Sep 30, 2010
Sep 28, 2010
Sep 27, 2010
If you have some delightful photos or blog posts about your picnics, parties, brunches, breakfasts or foodie solo time, do let me know so we can share it next week! Till then, a revoir!
A Homemade Life images by Tea & Cookies
Sep 26, 2010
The Breakfast Club has its engines up and running. I'm so excited to see how it unfolds. We have a fun book to read, and you know me, I've always got surprises up my sleeve. There's going to be book club homework, but totally done Lolastyle. So if you haven't joined yet, you really shouldn't be waiting any longer. Don't let that cruise ship sail right past you! If anything, I love that this little club has inspired me to keep reading. I mean I read a ton for school now, but really, how much can you fall in love with Shakespeare and Homer right? Sometimes you need a butter knife to cut through the mundane. A book about Paris or Tuscany does just the trick! And then you dream. Which for heaven's sake, its the best part! Dream about where you will end up, who you will become, how pink your daughter's room will be, how many grapes you'll try to grow to make your own wine, how many letters you'll write to your new European lover. Ha! The glass can always be half full right? So I'm dreaming away whilst I read my little books. But though we always have Paris, for now I'm in NY, and boy oh boy has NY been good to me.
Sep 25, 2010
So why am I afraid you ask? Well, its just that, a recipe competition. Not a "who has the most pink items in their house" competition, but a "you need to be original and creative and wow our socks off with your culinary genius" competition. And well, I've never done a recipe from scratch before! Adaptations yes, but originals? Wowza. So will you help me? Oh please say yes! Yes? Okay, yay! Sooo I have two I want to join. One is a smoothie recipe and one is a recipe with the main ingredient as bread. Below are my thought processes and any feedback, criticisms, suggestions or ideas would be great! And you bet that tush of yours I will be sharing my prize, whatever it may be, with those who helped me!
- past winner inspiration- fritatta muffins, pumpkin stuffed french toast, peanut butter and chocolate chip bread pudding muffins, savory pumpkin bread pudding
- something French and hard to do- manipulate bread into mini choux, cream puffs or even a pressed (panini-like) mille feuilles layer cake with nutella or something?
- something small and cute- manipulate bread into pigs in a blanket?
- hot chocolate smoothie or green tea smoothie
- thinking something that screams fall- pumpkin spice smoothie inspired by pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and can even include marshmallows mixed in or on top (smoothie meets milkshake?)
- or a unique take on a classic- rework the monkey smoothie with bananas, chocolate, peanut butter and ____?
- something like Starbucks would do- chai, eggnog, or gingerbread smoothie
Sep 24, 2010
What I really wanted to tell you lovelies is that I am going ahead with my foray into professional baking early. Why not right? There is inspiration all over the place! Reading A Homeade Life at our book club. Surfing through my fave blog Franish Nonspeaker. Seeing all the writers turned foodies enjoy life the way Europeans do. Its my turn darn it! So I am going to go pick up a catalogue at the Culinary Institute which has been on my New Year's resolution list for months (maybe even years...ouch). I'll do a pastry course, see what I can learn, and go from there. I might even have a few tricks up my sleeve with my ami nouvelle Mandy. Etsy comes to mind. Shhhhh. And then when I finally make it to Paris on my study exchange program, I'll take a master course on macarons so I can really give Pierre Herme a run for his money. Ah, oui, more like a walk, but you can find my confidence endearing for now. And who knows, maybe a small bakery in San Francisco, that is, if I fall in love with the city the way I'm expecting to, come this November. Life is full of dreams. Its time I make some come true...
What about you? What are you going to cross of your list?!
Sep 23, 2010
So I did it! From scratch. By my own handiwork. With no help whatsoever. Just allot, allot, allot of reading of course. And can you blame me? These suckers are a nightmare for every novice foodie or aspiring pastry chef. But after a while (re: two days of research interrupted by my own 48 hour old stench) I finally lifted my head and closed my sagging eyes, went to bed, and promised myself to just awake the next day fresh, fearless, and ready for an adventure. Everything should be taken with a grain of salt right (pun intended!)? So I accepted that I might be defeated, that those macarons would emerge from my Granny's old little oven with no feet, concave lids, burnt bottoms, and the color of mud. But low and behold, none of that dare take place! You know, after watching Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice marathon style for the last few months, I am really starting to believe that people who want to survive an extensive surgery, or kick cancer treatment in the ass, just have to believe in the positive all the way through, as if confidence and optimism were the last remaining emotions left in the world and you had no choice. Same should go for baking. Why on Earth should home bakers torture themselves by the elusive reputation of one small little cookie? Just believe in yourself and shove all the foolishness of everyone else's bad experiences in the far part of your brain.
1 cup (4 ounces) ground blanched almonds (I used Oh!Nuts)
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
filling (see recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse your ground almonds a few times to make sure they get to flour consistency. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and almond flour. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners' sugar mixture until completely incorporated.
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter (I didn't have all that fanciness, I just used a 99cent store pastry bag and cut the tip 1/2 inch). Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.
- Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar (or not, depends on your oven, I didn't need to), until the surface of the macarons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macarons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
- To fill the macarons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macarons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macarons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
1/8 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 ounce salted butter (you may use cultured salted as well, as I did)
- Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until boiling. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
- Combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir just until the sugar has dissolved.
- Cook without stirring until the caramel is a deep golden (you may play around with the darkness of your caramel, but be careful, as sugar cooks very quickly at this point and will easily blacken if you don't stop the cooking by setting the saucepan in a pan of ice water).
- When the caramel has reached the golden color, immediately pour in the warm cream.
- The sauce will bubble up. Allow it to become smooth before proceeding.
- Add the butter and whisk in until smooth. I also go ahead here and pour mixture into a stand mixer, add sifted confectioner's sugar in until it reaches a consistency I like.
- Use warm or at room temperature. It should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, where it will become quite stiff. Allow it to come to room temperature after storing. At room temperature, it is still very thick, so give it a hearty whisk to get it to spreading consistency, or warm it (very briefly) over low heat, stirring all the while.
Honestly, these macarons were delicious! I will not sit here and say they will trump Laduree, but to have Paris a bit closer to home anytime I like, its a very painless process once all the stress about failing subsides. You end up with a great homemade product that otherwise would cost and arm and a leg. I could go without the super nutty flavor of the almonds, so I am up for trying the hazelnut version next, which I discovered on my beloved Franish Nonspeaker!
WHAT I LEARNED:
Ha, wouldn't it be a pathological lie if I denied having learned anything? Are you crazy! It was low stress, but full of new knowledge. For one, mis en place is beyond important for this particular recipe, as everything is about temperament and one ingredient relying on the upcoming ingredient to be ready and at the right temperature. So, mis en place dolls! Then, make sure to learn about your oven. I read so many conflicting things about oven ajar vs oven closed. It was one of the hottest summer days, so I took a risk and figured I didn't need to add any extra humidity and kept my oven door closed. Also, when it comes to whole folding of ingredients, it really helps to watch videos to see just how one should manipulate the spatula, and at what speed and for how long. That is the key to the shells. When it came to piping the shells, I don't have any fancy things okay. I totally took a spice can and sloppily traced circles onto the parchment paper in lieu of a template sheet (which means uneven and mismatching shells, but oh well!). As for the filling, oh my! The salted caramel is so quick to golden, that the first go I completely burned it. So watch that pot closely and DO NOT STIR while its cooking (I did that too, and it turned into a rock). Otherwise, its sooooo yummy and my fave filling so far. I used it for cupcakes a few days later. Oh, and that whole airtight container thing is so true. I put my macarons in a cake stand since I was so proud, they needed showing off. The next day, they were as hard and crumbly brittle as, well, as poorly stored macarons!
Sep 21, 2010
Sep 20, 2010
My plan for the book club is this: I'll start off as club president (ha! moderator is such a cheesy term anyway, plus Obama made it okay for me to be black...and a president of something at the same time) for the next month, but then we start rotating the leader hat to each member who votes themself as a candidate. So each month, a different president. The president has many powers. Most important naturally being the power to select the books for that month, as well as start discussion topics, etc. I've started us off with a goodie- A Homemade Life by Miss Orangette herself. Pretty good no? And best part is, no need to buy anything, just head to the library like I did! Alrighty, well off to French class now. Oh and by the way, aren't you loving my very first translated post? I'm only on week three of my course, so I can't translate everything just yet (and I really am aiming not to cheat with online help) but in a few months time, I'll totally have a French blog all my own. Hope you are learning with me! Tootles.
Sep 17, 2010
2 1/2 cups water
5 peaches, halved & de-stoned
2 cups white sugar (caster preferred)
1 tsp vanilla essence (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
2 tbsp lemon juice
Optional Raspberry Sauce: (use this, or ready made sauce. Um warm dulce de leche anyone?)
3 cups raspberries
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Put the water, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla pod into a wide saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Bring the pan to the boil and let it bubble away for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to a fast simmer.
Cut the peaches in half, and if the stones come out easily then remove them, if not then you can get them out later. Poach the peach halves in the sugar syrup for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Test the cut side with the sharp point of a knife to see if they are soft, and then remove them to a plate with a slotted spoon.
When all the peaches are poached, peel off their skins and let them cool (then you can remove any remaining stones). If you are making them a day in advance then let the poaching syrup cool and then pour into a dish with the peaches. Otherwise just bag up the syrup and freeze it for the next time you poach peaches.
To make the raspberry sauce, liquidize the raspberries, confectioners' sugar, and lemon juice in a blender or a food processor. Sieve to remove the pits and pour the puree into a jug.
To serve, be generous (not greedy!) and dish out your favorite flavor ice cream along with two peach halves per person. Spoon the raspberry sauce or sauce of your choice over each half. Voila!