5 February 2008

Almond blossom

Food is the art - and you don’t doubt it, do you? But have you ever come to love some things edible because of the arts? Well, probably you have and what I’m going to narrate about just in a few seconds will not surprise you at all. On the other hand, you might as well rush to the nearest fine arts museum in a quest for a gastronomic discovery and inspiration. *wink, wink, wink, wink*

Vincent van Gogh introduced me to almonds! I’m not delirious at all! On the contrary, I’m so much proud and grateful for the days I spent in Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam getting acquainted with his masterpieces. Among which was gorgeous
Almond Blossom. Now you see that I’m no way nuts? *wink, wink, wink, wink* So, I’ll repeat once again:
- People, Vincent van Gogh introduced me to almonds through his adored by me painting Almond Blossom!

You wouldn’t believe that by the age of 21 I hadn’t had a single almond in my life (I myself find it rather difficult to believe it now). No matter how bitter it might be, it is true though – no almonds before 21. Of course, it is quite possible to live without these nutty nuts; but what a life is it then? Well…you’ve got the picture. *wink, wink, wink*

So, there I was: a girl standing in the middle of a museum hall marvelling at the Almond Blossom. With the thoughts like these: ‘oh gosh, how divine and delicate the almond tree is painted. The aura of the painting is just overwhelming. It feels as though I’m in a spring garden with the air full of subtle, exhilarating aromas. Why have I never tasted almonds yet? Why, why, why?’ Oh, this guy next to me is so damn good-looking. Oh, and he is looking at me! Oh, and he is saying something to me! Fantastic!’ *wink, wink, wink, wink*

Without any further ado I want to say I am a dedicated almond-eater now! I must tell you that to me personally these nuts are something else! No less than aristocrats in a nutty world! Not so eager to reveal their true taste right away they demand all your attention to their sweetish nature. After kilos of different sorts of nuts eaten in the course of previous years (years, not days!!) I’ve definitely got a thing about almonds and developed a distinct taste for them. Meaning: I can enjoy them both straight from a jar and am able already to distinguish them in more or less elaborate dishes*. And this is what I had for my dinner tonight…

*****Quinoa with Orange and Honey Glazed Almonds*****

(source of the recipe: my own imagination)


150g organic quinoa
1 large orange
25g sliced almonds
1 rounded tsp honey
3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
a pinch of turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Steps to take:
1. Cook quinoa: bring two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, cover at a low simmer and cook for about 12-14 mins or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ should look like a tiny curl and have a slight bite to it. I love my quinoa cooked al dente! Tip: to add up more flavour to the quinoa, put an orange rind into boiling water.

2. In the meantime, finely chop the parsley and cut an orange into segments.

3. Set a small non-stick saucepan over a medium heat and melt the honey (make sure you don’t burn it instead *wink, wink*). Once the honey is fluid, stir in the almond flakes, and mix well so that the nuts are evenly covered with honey and cook for about one minute. I also sprinkled freshly ground pepper over the nuts to extract their flavours more. Tip: prepare the nuts at a final stage of the process when the remainder of the ingredients are ready, otherwise you’ll end up with the nuts stuck too hard to your saucepan’s bottom. Errr..

4. Combine all the ingredients in a moderate bowl (including a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste). Mix well.

5. Before serving sprinkle your quinoa with a few drops of olive oil and fresh orange juice. I felt like adding a tiny bit of raspberry vinegar to maintain an acidulous part of the dish for a balance (I seem to be obsessed with raspberry vinegar lately, but it’s really so good! *wink, wink, wink*) .


My overall impression of the dish is very much positive, even more than that. The earthiness of the quinoa, citrus freshness of orange, the sweetness of almonds and honey and a spiciness of turmeric mix up naturally to create a flavourful dish that will leave you and your taste buds well fed and content. At least it worked out perfectly for me!

Oh Almonds! I love thee!!

* In my vocabulary ‘elaborate dish’ means a dish that contains more than one ingredient. *a smile from ear to ear*


Cookiemouse said...

This must be synchronicity! Yesterday I was eating a meal in "de Peper"vegan cafe in Amsterdam, not very far from the Van Goch museum. The meal contained both quinoa and almonds!

anya said...

Well, to say the least I'm amazed and speechless. :)

Astra Libris said...

Such a wonderful story! I absolutely agree - food is definitely an art form... How wonderful that you mixed both food and "traditional" art! Your recipe looks delicious, by the way... I do adore quinoa...