Monday, February 22, 2010

Making Macarons


I think I'm obsessed with this sweet little confection. Taken from Wikipedia:
A macaron or French macaroon is a confectionery whose name is derived from an Italian word “maccarone” meaning paste.[1] It is meringue-based: made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectionery sugar.
The confectionery is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference, and flat base. Connoisseurs prize a delicate, egg shell-like crust that yields to a moist and airy interior. The French macaroon differs from other macaroons in that it is filled with cream or butter like a sandwich cookie, and can be found in a wider variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the exotic (foie gras, truffle). Making macarons requires a great deal of discipline and is a process that is highly dependent on exactitude, technique, and proper equipment. For this reason it is a notoriously difficult recipe to master and a frustrating endeavor for the amateur baker.[2]
Try me. =)

So, my second attempt was much more successful than my first.


The eggs whites have to be just perfect... aged for 24 or more hours, first foamy... then stiff peaks with the added sugar. 

 
The ground blanched almonds must be run through a fine seize to ensure that there are no lumps or bumps. The powdered sugar must be sifted several times. 


The batter is then piped onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and left to rest for 1-2 hours to allow for the dome formation on the top of the cookie. 
 
Here they are, fresh from the oven - their little "feet" formed pretty well. But, I'm still not happy with their height. It is a work in progress, and these are a million times better than my first attemp!
 
Here's a better view of their little domed top and the little feet underneath. 


And finally, a view of the final product after being filled with Nutella ganache. My ganache didn't sit as well as I would have liked, so... it's on to a third try!!!

I'm having fun researching these little lovelies.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Macarones!

For whatever reason, I've decided that I must perfect these adorable little French cookies. Unlike Macaroons (which these are nothing like) - they are dainty little colorful confections filled with anything one can dream up. I first read about them at Bakerella's blog and that German/Irish stubborn streak of mine just can't let go!

So, here's a pic of my very first (pink) batch.... waiting to go in the oven.







My batter was a bit too thin and some of them ran together. So, it'll be interesting to see how they turn out!  I'm sure I'll be posting about my 2nd attempt in a little while! =)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Making the best of cancellations...

This weather, here in the Midwest, just will not cooperate. Yesterday, as I approached my American Regional production kitchen/classroom,  I could clearly see the blue cancellation notice on the door. Chef Turner could not make it out of his home town, due to excessive snow, and had to cancel.

Normally, they would notify us (via email or text) if class had been canceled. However, yesterday the entire college's computer systems were down. Go figure!

I made the best of it though. I spent the day in the hospitality instructors suite working on Hospitality Management Club projects. We prepared a proposal for funding for the upcoming trip to Chicago. Every year the club attends the International Restaurant Show at McCormick Place. I am not going this year due to prior obligations, but I did go last year and had the BEST time!!  We also worked on the letter to go out to the various hospitality organizations looking for donations to the  Silent Auction. The auction helps to fund scholarships for the various hospitality related fields. I, myself, am a recipient of said scholarships. I was awarded the Hector Boiardi Culinary Scholarship for the 2009-2010 academic year. =)  So, it wasn't a day wasted at all.  =)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pictures!

I've had a couple requests for more culinary photos, so I thought I'd post some oldies! =)

 
This is the "Mr. Bear" I made in my confectionery arts class. Notice he's holding a Wusthof! =)


 

  
Ok, so... this may look like I'm having a good time, but pulling sugar is a painful experience. It's hot. Not like... "wow, it's hot outside" hot, but... "oh, look... I'm burning the fingerprints right off my fingers" hot!!  Ouch.

 
Another confectionery arts project. Oh, how I loved my Bunny!

 
A closeup of Bunny's duck. =)

 
Butter, anyone??

 
FLOURLESS chocolate torte with raspberry filling, raspberry, pistachio, and almond buttercream topped with ganache. MmmmmmMmmMmm.

 
Larry, me, and Chef Richard McPeake of KC Ribstars.

 
Gluten free spritz - they turned out really yummy, my grandma would have been proud!
I'll post more soon!

Marshmallow Schmarshmallow!


Adam, the kids, and I were all invited to a birthday party yesterday. On Friday night I got the bright idea to make some marshmallows to take to the birthday girl. I've been making (and selling) them since before Christmas, and it's a pretty good little business I have going. I really like making them - but Ian really likes eating them... and high fructose corn syrup and Ian simply do not mix.

I decided to make cinnamon "red hot" mallows in honor of Valentine's Day. I have a brand new Kitchenaid food processor so I figured it would be no big deal to "crush" the red hots. Well, I was wrong. The noise coming from my processor was one of the worst sounds I've ever heard. It made Joshua scream. I simply could not continue...and I turned it off after about 30 seconds. But, then I was stuck with the challenge of actually getting the flavor INTO the marshmallow.

After about twenty minutes, I sparked an idea. And, the idea worked... very well, indeed. They turned out very well, delish, and quite pretty!!

I took them with to the party and set them on the buffet.  I heard several comments about the marshmallows... including two people (who don't know me) say, "OH, are these K's marshmallows? These things are awesome!"  They approached my husband to comment on them. That made me feel great! =)    I love makin' tummies happy!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bacon Cheeseburger Quiche


  • 1 lb very lean hamburger
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 4 slices crisp-cooked turkey bacon chopped in bits
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c fat-free half-n-half
  • 8 oz shredded reduced-fat cheddar or Swiss cheese
  • garlic powder to taste (optional)
  • white pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Brown hamburger in skillet with onion. Remove and mix in bowl with bacon pieces breaking up any larger clumps with a fork or pastry mixer until you have a fine mix. Drain well of any excess grease and press into the bottom of a deep-dish pie pan. Set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients in mixer bowl and whip well. Pour mixture over beef 'crust' and bake 40-45 minutes until top is browned and 'set'.

Cool 15-20 minutes before slicing.

This was actually really good. My husband loved it... and my 11 year old son, who doesn't like anything, liked this!   I think it would be really delish served with a tomato coulis!!  This is being filed in the "will make again" category. =)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lab 1 - New England States

This week was our week to visit the New England states. We discussed lobster, crabs, scallops, clam chowder, etc.  We talked about the influence the puritans had on the foods of the area, and we talked about the origin of the Parker House roll & Boston Cream Pie.

My Indian pudding turned out alright. I was a bit disappointed though. Chef had told us that he wanted us to serve 8 portions, so I scaled my recipe to make just 8 portions. I have learned, very quickly, that Chef wants large portions. I should not have scaled the recipe. The taste was great, but because I'd scaled down the recipe I wasn't able to plate it in exactly the way I wanted.

Along with the pudding, I also made caramel and a brandy hard sauce. One of my teammates grilled some granny smith apples and we plated with the caramel on the plate, the apple and the pudding on top, and then the hard sauce dollop on top. The hard sauce melted over the warm pudding and made for a really nice taste!



Here we are, all sitting down to our dinner.
We were all pretty tired, and really hungry... but we all really had wayyyy too much food! =)



Here are a few of the dishes - scallops au gratin with duchess potatoes and a fennel salad.