Monday, May 26, 2014

Red, White and Blue Pinwheel Cookies

No French macarons today on this very American holiday. Instead, using sugar cookie dough, I am showcasing the patriotic American colors today as a nod to memorial day. 

With  lots of leftover vanilla sugar cookie dough in the freezer it was easy peasy to repurposed it into these lovely, bright pinwheel cookies.

Squishing the dough scraps together, rolled  it out and used a cutter to make the tie dyed star shaped cookies to complement the pinwheels.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tulip Vodka

Awhile back Quirk Books sent me an absolutely gorgeous book called Cooking With Flowers. I was excited to receive it because I had plans to plant an edible flower garden so I practically jumped up and down when I received it.

Embarrassingly late with this post because I didn't get it together back then to post about this book or grow edible flowers,  BUT I have been absolutely devouring Cooking With Flowers  recently. Miche Bacher, the author is a genius and the elegant photos by Miana Jun are a whole other feast for the eyes.

As each flower and plant blooms in our garden I have been consulting this book and harvesting blooms as quickly and timely as I can. Not always easy to do when I'm only there on the weekends but I started with the lilacs (see my previous post, Lilac Cashew Baklava) and have been hooked.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lilac Cashew Baklava

Last year I was all lilac crazy. Once I had figured out how to harvest my lilacs creating sugars and syrups, I went on a lilac baking binge, creating recipes like Lilac Ginger Ale, Lilac French Macarons, Lilac Blueberry Scones and Chocolate Truffles.

Even though it was a bit exciting last weekend to have four different varieties of lilacs blooming on our PA property at once, this year I was a bit more calm about the whole thing. 

I harvested the sweetest smelling ones to make sugar, simple syrup and infused gin with lilacs. I also and spread some out on an extra large paper-lined baking sheet to dry.

Recently I was thinking how I hadn't made baklava in years and was looking for a good flavor idea as an excuse to bring on the filo dough. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

American Peanut Butter Cookies with Russian Red Vodka Filling - The Americans

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Macaron Monday programming for this special presentation.

ProFlowers contacted me recently and asked if I wanted to participate in a fun challenge. To make something delicious and theme-y to serve at a viewing party of my favorite TV show. ProFlowers
 was the official floral partner of The Bachelor and they are hosting a viewing party on their blog  to celebrate the season premiere of The Bachelorette.

Bachelorette aside, my husband and I are a wee bit obsessed with The Americans. The most fascinating part for me, aside from the fabulous 80's decor (Yay for my friend Andrew Baseman!) and the thrilling twists and turns of the plot, is how this beautiful all American couple, obviously living out the American dream in the USA are secretly KGB agents.

Keri Russell has come a LONG way from Felicity. Her character portrayal is sheer perfection. I've adored Matthew Rhys since Brothers & Sisters, another show I loved dearly and was sad to see go.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Morning Glory Cake

This past Mother's Day I kidnapped my 84 year old mom. Sort of. Under the guise of I needed help with my garden (which I sorta did) I whisked her up to our house in PA to spend the weekend.

I had arranged a few plans I thought she might like to do like poking in thrift shops and yard sales, buying plants and visiting the local llama farm.

On Sunday I organized a brunch with a few friends. We ate outside. I served a galette with asparagus and caramelized onions, a lovely salad and this cake.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Exclusive Invite to James Beard Foundation's Chefs' Night Out

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to this exclusive event that happens every year here in NYC.  

The event is held around the same time as the James Beard Awards. My friend Debbie sits on a committee on the James Beard Foundation  and always attends. This year I was invited to tag along.

Rumor has it that Chefs Night Out started as an after hours informal gathering of chefs in town to attend the James Beard Awards ceremony. The original locations were a chosen NYC chef's restaurant where everyone cooked different dishes together and invited a few people. Now it's a whole other beast.

Debbie had warned me it was so over the top I shouldn't eat all day of the event. In retrospect, I should have not eaten the entire week before. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Macaron Monday: Lemon French Macarons with Coconut Filling

These Macarons, along with the previously posted espresso peppermint ones,  were a part of the package sent to the to the auction winner to benefit the Philippines last December. Her requested flavors were lemon, coconut and espresso. I sent two dozen macarons in a mixture of these flavors.

These lemon coconut ones combine the bright flavor of the shells with sweet coco nutty buttercream fulling. A great marriage.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Brandied Apricot Ginger Marzipan Tart & Pie Party Potluck NYC

I honestly can't believe it took me so long to attend this. The third annual Pie Party Potluck was held last week and it was a blast. 

The event was held at the GE Monogram Design Center. A gorgeous space that included several kitchen areas. A side note:  Sorry for my appliance A.D.D. but I fell in love with this fridge. If I could have fit it in my swag bag, I would.

Beautifully, expertly organized by Jackie Gordon (The Diva That Ate NY) and Ken (The Hungry Rabbit), primarily food bloggers attended this event. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Macaron Monday: Chili Pepper Macarons with Lime Buttercream Filling for Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco De Mayo! I'm marking the occasion here on Macaron Monday with a international French Mexican collaboration of cookie and flavors.

This time I added chili pepper to the macaron shells. Luckily there was some leftover lime butter cream in the freezer from my St. Paddy's Day Green Carnation Cupcakes which provided the second of these two perfect classic Mexican flavors to these French macarons.

These may not be for everyone but I loved the heat and savory flavor infusion the chili pepper gave the shells. You also could reduce the amount used in the shells to 1 tablespoon if you are spice squeamish  The sweet tart buttercream offset them perfectly.

Yea for holidays that inspire us to push culinary boundaries1 (Not that I ever needed an excuse.)

Chili Pepper Macarons with
 Lime Buttercream Filling

For the Chili Pepper shells:

Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements.

  • 90 grams of egg whites - aged at least 2 days. Let them sit out on the counter uncovered.
  • 25-50 grams extra fine white granulated sugar
  • 200 grams of powdered sugar
  • 110 Grams of almond flour*
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • Pinch of cream of tarter
  • Pinch of salt
*You can buy almond flour that has been ground with or without the skin. I use the later (blanched). The former looks really nice if you are not coloring the shells. You can also grind your own almond flour by putting whole or sliced almonds in a food processor or blender. If you do, make sure you throw a little of the powdered sugar in to prevent the almonds from forming a paste.

  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.
  • Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together or pulse them together briefly in a food processor. Make sure there are no large pieces. 
  • Remove two tablespoons of the powdered sugar/almond mixture and discard. Replace with two tablespoons of the chili pepper powder. Pulse or whisk until combined thoroughly.
  • Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the sugar. Continue whipping until you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing slides out. Add the pinches of salt and cream of tartar.
  • Add the powdered sugar/almond/chili powder mixture to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down. The batter should have a "flowing like lava" consistency. Make a peak of the batter and if it does not disappear after 5-7 seconds, keep folding. If it's running all over the place, you will probably have to start over. Place a pastry bag fitted with a round shaped tip in a tall water and and fold the edges down around the glass.
  • Fill the pastry bag with the macaron batter, twist the open top to secure and pipe circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a Silpat. 
  • Let the macarons dry for about a half hour or until they harden.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Place the macarons on the middle rack in the oven. I keep the oven door propped open with a dish towel or wooden spoon.
  • I place another empty baking sheet on top to prevent the shells from becoming toasted and discolored.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • When checking them after 10 minutes or so, if the ones in the back of the sheet seem to be cooking faster that the ones in front, flip the tray around.
  • To test to see if they are done, peel the baking paper or silpat back, if the shell comes off easily, they are done.
  • If you do have a problem with the shells sticking to the surface when removed from the oven, lift up the baking paper and pour a bit of water underneath. this will steam them off the paper.
  • Transfer to a baking rack and let cool completely before matching up the shells into pairs according to size.
  • Fill with buttercream.

For the Lime Vanilla Buttercream:

I used this vanilla buttercream recipe from Magnolia bakery and added a teaspoon of lime extract to the batter and a few drops of green food coloring.