March 6, 2015 | Posted in:Culinary Cues
By Carolyne Kauser-Abbott
For most Canadians, the thought of flowering trees in February is absurd. That is not the case in Provence where the almond tree blooms early in the year. The small white or pale-pink flowers typically appear on the trees by February–a welcome sign that spring is nearby.
The almond tree is small; at full maturity it may reach a height of 30 feet with a trunk diameter of 12 inches. The trees typically start bearing after about five years. The almond is technically a fruit, not a nut; it is from the same family as the plum or cherry (Prunus).
Referenced in the Bible, this decidedly old tree has been a part of human nutrition for centuries. Cultivation of these trees closely followed human migration, and as a result, almonds are found in many local cuisines all around the Mediterranean and the Middle East, often featured in sweets and desserts. However, in more modern times, a large majority (45%) of world production comes from California.
Ancient Provencal cuisine was modest fare; the inhabitants made use of local, seasonal ingredients. With the vast quantities and varieties of foods available locally now, the bland diet of yesteryear would be a surprise to most. The climate of Provence is harsh, with chilly winters, dry summers, and a biting mistral wind that forced ancient populations to survive on what they could forage. Maybe the original “100-mile diet” was invented in Provence–sheep, goat-supplied milk and cheese, olives milled for oil, and almonds ground into flour.
This is an easy Provencal dessert that is both gluten-free and delicious!
Tian aux fruits (Baked Fruit in Almond Crust)
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
A tian is a traditional clay pottery dish from Provence. There are beautiful variations that can be found in local markets, although the traditional variety is made by a few potteries. A glass baking dish (like Pyrex) is a good alternative. Do not use metal. The dessert is really easy and not too sweet. You can make this with any fruit or berry that is in season except strawberries (they are too runny).
1 cup (250g) ground almond flour
3⁄4 cup (175ml) raspberry preserves, or jam of choice
1 large egg
3⁄4 cup (175ml) heavy cream
4-6 apples, Golden are best
1 cup pitted cherries
Pinch ground white pepper
1 whole organic orange, for the zest
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly oil a tian pan or glass baking dish.
Wash, peel, seed, and chop the apples.
Wash, pit, and chop the cherries.
Put the apples and cherry pieces in the baking dish.
In a bowl, combine the almond flour, cream, egg, jam, orange zest, pepper, and Grand Marnier. Mix until well blended.
Pour the almond mixture over the fruit and try to cover evenly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
With her camera and laptop nearby, Carolyne is living proof that there is no such thing as a single career anymore. She began her working life as an equity stock trader and then moved to commercial real estate and project management. She has entered the world of freelance writing and social media consulting. In 2010, Carolyne convinced her husband and Labrador that a few months in France would be fun–they stayed for 13 months. Currently, they split time between Southern France and Canmore in the Canadian Rockies. At home or on the road, she writes a food and travel blog, Ginger and Nutmeg. She recently launched a digital magazine focused on Provence called Perfectly Provence and has two travel apps available here.
Coming up: Ready4Air (Film) Jackson Murphy takes a look at the March box office
Emmy-nominated network television producer Deborah Mitchell is a veteran of ABC and CBS News, a member of the Producers Guild of America, and a board member of the James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee. Through Deborah Mitchell Media Associates, she will create your online personality with a customized website, book you on the right television show, manage your social media profiles, and connect you with the best and brightest digital influencers. Deborah is a weekly contributor for Entrepreneur.com and author of So You Want To Be On TV. You can follow Deborah @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com, or email Nay Ayache on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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