Recently I came across this post from the Oatmeal, and I feel like it is so true!
For me it is not possible to be non-stop around people and be creative at the same time. There needs to be some kind of brain-space where you can withdraw from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and potter around.
Which is – I realise – most likely also one of the reasons I like cooking so much, as it often provides a safe and quiet haven in which I withdraw.
And having said that, after playing hookie for almost four (!) weeks while snorkling in the Maldives, drinking beer in Bayern and enjoying our little terrace-garden (look at this bee in our lavender!), I really felt like diving into a kitchen project of proper size: making French Macaroons. I consider making these rather intimidating, and I will try to give some guidance and links in this post.
What I find comforting is to realise that these are just Italian Meringue shells, made more substantial and chewy by mixing in ground almonds. Before starting, I have read both this guide by the amazing Dorie Greenspan on baking macaroons and this background post by David Lebovitz.
Additionally, I was armed with actually a very conservative and old-fashioned recipe coming from well, actually my favorite cookbook – the Dutch baking bible of Cees Holtkamp. That and a thermometer, something I hesitated to buy over for a long time, but am really so happy with now that I finally have one (I have this one). Not only do I use it to make Italian meringue, tempering chocolate but also for making the base of these macaroons.
Might you still be hesitative to make macaroons, I can comfort you. They’ll turn out perfect. If not the first or second time, than the third time.
And with perfect I explicitly do not mean cutesy-consistent small macaroons. Because to be honest, I like these to be hearty, large enough to be only able to fit two in your hand so that these macarons can have enough filling to make it count. Because, you know, that is what homemade is supposed to be. 😉
Macaroons with dark chocolate-coffee ganache filling
- 5 egg whites (3 to whip with sugar syrup, 2 to be stirred together with the icing sugar and ground almonds)
- 200 grams of granulated sugar (to be dissolved and cooked with)
- 80 grams of water
- 200 grams of ground almonds
- 200 grams of icing sugar
- 10 grams of vanilla essence
- 3 pinches of salt
- Optional: food coloring
- Fillilng: 50 grams melted dark chocolate,mixed with 2 tablespoons of dulce de leche and 1 teaspoon of instant espresso powder. Be assured that you can be as creative with the filling as you wish. I have amended the amounts as I realised that it is really pleasant to not have a sweet filling, to give a contrast against the sweet macaron shells.
- I have found that making macaroons is easiest with a standmixer, so you have your hands free to do the other parts, but in fact you can also make these with a handmixer.
- As there are different steps involved, just make sure you have all ingredients measured out to be prepared.
- Stir together two egg whites, the icing sugar and ground almonds in a large bowl until you have a thick paste. Set this aside until the 'meringue' whipped part of the macarons is ready to be mixed in.
- Whip 3 egg whites with the pinches of salt into a frothy mixture. As always, makes sure that your bowl and whisk are sparkling clean. To be sure, I usually wipe a halved lemon over the bowl and attachment.
- On the stove, heat the water and sugar until 110 degrees Celsius. Once this syrup has reached this temperature, move quickly.
- Add the syrup to the frothy (three) egg whites while the kitchen machine is still running. Keep the machine running until no longer visible fog is coming from the mixture.
- You will end up with a beautifully shiny and stiff whipped egg white mixture (this part is called Italian Meringue).
- From this point onward you will only mix by hand. Drop the ground almonds into the meringue mixture and fold it through using a spatula. Some authors, such as Lorraine Pascale call for mixing in with 40 strokes. I have found that that works surpringly well. In case of doubt: the mixture should resemble thick yoghurt and should run off you spatula in a thick stream. Halfway stirring in the almonds is a good point to add food coloring, if using any. I used blue and added it last minute to achieve a 'marmbeled' effect. I would use a little less next time, but was quite happy with the result.
- After your mixture has reached the right consistency, use silicon baking mat or baking paper to pipe rounds onto. For this you can either use a piping bag or a sandwich bag of which you cut of a corner. In case you are hesitative about the size of macarons, on Pinterest you will be able to find a lot of printables that you can put underneath your baking paper to use as a guide. I made the macarons double this size, because I like it, but you're completely free in this (I have even seen avocado-scaped macaroons on Instagram!).
- After you have piped the rounds, let them stand on your kitchen counter for around 30 minutes to let the tops dry. You can check this by feeling whether the tops are dry to your touch and no longer stick. This will give a better result after baking. A lot of 'macaroon' baking mats are out there to make it easier, but I have found that it is not really necessary.
- Then, bake the macaroons in a moderately hot oven on 175 degrees Celsius until they are shiny and easily come off the baking mat (test with trying to lift one of with your finger). Recipe and guidance differs here and range between 6-9 minutes in the oven, but I found that my macaroons needed around 12 minutes in the oven (having said that, mine were also a little larger).
- Let the shells cool down and pipe some filling on one half and put another shell on top of it.
- Leave the macaroons one day in the fridge before serving so that they soften a little.
- PS after baking a sprinkled a mixture of gold food paint and some drops of vodka on the macaroons for decoration.
Tuk’s Kitchen.com – Tomato-Corn galette
How is your Friday?
I never thought I would say the following words, but truth to be said: the good old summer dinner of bread, cheese, and tomatoes starts to get a little boring. I know – who am I?
So, lets talk about this delightful tomato-corn galette.
And even though it feels rather ridiculous to stand behind a stove, and even though you can argue this is basically a heated up version of said three components, there is something about this tomato-corn galette that makes it more than the sum of its parts.
I am not sure whether it is the really tasty dough or the addition of feta cheese, Greek yoghurt, polenta, grilled corn, and thymian, but this really makes an amazing dish. I have seen a lot of recipes in which the tomatoes get roasted prior to assembling the galette, but I have found that by halving the tomatoes and placing them with their cut side up, you prevent the galette from getting too wet.
Another addition that I found really tasty is where you roll the dough out in uncooked polenta. It provides a really pleasant crunch to the end-result.
And if you can find pretty tomatoes, I would encourage you to buy them to make this galette, as they really get to shine on top.
This galette slices up without falling apart and for that reason, I would even bring it along to an outdoors picnic.
Without pushing you into your kitchen for too long, I would say: make this delightful tomato-corn galette!
Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂
- For the dough:
- 250 grams all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 125 grams of cold butter, cut into pieces
- 125 grams of Full-fat Greek Yoghurt, creme fraiche or sour cream
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- Oncooked polenta, to roll the dough in
- For the filling:
- 400 grams of mixed tomatoes, sliced in half
- Kernels, sliced off 1 grilled cob of corn
- 150 grams of full-fat greek yoghurt
- 150 grams of feta cheese, crumbled with your hand
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon of mild mustard 1
- For the dough: mix flour, salt, cubed butter, Greek yoghurt, lemon juice and black pepper together. Try to warm it up as little as possible with your hands (or ideally even use a mixer with dough hooks), to make sure that the end-result stays crispy.
- After the dough comes together, make a ball out of it and wrap it in clingfilm. Let the dough rest and chill in the fridge for another half an hour.
- For the filling, mix the mustard with the chives, thymian and crumbled feta cheese.
- Roll out the dough with a dough pin or a (clean) bottle of wine, until you have a large piece of dough of around 3 mm thick. Spread the yoghurt mixture in a round cirkle on the dough.
- Sprinkle the corn kernels on and place the tomatoes with their sliced side up on the galette. Carefully fold over the corners to make a comprehensive piece out of the galette.
- Then bake on 180 degrees Celsius for around 45 minutes. Enjoy!
Homemade Spanish Charcuterie, Lomo
One that does not blend into the routine of all other (working) months of a year. After seeing so many cool ideas and reminders, I have got the plan to enjoy an intentionally slow summer. One with plenty of time to wander off my normal cycle routes, to go to the (open air!) swimming pool to do laps and to experiment in the kitchen.
Truth to be said, I’ve had plenty of ‘experiments’ in the kitchen over the last couple of weeks, most of which have failed me miserably. I’m not kidding, I cringe a bit even writing this down. Macarons, salad Olivier, liquorice caramels and fudge have come and, actually, pretty quickly gone.
While I still feel pretty determined to get those right, there is one winner that did make it through.
Yesterday evening we ate this perfect cured pork loin, inspired by the Spanish charcuterie called ‘Lomo Iberico’. Maybe I am slightly biased due to the fact that I had waited three and a half weeks for this to be ready (talking about anticipation), but really, this tasted just as good as the one we ate in Madrid this year.
This Spanish Lomo Iberico thinly sliced and drizzled with olive oil, some bread, tomatoes and red wine is the perfect summer evening dinner to me (well, maybe a close call, nothing tops a cheese platter ;)). You know, a dinner where you intentionally get to enjoy all of the outside fresh air and the very late sunset.
First step of homemade cured pork loin – Spanish lomo – Tuk’s Kitchen.com
Deviled Eggs with Kaviar -Tuks Kitchen
Hello, how are you doing? How is your weekend? I hope there is loads of coffee and slow breakfasting.
As it is officially summer (did you see this cute summer ritual), I’m happy to call in picnic season. I suppose there is always one point in time where we start to eat simpler, which I think is mostly triggered by wanting to spend as much time outside as possible. And considering that pans are not that handy to drag out, this usually means a platter of cheeses or cured meats with some tomatoes or fruits.
Yesterday we made these eggs and they tasted perfect. In case you are wondering (or worried) that I’m considering this normal, no worries.
These stuffed eggs matched perfectly with the salmon caviar that we brought back with us from St Petersburg (in case you are wondering whether to go: yaaasss do so, it is an amazing city!). Considering a normal state of our fridge (without kaviar in it) I would top these eggs with flakes of (hot-) smoked salmon or pieces of soft goat cheese.
Enjoy and happy weekend!
- 8 eggs, hardboiled and peeled
- bunch of dill, finely chopped (around 20 grams)
- 5 tablespoons of mayonnaise, preferrably homemade or a good lemony version of store-bought
- 3 pinches of salt, I used pink himalaya salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 100 grams of salmon caviar (or alternatively flakes of hot-smoked salmon or soft goat cheese)
- Place the eggs in a pan with plenty of cold water and bring them to a boil. Let the eggs boil for 10-12 minutes (depending on their size). Let the eggs cool in cold water and peel when they only feel lukewarm.
- Don't be tempted to undercook your eggs, as the hardboiled consistency of the yolks helps making the filling creamy.
- Slice the eggs horizontally and plop out the egg yolks into a seperate bowl. Crumble the egg yolks with a fork and add the salt, pepper, mayonnaise and dill. The colder the yolks are, the easier this is to do.
- Keep stirring until the mixture looks fairly smooth. Don't be tempted to take out your handblender, as this will make the mixture rather gluey.
- Fill the empty egg halves with this mixture and top with caviar (or salmon or pieces of goat cheese). Enjoy!
Although I do love the word ‘naked cake’, I think working with buttercream is tremendous fun. Besides all possible decorating fun, buttercream also does a surprisingly amount of hard work in the flavor department. It seems like all the dough, filling and topping melt together in a very pleasant way.
Even though that all sounds very airy, it took me a lot of trial and error before I succesfully made buttercream. In the name of project wedding cake I made and tried different kinds of buttercream (I know, a very special detox program in case you have a big party to look forward to ;)). A very helpful guide was recently published by Food52 and I can only recommend reading this if you’re interesting. If you’re not really up for reading more, I have found us a perfect recipe!
My favorite buttercream turns out to be Italian (or meringue) buttercream. This type of buttercream is made on a basis of egg whites whipped stiff with hot sugar syrup. When the meringue is ready, you gradually add pieces of butter. This way the bulk of your cream is coming from eggs, not from sugar, which makes a less sweet butter cream than for example an all-American buttercream that I have made in the past. The consistency is wonderfully creamy when you have just whipped it, which makes it really easy to cover and pipe a cake. After you put your cake in the fridge this cream does firm up beautifully as well, which is a big plus as it makes it less likely that you will damage or dent your cake.
Due to the emulsion of the egg whites and butter, the process of making Italian Buttercream is a lot like making mayonnaise. Whenever during the process the mixture tends to crumble, you can fix this by either cooling the bowl in an icebath or melting a small portion in the microwave. In case your buttercream doesn’t seem to firm up: just keep mixing it. Helpful clues are to not double portions but rather take the time to make each portion individually (otherwise it might take hours to firm up), and to use a standing mixer (or have someone help you in the process). In case of trouble, I have found this blog post to be very helpful, if not soothing.
And in case you have made your buttercream, why not cover it in sprinkles?:)
On a more practical note: a cake covered in sprinkles or fondant will be much easier to transport than a cake that is solely covered in buttercream. This beauty traveled all the way from Frankfurt to Amsterdam (!) and still looked unaffected. View Full Post