Everyone is talking about almonds. Especially Helen Bennetts, author of Willunga Almonds Stories + Recipes. Her book, published by Wakefield Press is dedicated to the humble nut’s history and is packed with almond recipes. As South Australia’s annual Willunga Almond Blossom Festival (29 July to 2 August) kicks off, Helen shared recipes for dukkah and a Sephardic orange and almond cake. Go on, hit the kitchen.
Dukkah is a mixture of roasted nuts, herbs and spices that is eaten on bread dipped in olive oil. Claudia Roden introduced the English-speaking world to this Egyptian specialty in A Book of Middle Eastern Food, published in 1968. Tradition has it that dukkah featured at a special 1993 International Olive Oil Council luncheon held in McLaren Vale at the Salopian Inn and from there became a regular part of the local cuisine. Some years later Roden visited the area during the Tasting Australia festival and was delighted to discover the local version featuring almonds and fennel. Serve dukkah with a small bowl of extra virgin olive oil and good bread. You can vary the spices and add dried mint, thyme or other herbs to taste.
Makes 1 1⁄2 cups
1 cup almonds
1⁄4 cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp coriander or fennel seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
Salt and pepper
Roast all ingredients separately then pound together roughly in a mortar. Store in sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Sephardic Orange And Almond Cake
Claudia Roden introduced this cake to a wider audience in 1968 when she included the recipe in A Book of Middle Eastern Food. Moist and delicious – and easy to make – it eventually became a staple on cafe menus around the world. Serve with cream.
2 large oranges
250 g ground almonds
250 g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 160°C and prepare a 22-cm cake tin.
Wash and boil whole oranges in water for about 2 hours. Cool, remove pips and blend to a pulp in a food processor.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs until well mixed then add ground almonds, sugar, baking powder and orange pulp. Pour into cake tin and bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin.
Willunga Almonds Stories + Recipes is out now through Wakefield Press. $39.95.
Got any cracking almond recipes? Let us know in the comments, below.