“Tick! Smiley Face!” – With Marcella #106 & #107 (of 466)

It all began with Nigella and Anna.

As I began to work through Nigella Lawson’s ‘Kitchen’ and Anna Del Conte’s ‘Classic Italian Recipes’, I would tick the recipe I had completed and if I felt it deserved it, I’d give it a smiley face. With both books the smiley face became somewhat redundant. With the exception of two or three recipes between them, every recipe worked and tasted good.

But the phrase ‘Tick! Smiley Face!’ has stuck.

Last night, I had the delight of cooking dinner for, and eating dinner with, my brother and his two kids – my lovely niece and nephew. I had the added delight of dropping in to the shop where my nephew has begun an apprenticeship as a butcher, and ordering the meat for that night’s dinner. He served me with good manners and attentiveness. I, apparently, managed not to embarrass him in the process. It was definitely a ‘proud aunty’ moment!

Later, as we ate together, my nephew declared the dish to be a definite ‘Tick! Smiley Face’.

After dinner all four of us danced, sang, even harmonised, to ‘Stayin’ Alive’. A priceless moment of memories created!

Earlier that week, I’d also tried another of Marcella’s frittata recipes with another good friend. We didn’t, alas, do any dancing or singing to music of any kind. But I’m around these parts for a while, so there’s still time.

For those readers who love a good photo – or any photo, really – I’m delighted to present a photo sent in by one of your fellow readers, and friend of mine, who has been perfecting Marcella’s ‘Piedmontese Almond Biscuits’. Nicoleta was among the group of women who first sampled these biscuits. You can read about that past sampling back in this previous post, written back in the dim and distant days of recipe #9 (of 466).

Here’s her beautiful photo – where she has nicely coordinated the colour of the plate with the tablecloth:

Nicoleta's Repeat Attempt of Marcella's Piedmontese Almond Biscuits

Nicoleta’s Repeat Attempt of Marcella’s Piedmontese Almond Biscuits

Last Week: #106 ‘Frittata with Courgettes and Basil’ with Lois at my table.

Last Night: #107 ‘Pan-Fried Beef Steaks, Cacciatora Style’ with my Brother, Nephew and Niece at their table.

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With Marcella #9 (of 466)

Who’d have thought that blanched almonds could be made by blanching almonds? Probably you. But not me. I guess I had always figured that it was just the name for those smooth, white almonds that are ready to top a cake. It never occurred to me that the ‘blanched’ part of the name would refer to the process by which they became smooth and white – that is, immersing in boiling water for two minutes then rubbing the skins off in a rough towel.

Marcella’s Piedmontese Almond Biscuits call for ‘325g shelled almonds, blanched and skinned as described on page 605’. I did what was called for. It took time but no particular expertise and the end result was surprisingly satisfying.

The biscuits proved more than satisfying and provided treats of sweetness at three different gatherings over this past weekend. Apparently the biscuits will ‘keep for a very long time if stored in a tin box’.

Apparently. Who will ever know?

The ‘Women in the Workplace’ gathering enjoyed them with coffee on Friday night. The ‘Birthday Girls’ enjoyed them on Saturday morning – with coffee and a slightly failed, but nevertheless yummy, mocha cake from an alternative cookbook. Then on Saturday night, some lovely folk who hosted a dinner at their place enjoyed the remaining biscuits from the tin.

Three gatherings with talk of God (and consumption of Italian biscuits) at the centre.

The biscuits are otherwise known as ‘brutti ma buoni’ – that is, ‘ugly but good’. And they were.

Yesterday, the day before, and a lone sample remaining today: #9 ‘Piedmontese Almond Biscuits’ with a whole load of people at three different tables.