"Can we have the recipe?" A question that commonly escapes our mouths. No, we don't go knocking on Zumbo's door asking for the ingredient combination and recipe technique that makes his macarons so famous (ok, ok, he has shared that one publicly!!), nor do we expect Oporto's to share their how-to instructions for making their famous chilli sauce. If we are at a party and Aunty Dot makes an amazing cheesecake, or at Bob's for a bbq and he marinates his ribs in a flavour-perfect combination, or if Yvonne next door drops over some of her famous rum balls, it is ok to ask for the recipe, isn't it? And it is ok to expect that person to say 'yes' right?
Asking people for recipes, especially in our food-lathered world, is our absolute norm, as is the expectation that people will be kind enough to share them. In most instances, the Aunty Dots, Bobs and Yvonnes of the world are usually more than happy to share their show-stopping recipes. And you would be surprised how many Zumbos, Ramsays, Olivers and Lawsons will happily do the same (and not just through their cookbooks and cooking shows). Why wouldn't people be happy to share their recipes? Being asked the recipe for a dish you have cooked is the ultimate form of flattery. Surely there is no better compliment!
We will happily pretend to listen to people's arguments about holding onto their prized recipes as if they are trade secrets. Quite frankly, however, we're not interested. If you are not willing to share a recipe, you can't be trusted, full stop.
A person who doesn't share recipes is also unlikely to share their hairdresser’s details with you, reveal their signature nail polish colour to you, or divulge the details of the amazing tutor who helps their son with maths after school. These sorts of people revel in the idea of having the upper hand, and they won't be beaten at their game. They fear the possibility that your hair might look better than theirs, or that the shade of their signature nail polish colour looks better against your skin tone, or God forbid…. you cook their recipe better than they do.
Allow us to introduce you to Marea. Long time friend. More like family. When you ask Marea for one of her recipes, she will not only hand write the recipe for you. She will type it up for you, print a copy out for you, email it to you, and sms it to you (so that you can easily access it wherever you are). When we asked Marea for the recipe to her AMAZING almond biscuits, which she has become famous for, she did all of the above, plus more. She insisted that she come to our test kitchen and show us how to make them, so we could get an exact understanding, and ensure no error in recipe translation.
That is why Marea is what we call an ‘honorary Sydney Food Sister’. She not only shares our food philosophy, she IS our food philosophy. Marea is the type of person that will ring her hairdresser up and make an appointment for you when you ask who her hairdresser is. She will go out and buy you her signature nail polish colour when you compliment the colour of her nails. She will come over and show you how to make her almond biscuits when you ask her for the recipe. Why? Because she is a nurturing, giving person. It genuinely warms her heart to see people happy, and, most importantly, she is the sort of person that realises there is much more to be gained from sharing a recipe, rather than holding onto it all for herself.
This almond biscuit recipe was shared with Marea by a family friend a few years ago. She has tweaked it and made it her own since then. A few weeks ago, she shared the recipe with us. Since that day of baking, I have shared the recipe with my mother and Caterina with her aunt, who both asked for it immediately after tasting the biscuits. With Marea's permission (of course), we are now sharing the recipe with you. Make them, bake them, enjoy them, and share the recipe with anyone who asks you for it!
The biscuits are phenomenally tasty, quick and easy to make, perfectly crunchy on the outside and delightfully soft in the centre.
Recipe makes 17-20 biscuits
2 cups almond meal
1 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons vanilla essence
3 egg whites, beaten lightly
2 cups flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- In a large bowl, combine almond meal, sugar, flour and coconut with a fork.
- Add the vanilla essence and egg whites. Mix until well combined.
- Fill a small bowl with water. You will use this to dampen your fingers as you make the biscuits.
- Spread the flaked almonds onto a large plate
- Dampen your fingers in the bowl of water. Place a level tablespoon of mixture in your hands. Roll into a slightly flattened round ball.
- Roll ball in flaked almonds, coating on all sides.
- Place on baking tray.
- Repeat with remaining mixture, placing the biscuits 2cm apart.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the nuts are slightly golden
Food photography & written content by Effi Tsoukatos & Caterina Sterrantino for the Sydney Food Sisters