Tuesday, May 31, 2011

National Macaron Day

Today is National Macaron Day. The macaron seems more like a French treat. But there are some think that the macaron is the next cupcake.
Larher: Chocolate, Coffee, Citron, Pistache

Laduree: Chocolate raspberry, Citron, Vanilla

PAUL USA: Vanilla, Raspberry, Citron, Coffee, Pistache

PAUL USA: The variety boxMad About Macarons!: Make Macarons Like the French
A macaron is a sweet confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond flour and food coloring. The macaron is commonly filled with buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. Its name is derived from an Italian word "maccarone" or "maccherone". This word is itself derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient. 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 (referred to as the "foot"), and flat base. It is mildly moist and easily melts in the mouth.
Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the new flavor concoctions such as truffle, green matcha tea. The fillings can range from jams, ganache, or buttercream. Since the English word macaroon can also refer to the coconut macaroon, many have adopted the French spelling of macaron to distinguish the two items in the English language. However, this has caused confusion over the correct spelling of the cookie/biscuit. Some recipes exclude the use of macaroon to refer to this French confection while others think that they are the same. It seems that the coconut macarron is less intimidating to make, at least for me.

Although predominantly a French confection, there has been much debate about its origins. Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 791 in a convent near Cormery. Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France. In the 1830s, macarons were served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today was called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron" and is the creation of Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée, composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling.
It seems this little sweet treat is taking the world by storm. Macarons can be found in Europe, Japan, and even in South Korea. Each country adding local flavors to suit their tastes. There are even macarons in McDonalds in France.
I bought macarons for my own “research”. I bought macarons from Laduree, Arnaud Larher and PAUL, and Lenotre. My favorites were the coffee, pistache, and the caramel with fler de sel. Of course, if I was offered any other flavor I certainly not turn one down.
Now I just have to through caution to the wind and make them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Roman open market

Giordano Bruno
Vegetables from the market
Variety of produce


More produce

Espresso makers

Pasta of all shapes

Spices of all kinds

Wedges of parmesan cheese

The vendor slicing the wedges of cheese

Very small artichokes

Jams, jellies and honey

Balsamic vinegars

Empty crates

Oranges and other produce

On a bright hot Saturday morning we were on our own walking Angels and Demons tour of the city and ended up at Campo De´ Fiori. And to our surprise there was a bustling  open market. Selling espresso markers, scarves, shirts and of course food. All kinds of food from spices, cheese, balsamic vinegar, limoncello, pastas of all shapes, and of course produce.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Celebration dinner at Brasserie Beck

The open kitchen

The dinning room and wine cellar

Two of the many Belgian  beers offered

Mussels with mushrooms and apple smoked bacon

The great fries

Trio of dipping mayo. Plain, tomato with brandy and curry

 Interpretation of strawberry shortcake
Sunday was the hubby's birthday so we need to celebrate. Birthdays are for celebrating not ignoring. I had scored a Living Social Coupon for Brasserie Beck. We had never been there so why not? They are  known for their mussels and Belgian beer. They have a open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant. The decor is sleek. Blue tiles and a glass wine cellar. We ordered the full order of mussels, I ordered the smoked wood bacon and mushroom mussels and the hubby had the red spicy Thai mussels. A full order of mussels come with frites with 3 kinds of mayo. Plain, tomato with brandy and a curry mayo. The beers we ordered were a hefeweiss beer and a Kesteel Donker a smooth, non bitter dark beer. The service was attentive and was great at pairing the beer with the mussels.  And of course we had dessert. The special was their take on strawberry shortcake.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Mother store of all cooking stores

Since 1820 E.DEHILLERIN is a Family Business, who keeps the tradition of the french kitchen culture. I had a wonderful opportunity to shop there on my last trip to Paris. This is the place were Julia Child and others in the culinary world shopped.

The mother store of all stores

Whisks, wooden spoons and a rolling pin

Copper frying pan

Copper sauce pan
It seems to be the mecca for all those who cook or bake. This is the pace if you want  copper pots and pans. You can find just about anything in this small, cramped, crowded store. The staff are not that easy to work with but I was finally able to let the salesman know that I really did want the copper frying pan and the sauce pan. 

I have been there before I bought whisks and and these fabulous wooden spoons, this was my birthday gift so I wanted copper. At first I wanted a bain marie but how often would I really use it so I put that one on the back burner (no pun intended) So I purchased the two copper cookware, a rolling pin, whisks and more wooden spoons- you can never have too many spoons. 

After packing them in the luggage I had to go through the tax refund office at the airport. Well that maybe a whole other blog, but the frustration needs to be shared. But I'll make it short. 2 lines one for non Euro and Euro members and only one person working the non-Euro line. I only needed my paper stamped so I could mail the paper work back to the shop. Well, of course I was in the wrong line.  I needed  to be in the other line and of course it is moving very slowly. At least  there were three working that line. I was getting worried I might miss my plane. I still had to go through passport control then through security.
The line was moving but it seemed like everyone had inches thick receipts for the workers to sift through, really I only needed a stamp! Finally it was my turn- it took 5 seconds I just needed a stamp. I put the paperwork into the self addressed stamped envelope and pop into the very overstuffed poste box.

Well, the cargo made it home dent free and lovely as ever. Now let's get cooking.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

National Chocolate Chip Day

Since it's National Chocolate Chip Day   

I wanted to make cookies with the 

orginal Toll house recipes. I mixed 

the chips with the semi-sweet and 

special dark chips. So get a cold glass 

of milk and enjoy. Soft and chewy or 

crunchy there're all good.

From the humble chip

Chocolate Chip Cookie


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.