Archive | September, 2013

Macarons

30 Sep

There is something quite civilised and indulgent about a well made macaron. Unfortunately I haven’t quite reached that stage, and mine are more squiffily rough around the edges than fine-dining in Paris. However, I took the first step and made a first batch. From what I have read since I have come to the conclusion that my egg whites were most likely underbeaten and the mixture undermixed…so here’s to round 2! (good job I’m back in the gym…)

The recipe I chose to use was from this great blog: http://www.howtocookthat.net/public_html/easy-macaron-macaroon-recipe/

…however, it seems that there are two ways to make macarons. One with an italian meringue (involves melting the sugar with water to a specific temperature) and one which doesn’t. This recipe doesn’t, which is actually why I chose it. It sounded easier. The majority of the other recipes which I have read do use the italian meringue method, and I’m wondering whether to go down that route for round two. Hmm…decisions, decisions!

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Chapatis, cupcakes and crème brulees!

22 Sep

This is a bit of a random update as I’ve been away from the blogging scene for a while. I finished my 3rd year medical exams, travelled around Uganda, went home to Holland and have now commenced my penultimate year of medical school (the holidays seem such a distant memory already!). I have only recently managed to get back in the kitchen and I’ve been cooking up some rather random experiments. Here are a couple of little odds and sods which I thought I’d share….

Chapatis

I’ve always wanted to know how to make chapatis as I am a massive fan of a good curry. For some reason I always thought they would require a lot of effort. I am happy to report that this assumption, my friends, is nonsense. Never again will I buy a chapati! It is literally a few handfuls of flour, a pinch of salt, a little cold water and a splash of olive oil to bring it all together to make a dough. You don’t even need to measure things! Knead the dough into a good happy place, and let it sit and rest for 20 minutes, then roll out your pride and joy into little round circles to be thrown into a hot, hot, hot pan and dry fried each side for a minute. Don’t roll them too thinly or they’ll come out crispy, and don’t cook them for too long or they’ll also come out crispy. They’re fantastic with a home made curry, and it’s an easy, easy choice to impress your mates with your impeccable culinary skills (they don’t need to know they took a few minutes to prepare!).

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Creme Brulees

I’ve always wanted to try to make creme brulees. They are my mum’s absolute favourite dessert and the look of disappointment on her face when we go out for dinner and the creme brulee doesn’t crack when she drops her spoon onto it has spurred me on to get busy trying to make them. In my head I thought these would be really tricky to do, especially as everyone I speak to about anything remotely custardy reacts with a sharp intake of breath, and whispers of ‘curdled custard’ haunt my dreams for days. It was a Saturday afternoon and having made a monster of a pavlova for the night before I had a load of yolks to use up. Now, just a quick tip – the creme brulees don’t actually require you to make custard, but if you want to make custard, do it over a low heat, whisking constantly and heating very slowly. As soon as it starts to thicken take it off the heat and whisk like your life depends on it. No longer will you be haunted by ‘curdled’ and ‘custard’, and scrambled egg will be a thing of the past.

The creme brulees are easy (although no, not healthy).

Recipe (makes 2)

225ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
25 grams caster sugar
2 egg yolks
4 tsp brown caster sugar

Preheat your oven to 170 C (fan).

Pour the cream into a pan, and carefully slice the vanilla pod in half (length wise). Scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife and add to the cream; heat gently to simmering for a few minutes, then take of the heat and leave the vanillary goodness to infuse into the cream for about 10-15 minutes.

In a clean glass bowl, beat the egg yolks with the white caster sugar until pale and well mixed. Carefully add the cream mixture to the yolk/sugar mixture, whisking to ensure it is all well mixed.

Pour this mixture into two ovenproof brulee moulds, then put these into a roasting tray. Once your tray is in the shelf of the oven, pour in water until it comes up to around halfway up the sides of the moulds (essentially a bit of a home made bain-marie). Bake these in the oven for 30 minutes.

Once baked, take them out of the oven and allow to cool. If you’re making them for a dinner party, they can sit in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to scatter a couple of tsp brown sugar over each and blow torch them (being careful not to burn the sugar). If you haven’t got a blow torch you can stick them under the grill, but I found that the grill didn’t get to the edges of the creme brulee, so the final effect would be better with a blow torch. Serve immediately. They should be crisp and crackable on the top, and lovely silky smooth custard underneath.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

….a staple of mine. I just added this one because I think it’s pretty. I had a load of black fondant left over so I cut out little hearts from it (this would be a heck of a lot easier with a heart cutter, I assure you), coated them in a little edible glue and then sprinkled some red glitter over them. They make a very cute gift, or a good girly cupcake to enjoy with a cup of tea (read: wine) when someone needs a bit of cheering up 🙂

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