Wednesday, April 24, 2013

watch out kitchen - i'm making macarons!

If you haven't been able to tell from my blog, Twitter and Instagram feeds - I love macarons. A lot. Paul likes them well enough, but I ADORE them. I even managed to talk Suzie (my sister) into giving macarons out as her wedding favours just so I could eat more macarons. LOL. It's gotten to the point where I get upset when I see people mix up the terms "macarons" and "macaroons" (which I also like, but let's be serious, they are not the same thing).

As my love affair with macarons started getting a little more "obsessive", I realized that my wallet really couldn't keep up with my appetite, so I started looking into baking my own.

As a rookie baker, I'm really nervous when recipes are complicated and generally I tend to stick to simple recipes. After reading all over the internet about how difficult and finicky macarons were to make, I was daunted. Hungry, but daunted. In the end though, my hunger for macarons won out and I started looking for recipes and baking tips.

Macarons from Butter Avenue
There are many, many, MANY wonderful blogs posts, cookbooks and internet articles on how to make this beloved little French pastry but there were four blogs that I returned to again and again while doing my research (and mentally psyching myself up for the challenge):

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

granita di caffe con panna

The Missing Ingredient Challenge: coffee

One of our favourite discoveries we travelled to Rome for the first time last year was the Tazza d’Oro, a small coffee shop that sits by the Pantheon and is famous for its coffee. There were some wonderful coffees on the menu, but Paul and I only had eyes (and taste buds) for one - the Granita di Caffe con Panna (coffee granita with whipped cream).

Consisting of layers of thick whipped cream and coffee granite (made with a deep, rich espresso), we had this almost every day that we were in Rome and it was one of the first things that Paul tried to create in our kitchen once we returned home. After a few tries, he's come up with a recipe that's pretty darn close. It's super simple to make, but still manages to be an impressive dessert - perfect to end a a meal on a warm summer evening.

Friday, April 5, 2013

pink pepper hot chocolate

The Missing Ingredient Challenge: pink peppercorns

Pink peppercorns look like regular peppercorns and have a peppery flavour, but are not actually related to regular peppercorns. These pinkish-red dried berries can often be found in gourmet stores or bulk food stores (where I found my supply) and are sometimes even found mixed in with regular peppercorns. When Erin from asked me to use pink peppercorn in my next post for the "The Missing Ingredient" series I was a little nervous - this was something I had never really even heard of before! I mean, I remember seeing a few pink/reddish peppercorns in my pepper mill, but I was supposed to create something with them?

I experimented with a few different tastes by taking recipes I've used before and substituting pink peppercorns into them as the main flavour. This one ended up as one of our favourites – it’s a savoury twist to the always popular hot chocolate.

Monday, April 1, 2013

the best laid plans...

I had big baking plans going into the Easter weekend - I had four days off and during that time I was determined to dye some Easter eggs! Bake Easter-themed cupcakes! Make another attempt at macarons! Do something with marshmallow Peeps!

And then I got sick. Not "a-few-sniffles" sick, but "moaning-in-bed, will-the-pain-never-stop, taking-6-hour-naps" sick. Okay, that's probably being a little overdramatic, but two things were true - I am taking naps that last over three hours (which is always a sign that I'm sick since I never nap otherwise) and food is the furthest thing from my mind.

The only thing I did manage to check off my Easter to-do list was the macarons. Luckily, I had made the shells (and fillings) on Friday afternoon before I fell ill, so I only had to assemble them yesterday morning (which, by the way, left me exhausted and in need of a nap - yeesh!) They weren't as good as my second attempt earlier this month, but it's still a work in progress!

So, unfortunately, I don't have any fun Easter recipes to share with everyone, although I do have these pretty, spring-coloured macarons (vanilla shells filled with either Nutella-ganache or lemon buttercream) to show off. You can see by the tiny, lopsided feet, that these were definitely not my best effort. But they do taste pretty good!