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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Chocolate French Macarons

I have seen Macarons all over food blogs and have always wanted to know what the hype was.  I had read time and time again how difficult they were to make and that had prevented me from even thinking about trying my hand at making them. 

I came across a recipe from David Lebovitz that seemed unimtimidating.  I thought why not.  I will write out the recipe, but you can also find it here.  What you want to see on a Macaron are feet (the crinkley looking edge at the bottom of the cookie).  I managed to achieve the glorious foot on each cookie.  Phew! 

Making these was not without pitfalls.  I burned the first batch.  I think when you make Macarons for the first time it is a right of passage to mess up the first batch.  These really are live and learn.

Behold my very first attempt at making a French Macaron…(notice the “feet”)

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They are by far perfect, but I am very proud of the end result.  I should apologize for the lack of picture quality.  It’s really hard to hold a Macaron in one hand and a camera in the other while drooling at the same time. 🙂

Chocolate Macaron by David Lebovitz

  • 1 Cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 almond powder or pulverized almonds (I bought slivered almonds and put them in the food processor)
  • 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • *Nutella (David makes a chocolate filling on his site, I had nutella handy and used that)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.  Here is where you might have to adjust.  I baked the first batch for 15 minutes and they burned on the bottom.  The second batch I baked for 10 minutes and they came out perfect.  All ovens are different, so my advice would be to keep an eye on them.  If you notice the bottoms getting a bit too dark, take them out of the oven.  Again, these are trial and error.  If your first batch is full of fail, don’t give up.

Sandwich a layer of Nutella between two macrons and enjoy.

I will keep at these and eventually get them to be perfect.  They are the perfect combination of crunchy and chewy.

More pictures…

Fresh from the oven

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6 Comments

Posted by on March 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Grilled Polenta with a Mushroom Ragu

I love it when you take a bunch of ingredients and just throw them together with no rhyme or reason.  This recipe calls for no measuring utensils whatsoever.  I took what I had in the fridge and came up with something pretty special.  I have been finding all sorts of culinary inspiration lately.  It makes me so excited for the approaching CSA season.  I have so many ideas to use with the items I will be getting in my boxes.  This is one of them. 

My supplies:

  • 8 oz package of sliced white mushrooms
  • 8 oz package of sliced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 smallish cans of diced tomatoes
  • Leftover Pinot Noir
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • dried whole chilies
  • A good handful of sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • Fresh Basil
  • S&P to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Shredded Parmesan
  • Store bought polenta (yes I know fresh made is better, but I worked all day)

In a large pan or dutch oven sautee the chopped garlic in olive oil on medium-medium high heat.  How much olive oil?  That’s up to you.  You don’t want to drown the garlic however.  Don’t let the garlic get too brown, it will start to turn bitter.

Once the garlic is sauteed, add in both packages of mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture in the mushrooms.  You will think it needs more liquid, but it does not.  The mushrooms will cook down and you will see quite a bit of liquid in the end result.

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When the mushrooms have cooked down add in the two cans of diced tomatoes, juice and all.  Now is when I added a couple of good glubs of the Pinot Noir, the tomato paste and a handful of the dried chilies.  Let that cook down for about 15-20 mins.  Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

After about 20 mins, add a handful of fresh chopped basil.

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Lower the heat and let simmer until thickened.  Letting it simmer and get thick really concentrates the earthy flavors you’ve got going on in the pot.  So good.  Trust me.

While you let your mushroom ragu simmer, prepare to grill your polenta.  What is polenta you ask?  Polenta is basically boiled cornmeal.  You make it similar to how you make grits.  You let it sit in the refrigerator until it is stiff enough to slice.  I prefer to make it myself, but when you work all day and don’t really want to eat dinner at 10 pm you go with the pre-made, store bought stuff.  Shame on me…I know.

Aaaanyways.  Take your polenta and cut it into rounds, squares, what have you.  My polenta came in a log, so I cut mine into 1/2 inch rounds. 

Brush your grill top with olive oil and grill until heated through.  For my grill top, it took about 3-4 mins per side.  Keep an eye on it.  Burnt polenta really doesn’t taste so good.

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Aaaaah grill marks.

By now your ragu should be nice and thick and your kitchen should be smelling pretty awesome as well.

Place a piece of grilled polenta on the bottom of your serving dish.  Top with a generous portion of the mushroom ragu and garnish with a chiffonade of basil and shredded Parmesan.  The creaminess of the polenta coupled with the heartiness of the ragu is out of this world. 

The finished product…

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More…

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Ariel view…

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When it’s CSA season, I will use fresh tomatoes instead of canned and Kath’s herbs instead of store bought.  I really cannot wait for the season to start.

Go make now…then leave me comments telling me how you liked it.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2009 in mushrooms, polenta, ragu

 

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Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream w/ Snickers

I love toys.  I love toys for my kitchen.  One toy I am so glad to have is the ice cream maker attachment for the Kitchenaid mixer.

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Excuse the poor picture quality.  The lighting in my kitchen is sub par.  This attachment is definitely worth the money.

I found a recipe for triple chocolate ice cream.  This ice cream is more like a frozen custard or gelato, very rich…very good.

This is a very easy recipe albeit time consuming.  It is more than worth it in the end.  Oh yeah, if you are on a diet you might want to stop reading here. 

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream

  • 2 C whipping cream, divided
  • 2 squares or 1 oz of semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 sqaures or 2 oz unsweeteneed chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 2 C half and half
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 full sized Snickers candy bars, chopped into small pieces

In small saucepan, place 1/2 cup whipping cream, semisweet and unsweetened chocolate chunks. Heat over medium low heat until chocolate melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; set aside.

You will start out with this…

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And end up with this…

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In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half and half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat; set aside.

In small bowl, combine sugar and cocoa powder; set aside. Place egg yolks in mixer bowl and beat; gradually add sugar mixture and mix about 30 seconds or until well blended and slightly thickened. Very gradually add chocolate mixture and half and half; mix until well blended.

It should look something like this…

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Return half and half mixture to medium saucepan; stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy. Do not boil. Transfer half and half mixture into large bowl; stir in remaining 1-1/2 cups whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.  Ok…the recipe calls for chilling for 8 hours.  Chill until it is cooled completely.  I put my bowl out on the balcony for an hour then in the fridge.  It was fine to add to the ice cream maker after a few hours.  The point is you do not want to add a warm base to the ice cream maker; it will thaw out the icy center and not give you the product you desire.  But I digress..

Put the mixture into your ice cream maker and let it go to work. 🙂 During the last 1-2 minutes of freeze time, add in the chopped Snickers bars. Immediately transfer ice cream into serving dishes or freeze in airtight container. Enjoy!

You need to remember that when things freeze, they expand.  Do not fill the ice cream maker up to the top.  Here is a pictoral of the progression of the base turning to ice cream in the ice cream maker.

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Doesn’t look like much is in there does it?  Don’t worry.  This recipe makes the perfect amount of base for this ice cream maker.  It will start to freeze and expand, then start to look like this…

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After 20- 30 minutes of churning you will finally get this…

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As you can clearly see, the base expands quite a bit after churning.  Be careful not to overflow your container at the beginning. 

This makes a lot of ice cream.  I was able to fill a 2 quart Gladware container to the top…

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Let freeze until desired consistancy then break out the big spoons and enjoy.  This is what you will end up with…

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2 Comments

Posted by on March 1, 2009 in chocolate, ice cream, Uncategorized

 

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