Sunday, October 24, 2010

French Macaroons

I have been working towards turning a new leaf in my life these past few weeks. I will be starting a new job this coming Monday and have been experiencing many different emotions surrounding this move. I am excited about my new job and looking forward to the challenge of learning and getting to know new people. But, I will also greatly miss the people I have worked with for the past 2 1/2 years.

To show my appreciation, I decided I was going to make my work friends something special. I came up with this romantic idea to make French Macaroons. I have always admired how beautiful and delicate they look in pictures and have seen them featured many times as a confectionery delicacy. Since I had a pretty good understanding of just how finicky macaroons can be, I decided that I needed to dig up as much helpful information as I could before I actually set to work. I watched a few "how to" videos and read through the instructions from start to finish. I was ready...well at least I thought I was! There is one thing you need to know about pastry chefs... they have amazing arm strength! I on the other hand do not have good arm strength. It doesn't sound that hard to make 60 cookies. But what I overlooked was the fact that 60 cookies is actually 120 cookies sandwiched together with butter cream pipped in between. So really I needed the arm strength to pipe 120 cookies and then pipe butter cream onto 60 of those cookies. This my friends is not an easy task.

One more thing I overlooked was just how long this task would take! I am not kidding when I say I spent a minimum of 4 hours making these cookies. So much for a relaxing Sunday! Anyways, I don't believe I will be making these again. But I am quite proud of my endeavors, and like the fact that I can now say that not only have a made French Macaroons but I can do so again if I so please!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche with Shredded Potatoe Crust

I think the most intriguing concept for this recipe, was the use of shredded potato in place of the traditional pastry crust. I have to admit I had my doubts. I actually completely expected this recipe to fail. But I was delightfully surprised with how the crust held up and how the meal sort of came together.
I skipped a step by pressing the potato mixture into the pie plate and simply baked for 20 minutes instead of cooking in the skillet, 10 minuets each side. I also used 4 eggs instead of 2 eggs and 2 egg whites.

You will definitely need to serve this quiche with something to off set the heaviness of the potatoes. A salad or some steamed veggies would be perfect companions. I had a bowl full of cherry tomatoes so I quartered those and served with some fresh ground sea salt and pepper.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was telling you folks how sick I am of squash! Well now that we are back into squash season I am loving every bit of it! However, I guarantee you my love for squash will dwindle once again, and by Spring I will be happy not to see another winter squash again until Fall!

On a side note to you peps living in Victoria, BC - I hear there is a man driving around personally delivering local squash to the doors of keen squash recipients. What a grand idea! I mean if you are going to stock up on squash for the month of October and Pumpkins for Halloween you ought to be buying them from local farmers and what a better way to ensure the freshest squash then having it hand picked and personally delivered to your doorstep. Assuming that cutting out the middle man might result in a better deal for us consumers. If anyone has any more details on this, please do tell!

So without further delay, I present to you my latest triumph! I hope that you aren't going to make fun of me for making a bundt like Mike has for the past three days. Where did the stigma on bundts come from anyways? I think they look impressive!

A few tips on this recipe - I substituted unsweetened apple sauce for the 3/4 cup vegetable oil and cut down on the sugar by a half cup. I used spiced rum instead of just plain dark rum and found that I was not able to fit all of my batter into my bundt form. Assuming you will need a deep budt pan for this recipe or use caution when filling your pan. One more tip, you will not need to use all of the glaze, only enough to glaze the entire surface of the cake.

I have noticed that the latest health trend is to replace ice cream and whip cream with yogurt krema which is apparently a healthier alternative for dressing up your favorite dessert. I can't actually comment on this because I haven't tried it out yet but I do intend to do so. This time around I served my cake slices with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!