Without meaning to, I’ve taken you to Turkey two days running. It’s good to get out and about, I guess. Tomorrow, depending on how tonight’s dinner pans out, I think we’ll be in Italy so pack accordingly.
In yoga this morning the instruction as we stretched (or lurched, in my case) was “melt your heart.” The hamstring area was impacted directly, as well as the psyche. If your Monday calls for comfort food–something I always associate with a spoon–then this may be the heart-melting ticket to heaven you are after.
A few caveats are in order here. First, the recipes I looked at called for blanched almonds, which I didn’t have and was unwilling to make. What I had in abundance was unsalted, toasted almonds with their skins on, and having used those once I don’t think I would try anything else. The flavor was stupendous. Second, the amount of sugar indicated was too much, so I reduced it. If you like things very sweet, try 2/3c. The suggested garnish was chopped pistachios, and I can see the merits there. I just didn’t have any. If you do, and possibly also have access to a handful of pink rose petals gathered in the dew, I think that would be the right way to go. Almond extract was suggested as an ingredient, but I like the pure flavor of the food here so I skipped it. You might want to steep some cardamom pods in the milk along with the almonds, if you aren’t in the mood for the straight, mild flavor of almonds. If dairy is a concern, I can’t see any particular reason why you couldn’t make this with soy milk. Finally, a recipe or two that I consulted instructed me to knead the ground almonds before steeping them in the milk, and as near as I can tell that may help you feel more Turkish, which could be a goal of yours, but won’t really affect the flavor of the final product.
turkish almond pudding
½ c almonds
1 quart of milk, divided
1/3 c basmati rice, or 1/3 c + 1T rice flour
½ c sugar
a pinch of salt
Grind the rice in a blender or food processor until it is quite fine. Remove 1/3 c of the rice powder and put it in a 4-cup glass measuring cup or a medium bowl. Pour ¼ c of cold milk over the rice powder, stirring to make a paste.
Put the almonds in the blender with the remaining T of rice powder, and pulse, pause, pulse, pause, until they are ground up too. (Running the machine consistently will create almond butter). Pour and scrape the almond meal into a small bowl or measuring cup.
In a medium saucepan, scald 1 c of the milk (heat until there are bubbles at the edge of the pot, but don’t boil). Pour this over the almonds and stir to combine. Set aside to steep.
Scald the remaining 2 ¾ c milk in the same pot, and pour this into the rice slurry, stirring constantly. Return this mixture to the pot and heat over low to medium heat, stirring all the while, until a strong simmer is reached. Add the pinch of salt and continue to stir and simmer for about ten minutes, until you have something like cream of wheat. Turn off the heat a moment.
Pour the almond/milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the cup you had the rice slurry in. Press with the back of the spoon to extract the liquid, and discard the solids. Add the strained almond milk to the pot, along with the sugar, and bring back to a simmer. Stir and simmer about another 8 minutes, until the cream of wheat consistency is restored. Pour into small dishes, garnish as you like, and maybe get a raspberry involved if you can get hold of a few.