Purée d’amandes

puree amandes4When I was lunching at the Paris restaurant Spring last week, the main course — roast guinea fowl — was served with something hard to identify. It was satiny and pure white, and tasted ambrosial in a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth sort of way. But what was it? The waitress was summoned. ‘A purée of almonds with a cauliflower base,’ is how she described it. Almonds? I needed to know more, so I spoke with Daniel Rose, Spring’s genial owner, chef and culinary creator, who kindly gave me the recipe.

Purée d’amandes / Almond purée

Daniel Rose traces the genealogy of this dish to one of his mentors, Jean-Luc L’Hourre, chef until very recently at a one-star restaurant in Brittany — known as France’s cauliflower-growing region. ‘It’s perfect for him,’ Rose said, because Jean-Luc L’Hourre also has a connection to southern France, where almonds are grown. Rose says he likes making almond purée because it is so versatile. ‘I have served it with all kinds of meats,’ he said. ‘And with grilled calamari. Or as a parmentier’ — a layer of the purée over a layer of ground meat or duck, browned in the oven. ‘You can also serve it by itself, or add some chicken broth to turn it into a soup.’ When I brought the recipe home and made it myself, I found it remarkably easy. And when I served it to friends on Saturday night, it won a round of applause. Happy cooking!

Also served for lunch at Spring (left to right): a salad of apples, red cabbage and smoked eel served on a horseradish sauce; red mullet with fresh herbs and a sweet-and-sour sauce; baby leeks with lobster in a gentle vinaigrette.

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