Chef Tom Colicchio, the head judge of Bravo's Top Chef, has made his restaurant Craft into a huge brand, which has helped his colleagues share in the limelight. Karen DeMasco, who cowrote The Craft of Baking with cookbook author Mindy Fox, is the former pastry chef at Craft and is known for recipes that are classically elegant yet approachable, like this supercreamy almond semifreddo ("half-frozen") topped with warm caramelized apples.
Olives Stuffed with Almonds, Anchovies and Peppers
"For me there is no better tapa than a really good stuffed olive," José Andrés says. He strongly recommends homemade stuffed olives over the store-bought kind, which he proclaims are "usually terrible." Plus, if you stuff them yourself, you’ve got a million options: "If you love almonds, use good marcona almonds. If you love anchovy, use good Spanish anchovies. If you love peppers, use peppers; I like the wood-roasted piquillo peppers from Navarra. Or if you are like me, you use all three."
Andy Nusser says these wings, coated with crunchy chopped almonds, are a favorite Casa Mono staff meal. He serves them with a superfast lemon aioli, a mix of store-bought mayonnaise, grated lemon zest and fresh lemon juice.
Crunchy Almond-Crusted Duck Breasts with Chanterelle Salad
Duck is often paired with something sweet, as in canard à l’orange. Jean-Georges Vongerichten tops it here with chopped sugar-coated almonds. The sugar burns slightly as the meat is broiled to form a bittersweet crust that pairs beautifully with the juicy richness of the duck.
Steve Corry loves to toss roasted beets with the complex sherry vinegar that Taylor Griffin imports from Spain. To help mellow the vinegar’s tang, Corry reduces tangerine juice to a syrup and adds it to the dressing. Inspired by peanut brittle, he candies marcona almonds to give the salad crunch. The nuts are fantastic on their own.
This rustic dessert is from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, where it’s called sbrisolona. It’s crumbly, buttery and nutty; Suzanne Goin thinks of it as a cross between biscotti and shortbread. She recommends dipping chunks of it into the Champagne-spiked sabayon, an airy dessert sauce made with whipped egg yolks.
F&W’s Nick Fauchald adds fabulous smoky flavors to the Catalan sauce romesco by swapping in smoked almonds for the usual plain kind and adding a touch of pimentón de la Vera (powdered, smoked Spanish red peppers).
For an unusual but exceptionally easy dessert, soften a pint of vanilla ice cream, mix it with ricotta and honey, and then refreeze it. You'll want to use a premium brand of ice cream, since the quality of each ingredient is very apparent in this simple dessert.