Monday, May 18, 2015

Macaron Monday: Rose French Macarons with Strawberry Filling

Rose and strawberry flavors are some of my favorite and they come together beautifully in this French Macaron.This batch was donated to a local benefit last weekend. I had been thinking a lot about what flavors to make, revisiting creations I had made before.  The final delivery contained three different flavors. Besides these, I made a batch of  Jasmine and one of Chocolate with chocolate ginger buttercream filling.

The problem was the day was humid. Humidity and making French macarons are a recipe for disaster. The chocolate ones I had to make twice because I was doing so many other tasks in the kitchen at the same time, I forgot to ad the granualated white sugar to the egg whites and ened up with cracked shells with no feet. 

In general, the shells for all the macarons turned out to be extremely delicate and crushed easily. I covered them with disco dust to hide imperfections before delivering them.

For the rose strawberry version, I added rose extract and pink coloring to the shells. The contents of a  jar of strawberry preserves were briefly run through a food processor to smooth out any lumps and smeared between the shells. The fragrant floral essence of the shells balanced beautifully with the sweet seasonal strawberry filling. The trick is not to use too much filling to leave room for the rose flavor.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chocolate Chip Recipe Roundup for National Chocolate Chip Day!

Rarely do I celebrate these food "days" that seem to pop up all over the place. However. Chocolate chips always get my attention. Like many hobby bakers out there, my first experience with chocolate chips was making chocolate chip cookies when I was a little girl.

My mother used to make them and I would watch, often snatching a small handful of chips to eat. Then when I was old enough, I would help her. Tollhouse chocolate chips cookies always remind me of my childhood and of being in the kitchen with her. 

Before she retired, my mother was a working single mom, a schoolteacher. The rare time she spent in the kitchen during the school year was often harried. My European grandmother did most of the cooking. Summers were when my mom would handle most of the meals because she had time. Then was when we could expect homemade everything from ice cream to blueberry pancakes made with blueberries picked from the bushes in our yard. 

I often thought if my mom, who is a pretty good artist as well, did not have to work, how she would have loved to explore crafting and cooking and raising animals.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Strawberry Butter Cake with Black Pepper Streusel

"Streusel" originates from a word meaning strewn or scattered in German. Streusel cakes have a long history in Germany. This version is a delightful, colorful cake showcasing seasonal fresh strawberries. I've tweaked the streusel, adding black pepper for a layer of spice flavor.

The yeasted dough cake base is smothered in lemon scented butter. A generous layer of luscious fresh strawberries is scattered over the cake creating the middle layer which is then topped with slightly spicy black pepper accented streusel topping. You can adjust the spice level in the streusel topping by simply adding more black pepper to taste. 

This cake takes a bit of time to make because there is a total rise time of one hour and 10 minutes. The other steps go rather quickly. Regardless, the results are worth the time investment. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Macaron Monday: Rosemary Rum French Macarons

Finally the evening frost is gone and I've been able to see what's returning in the gardens and what I have to replace. My experience has been not all annuals are guaranteed to come back.

So I've been buying and  been buying and seeding and organizing herbs for this years garden. I never thought I would say this but it makes me so happy to grow things, especially herbs and tomatoes. If  four years ago someone had said that I would enjoy creating gardens as much as I do. I would have laughed in their face.

Because of my newfound enthusiasm,  last season I overdid it infusing sugar with fresh herbs. I actually overdid it growing herbs in general but I got so much pleasure out of creating sugars, syrups, salts, vinegars and oils as well as giving fresh bunches away to friends and colleagues. Even with all that, I managed to use up a significant amount but still so much left. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rhubarb Raspberry Gin Fizz and a Summer Cocktail Book

My day job for the past year has been Executive Producing a weekend morning talk show on Arise TV. Last winter I was pitched a cocktail book called Winter Cocktails by the fabulous Maria del Mar Sacasa and gorgeously photographed by Tara Striano. The pitch was for my blog. The publisher had no idea I was a TV producer. 

When I received the book, I was bowled over by the scrumptious recipes and stunning photographs. With recipes like pumpkin bourbon eggnog and salted caramel hot chocolate, I immediately knew I had to put Maria on our show for a winter cocktail demo. She arrived on the day of the show looking stunning. Not only was she ├╝ber prepared for the segment, but also provided marvelous decorations for the demo table showing off her formidable stylist skills. Here is the segment. The staff and crew were thrilled with the demo cocktails she left behind. 

Don't judge. Hey, it's a morning show. 10:30am on a weekend is the end of our work day.

Anyway, it all went well and I was waiting to see what amazing concoctions she would come up for her next book, Summer Cocktails. It did not disappoint. Also photographed by Ms. Striano, each page of recipes seem to out do the one before. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day Baking Ideas

Time to honor mom and those who are moms. Not that you shouldn't all year long. However, for those baking or crafty inclined, it's lovely to create a special mom themed treat to say thanks.

For inspiration, here are some pretty and fun Mother's Day treats of this blog's past. From lilac vanilla cookies cookies to pink lemonade embossed marshmallows to fondant flowered letter cakes, It's all about MOM. Click the picture to go to the post for the full recipe and instructions.

For these Mother's Day Message cookies, I made up a batch of cream cheese flavored rollout cookies, colored the dough in pastels, then used this fabulous message cookie cutter to stamp out Mother's Day messages to moms in the center of the cookies. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Smoked Paprika Guacamole with Caramelized Nectarines

It's supposed to be Macaron Monday here on Das blog. However Cinco de Mayo is upon us in one day. That's una dia or einem einzigen Tag people. I wanted to do something  little different as a homage to one of my favorite places I've lived, Mexico. 

Plus we're having an amazing run on Hass avocados here in the NYC area just in time for this holiday. They are large and packed with flavor. At 70 - 99 cents cents  per globe, I am buying 10 at a time to throw in smoothies or salads or just to eat right out of the shell for breakfast.

I used some from my last haul to make a batch of guacamole for a dinner party this past weekend. It was my standard recipe, no measuring, just throwing in mostly traditional ingredients and it was fab.