Saturday, March 28, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Today is the day! I am so excited! I feel like a proud mama with a hoarde of little babies...except that I want to eat the entire batch, which I guess makes me like those spiders who carry around their young on their backs but if a young one falls off mama eats it! Anyways, totally random thought. I actually got up the nerve to try, and made macarons successfully today. Diana, culinary genius of Thyme to Lime and I decided to make these at the beginning of the week, but it wasn't until Friday afternoon that our dreams came to fruition. Please check out her first macaron experience here! I can't believe they actually turned out alright! There were so many possible hindrances: my baking experience, humidity, not grinding the almonds up fine enough, first time ever making real macarons, the list goes on. I did attempt Nigellas Pistachio Macaroons. They didn't turn out great either, but the recipe is fraught with short cuts. Definitely not the "official" macaron technique.
This time, however, the stars were aligned. Like they say in the commercial, on my side I had a high degree of culinary expertise combined with years of practice... haha right! I did read up on the recipes first off, believe me! I read every post I could find on Veronica's Macaron Chronicles, as well as Tartelette's blog, and I read Tartelettes Tutorial in the Desserts Magazine probably 3 times at least. I used her basic almond macaron recipe listed in the magazine, as well as the Bittersweet Ganache (Same as Toffee Bittersweet Ganache, minus the toffee). My little hamburger looking confections turned out fantastically!
Here's my step by step approach, adapted from those two macaron masters:
Prepare parchment paper by measuring and cutting to size of sheet, and then using small end of shot glass to trace circles. Flip over so pencil is on back side of paper.
Grind almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor until almonds ground into smithereens and sift twice. I even put the little chunks that got sifted out back in with a little bit of the sifted through sugar and pulsed again to try to further blitz them to bits.
Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat at medium speed until frothy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites medium-peaks and are glossy. I used Tartelettes upside down trick-If you can hold them upside down in the bowl and they don't fall out they're ready!
Add your dry ingredients slowly to the meringue taking about 4 additions all in all, but fold like you mean it. According to Tartelette it sounds like she really goes for it. Test the batter on a plate, put a little bit down, if it flattens by itself then its ready. If it stays tall it probably needs a few more folds.
Pipe the batter to little mountains. Put tip perpendicular to paper about 1/2 inch above. Pipe and batter will spread automatically with the force, and then as you let them settle on their own they'll spread out into little discs of even height instead of mountains. Let rest for 30 minutes to an hour before baking.
Bake for about 10 minutes, turning if necessary midway through.
My parchment circles (ugly picture! If you look closely, close one eye, and tilt your head to the left you can make out the circles):
Batter piped into circles:
All in all, this was a fantastic experIence! I'm leaving for vacation in a few short hours. Ridiculous, I know, who makes macarons right before packing to go to Turks and Caicos for a week!? They are so tasty and so sophisticated! I'm so pleased, I can't wait to come back and try more flavor combinations!
Special thanks to Veronica of Veronica's Test Kitchen and Helen of Tartelette, both of whose glorious baking talents I admire, for making it so easy for me to get this right!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Clean beets with water and a clean rag to get all the dirt off. Trim tops to an inch or less. Wrap individually (or a few small beets together) with a bit of olive oil drizzled over and salt. Bake at 375 until fork pierces easily. Or if you run out of time like us, put on a microwave safe plate and nuke em until soft. Slice and enjoy!
After dinner, 15 year old kid brother wanted to make some cookies, so we snagged a peanut butter cookie recipe by Alicia of Confessions of a Bakeaholic. It looked so good on Tastespotting that we decided to give it a try. We followed the recipe exactly as she did except for the addition of a little granulated sugar (as Alicia noted) and we accidentally melted the butter instead of softening it...oops! Oh yeah, and we didn't cool the batter. We're way to impatient for that!
These were the December 28th Cookie of the Day: Martha Stewart
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- about 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Sift together flour, salt and baking sodea, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add peanut butter, and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture, and beat on low until combined.
- Form each cookie into a ball using about a tablespoon of dough. Place cookies on the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
- Press fork slighty into the cookies to make a decorative top.
- Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and place on a wire rack until completely cooled.
They turned out very well. Very tasty. My only complaint, as with most peanut butter cookies I make is that the texture turns out sort of chalky. Not very moist and chewy. Maybe this is my fault due to the melted butter, or the non-chilling, I'm not sure. If you have ideas, please let me know. I'd love to figure this out. They never come out moist, gooey or chewy like chocolate chip cookies for example, and I'm not sure why. Hm... Either way, we put chocolate chips in the last batch and they were even better.
This is my poor runaway dog Lily, who came home after a 5 day excursion with an enormous abscess on her neck and although it has been drained she still cant quite extend her neck to look up...she just looks side to side with her head down. so tragic.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Here's the recipe
(from Lauren at I'll Eat You, the culinary genius that hosted this month)
1 gallon milk, you can use 1 percent on up, remember that the more fat in the milk, the more cheese it will yield
1 quart buttermilk
-cheesecloth,a good, tightly woven one, not the kind you buy at the supermarket - If you don't have one of these, you can get by with a slotted spoon, but you may lose some of the cheese. ( I used supermarket cheesecloth & just doubled it. That worked just fine.)
- A colander
You start with milk and buttermilk in a pot with a thermometer and heat it up. Simple enough. Then, before your eyes it seems to look a little chunkier....and a little chunkier...and then you get the guts to stir it and its a wonderfully thick globular mess. A little more cooking and the curds ready to scoop onto the waiting cheesecloth. All the while chanting: Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey...Then I tied the cheesecloth with the curds, rigged it to a coat hanger (I had it on the cabinet pull at first- not a good idea), and let it drain.At this point I probably made a slight mistake. The recipe says to let it hang for 10-15 minutes, and I didn't have that. So I squoze. Retrospectively, do not squeeze! I think I squoze too much liquid out and made it a little drier than it should be, but here's my finished dry ball o cheese. I still need to figure out what to make with it....Not sure how the dry (hard even) status will work in cheesecake, or the pasta I had planned on making... but we shall see. Regardless, I can't wait to do this culinary science project again!
Addendum: I made a really easy but tastes fantastic pasta dish. Here's the rough layout, I never measure ingredients so I dont know how much of each for sure. The extra firm ricotta worked out fine! I had to cut it with a knife, and then it crumbled kind of like feta, but it worked out fine. It tasted fine, and my pasta tasted great!
2 packages Italian Sausages, I like the spicy ones
Brocolli- 1-2 heads chopped into bite sized florets, and blanched briefly
1 box penne cooked, reserve 2 c pasta water
Ricotta- one of the med sized tubs
Tomato paste- small can
Onion and Garlic chopped
Hot Pepper- fresh chopped or dried
Bay Leaf, Thyme, Oregano and other herbs and spices as desired
Salt and Pepper
Cook sausage in large pan, sear first in small amount oil, then add water and braise until almost cooked through. Remove from pan and slice into bit sized rounds. Add onion, garlic peppers, and spices to pan and cook until sausage is cooked all the way and onion becomes transparent. Add brocolli to pan. Add half of ricotta to pan with tomato paste, stir until combined. Add enough pasta water until sauce becomes easier to stir. Add penne to pan, stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more ricotta to that so that some chunks remain in addition to the creamy sauce. Serve!
It's really easy, only takes maybe 20 minutes to prepare, with the longest time being the sausage cooking part! It's my brother's favorite pasta dish. What's not to like- sausage, pasta, spice and cheese. You don't get much better than that! I didn't use all the ricotta, so maybe I'll make something else with the ricotta tomorrow during my snow day!
Check out the snow!! woohoo!