This weekend the Mother Forker’s are cooking from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain. I can’t wait for our dinner. We have all gone a little crazy over this great book – me included – and instead of picking out our usual one dish to cook we all came back saying we were cooking two, three or even four dishes. Each recipe looks more delicious than the last. I also love all the detailed descriptions, the history of the country, what Mario Batali calls “her super-savy gastropinions” and the glorious photographs by Quentin Bacon.
Anneli, our host this month, has edited and so far our menu is looking something like this:
Fried goat’s cheese
Salt Cod Croquettes
Baby Squid in their ink
Shrimp with garlic
Quince Paste with cheese
Blood Sausage with apple
Sausages in red wine
Whole Red Snapper cooked in Salt
Vegetables and Tomato with hard-boiled egg vinaigrette
Almond cake or Puff Pastry filled with Custard
Pine Nut and Marzipan Sweets
Pine Nut and Marzipan Sweets
Panellets de pinones – Catalonia
These sweets are easy to make – if a little time consuming sticking the pine nuts to the marzipan – it was a fun afternoon project with the kids. In the book Roden explains that they are expensive because they are labor intensive. For my first batch I used the Almond Meal from Trader Joes – this includes the skins of the almonds and so the marzipan was a dark brown. The sweets I remember eating as a child in Spain were pale in the middle – this was fixed by using blanched ground almonds. Roden doesn’t specify and you can use either. The lemon zest takes the edge off the sweetness of the cookie/sweet.
The mazipan is best if made the day before and left to rest in the refrigerator.
Although, traditionally Panellets are the sweets of All Saints’ Day in Catalonia. They would make a great easter gift – you could even roll the balls into little egg shapes before baking.
Best of all this recipe is gluten free.
For the Marzipan
2 cups ground almonds – blanched for a little colored, smoother cookie
1 cup Baker’s sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1 egg white possibly more lightly beaten
2 cups pine nuts – Roden’s recipe calls for 1 cup but I quickly ran out after about 10 balls
1. Using a food processor make a paste with the ground almonds, sugar, lemon zest and water. You have to process for a couple of minutes until the oil from the almonds is released and binds the ingredients into a firm soft paste.
2. Wrap the marzipan in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day:
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Divide the marzipan into equal portions (I found this easiest to use a knife and cut into cubes) and roll into 1 inch diameter balls using the palms of your hands. Makes about 20 balls.
3. Take a ball, dip it in the egg white and then roll the ball in a handful of pine nuts until they are covering the entire ball. You may need to stick/press a few extra pine nuts in place. Once the ball is totally encrusted in pine nuts dip it back in the egg white and roll in the plam of your hand – this serves two purposes – it covers the ball in the egg white and it gives you a last chance to make them round.
4. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until they are slightly golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet.