They are good for family get-togethers and camping trips. In fact, “they’re good at any time,” Tracy Vander Veen says with utmost confidence.
She is talking about an almond recipe that has been a staple in her three –generation family. She simply calls it “Almond Bars.” She has made it for her family so many times for so many years she could recite the recipe straight from the heart.
“I like them. They’re good,” she said of this special delicacy.
As for her husband, Stanley, “He likes them, too. He better! We’re almond farmers,” the bubbly wife, mother of three, and grandmother of seven said laughing. She and her husband have been growing almonds in the Manteca-Ripon area for decades while also running their huller plant on East Highway 120 near Jack Tone Road.
It’s not a recipe that has been handed down through generations, said Vander Veen who is also an award-winning photographer and a former member of the Manteca Camera Club. In fact, “I don’t know where I got it,” she confessed.
“Maybe somebody from our church,” and if so, she has no memory of the name of the person who shared the recipe with her, she said.
Here’s the recipe that she dictated during the interview on the phone:
Mix together: 2 cups of flour and 2 cubes of melted butter.
Beat in 4 eggs that have already been beaten into that mixture. Put two cups of sugar, a dash of salt – kind of a small pinch – and 3 teaspoons of almond flavoring. Mix that all together with flour and the butter.
Place in greased 9x13-inch pan, sprinkle on top before baking chopped almonds and sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Take it out from the oven and cut it out into bars. Makes 2-dozen bars.
As for the almond and sugar that are sprinkled on top of the mixture before baking, Vander Veen said “it doesn’t matter how much sugar (you use) – just a pinch or a little bit more. It depends on how much almonds you use.”
Blue Diamond Almonds recipes
If you’re interested in other recipes that incorporate almonds, you can go to the Blue Diamond web site – http://www.bluediamond.com/applications/recipes - where you can find a variety of recipes for soup, entrees, salads, and dessert.
Here are three that are online just to whet your appetite, courtesy of the Almond Board of California.
Roasted Sweet Garlic and Almond Soup
10-12 cloves garlic
2 heaped cups blanched almonds
5 ounces (4 to 5 slices) sourdough bread, crusts removed
1 cup low-fat milk
1 to 2 cups chicken stock or water
A drizzle of sherry vinegar
A drizzle of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
A small bunch of green grapes, quartered
A few sprigs of fresh marjoram, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the garlic cloves for about 20 minutes or until soft. Break the bread into smaller pieces, then drizzle and soak in the milk.
Using a food processor blend the almonds until good and fine, and have almost stuck to the side of the bowl.
Throw in the soaked bread and the soft inside of the roasted garlic, add a little chicken stock or water and blend. When you have a fine puree, gradually add in enough stock or water to make a thickish soup consistency.
Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper, and a good drizzle of sherry vinegar and olive oil. You can garnish with some quartered green grapes mixed with chopped marjoram on top.
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 grapefruits, peeled and segmented
2 navel oranges, peeled and sliced
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
6 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
2/3 slivered almonds
(To toast almonds, spread in an ungreased baking pan. Place in 350-degree oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes or until almonds are light brown; stir once or twice to assure even browning. Note that almonds will continue to brown slightly after removing from oven.)
To make dressing, in container of blender combine juice, vinegar, oil, honey, ginger, salt and pepper flakes. Blend to mix thoroughly. In bowl, combine fruit, onion and dressing. Set aside at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. To serve, line four individual plates with spinach. Spoon fruit mixture with dressing over spinach, dividing equally. Sprinkle almonds over salads.
Mediterranean Barley Almond Salad
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup quick-cooking pearl barley
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large red bell pepper, diced
¾ cup diced zucchini
½ cup slivered almonds, roasted
1/3 cup diced scallions
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
(NOTE: To roast slivered, chopped or sliced almonds: Spread in an ungreased baking pan. Place in 350 degrees F oven and bake 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant; stir once or twice to assure even browning. Note that almonds will continue to roast slightly after removing from oven.)
Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a medium pot. Stir in barley. Cover and reduce heat, simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, place kidney beans, bell pepper, zucchini, almonds and scallions in a large salad bowl.
Transfer cooked barley to colander and rinse with cold water (both to cool it down and keep it from getting sticky). Transfer cooled, drained barley to salad bowl. Add oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste; toss and serve.
All of the above Almond Board of California recipes online also have nutritional analysis available for each of the recipes.
— ROSE ALBANO RISSO
209 staff reporter