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Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Not the “pour one can of sweetened condensed milk over 5 cups of coconut, stir and drop by tsp onto cookie sheet” macaroons. The REAL macaroons. The macaroons like people stand in line for in Paris. Now I won’t lead you to believe that I would know if my macaroons were as good or even close to the same as THOSE macaroons. But I will say this…if THOSE macaroons are better than MY macaroons well, no wonder people stand in line for them. These were delectable! Hey! Ladurée has been making macaroons since 1862 and I have been making them since…Sunday morning so why not compare????

Now a small confession: I almost croaked from eating them. Yep, severely allergic to almonds – only the KEY ingredient in macaroons. I think if I had just eaten a baked and filled one, slowly savoring every bite, I might not have had to pop two Benadryl and take a sleep in the middle of having dinner guests. But nooooo, I had to lick the bowl after we had them in the oven. Look, they were amazing, okay? Truly the best cookie or cake as Ladurée calls them. This is from their website:

The story of the Macaroon

These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are the most famous creation of Ladurée.

The story of the Ladurée macaroon starts with Pierre Desfontaines, distant cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée, who at the beginning of the 20th century first thought of taking two macaroon shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling. The way of making them has never changed since that time.

These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are made every morning in Ladurée’s “laboratory”. The pastry chefs measure out very precisely the required amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar, before adding one final ingredient, a pinch of unique “know-how”, essential to the making of such a delicacy.

Once cooked and filled, the macaroons are put to one side for 2 days before going on sale, the time it takes to achieve a perfect balance between texture and flavour.

Macaroons come in two sizes: the mini-macaroon or “gerbet” and full-size macaroons.

With each new season, Ladurée pays tribute to this its most famous creation by creating a new flavour.
The existing range of macaroons is always the starting point when a new one is created, as the variety of colours is as important as the range of flavours and a vital part of their appeal.

I don’t really know how they wait two days to eat them but whatever.  There aren’t any more here!  Below is the recipe I used with a few pictures of the process.  A tutorial if you like.  In the next week or so I am going to make some using pecans instead of almonds and just see if it works and what the differences are.  I want so much to enjoy these cookies periodically but don’t want the whole allergic reaction, pop benadryl, become comatose for 2-5 hours, feel like I have been hit by a truck for 12-18 hours, all the while making 15-20 trips to “the little girls’ room” .  So I must improvise.  Then again maybe moderation would help.  So do you think a town of 2889 is ready for a Macaroon Shoppe??? Me neither.   Until they are I will keep just making them for my friends and family.  Though at $2 each in the few US bakeries I could find that made them…it might be something to think about!

 Swiss Meringue Buttercream
• 4 large egg whites
• 3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
• 1-1/4 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( I used vanilla bean paste and it was yummy!)

Macaroons
• 1-3/4 cup confectioners sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or other flavoring or combination (again I used vanilla bean paste – I love the pretty brown flecks)
• 1-1/2 cups (4 ounces) sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
• the whites of 3 large eggs
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Whisk in ground almonds; set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy; add salt. Gradually add granulated sugar 1 teaspoon at a time, until the whites reach medium-soft peaks. Transfer to a large bowl.

Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the egg-white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula fold until just incorporated. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and remaining sugar-almond mixture, folding until just incorporated. Firmly tap the bottom of the bowl on a counter or work surface to eliminate any air pockets.

Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (I didnt have a tip this size so I just use the coupler without a tip…worked fine – or so Rachel said! ). Pipe mixture into 1 1/2  – 2 inch circles on parchment lined baking sheet.

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Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macaroons feel slightly firm to the touch and can be gently lifted off the parchment (the bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment and macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Carefully remove macaroons from parchment. Spread Swiss Meringue buttercream on the flat sides of the half of macaroons; sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down.

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Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving. Filled cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (This is comical isn’t it? The recipe made about  48 halves or 24 filled cookies so, I have no idea how long they will last in the frig!)

Isn’t this a beautiful cookie???? 

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And I was right…they weren’t nearly as hard to make as one would imagine.   Family consensus – they were lovely, delicious, oh so good but Cream Wafers are still the favorite. 

But now when I am in Paris, I can eat a REAL macaroon from Ladurée and see if I came close anyway.  Yeah, I am taking my Epi-pen to France.  And a big bottle of benadryl.

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This post is copied from my other blog NotQuiteJuneCleaverAs I said earlier, I want to move my recipes over here and make them easier to reference.

Fried Chicken Tutorial, Chicken Gravy & Perfecting Rice

Let me tell you frying chicken, getting it just right and not fainting from the heat is quite an accomplishment. Frying chicken is an art, and while my meal yesterday was nothing short of delicious, it was NOT my granny’s chicken. Not even close. But it was much enjoyed and we have leftovers for lunch today. My mom loved it, ate every bite she said. That is well worth the work. Now if you like you may buy whole fryers and cut them up, but Husband suggested just buying the pieces everyone likes so breast, legs and wings it was. Here is our menu:Fried Chicken ~ Rice and Gravy ~ Corn on the Cob ~ Homemade Rolls ~ Coconut Cream Pie

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I forgot to get photos of the Rice and Gravy (which again was very good – just not what I remember my granny making) and Corn on the Cob. I had intended to get a photo of the table set but was busy as a bee and forgot!

Okay so start out with your chicken pieces and wash and dry them. Salt and pepper to taste. Let me say, I have yet to get chicken too salty. It needs salt on the chicken and in the flour you dredge in.

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Next dredge your chicken pieces in your seasoned flour (all purpose). Seasoned with your choice of spices, I used just salt and pepper. But you can use garlic powder, cayenne…whatever is your taste.

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Then dip the floured chicken pieces into seasoned buttermilk. Again seasoned to your taste.

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Then BACK into the flour for a second coating. This process is what keeps your crust on your chicken. The first dredging helps it all adhere to the meat.

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In the meantime you should have your skillet filled 1/2 full with oil – DO NOT USE olive oil as it will burn before it gets hot enough to fry the chicken. I personally use canola oil. When your oil is hot enough (ideally kept at 375) start carefully dropping pieces of your chicken in the hot oil. Depending on the size of your skillet and your batch of chicken to be fried, you could be in this stage a while. Never put too many pieces in at a time. Your chicken pieces should not touch each other. They need room to cook on all sides. It is best to let the chicken cook on one side until golden brown and then turn once. This will give you even browning and help your chicken cook all the way to the bone. I suggest you cook the pieces that take longest first ~ thighs, legs and large breast pieces. I cant give you a time, because it will vary depending on size of pieces, how large your skillet is…lots of things. Just watch it closely.

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As your pieces get done, place them on brown paper on a cookie sheet to drain. Paper towels will stick to your crust. After you have all your chicken fried and while you are preparing the rest of your meal, place your chicken on a clean piece of brown paper (a clean paper bag will do) on a clean cookie sheet, cover loosely with heavy duty foil and place in a 300 degree oven until 15 -20 minutes before ready to serve. Then turn the oven off and leave it to stay warm until the meal is ready. This baking is important to set your crust, assure the bigger pieces are done to the bone (nothing I hate worse than undercooked poultry!)and will stay warm for your meal. Refrigerate leftover chicken for chicken salad (sans the crust), or just to eat as a cold lunch. Leftover fried chicken is not great warmed in my opinion. May just be my quirkiness but I think it tastes of feathers. Not that I actually have ever eaten a feather intentionally, but that is what I think of.

Chicken Gravy

Take out one cup of your oil from where you fried the chicken and put it in a clean skillet. Add 1/3-1/2 cup flour and make a roux from this. A roux is just oil and flour mixed and browned…not too brown, not too light. NEVER stop stiring…I use a metal whisk. Cook to the color of say…a new copper penny???…does that make sense? Just do not get it too brown and remember even if you take it off the heat, it will still be cooking in that hot skillet. So…you are to the brown perfection, add one can chicken broth. Slowly! Continue stirring. Add 1/3 cup diced onion, and a clove or two of minced garlic. Continue cooking and stirring until the onion is soft. Salt and pepper and set off the heat. You will have to reheat, probably adding more liquid (water is fine) just before serving.

Perfect Rice Everytime

First suggestion…use bottled water. For our family I use 2 1/2 cups uncooked rice. So here is the ratio: 5 cups water, 2 1/2 cups rice and salt. Put the water on to boil in a pot that has a tight fitting lid. Salt the water generously…say a teaspoon. Bring the salted water to a brisk boil over high flame, add your rice – DO NOT stir. Gently shake the pot to distribute the rice, bring it back to a boil , put the lid on, turn the flame to the lowest setting, or simmer, set your timer for 20 minutes exactly, and DO NOT OPEN it. When the time goes off, set it off the heat and leave it. Fluff with fork when ready to serve. Different water makes for different rice. My well water is soft, very soft…so it make sticky, mushy rice…YUCK! I like my rice done, yet individual grains, you know??

We had a small crowd for supper. The 5 of us, my niece who is spending the week with us (the aspiring chef you met before), Oldest son and then I sent Mom a plate over. All in all, start to finish I fried 24 pieces of chicken, 9 large legs, 5 very large breasts, and 10 wings and it took me from 3:30 till 6:00 to get it all on the table. But during all that I was making a pie, rice, gravy, corn…so that wasnt too bad. Just to think my grannies, aunts and many times my mom did this every day of the week…not fried chicken but HUGE meals with lots of prep time…whew. Makes me old thinking about it. Not only do we not need to eat like this everyday…I dont think I could stand up to it!

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