When my ship finally comes in (if it's not a leaky skiff) I've always dreamed of taking a year and traveling the entire Mediterranean rim. I'd start at the south side of Gibraltar and work my way to the other side — north Africa, the rim of the Middle East, Turkey, Greece, Balkans, Italy, the Riviera and Spain. In my current status as a landlocked wage slave, however, I must experience these places in the kitchen via one of my favorite cookbooks, a round-up of some crazy-good recipes from all of the places just mentioned.
A while back I tried several recipes from the North Africa chapter, one of which has become my favorite teatime treat: Gazelle Horns. It's just a simple dough recipe with which you wrap up a delicious and easy almond paste. The recipe in the book calls for making the dough; I use refrigerated pie crust and get the same result without my typically tragic baking mishaps. Here's a quick summary:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or two.
- Throw 3 cups of blanched almonds into a food processor with a cup of confectioners' sugar. Blend it till the almonds are finely chopped.
- Add 1/4 cup orange flower water (diluted orange juice works fine) and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Process till the mixture forms a smooth paste.
- To make the pastries, you can go large or small. The book recipe calls for dividing the paste into 40 portions, wrapping them in small 5"x2" rectangles of dough, crimping the seams and bending them into crescent shapes. I cut the pie crust dough into triangles and wrap them into about a dozen larger, turnover-shaped horns. (Mine look more like this recipe, but I don't use eggs in the filling.)
- Bake 8-10 minutes till lightly browned.
North Africa is, of course, the land of mint tea (like that cool seaside cafe) — green tea, sugar and fresh mint — which also works beautifully with these treats. The mint and almond are happy traveling companions.