Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Etsy Items

The packaging I'm using for my current Etsy listings....

These are French Rum Caneles, but there are also Macarons, buttery Madeleines (chocolate and plain).... so head on over to!

Joyeux Noel, tout le monde!

More recipes for my eventual bestseller...

Tofu-Noodle Soup (sounds gross...isn't!)
Aubergine (eggplant) and Tomato Chickpea Stew
Eggplant Parm
Five Star Banana Bread
Chocolate-Banana Protein Shake

Thanksgiving Successes- by mom (mostly)
Squash Casserole
Sweet Potatoes
Spiral Diner Stuffing and Gravy
Gooey Pecan Pie

**Remember, all of these are Vegan and Gluten-Free+Rice Free.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Deliciousness

Alright, so, the people at work think I'm crazy for the things I'll put in my mouth. The people I speak of are on a diet of strictly Mexican food or strictly Southern food. They're used to things laden with fat...fat tastes good. So, whenever I make something that they seem interested in, its an accomplishment in itself. I think I'm changing their minds about "health" food.

This week I made a hot-damn-delicious tofu leek quiche (which, even to me sounds horrible). Au contraire. One of the Mexican ladies who works in the back tried it and wants me to bring her two on Monday (this was all communicated using gestures since we don't speak a lick of each other's languages....which is also why she doesn't know the ingredients). But yeah, its that good.

Other winners this week? Portobello mushroom-lentil soup, oatmeal-raisin cookies (using oat flour, not oatmeal), Exotic Squash soup, Upside-Down Rum Pear Tarte...

I had quite a few orders with Etsy, so I didn't have a ton of time to cook. But, when I did, it was really nice. I know I'm probably the farthest from being a poster-child for vegetarianism- since my digestion is not ideal, in spite of the fact that I eat extremely healthy- but hopefully at some point that will turn around and this habit will provide me longevity. If it doesn't, if I still attrap a rare form of cancer or get killed in a car accident, at least I did the best I could.

It may seem that I care too much about finding recipes that taste good and correspond with my diet. Its somewhat true- there is a pleasure I associate with making good food-but I'm mostly a SLOW food advocate. I've fallen in love with good-for-me food like the french, for whom "indulging" in an artichoke heart is not seen as crazy. I'm tired of pumping shit into my system. And it certainly is a worthwhile pursuit to be aware of the food industry and all its subterfuges.

On the other hand, I realize food is ultimately inconsequential to my happiness. I care more about people, and dancing. I await the day I can think more about that than all this..... but maybe thats just the exchange you take for making good food choices. And anyway, it'll get easier....after a bit more time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week Two

Week one I survived on a lot of things from the store that, much to my chagrin, I realized contained rice flour or rice dextrin (?); I didn't spend any time making much. I also found out that the recipes for soup and such are not followed by the cooks at work...instead of oil they use butter, etc. So, fabulous, I thought. Time to get in the kitchen for realz and stop taking short-cuts.

If anyone stumbles upon this site looking for gluten-free and've come to the right place. Or, anyone with a peanut, cashew, pinto bean, garlic, mustard, or rice allergy... bienvenue!

Things that came out good?

Vanilla ice cream- Veganomicon, how to make it more nutritious?...
Chickpea Noodle Soup- Veganomicon (though I used navy beans and quinoa macaroni instead of wheat-based pasta)
Crumbly Pumpkin Cake- mom's recipe, oat flour
Portobello Spinach Tacos with pesto- made it up
Mom's Recipe Best Vegetable Soup

Not so good?

Mushroom-Cauliflower-Almond Casserole thing from Vegan Taste of France...probably coulda been better had i not been forced to omit the god of all culinary flavors, garlic. Wasn't bad. I wouldn't go so far as to call it degoutant. Might make the mean vegan gravy Spiral makes for its biscuits that I learned last year at their T-giving class to smother the leftovers in.

Last year when I
first got my braces and
became afraid of solid food for the havoc it can wreak on my stomach and
had to really watch my fat intake due to my missing gallbladder

I decided to make a ton of soup. Its so comforting and nutritious and a great detox... split pea, butternut squash, vichysoisse, TVP stew...I think I'll unearth those recipes and get back in there. If I can just perfect a recipe for homemade gluten-free will be a complete meal.

Friday, November 6, 2009

One Last Diet

I used to be an excessive dieter (which I don't really think is redundant). It began in high school as just a way to initiate control over one more part of my life (in addition to making perfect grades, being the infallible daughter and girl), ended when I went to France for the first time, and began again when I returned home to try and lose the "foreign study forty" (I'm coining this term). It ended again when I went to Brussels during senior year and decided it would be ridiculous to force a regime under such privileged circumstances. I vowed to find an acceptable balance though, wanting to avoid the aforementioned forty and since after all, many people travel as a part of their profession and must learn to curb an enthusiasm for delicious foreign food. So I said goodbye to dieting.

The freedom that flowed from my newfound joy in eating in moderation, eating fresh and local, and indulging when it was worth it was a life-changing experience. I never read French Women Don't Get Fat, but I'm almost positive this is the behavior it encourages. When you turn to good food, nourishing food, and start to learn how to feel full and satisfied, there is no need to skimp and starve, nor a desire to overdo. Its a whole philosophy I quickly embraced and now champion.

However, when my morals got to me and I realized I could still maintain the same eating ethic whilst doing the right thing and becoming vegetarian, I began to limit my diet once more. In comparison to previous times, though, this was not something I did unwillingly or unhappily. It was a chore, but when something feels right (and being a vegetarian IS right- i say this dogmatically because I care about your health and our planet), it doesn't really matter. It was a chore with immediate rewards.

So here we are today. And again I'm saying, one last diet (very reluctantly). For some reason that has yet to be determined by modern medicine, I suffer from severe gastrointestinal issues. I have since before I became a vegetarian. I've been to every kind of doctor and therapist I can think of. I've had surgery to remove my gallbladder. You name it, I've done it (aside from getting pregnant, my last bastion and acceptable option in the search for a cure). My latest hope? I took an expensive nutritional metabolic test from a chiropractor, who has determined that though not allergic, I am mildly-severely sensitive to the following foods: wheat, rice, mustard, garlic, peanuts, cashews, pinto beans, milk products, eggs, etc. So as a vegetarian, this definitely limits my intake. But, for a vegan, its not as hard. Conclusion? For the next few months, I'll be vegan + celiac disease - certain nuts - rice. interesting endeavor.

I wanted to put this up on my blog because I know there are numerous people who struggle to find an answer to digestive issues. It doesn't surprise me with the diets we're raised on, nor the things we consider food which enter our bodies.

I'm on the verge of a breakdown with trying to come up with an answer. I saw a doctor of internal medicine in August who pretty much told me it was time to just accept my condition. Naturally an optimist, I've sunk to places of despair I would never have imagined possible. So, if nothing else, this whole thing is giving me a perspective on how others live/deal with pain. Humanitarians worldwide do this everyday- they walk in others' shoes. As one who hoped to enter that career-field eventually, I guess its nothing less than what I should expect. Life is not a pain-free existence, and so if anyone also struggling happens upon my blog, I can be satisfied that what I tested and tried benefited you. Knowledge is power!!

Look forward to recipes and results. I'll post what was delicious and inspired me to keep well as stories of those helping me through this time. There is a point when the body gives up and doesn't want to nourish itself anymore. Its a part of the consciousness that can't handle it. I hope to never get to that point, though I know I've been close. Please comment here with your advice if you have any; I'm a grateful recipient of whatver help you got.

A votre sante!

Monday, August 17, 2009

"A girl has got to eat!"

(quote continued) "All you need is love." "She'll end up on the street." "All you need is lo-o-o-ove." "Love is just a game.."

Bachelorette Party Moulin Rouge style (and Mormon-friendly)!

I'll spare you all the details about how I spent my spare time researching the can-can, authentic french cabaret names, etc and just post the photos.

The Invitation- you can't really tell, but it looked like a corset, curved at the top.

The Bachelorette and I:

The Spread:

The guests-

"Because we can-can-can!!"

Easy French Classics

Well, if you don't know me by now, I'll let you in on a little secret....I love baking french pastries. I also love baking things with a history. I mean, isn't it cool to think, "wow, this recipe is so good, its lasted 1000 years!"? Sometimes I think about that when I'm drinking German or Belgian Trappist beer (the stuff that monks make) since I know they haven't tampered with the recipe they use to finance their lifestyle. As with all things, vintage just feels good.

So this summer, as the price of cherries fell from seriously? to affordable! I went ahead and bought several pounds...several times. When I just couldn't eat another fresh one for fear of skin damage, I decided it was time to explore my cookbooks for a good recipe. Of course the one on french cuisine led me right to a recipe I've never tried, but always wondered about- Cherry Clafoutis. I'm not sure its medieval or anything, but it sure is old. Its basically fruit covered with a sweet eggy batter, which makes a great custard.

This recipe is AWESOME for several reasons- it calls for fresh produce (don't even think about opening up a jar of maraschino), it calls for household ingredients, it calls for cherry brandy (which really enhances the flavors). Typical of many french desserts, most of the ingredients are just subsidiary for the one star ingredient- the fruit! When the french cook at home, it is all about simplicity. They love fruit and sometimes serve it alone/raw as a sweet end to a meal. It makes sense, then, that this dessert is no show-stopper aesthetically-speaking...but as you pour in the brandy, get ready for another story in your mouth...


Another classic I tried this summer? Canneles! They are medieval, actually. Like cute little corks, these custardy rum-punch treats will satisfy an afternoon lethargy like no other. They are made large and mini, but I just have the pans for miniatures, and anyway I like them small for the same reason I like Reese's in snack size- you get more of the outside, which is really the best part. Eat these on day one or two after baking, otherwise the moisture absorbs the sweet crustiness and they are too soft. BTW, the darkness of the crust does not mean burned, rather sweet crunch. The longer they stay in the oven, the more crunchy they get...its a texture thing.


- 1/2 liter (2 cups) milk
- 30 g (3 tablespoons) salted butter, diced
- 1 vanilla pod, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- 100 g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 180 g (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) sugar
- 3 eggs
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) good-quality rum

Yields about 20 medium canelés.

Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer. In the meantime, combine the flour and sugar in a medium mixing-bowl. Break the eggs in another, smaller bowl, and beat gently. When the milk mixture starts to simmer, remove from heat, fish out the vanilla pod if using, and set it aside.

Pour the eggs all at once into the flour mixture (don't stir yet), pour in the milk mixture, and whisk until well combined and a little frothy. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod with the dull side of a knife blade, and return the seeds and pod to the mixture. Add the rum and whisk well. Let cool to room temperature on the counter, then cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

The next day (or the day after that, or the day after that), preheat the oven to 250° C (480° F). Remove the batter from the fridge: it will have separated a bit, so whisk until well blended again. Pour into the prepared molds, filling them almost to the top. Put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, then (without opening the oven door) lower the heat to 200° C (400° F) and bake for another 40 to 60 minutes (depending on your oven and how you like your canelés). The canelés are ready when the bottoms are a very dark brown, but not burnt. If you feel they are darkening too fast, cover the molds with a piece of parchment paper.

Unmold onto a cooling rack (wait for about ten minutes first if you're using silicon molds or they will collapse a little) and let cool completely before eating.

Good website to check out (if you read french) and if you don't.

The history of the canele is really interesting. Like many good things, it was first created by some bored religious people in Europe. Caneles were made by nuns in Bordeaux, and have now won status as the official cake of the city. I do love them, and for me, its significant that in 1985 (my birthyear) a committee finally came together to consecrate the cake. Kind of like champagne, the name 'canele' can only be applied if produced in Bordeaux. All other is imitation, and must be monikered, 'cannele bordelais', although that does not change the pronunciation. Ca m'est egal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cinnamon/Cannelle Macarons Me Fait Plus Que Plaisir

After about a six month hiatus, I was anxious to get back to macaron making. It was that or eat my blog. Dayna, a supportive friend from work, requested cinnamon macarons. But I couldn't resist playing with a recipe for praline ones using pecan meal. Toasted pecans in a cookie? I do.

Dayna hates them (cinnamon with vanilla buttercream filling):

My personal favorite- the praline macaron with pecan-vanilla buttercream filling:

The skeptical chef...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

D'Autres Maitres de Macarons

On a recent jaunt up to NYC, my Furman friend Ashley and I found some amazing macarons chez La Maison du Chocolat. Here we are indulging in "le cafe" variety, one I have yet to tinker with. Soon, though. I can't wait to get mine as good as theirs.

Note to self: the macaron we had was very soft on the inside. There was no real separation of filling and cookie...making it luxuriously soft and cakelike. J'ai pas de mots...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Luscious Lemon Cream Macarons

a little lemon extract, a little yellow coloring...

I'm playing around with spring/Easter flavors. Lemon is the perfect tea-time flavor, the ladies' flavor, the post-anything-clear-your-palette flavor. Its heavenly.


Followed Traveler's Lunchbox recipe below, using Wilton lemon-yellow coloring and lemon extract. Filled with vanilla buttercream, though next time will probably mix in some lemon curd.

Italian Buttercream
(adapted from The American Boulangerie by Pascal Rigo)

- 2 egg whites (60 mL)
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 4 oz (½ cup) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into slices

In an electric mixer bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and heat the mixture, whisking often, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it feels warm and sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer and whip warm egg mixture on high speed using the whisk attachment until stiff and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the butter, one slice at a time, and continue to mix until all the butter is thoroughly incorporated. Add any flavourings (vanilla, etc) and refrigerate for 1 hour or until it becomes firm. The buttercream can be kept, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week (although I just keep mine until I run out).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Le Chocolat

Chocolate macarons at last! A few months ago when I attempted these, they sucked hardcore. But after taking my friend Kathryn's advice, I succeeded. I used simple Toll House chocolate for the shells and filled them with the nutella hazelnut-ganache filling. Decadent and not overly sweet. Like a great Belgian truffle.

I'm realizing there are some MUSTS about macarons that weren't emphasized in any of the recipes I've followed, but which are making all the difference in my baking lately.

A) Never use foil to line baking sheets; use parchment paper.
B) Allow macarons to sit at least one hour before baking to develop a filmy membrane.
C) Never "de-nip" the macarons (smooth out the peak) after film has developed; this will cause cracks while baking.
D) Allow macarons sufficient time to bake. Test the feet for dryness with your fingers. Feet should be pretty much dry before removing from oven.
E) Mix batter until it "flows like magma"; i.e. don't be afraid to overmix the meringue. The batter should be a cohesive, thick substance that is nothing like the stiff meringue before the addition of the dry ingredients.
What happens when you use foil and smooth macs after the film has developed:

What happens when you use parchment and smooth macs before film has developed:


Traveler's Lunchbox
Basic Macaron Batter

Source: based on Clement's recipe here. He recommends that you mix the egg whites and almond mixture together gently until it 'flows like magma', or until a peak in the batter will slowly sink back down to a flat surface.
1 1/4 cups icing/powdered sugar
4 oz (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground almonds (if grinding yourself add some of the icing sugar to keep them from getting gummy)
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon extract of choice: almond, vanilla, orange, lemon, pistachio... (optional)
few drops food coloring (optional)
On three pieces of parchment, trace 1-inch (2.5 cm) circles about 2 inches apart. Flip each sheet over and place on baking sheets.
Sift almond flour and icing sugar together into a bowl. In a large clean, dry bowl whip the egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar, extract and coloring (if using). Continue to whip to stiff peaks – the whites should be firm and shiny.
With a rubber spatula, fold in the icing sugar mixture into the egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and ‘flow like magma.’ When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing.
Fit a piping bag with a 3/8-inch (1 cm) round tip, or take a medium-sized plastic sandwich baggie and snip off one corner. Fill the piping bag or baggie and pipe the batter onto the baking sheets, in the previously drawn circles (I found spiraling out from the center to work best). Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form.
Heat the oven to 160C/325F and bake for 10 to 11 minutes, or until set and firm on top. Rotate the baking sheets after 5 minutes for even baking.
Remove macarons from oven and transfer parchment to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a metal offset spatula or pairing knife underneath the macaron to remove from parchment.
Pair macarons of similar size, and pipe about ½ tsp of the filling onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macarons, and refrigerate to allow flavours to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
Variation: Chocolate Macaron Batter
Using the master recipe above, add 4 tablespoons of good-quality cocoa powder to the almond-sugar mixture before sifting; increase the sugar to 1 3/4 cups and the egg whites to 3.

Chai Tea Macarons

So, last week I decided to recreate the gingerbread macarons I made during Thanksgiving break. Mais quelle surprise! Since I had no pumpkin pie spice, like I used before, I threw in a bunch of spices instead: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. I also used about 1/2 cup of hazelnut flour to replace 1/2 c almond flour. The end result? Nothing short of delicious, but definitely more mealy (like an oatmeal cookie) and with a flavor of chai tea. I happen to really like the fact that they are more substantial than many of the macarons, which sometimes just taste like a very fine and delicate sugar pill/rush (a french version of the Krispy Kreme). I filled them with typical vanilla buttercream. Myum!

Recipe will follow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Natalie's Buche de Noel

So, my sister (the artist) and I definitely need to go into business together. She made this kickass dessert for Christmas this year. Let's just say it totally put the one I made two years ago to shame. Have a look:
She made Jacques Pepin's recipe and then decorated it with Christmas tree clippings and....I'll have to ask her what else. It was beautiful and delicious. I definitely don't remember mine being quite so, well, heavenly. Ambrosial. Delectable.

Christmas Creme Brulee

For Christmas this year, Crystal gave me a Creme Brulee set, complete with the cute, fluted oval ramekins.

I can't believe I didn't get pictures, but I will publish the recipe, as soon as I do all the others. Suffice it to say, we made a great recipe using real vanilla bean (which are worth $5 each). We made 4 in the oval short ramekins, and 6 in traditional souffle dishes.

Our conclusion:
The ramekins that were oval and shorter (i guess they're traditional for creme brulee?) passed my taste test. They had enough surface area to provide burned sugar to balance the eggy-ness of the recipe. The souffle dishes, on the other hand, were too deep and provided less surface area, resulting in too much egg flavor (unless you're into that), and not enough of that awesome crisp sugar surface.

The recipe was a perfect smooth texture, however. I will definitely use it again!
PS- Because Crystal gave me an awesome present, I'm rewarding her by publishing this picture of her. I'm sure she'll love me for it.

Nutcracker Cake

For my niece's debut on the stage, I made her a cake modeled as my impression of the Land of the Sweets, from the Nutcracker Ballet.

She loved it!

It was 4 layers: 2 homemade Strawberry and 2 Duncan Hines French Vanilla, with homemade icing and rolled fondant on top (kind of like a tutu). I think I could have added some cotton candy to really make it look like a tutu, but ca suffit. I liked the way it came out.

Part of my concern was that I knew Madeleine was worried about being on stage. Of course stage fright is terrifying (aptly-named), so I wanted her to know I was very proud of her facing her fears. This cake was over the top because she deserved it!

Previous Adventures- Thanksgiving

Gingerbread Macarons with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling or Salted Caramel-Vanilla Buttercream Filling

I got this idea from an idea to make pumpkin macarons. Crystal and I tweaked the shell recipe to make gingerbread instead.When the pumpkin filling didn't set up like I wanted it to, I combined it with vanilla buttercream to make it thicker.

In december I found that had a similar idea. Since I don't have any pictures of mine, take a look at hers! So cute. And they were delicious.

Previous Adventures- August

Here are some of the pictures from the previous macarons I've made... along with their recipes.

French Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream

Pistachio with Chocolate Ganache Filling:

Makes 35
225 gr powdered sugar
60 gr almonds
65 gr pistachios
3 egg whites (about 100gr)
green food coloring (optional) (powdered is better)
25 gr granulated sugar

In a food processor, run the nuts and powdered sugar until the nuts are finely ground. Run through a sieve if needed.Whip the egg whites until foamy, slowly add the granulated sugar, until they are glossy. Add the green food coloring if using.Slowly fold the nut/sugar mixture into the whites with a wide spatula. The mixture should remain shiny and flow easily.Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment lined baking sheets.Let the macarons rest for 20 minutes.Preheat the oven to 315 and when they are ready, bake them for 12-15 minutes.Let cool, remove from the paper and fill with the ganache.

Chocolate Ganache Filling:
8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
1 tsp. ground ginger
Place the chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir with a whisk until smooth. Add the ground ginger. Let cool to room temperature and use as desired.

You can see that the macarons did not develop feet. Crystal (my lovely assistant) and I first soaked the pistachios to remove the remnants of their black skins and then ground them. This was a mistake because the wet nuts did not absorb into the batter as they were supposed to. I made them a second time two days later with dried ground pistachios and they were perfect!

Holiday Catering

After spending copious amounts of time this holiday season on a catering order of french macarons, which turned out to be a nightmare, I decided it might be a good time to do my part and blog about it. We (bakers that love specialties and rareties) can use all the help we can get.

So, here are some of the recipes I used and what happened, along with the troubleshooting conclusions I've made for next time.

1) Typical Pistachio Shell Recipe (listed previously)

2) For the Chocolate Nutella ganache:

Heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream to boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup dark chocolate and 2 Tb. Nutella. Let stand 2 minutes. Stir until well incorporated.
Refrigerate until of spreadable consistency.
Fill the macarons shells ... and eat!

3) Typical French Macaron Shell, plus some hazelnut flour (about 1/4 cup) in place of some almond flour (just for some color)

4) Typical Vanilla Buttercream

5) Satsuma Pistachio Buttercream (thanks to tartelette)

3 egg whites
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 sticks (170 gr) butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons satsuma orange juice (or regular orange)
1 teaspoon satsuma orange zest
1/4 cup finely ground pistachios
1/2 tsp powdered green food coloring

In the bowl of stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they have soft peaks. In the meantime, combine the water with the sugar and bring them to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Bring the syrup to 250F. Slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites. If you use hand beaters, this is even easier and there is less hot syrup splatter on the side of your bowl and in the whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Continue to whip until the meringue is completely cooled. Slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. The mass might curdle but no panic, continue to whip until it all comes together. Add the juice and zest from the orange, the pistachios and food coloring.


I didn't let the macarons sit and develop a film for an hour before baking (tried it again this week, it worked).
The humidity was a definite factor. We raised the temperature to 315 F to see if that would expedite the process to counteract the humidity. It helped a little.

After making close to 150 macs, I was toast. You can probably tell in this picture.

Here we are at Crystal's first visit to Laduree in Paris (a must if you're ever there), a year ago (Christmas 2007). I think Laduree was the first tea salon/cafe in Western Europe... a place where people from more than one level of society could come and share ideas (of the Enlightenment...) and have something scrumptious.