Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ad Hoc's Almond Butter and Fettuccine with Spicy Almond Pesto

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

When I realized my autographed copy of Ad Hoc at Home contained nut butter recipes, I had to go with the Marcona Almond Butter.  Marcona Almonds,  the Queen of Almonds, are imported from Spain.  They truly are incredible!  However, I wasn't quite ready to experiment with $20 worth of almonds, not knowing at that time what I was going to make with the resulting almond butter.  However, I did splurge on one jar, and used those in Ad Hoc's Endive and Arugula Salad, with Peaches and Marcona Almonds (next post), for our Concert in the Park Challenge Peaches. Sorry Tom, but I used plain old roasted almonds for your Marcona Almond Butter.

Marcona Almond Butter
Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home
Makes about 3 cups

2 cups salted roasted Marcona almonds
4 cups whole milk
Kosher salt

Put the almonds in a saucepan, cover with the milk, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours, until the nuts are soft enough to puree in a Vita-Mix (sorry again, Tom, used a blender).  If the liquid reduces below the level of the nuts before they are soft, just add enough water to keep them covered.

Drain the almonds, reserving the liquid (at this point, I also removed the skins, some of which were already falling was easy to slip them off after their milk bath).  Put the nuts in a Vita-Mix (or blender if you don't have a Vita-Mix yet) and, with the machine running on medium speed, begin adding enough liquid to allow the nuts to spin.  Blend on high speed for several minutes, adding more liquid as necessary and scraping down the sides from time to time, until you have a silky-smooth puree (I used at least 1 cup of the milk, but never quite achieved a silky-smooth puree).

Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use, or for up to 2 weeks.  The butter will stiffen in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before using.

I then scoured the web in search of a worthy recipe for my Ad Hoc Almond Butter.  I am proud to say, we truly loved this pasta!

Fettuccine with Spicy Almond Pesto
Food & Wine

3/4 pound fettuccine
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sage leaves
1 large garlic clove, mashed to a paste
1/4 cup almond butter
1 scallion, minced (I used a shallot instead)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Large pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Fry the sage leaves over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Drain the sage on paper towels, then chop half of the leaves.

Combine the chopped sage, garlic, almond butter, remaining 1/4 cup of oil, scallion, zest, red pepper and all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese.

Toss the pasta with the pesto; add the pasta water as necessary to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining cheese and whole sage leaves and serve.

Ad Hoc at Home also has recipes for Pistachio Butter and Hazelnut Butter.  For some reason, those nuts are simmered in 2-3 cups of whole milk and 2 cups of heavy cream.  Bobby Flay's Lobster with Macadamia Nut Butter is also extremely tempting!

Please visit The Daring Kitchen Recipe Archive for the complete Nut Butter Challenge recipes and links, and take a stroll through the Daring Cooks' Blogroll to see what our creative chefs came up with!

Thank you, Margie and Natashya, for hosting this month's challenge!


Jo said...

Great job on your challenge. I am absolutely drooling at your dish especially when you added the word "lobster" .. wow!

Rochelle said...

Love what you did with your almond butter! The pesto sounds perfect and the pasta sounds like it would great with the garlic and red pepper, a couple of my favorite ingredients!

Audax said...

Now that is a fabulous posting milk simmered almonds sorry Macona almonds made into a pesto that is truly inspiring bravo what a great recipe. And it looks so delicious and so tasty. Looking forward to the lobster dish.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Margie said...

So interesting to make the almond butter with milk. Can't wait to give it a try. So cool you have an autographed copy of Ad Hoc at Home. Your fettuccine with spicy almond pesto is stunning, thanks for sharing the recipe!

shelley c. said...

Your pasta dish looks and sounds absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious. Awesome, fantastic job with this challenge!!

Ruth H. said...

That almond pesto looks so good! I think I might have to try it! Great job on the challenge! Really fun and creative!

Liz said...

Once again, I'm blown away. Looks fabulous! By the way, congrats on being in this latest version of Fine Cooking Magazine!!! You go girl! :)

cuppy said...

This stood out to me for two reasons - I love varied pesto, and the almond milkbath is genius. Beautiful job!

Also, I adore your peachy pictures. ;) Hooray for summer and peaches!

Lisa Michelle said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this fettuccine recipe! SO mouth watering and creative! What a treat making TK's Marcona Almond Butter for it. Bookmarked!

David and Stacy said...

It took a long time for our almonds to turn into 'butter'. The milk bath appears to be the answer to that puzzle...

Well done on a great looking dish!