lemon verbena blueberry galette. Mexico City (aka DF) is beautiful, but lets just say that summer weather is not its forte. Because our seasons are divided into dry and rainy, which makes temperature fairly constant all year round (thank goodness!), in summer we pay the consequences and live through a few months of wetness and fairly chilly afternoons. Think torrential rains (I am not talking about the London drizzle, but rather the ‘you stand outside for a minute even with an umbrella and are soaked’ type of rain), hail (yups hail!), and the occasional thunderstorm. To be fair it can be pretty spectacular, and make for some great tardes chocolateras (direct translation: chocolate afternoons, aka stay in, hide under a blanket, watch a movie, and sip some Mexican hot chocolate).
So while you guys in America are all about your summer pies and galettes for picnics, I’m feeling them more for those cold ‘n wet afternoons. To be devoured with a glass of almond milk or a cuppa tea.
And such is the story of this lemon verbena blueberry galette. The result of bringing home 1kg (over 2 pounds!) of local organic blueberries back on Saturday from the market. Which the mother and I devoured pretty much in one go. Starting shyly slice by slice (with the excuse that it wasn’t going to be as good the next day…) and managed to take down three quarters of it in one sitting. So yes, it is that good. And you can easily manage that (good thing?), because of the freshness in flavors- both of the filling and of the crust.
The blueberries are nicely accentuated by the lemon verbena (known as cedrón here in Mexico), a nice tip I got at the market. And similarly, the lemon rind in the crust gives the whole thing even more of that kick (and makes eating just the crust rather delectable). In my book, baking with spices generally results in much more complex flavors, and (just as in cooking) can be adjusted to taste. So feel free to mock around to your taste buds desires.
banana ‘n cardamom chocolate chip cookies. This is a cookie with all good ingredients (yes, I count good quality dark chocolate as good… at least in moderation ;)!), and with flavors unique enough not to rival the classic chocolate chip cookie (which in my book, I’m sorry to say it ought to be made with butter in order to achieve perfection).
Cardamom, banana and chocolate is a match made in heaven if there ever was one. Just a hint of cardamom will help to accentuate the banana in a nice subtle (non-sweet) way, perfect if you want to spiff up that classic tried through-and-through banana bread recipe. These guys are moist (in the best of ways), chewy, and veering on the soft scone-cake side of the cookie spectrum (aka they will never be your thin crisp cookies).
Oh, and if you are looking for an extra crunch I like to add every so often grated (or slivers) of dried coconut. #gnomgnom
So you know those summer afternoons when you have already had your fair share of pie (and hence butter), these will hit the spot just right. Or alternatively, if you are reading this in winter, omit the coconut, and you’ve got one heck of a cookie to balance out all your winter baking. It is a win win situation as you can see.
homemade almond butter. Are you absolutely tired of grimacing every time you hit the almond butter section? I mean I get that its organic, that it has nuggets of heaven, and that its processed by the very almond gods… but churning out fifteen bucks (!!) or so every couple of weeks or so, well that just doesn’t cut it. And for me it’s not just that, but packing it in my suitcase and smuggling it cross-border down south. To to be fair it’s perfectly legal, but you should see the faces the times I’ve gotten that dreaded red light at the stop light at the Mexican customs (if you’ve been over here you know exactly what I’m talking about). Between clothes (and shoes, loads of shoes…) are precious packages of gluten free flours still foreign over here (I mean how hard is it to import sorghum people?! get with it!), maple syrup (grade A), and various flavors of almond butter (honey being my favorite)… amongst other wholefood-ish stuff. You get the drift.
So this time I came home (and I honestly don’t know what took me so long… I’m going to blame it on being super duper busy with my fine jewelry business), it had to be done at home. Although perhaps the deterrents are the infinite number of horror stories you hear and read out there. Broken food processors, carton dry almond butter worthy of no one, hour long processes… only to end up adding a cup of peanut oil in the end.
Well let me tell you something. It’s actually damn easy. But there are two key things involved.
Fresh almonds (numero uno!). I mean you can churn and churn all you want, but if you start with bad produce you are not going to get a jar worth fifteen bucks. Know what I mean? So make sure your almonds have not been laying out there or in a warehouse for years.
Now for requirement numero dos. While you don’t have to toast your almonds, you should at the very least get them in a pan and warm them up a bit. This will speed up the process and make sure you are done in fifteen mins or so. Sounds good right?