28 August 2010

Recipe #38 - Macarons

I'll be honest. These little heavenly cookies intimidate me. They're beautiful, often made with bright hues and gorgeous fillings. They look like edible perfection. I, on the other hand... I'm messy in the kitchen. You can often find me with flower in my hair and something caked to my shirt as I've forgotten, yet again to don my apron.

I'd read that macarons are difficult, temperamental  little creations. You need a delicate hand and over folding can ruin the cookie. I was terrified. Then I said, "You know what... I can do this, I will do this."

I did it! eeeeeeeeeeeee! I DID IT! They aren't quite as pretty. As all the pictures I've seen. I didn't toy with coloring. I just wanted to get them to work. You bake them in two stages and after the first bake I looked at them and said, "*expletive* I messed these up!" I put them in for the second bake and what to my wondering eyes did appear? *gasp* They worked! I did it! I'm a baking genius! Ok... let's not go that far, but I was really excited! (Sidebar: Prior to the second bake I try to describe to T what they should look like. His response, "So... like little hamburgers?" This is why I'm marrying him, because he never fails to make me laugh... not just giggle, but a full belly laugh.)

I didn't add any flavoring as I like the mild almond flavor they have. I filled them with a simply chocolate butter cream. I'll experiment more in the future with fun flavors (Tartelette has a recipe for Creme Brulle macarons, yum! This is also where I found the recipe I used: Macarons, from Claudia Flemming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.).

So here are some pictures:

22 August 2010

Biscotti night, recipes #36 and #37

Last night my friends Kirstin and Stacy came over for a girls night. Kirstin is my personal trainer and has been helping me get in shape for the wedding. I thought it would be nice to "train" her on what I do well since she has been so gracious to train me these past months.

Admittedly, although I feel stronger, I don't know that I look any more in shape. I had hoped to lose a considerable amount of weight before our wedding, but the scale hasn't budged more than a couple of pounds. My existing clothes fit better but I haven't moved into a smaller size. On the one hand this is fine, because my dress fits perfectly and won't require alterations. On the other, wedding photographs last forever...

Yet, I have decided to view this, not as a failure to reach my weight loss goal but as a success in maintaining my weight during a stressful life event. This alone is amazing as I'm an emotional eater. Secondly, my arms are now stronger to hold my soon to be husband and my heart is healthier so that I may live a long life with him. For this I am truly grateful.

Kirstin wanted to learn how to make biscotti. I turned to my two favorite baking blogs for recipes. These women give great instruction and wonderful dialogue on their experience with the recipe. I highly suggest you read their blogs.

17 August 2010

Recipe #35 - Peach cobbler

I was visiting my friend, Carrie, this weekend. We spent most of the weekend in Solvang, CA, wine tasting and relaxing. It was wonderful. On Sunday we headed back to her place. She has a peach tree in her yard with dozens of ripe beautiful peaches. I made her a peach cobbler with them. It's a very simply recipe that I found from Paula Deen on the Food Network site. It came out beautifully and was delicious. The peaches almost melt in your mouth and the crust is delicately sweet.

It made me so happy to bake something for her. The peaches gave off an incredible aroma while baking and made the house warm. Fantastic weekend with a fantastic friend and fantastic peaches!


01 August 2010

Recipe #33 and #34 - Parmesan Herb Popovers and Herb Crusted Pork Loin

Every few Sundays we try to have T's two brothers over for dinner and this was one of those Sundays. On these Sundays I like to bake something for dessert or a bread to go with dinner. I'm really enjoying having family dinners at our home. We didn't have a lot of family dinners at our own house growing up after my mother passed away when I was ten years old. It's been nice to have this experience now and to really feel like a part of something that I feel I've missed out of for many years.

I chose Parmesan Herb popovers from The Art and Soul of Baking, yet again (Bridget, I hope you're enjoying the book!). This is my go to book to learn to bake anything. I have not had a recipe fail yet.

In addition to this new family tradition we are beginning, I've also started a cooking goal along with my baking goals for the year. A co-worker and I have decided to choose a protein each week and then find one recipe that we'll both make with it.

This week we chose pork and this recipe from Melissa d'Arabian of Food Network. T and I made garlic mashed potatoes, which I boiled in vegetable bullion with two or three cloves of garlic and grilled asparagus as sides. Dinner was delicious and we are so full!