August 9, 2010

One of my favorite places to dig for new recipe ideas is Tastespotting, which is an aggregate of various cooking sites.  Not only is it searchable, but it always has the loveliest photos taken by people with much experience than I. The best cookie to drool over?  The French Macaron.  Airy, chewy and sweet, they come in a rainbow of colors and flavors and are notoriously difficult to make.
A few months ago, I made a batch of vanilla macarons with a chocolate ganache filling and with some beginner’s luck, they turned out great.  This time I was a bit more adventurous, adding lemon zest to the cookie and making a fresh strawberry filling.  Not to mention bright pink food coloring!  What did I learn with these?:  It’s easy to either undercook or overcook a macaron; I need to learn how to make frosting, because it doesn’t come naturally; all it takes is two good cookies to take a decent photograph.

Lemon Macarons with Strawberry Filling  Lemon Cookie
3 egg whites, room temperature1 cup almond flour1 cup powdered sugar1 cup granulated sugar1 lemon, zest onlyneon pink food coloringPreheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a bowl, mix almond flour, powdered sugar and zest.  In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy.  Slowly add in granulated sugar, with hand mixer at a high speed.  The mixture should become glossy and start to form soft peaks.  You may add the food coloring at this time.Using a spatula, slowly fold almond/sugar mixture into the meringue until fully encorporated.  Spoon mix into a piping bag with a round tip.On a cookie pan lined with parchment paper, pipe mixture in even circles.  Bake in oven for 15-20 mins (watch them!!)  Once done, let cool before carefully removing from parchment paper with spatula.For the strawberry filling, I combined fresh berries, powdered sugar and butter in a food processor. It was too runny, so don’t do what I did!  There’s many different ways to maracon, so I’m sure this won’t be my last attempt.  If you want to know what a proper one tastes like, go to France or Alliance Bakery in Chicago.  If you want to know what a horrible one tastes like, try the Whole Foods in Union Square.  Or, if you want to know what a pretty decent one tastes like, come over.  I got ya covered.

May 3, 2010

It got HOT this weekend.  Like the kind of hot we only dreamed of growing up in Washington.  I spent approximately 7 hours of this weekend sweating away in McCarren park with various friends.  It was grand.  And gross. 
Earlier in the week I had invited my friend Jenn De La Vega to come by for dinner, not realizing how super warm life would be by Sunday evening.  Boy oh boy, I am glad I selected some recipes that did not require too much oven time. 
Last week I met Emma for a snack at Bakeri, where I ordered a delicious avocado sandwich with a small scoop of chickpea salad.  OMG the salad was so simple but so incredible.  I sat there chewing like some a-hole foodie trying to figure out the ingredients to recreate it.  It was worth it.  I’ve made the dish twice in the past week – for the Dinner with the Band premiere celebration and then tonight. 
I don’t have exact measurements for this, so just do whatever tastes best.
Chickpea Salad
Bakeri Chickpea Salad
1 can of garbanzo beans (or you can use fresh ones, you snob)Juice of 1 1/2 lemons1/4 cup of parsley1/4 cup of chopped red onion1 tbls of mustard seedsalt and pepper to taste
The other two things I made were from recipes I found using Tastespotting. If you have not used this site, DO IT!  Lovely pictures + great recipes.  It’s the Hypemachine of food.
Orange and Fennel Salad
Orange and Fennel Salad (from Cate’s World)
makes 3 small servings
1 medium fennel bulb , thinly sliced (slice the celery-looking stalks too) 1 medium navel orange, cut into sections 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion 3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp lemon juice 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
Toss the fennel, oranges, and red onion in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
Whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, and lemon juice. Pour over the fennel mixture and toss well.
Chill for about 20 minutes, covered, then sprinkle with walnuts to serve.
(I made this with 2 big fennel bulbs and it made about 5 servings. Toast the walnuts.  Makes a big difference. Also, I have no idea how to cut oranges properly.  Totally embarrassing.)
Maple Sesame Tofu (adapted from andthenidontdothedishes)
I saw this recipe and was jealous that I didn’t eat salmon… I remember something similar to this that my mom used to make with cod – one of the only fish dishes I liked as a kid (except salmon mashed with a ton of mayonnaise.)  I figured that the marinade would be just as tasty with a firm tofu, so I went-a-marinating. Toasted sesame seeds are key. 
Salmon or trout fillets (enough for 4 to 6 people) Tofu Steak* 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1/3 cup maple syrup 1/4 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium) 2 tsp rice vinegar 1 tsp sesame oil 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce (or hot sauce of your choice) Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Pour over the tofu and let it marinate.
I have a convection oven, so this sort of dish required a bit more attention.. but if you go by the recipe directions, you should run things under a broiler for 10 mins.
The final product:
Sunday Dinner
Jenn is a big fan of all things meat, so she was pleased with the tofu marinade (and was thinking of meats to apply it to) and even liked the fennel well (it can be a bit licoricey but the citrus juice mellows it out a ton.)  Also joining us for dinner was her friend Paul who  is in town with his company 2 Player covering their friends at Penny Arcade being honored as one of Time Magazine’s Top 100.  COOL!
* Jenn told me that if you freeze any style of tofu and then cook it, it changed the molecularblahblahblah and it basically easier/firmer to eat/cook