Before I was struck with what I call “The Plague” (AKA pneumonia) I was in the midst of testing many products. I started with President’s Choice Black Label 100% Pure Roasted Almond Oil $10.99 and Marcona Almonds $9.99.
Getting the Almond Oil canister open was tricky. Do not attempt to open it with a knife like I did! Luckily I did so unscathed which is unusual for me. I really loathe this style of packaging a product. So often the tab is too flimsy and rips off and then you are screwed. So yes, I used a dull knife instead to pry it off. Don’t tell Reg! LOL. (Like he’s not going to read this.)
Once I broke into the canister of oil I proceeded to make our favourite salad using the almond oil for the dressing. The smell was so smoky, I made two different salad dressings. I gave Reg the original (he does not like it when I change a “regular” dish of ours) and I had the one with the almond oil.
The first time I had it I thought to myself, this is way too strong and the oil was so thin in comparison to the olive oil I usually use. But then I grew to like it more the next time and by the third I actually kind of liked it. Intriguing! Definitely not for every salad but you could definitely taste the smoky almond flavour.
Yes, $9.99 is a lot of money but even at the Bulk Barn nuts are crazy expensive. Marcona Almonds come from Spain and according to the packaging are chosen for their “exceptional sweetness and delicate texture.” The only problem? They are blanched, not roasted. And can you ever tell. They tasted very raw to me and the seasoning is so light that I found they did not have a lot of personality.
So… I roasted them! Yes, I slow roasted them in the oven to draw out the oils and give them some colour. I did so in a low oven (around 275F) for 20-30 minutes. Much better! They darkened on both sides and had a stunning smokey flavour. Still, I wanted to do more than just snack on them!
I had read in the manual for the Brod and Taylor Folding Proofer you could melt and temper chocolate! Now I was not ready for tempering (one day) but I did want to see how easily I could melt the chocolate in the proofer. As recommended, I preheated the proofer to 115F for 15 minutes.
I added the Milk Chocolate Chips and it took a while and I had to keep going in there and stirring but the chocolate did eventually melt beautifully. Yes! I love it when a product has more than one function and so far the Brod and Taylor Folding Proofer has been working like a charm.
I put them on a cooling rack with parchment paper underneath. I even sprinkled some with Himalayan salt that I had to make them fancy and was going to take pretty photographs of them but then I got really sick and could not even hold a camera.
Over the first week, Reg and I snacked on some of them, leaving the prettiest last so I could eventually take a photo of them. By the fifth day of fevers and being stuck at home, this ended up being my lunch and helped keep me alive. They were unbelievably delicious! Reg tried the almonds on their own and said they were good but having them covered in chocolate? Amazing! I totally agree. I will make more of these.
Almond, Spinach and Flat Leaf Parsley Pesto
So no, I did not forget about the Almond Oil! I still had testing to do with it so what I came up with was a pesto sauce that we had for dinner last night. I am still really sick so sorry, no officially recipe. What I basically did was put in like two cups of fresh spinach with one cup of flat leaf parsley. I added half a cup at least of the roasted Marcona Almonds, three chopped up garlic cloves, salt and pepper and around a quarter cup of fresh Parmesan. I drizzled around 1/4 cup of the Almond Oil to bring it all together.
When I whizzed it up together, all I could really taste was parsley so I added more garlic and about 1/4 cup of mascarpone cheese to make it creamy and a little more subtle. I should have added more salt at this point but with the nuts already being pre-salted, I wasn’t sure.
I grilled some chicken, sauteed zucchini and mushrooms that I finished with a drizzle of PC Glaze with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena for additional flavour and cooked up a lot of linguini in salted boiling water.
It definitely needed more salt but after we sprinkled some on, all Reg could say last night was, “Oh my God! Oh my GOD! This could be the best thing I have EVER had!” He did not know at the time I had made it from scratch. When I told him he pointed his finger at me and said, “You write this down!” I love it when he likes my food that much.
If you toast the Marcona Almonds like I did, they are pretty fantastic. Above, you can see the colour difference which also really impacts the flavour. The almonds in the small bowl are roasted and toasty in colour and the ones below are quite anemic in comparison.
If you roast these, I give them four out of five. If you don’t, I give them three out of five. If you roast them and put them in a pesto or cover them with chocolate, I give them five out of five.
The Almond Oil is a bit of a challenge to review. I found it had a really strong flavour and for some salad dressings, would be perfect. But others? Could be disastrous. It is definitely an artisan oil that for some applications will take the flavour of your dish over the edge. I personally will be drizzling it over roasted mushrooms with thyme next.
For the true foodie who is creative in the kitchen, I give the Almond Oil four and a half out of five. It would have received a perfect score but how hard it is to open prevented that from happening. For the new cook or someone who does not feel intuitive with food yet, I would give it three and a half. I personally love it and will buy it again but am not thrilled with how hard it is to open! I hope they change that design.
So odd to go from almonds and oil to chocolate but… PC The Decadent Milk Chocolate Chips are top notch and worked fabulously with the almonds and made damn good cookies. I have zero complaints and a 775 g bag for only $6.79 means I will be buying these on a regular basis. I give them five out of five wooden spoons!
I still have a little more testing of the Brod and Taylor Folding Proofer to do, not quite ready yet, so that product review is to come!
Wow, that took me two days to write and now I need a nap. Good news is my doc says my lung are clearing but she said it is going to take a long time before I have energy and feel good again in any way. Luckily President’s Choice has uncanny timing for helping me stay alive by feeding me when I can barely do so myself.
OK, nap time…