Almond Meal

almondAlmond “flour” or almond meal is available at health food stores and in the health food aisle of your supermarket. Bob’s Red Mill makes it, as does King Arthur (toasted, ground almonds). Trader Joe’s carries almond meal where they display their nuts. You can make your own. Grind up blanched, slivered almonds or whole, raw almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Measure out two cups of almonds to get 1½ C almond meal. Do not over-process or the almonds will become pasty. A little crunch and texture in the almond meal gives this cake character.


Quinoa

There are literally hundreds of varieties of quinoa. This nutrient-packed seed from Peru has a high degree of diversity. In this country though we generally see just three types — red, white and black. They are virtually indistinguishable in taste and also in the way they cook up. For best flavor and fluffiest texture, dry-toast the quinoa before adding the water: rinse the quinoa according to the package directions, then put it in a medium pot without oil or butter. Let the grains dry out a bit and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Simmer  10-15 minutes-do not stir the quinoa while it is cooking. This will allow it to cook evenly and steam holes to form. The quinoa is cooked when you see the grains form a little white spiral tail. This is the outer germ of the grain that twists as it cooks, but stays attached to the kernel.