor.
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You can use a bit more, or less ground flax seeds and chia seeds depending on your preference.
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Slice the dried figs, dates and prunes into small pieces.
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When the granola has baked to your desired golden color, set the cookie sheets on a cooling rack or trivet.
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Spread the dried fruits over the granola.
20140523-175903-64743858.jpgAdd the chia and ground flax seeds and mix to combine thoroughly.
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Place in a glass jar with a top and keep in a dark dry place (kitchen cupboard or pantry).
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Enjoy!

Pampadelle from Ardèche

It has been a little while since my last post. I started a few other endeavors which have been absorbing a great part of my time. Luckily all in the culinary world. More on my developing ‘cuisine’ ventures soon.
This morning, while making breakfast, I decided to take the time to snap a few photos so I could share an old tradition my grandmother used to make for me: pampadelle.

20140320-220211.jpgI don’t believe anyone in France would know what Pampadelle is unless they are actually from Ardèche. It is simply a type of crêpe or flat pancake made with an egg, a little flour and some water or milk. Here’s the new version I prepared to rediscover my origins.

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Ingredients:
1 fresh farm egg
1 Tbsp amaranth flour (or all purpose)
1 Tbsp buckwheat flour (or all purpose)
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
3 Tbsp coconut milk
A few drops vanilla
A little maple syrup
A little grape seed oil

20140321-234521.jpgWhisk the egg with a few drops of vanilla until completely mixed.

20140321-234613.jpg
Add 3 tablespoons of coconut milk and thoroughly mix.

20140321-234659.jpgAdd the Amaranth and Buckwheat flours. Continue to mix.

20140321-234806.jpgAdd a generous tablespoon of sliced almonds and mix together.

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Heat a little grapeseed oil in a heavy bottom pan and pour the mixture, swirling the pan to make sure the batter coats the entire bottom of the pan.

20140321-235018.jpgCook on medium heat until the sides lift, or detach from the pan.

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Flip it to cook the other side briefly.

20140321-235300.jpgServe and top with a few additional sliced almonds and a little maple syrup.

Enjoy!

Hazelnut Praline Chocolates

Hazelnut praline chocolates are heavenly. A great gift for Valentine’s Day! I had recently made some hazelnut praline flans and had extra caramelized hazelnut praline. So, I decided to simply add some chocolate to make hazelnut praline chocolates. This recipe only made about a dozen, and they were gone in the blink of an eye.  So you may double or even triple the recipe.  Besides, the larger quantity you make, the easier it is to dip/coat the chocolates. And every one will be thankful you made more rather than less.

20140127-172055.jpgTempering chocolate is a very precise technique and it is imperative to follow the instructions.  If the chocolate rises above or cools below the indicated temperatures, you will have to start the whole tempering procedure over from the beginning. The technique described below is for dark chocolate.  The temperatures vary for milk or white chocolate.20140127-172322.jpgIngredients:

2 1/3 oz Caramelized hazelnut praline (see 9/2/13 post: hazelnut praline flan for Leslie)
2/3 oz Dark chocolate (70% minimum)
1 3/4 oz Dark chocolate for coating
Toasted chopped almonds

Equipment: a chocolate thermometer for tempering the chocolate and a chocolate dipping fork.
20140127-172413.jpgMelt the 2/3 oz of dark chocolate gently in a double-boiler.

20140127-172505.jpgWhen the chocolate is completely smooth, remove from the heat and add the caramelized hazelnut praline.

20140127-173559.jpgMix well until fully incorporated.

20140127-173637.jpgShape into small balls with the palm of your hands.  Place on a plate and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to harden.

20140127-173720.jpgChop the 1 3/4 oz chocolate for tempering in preparation of coating/dipping.

20140127-173837.jpgPlace in a double boiler and slowly melt the chocolate for tempering. Tempering is an important step to ensure that the finished chocolates hold their shape, do not smudge, and have a shiny finish.

20140127-173925.jpgMeanwhile, toast the almond in a hot oven for a few minutes. They should be only slightly toasted, not burnt.

20140127-173959.jpgChop the toasted almonds finely and reserve.

20140127-174056.jpgMeanwhile the chocolate temperature should reach 128-130F.  Remove the chocolate from the heat source a degree or two below the desired temperature as the chocolate temperature will keep rising from the heat stored in the saucepan.

Once the chocolate has reach 128-130F, let it cool at ambient temperature (do not refrigerate) till it cools down to 81-82F by stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  To hasten the process, you may use a large piece of unmelted chocolate to stir instead of a wooden spoon, or slowly add grated chocolate.

Once the temperature reaches 81-82F, place the chocolate back on the double boiler and slowly raise the temperature to 88-89F.

Now your chocolate is tempered and ready for coating/dipping.

20140127-174158.jpgTake the pralines out of the refrigerator. Use the blade of a knife or small icing spatula to coat one layer of chocolate on the bottom (flat side) of the pralines.

20140127-174259.jpgAdd about a tablespoon-full of chopped toasted almonds to the tempered chocolate. Mix well. Keep the temperature at 88-89F by periodically placing the chocolate back on the double boiler.

20140127-174338.jpgUsing a chocolate dipping fork, place the chocolate-layer flat face of the praline on the fork.

20140128-121502.jpgDip in the tempered chocolate and remove excess from the bottom by sliding the blade of a knife underneath.

20140128-121607.jpgPlace on a plate to set, sprinkling a few extra toasted chopped almonds.

20140128-121931.jpgEnjoy!