Posts tagged ‘cilantro’

May 4, 2011

french macarons, conquered

Thanks so much for all your good thoughts on my new job! :D

I’m definitely excited for this opportunity. In a big way, it makes me feel a little more secure in my decision to not have gone to culinary school this year. If you haven’t read my About page, it discusses briefly that I applied to the Culinary Institute of America (the one in Napa, CA) and I was set to start this past March. It cost a lot of money to go through the application process and once I was accepted, I was THIS CLOSE to going. In the end, I couldn’t justify $100,000+ in loans (including living loans), especially since a culinary career does not guarantee $$$ as another career would, such as a medical career.

There were quite a few people that urged me to go to culinary school because they knew cooking and baking were passions of mine. Their reasoning was that if I was really passionate about it, I should go no matter how much it costs. I like and respect that train of thought, but I also think that people can follow their passions without spending unjustified buttloads of money.

In the end, I am not a culinary student and I am not more in debt than I already am! And I’m excited to start a job and continue this blog that will both help me further my culinary knowledge. I hope. :)



So since today was my last day before I start on this new job, Jeff got off of work early and we had big plans to do AWESOME things. In the end, we took a nap and pretty much just relaxed the whole day – which was pretty awesome if I do say so! We had hotdogs made with Hawaiian King rolls again! This time I used Louisiana hot links and topped it off with the last of my cilantro :(, diced white onion, my Thai pickled chili peppers, and ketchup.

Perfection!



Aaaand, as a way to celebrate my new job at a bakery, I BAKED! French Macarons seemed appropriate.

I bought the ingredients to make French Macarons a little while ago, but I’ve been putting off making them because I was SCURRED! They seemed more difficult-than-average to make, and I was a little intimidated. For my first time making French Macarons, I’m pretty darn happy with how they came out.

French Macarons are actually pretty simple. There are just quite a few steps and you really need to be precise! I used a food scale and measured in grams instead of by volume. But it’s really very simple – the main ingredients include almond meal, confectioner’s sugar, egg whites, and white sugar.



I got my almond meal from Whole Foods:



You really want your dry ingredients (almond meal and confectioner’s sugar) to be super fine, so I whirred them away in my single-serve blender.



And ran the mixture through a sifter.



You may need to use a spatula or a spoon to really get the almond meal through the sieve!



But the work is worth it, because you get a nice powdery result.



In the meantime, you combine the white sugar with a little bit of water in a small pot on low heat, and slowly set it to simmer.



And while that’s heating up, you measure out 50g of egg whites (which is basically 1.5 egg whites) and split them evenly between a large bowl and a small bowl. So there are 25g of egg whites in each bowl.



Take the bigger bowl, and whip the egg whites until peaks form!



As the sugar and water mixture starts to bubble and simmer (you want it to simmer until it gets to 224F). When it gets to 224F, SLOWLY stream the sugar/water mixture into the whipped egg whites and continue to whip. Once it’s all incorporated together, set your mixer on high and continue whipping until the mixture turns glossy and glowy and purrrtty! It reminds me of marshmallow fluff. Yum.



THEN you add the egg whites from the small bowl (remember that one?), along with this glossy mixture into the sifted dry ingredients:



At this point, you want to fold this in really well until it’s well mixed together, but not OVERMIXED.



Then you place this batter into a pastry bag…



And start piping out little circles!



Oh, a little tip – you can pipe a small dot in the corners of the parchment paper so that it doesn’t slide around!



Then you bake! (I rotated the pan a couple times while it was baking because my oven bakes pretty unevenly).



They should only brown SLIGHTLY. BARELY. I was so happy to see little feet on my naked macarons…



This is what the bottoms looked like, which I was pretty happy with.



The longer I waited after they baked, the easier it was to peel the macarons off the parchment paper. At first I tried to get them off with a spatula, but I found out quickly that they should be PEELED!



As they cooled, it was time to make the FILLING!


White chocolate chips, Blackberry preserves, and Heavy whipping cream.



I’ve made a discovery about myself recently. I think my favorite fruit is BLACKBERRIES. So juicy, so seedy, so COOL looking. And I love these Blackberry preserves because they have actual pieces of blackberries in there…

I ate that of course.



So to make the filling, you combine the white chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a double broiler until it gets nice and melted.



And then add the Blackberry preserves to that:



And then you have to REALLY let this cool. It was a particularly hot day here in the Bay Area and I don’t think I waited quite long enough for the mixture to thicken up, but what can I say, I’m an impatient woman!

It did thicken up considerably though-



You want the perfect amount of dollop – not too much that it oozes out of the sides, but not too little that you can’t see it!



And then sandwich it together!

Cute!



These were REALLY delicious. Comparable to Miette’s, methinks. Okay, maybe not. Actually I really don’t know. I need to get some more of Miette’s to find out. Research purposes, you know?

The only thing I’d do differently next time is get the filling THICKER.

I’m not intimidated by French Macarons anymore (remember, it’s only one “o.” Macaron, not Macaroon!). Now I’m not even afraid of frosting those cupcakes tomorrow! I can do it! Yeah!

Moving on…

If you haven’t made Macarons yet, DO IT!



French Macarons with White Chocolate Blackberry Ganache

Macaron recipe by Syrup and Tang.

Filling recipe by Jenna at Eat Live Run, who adapted it from David Levobitz.

Makes: 11 petite macarons



Ingredients: 

67g almond meal

67g confectioner’s sugar

67g granulated sugar

16g water

50g egg whites (about 1.5 egg whites)

*If you want to make more or less macarons, you can alter the recipe by taking the amount of egg whites you want to use (in this case 50g) and multiply the other ingredients, except the water, by 1.35 (in this case 67g). The water, you multiply by .33 (in this case 16g).



for the filling:

4oz white chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 T blackberry preserves



Directions:

Preheat oven to 300F. Stack 2 or 3 baking pans on top of each other. Line the top one with parchment paper.

Place granulated sugar and water in a small pot and set aside.

Measure out the egg whites and divide in half, half into a larger bowl and the other half into a smaller bowl. Set aside for now.

In a bowl, sift the almond meal and confectioner’s sugar (If you want to get the mixture super fine, spin it in a blender before sifting).

Now grab the small pot with the granulated sugar and water and place on a stove over low heat. Stir once or twice to get the sugar to dissolve but once the mixture starts simmering, leave it alone. When it starts to simmer slightly, check the temperature and continue to simmer until it gets to 224F.

While you wait for the sugar/water mixture to simmer, whip the egg whites in the larger bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Whip until it gets stiff peaks – just as the sugar/water mixture gets to 224F. Once the sugar/water mixture is ready, slowly stream it into the whipped egg whites and continue to mix on low. Once it is all incorporated, set the mixer to high and continue to beat for a few minutes until the mixture is stiff and glossy.

At this point, add the egg whites in the smaller bowl into the almond meal/confectioner’s sugar mixture, then add the glossy egg white/sugar mixture on top of that. With a spatula, fold the mixture together quickly and well – until it’s well mixed together. Make sure not to OVERMIX though. The final batter should be thick, yet flowing – like lava.

Pour this batter into a piping bag and pipe out small circles about 1 1/2 inches wide. (The easiest way to do this is pipe vertically and let it naturally fall into a circle). There should be no peaks in the circles and the circles may spread slightly.

Bake for 10-12 minutes and rotate the pan midway so that there is even baking. It is done when the circles are no longer jiggly, firm to the touch, and a pale ivory color.

Let it cool completely and gently peel off the circle macaron shells and set aside.

To make the filling, combine the white chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a double broiler until melted together. Add the blackberry preserves. Cool completely until it thickens up considerably.

Put a small dollop of the filling in one macaron shell, and cover it with another macaron shell to sandwich it together gently. Don’t let the filling ooze out of the sides but don’t put too little either!

Enjoy! And refrigerate whatever you don’t eat…if there is any!



Nutritional Information for 1 Macaron: 95 calories, 4g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 10mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 0.5g fiber, 9.5g sugar, 1.5g protein

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April 27, 2011

rolls for buns

I’m watching American Idol as I type this up. This is pretty much the first time I’m watching it all season though so I don’t know or have any attachments to any of the contestants! Lauren Alaina is singing right now. Don’t know anything about her, but she must be popular if she’s made it this far!

For dinner tonight I wanted to make HOTDOGS! I had exactly 2 leftover Chicken Sausages from Trader Joe’s to use up, but what I didn’t have was hotdog buns. So I went to Target to pick up some…hotdog buns?? Nope! THESE! :

When Jeff and I went down to LA about a month ago, we had hotdogs from a little place in Pasadena that uses these delicious rolls for their hotdog buns. I thought it was a GENIUS idea, especially since I love these rolls so much! Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the place because Jeff and his brother went to go pick up the hotdogs for us to eat at their home.



I think that hotdog place used 3 Hawaiian rolls, but I decided to use 2 because my dogs weren’t quite as long as theirs. So just rip out however many rolls you want, but make sure they stay in tact!



And then get a serrated knife and start slicing down the middle…



But make sure not to slice all the way through…you want it to look like a hotdog bun!



Just like this!

You can toast these (which I did) or just leave them as is.



And voila, here’s my hotdog!

Yeah, I really don’t kid around when I profess my love for cilantro. So darn good!



A few things I will do differently next time:

1. Use Hot Links instead of these Chicken Sausages. Chicken Sausages just don’t seem to be the best for hotdogs (they’re better sliced and pan fried, in my opinion!) and especially this flavor (Apple Chardonnay) was too sweet. Hot Links would be PERFECT in this.

2. BUY MUSTARD. Mustard, mustard, mustard how have I been without you for so long now?

3. Add chopped raw white onion.



Anyways, lately we’ve been on an ice cream kick. We’ve been enjoying a bowl of ice cream almost every night (usually Haagen-Dazs Rocky Road) but I decided to try out a couple flavors that were on sale:

I was SO excited for these flavors, but unfortunately they were a bit of a letdown. Blueberry Crumble didn’t have nearly enough “crumbles” and it would better be named “Blueberry Ice Cream.” The Caramel Apple Pie was a little better, but not as good as the classic Haagen Dazs flavors!

Do any of you remember the Haagen-Dazs flavor “Sticky Toffee Pudding”? It was created in a contest (this was back in 2007) and the winner would get to make it an official (limited time I guess) Haagen-Dazs flavor. BEST ICE CREAM EVER! Unfortunately, they’ve stopped making it but there’s even a Facebook page for it to have Haagen-Dazs bring it back! Pretty funny, but I would be sooo happy if they actually did bring it back!

I’ve never had ACTUAL Sticky Toffee Pudding before though. I’ve never seen it in restaurants either or I would totally order it! Guess I have to go to England for it? Or make it myself! I usually don’t like creating recipes without actually trying a legit version first though.

Have you ever had Sticky Toffee Pudding? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

April 15, 2011

a new contender

Like many, Trader Joe’s is the main grocery store I go to. I love it because it’s generally cheap, has unique products, and is super close to where I live (a 5 minute drive).

Some of the other grocery stores I like going to but don’t go to that often include,

Whole Foods: Of course I always have a blast walking around Whole Foods, but it’s a 15 minute drive away instead of a 5 minute drive which makes a big difference in terms of convenience. But maybe this is a good thing because they’re $$$.

Costco: I only buy a few things from here mainly because I don’t have a huge # of people to feed so most of their products are too much for me. Plus, they’re a 15 minute drive away instead of a 5 minute drive so I just don’t find myself going here too often.

Safeway: I usually go here for things I can’t find at Trader Joe’s, such as dried milk. Or when I’m having a random hankering for Haagen-Dazs at midnight (because they’re open 24 hours)

Asian Supermarkets: I love Asian supermarkets because often they can be cheaper, and they sell things I can’t get at other supermarkets. For example, king oyster mushrooms, a certain sweet potato, and zucchini squash that is not as skinny as the ones they sell at other supermarkets.



But watch out, because there’s a new grocery store in town and I think I’m in love!

Up here in Northern California, Fresh & Easy Markets are just starting to pop up here and there. I was incredibly happy to find out that one was opening up really close to my house, even closer than Trader Joe’s! I’ve been to Fresh & Easy once in LA, but it was in a rush so, not really.

Anyway, I think the biggest thing is that there is another option for me to buy my groceries. Some of their products are cheaper than Trader Joe’s and some of Trader Joe’s are cheaper than Fresh & Easy’s. I guess that’s what it means to be a competitor! :) Fresh & Easy does seem to sell more things in general than Trader Joe’s though.

Here’s what I bought on my first trip there! (I’ll be comparing prices with Trader Joe’s in parenthesis)

I’m still on a quest to find the best soymilk, so I immediately picked up their vanilla soymilk (Trader Joe’s is a little bit cheaper). It was good, but still not quite what I’m looking for. And of course, butter (Fresh & Easy’s is a little bit cheaper).



2 for $3! (Fresh & Easy is a little bit cheaper, but then the bag is a little bit smaller too)



I got suuper excited when I saw this. This whole bunch of cilantro for 98 cents! Trader Joe’s cilantro bunch is tiiiny and I think it’s also a few bucks. Trader Joe’s is organic, but I’m okay with my cilantro not being organic. I’m obsessed with cilantro. I can have a salad made entirely out of cilantro, and I would if it weren’t so expensive!

When I was in Southern California one time, I went to a Subway where they had CILANTRO as an option for a topping. They also had Tapatio sauce. BEST. SUBWAY. SANDWICH. EVER. I’m topping all my sandwiches with this cilantro. Heck, I’m topping everything with this cilantro!



KEY LIMES! for 98 cents too! Awesome. I bought 2 of these bad bunches. :)



Because we love it.



Because we love it. AND Fresh & Easy’s Blue Moon 6-pack is the cheapest I’ve found (not including sales) – $6.99! Even Trader Joe’s sells it for $7.99.



I’ve been to Fresh & Easy a grand total of 3 times in 2 days. Fine, one time was to get oranges for the Blue Moons and the other time was an equally important trip (you’ll see on my next post), but in Jeff’s words, “you’ve betrayed Trader Joe’s.”

Don’t worry Trader Joe’s, I’ll be back!

What’s your #1 grocery store?