Sunday 24 April 2011

    High Tea


    It’s a high tea sort of day, and the Royal wedding countdown has begun.

    “… a little while ago i worked with romi from bo peep productions on this amazing kitchen tea that she styled. she arranged the most beautiful party and i made a variety of  white + rustic style sweets to suit. the sweets list included a vanilla bean buttercream cake, cake pops, vanilla + coconut macarons, scones, profiteroles, belgian white chocolate rocky road, lemon glazed knot cookies, white chocolate apples and sponge rolls…” Naomi

    {Kitchen tea styled by Bo Peep Productions []. Photography by natalie hunfalvay for hello naomiherehere.}

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    Wednesday 20 April 2011

    Delectable Recipe: Preserved Lemons


    Do you know the land where the lemon-trees flower? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    {Source Simply Seductive; first image from the talented photographer and art director Peggy Wong.}

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    Wednesday 26 January 2011



    In the spirit of Australia Day, I thought I’d share two lamington recipes with you.

    The humble Lamington is an Australian icon

    ~ a sponge cake in the shape of a cuboid, coated in a layer of chocolate icing and desiccated coconut. Lamingtons are sometimes served as two halves with a layer of cream and/or strawberryjam in between.

    History :: In the summer of 1886, Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland took his entourage to Harlaxton House in Toowoomba to escape the steamy heat of Brisbane.

    He loved, ‘Snowballs’ – round cakes served with whipped cream. The cook was requested to make a batch for afternoon tea and to the cook’s horror the kitchen was not equipped with round patty tins or cream!
    The Cook was creative and made a big cake which she cut into oblongs, iced with chocolate icing and sprinkled with coconut. The guests were enthralled with the new treat. Lady Lamington was asked what the cakes were called.  When told there they had no name, the Guests dubbed them ‘Lord Lamington Cakes’.

    Another account was the Lamingtons’ chef at Queensland’s Government House, Armand Gallad, was called upon at short notice to provide something to feed unexpected guests. According to the Melbourne Age newspaper, Gallad cut up some left over French vanilla sponge cake baked the day before, dipped the slices in chocolate and set them in coconut.

    Ironically, Lord Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, referring to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits”.


    Sponge Cake:
    6 eggs
    150 g (51/2 oz/2/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
    200 g (7 oz/12/3 cups) self-raising flour
    30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter, melted

    Chocolate Icing:
    500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar
    200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
    15 g (1/2 oz) unsalted butter
    125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) milk
    375 g (13 oz/4 cups) desiccated coconut

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly grease and line the base of an 18 x 28 cm
    (7 x 11 inch) tin with baking paper.

    To make the cake, beat the eggs for about 5 minutes with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is thick and the sugar has dissolved. Sift in the flour and fold in lightly. Add the butter and 3 tablespoons of hot water and stir gently to combine. Pour into the tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

    To make the chocolate icing, put the sugar, dark chocolate, butter and milk in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly until melted and mixed together.

    Cut the sponge into 16 squares. Put the coconut in a bowl. Dip each sponge square into the chocolate icing and then in the coconut. Leave on a wire rack to dry completely before serving. Makes 16

    {Recipe ~ Totally addicted to taste}

    Photographer: Joshua Dasey, Stylist: Margot Braddon

    Lamington Angels

    Vanilla buttercake:
    90g butter, softened
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
    2 eggs
    1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
    2 tablespoons milk

    Chocolate icing:
    10g butter
    1/3 cup (80ml) milk
    2 cups (320g) icing sugar
    1/4 cup (25g) cocoa powder

    1 cup (80g) desiccated coconut
    1/4 cup (100g) raspberry jam
    1/2 cup (125ml) thickened cream, whipped


    1. Preheat oven to moderate (180°C/160°C fan-forced). Line 6-hole texas or 12-hole standard muffin pan with paper cases.
    2. Beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, flour and milk in small bowl with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium, beat until mixture is changed to a paler colour.
    3. Divide mixture among cases; smooth surface.
    4. Bake large cakes about 25 minutes, small cakes about 20 minutes. Turn cakes onto wire rack to cool.
    5. Make chocolate icing.
    6. Remove cases from cakes. Dip cakes in icing; drain off excess, toss cakes in coconut. Place cakes on wire rack to set.
    7. Cut cakes as desired; fill with jam and cream.

    Chocolate icing
    Melt butter in medium heatproof bowl over medium saucepan of simmering water. Stir in milk and sifted icing sugar and cocoa until icing is a coating consistency.

    {Recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly}

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    Saturday 22 January 2011

    once upon a cakestand


    Friends rallied to a call by my friends Nichola & Deborah to hold a baking stall to raise funds for Flood Relief.

    Nichola’s nanna baked fresh scones in the morning.

    The table was laden with cakes, rocky road and biscuits.

    A friend in London knew about it via FB and sent his mum to buy goodies,

    there was a moment of re-unions with people connected to Dalby,

    and the community spirit continued.

    At the end of the day $2 230 was raised – amazing!

    Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos, so found some that captured the moment. I’m looking forward to enjoying a cup of tea with my petite caramel date cake.

    {Images via the kitchncannelle vanille}

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    Thursday 25 November 2010

    A Marilyn Monroe Thanksgiving


    Marilyn wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving

    Fragments, a new book of Monroe’s casual scribblings reveals that the bombshell

    was actually quite the vixen in the kitchen.

    This collection of assorted letters, poems and back-of-the-envelope scribblings that span the time from Monroe’s first marriage in 1943 to her death in 1962. Among the star’s various letters, notes, and poems, is her stuffing recipe from the mid-1950s, jotted down in her handwriting on stationary from a San Francisco insurance company.

    Marilyn Monroe’s Thanksgiving Stuffing

    As reported by Ted and Matt Lee in the New York Times, it’s a complicated, labor-intensive preparation that calls for liver and heart giblets, three kinds of nuts, and well-soaked sour dough bread, suggesting that she was competent, confident cook.

    Giblets are to be “liver-heart,” and the beef is to be “browned (no oil),” yet certain other details are left flapping in the wind: the amount of spices is not specified, nor the amount of “parsarly.” O.K., the instruction of “1 handful” of grated Parmesan is clear enough, but what to make of the first line — “No garlic” — of the recipe?

    For recipe-restoration geeks like us, this was a challenge we couldn’t resist, especially as we head into high season for stuffing. Our goal was to fill in the blanks and produce a stuffing recipe that anyone could complete successfully. Of all the souvenirs of Marilyn’s life available, this was the one we actually wanted.

    From the start, we agreed to embrace the period in which the recipe was written, and resisted the temptation to substitute fresh rosemary and ginger for the dried variety.

    The most unnerving thing about the recipe is its laboriousness. More than two hours passed as we soaked and shredded sourdough (to be fair, soggy sourdough nearly shreds itself), peeled hard-boiled eggs, simmered livers in water, browned the beef, cracked pepper, chopped and measured. When the ingredients were finally laid out, they filled 15 ramekins and bowls. Did Marilyn really have this much time on her hands?

    When we gingerly tossed everything together in our largest bowl (the recipe yielded more than 20 cups), we were amazed to discover one of the most handsome stuffings we’ve encountered. The odd elements, like the profusion of raisins and the chopped egg, suddenly made sense, becoming pleasant color contrasts. Moreover, the mixture was delicious, a nice balance of vegetables, meats and bold seasonings, just faintly, tonically sweet from the raisins. Even the texture was superior, a fluffy, damp blend that packed well into a chicken cavity and emerged loosely gelled. Subsequent tests employed slight tweaks but the original genius (and the heroic volume) of her recipe remained fundamentally the same.

    The article above was written by the Lee Brothers, and the photograph by Andrew Scrivani.

    Rebecca Franklin,’s French Food guide, who “recreates it via French cuisine,” says prep takes 20 minutes and cuts the quanity in half.  The Lees interpreted Marilyn’s “{walnuts/ chestnuts/ pinenuts} 1 cup chop nuts” as calling for a third of a cup of each nut”. Franklin’s substitutes “2/3 cup cooked chestnuts, chopped” in her half-recipe. Lees use oregano, Franklin sage.

    Marilyn’s Stuffing Recipe

    Adapted from “Fragments” by Marilyn Monroe. Both recipe interpretations follow…

    The Lee’s interpretation ~ Cooking time: 2 hours

    No garlic

    A 10-ounce loaf sourdough bread

    1/2 pound chicken or turkey livers or hearts

    1/2 pound ground round or other beef

    1 tablespoon cooking oil

    4 stalks celery, chopped

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 cups chopped curly parsley

    2 eggs, hard boiled, chopped

    1 1/2 cups raisins

    1 cup grated Parmesan

    1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts, pine nuts or roasted chestnuts, or a combination

    2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary

    2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano

    2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme

    3 bay leaves

    1 tablespoon salt-free, garlic-free poultry seasoning (or 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)

    1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste & 1 tablespoon pepper.

    Split the bread loaf in half and soak it in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Wring out excess water over a colander and shred into pieces.

    Boil the livers or hearts for 8 minutes in salted water, then chop until no piece is larger than a coffee bean.

    In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef in the oil, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat, so no piece is larger than a pistachio.

    In your largest mixing bowl, combine the sourdough, livers, ground beef, celery, onion, parsley, eggs, raisins, Parmesan and nuts, tossing gently with your hands to combine. Whisk the rosemary, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper together in a bowl, scatter over the stuffing and toss again with your hands. Taste and adjust for salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use as a stuffing or to bake separately as dressing.

    Yield: 20 cups, enough for one large turkey, 2 to 3 geese or 8 chickens.

    Here’s what Marilyn’s Stuffing Recipe

    might have looked like had she been a housewife in 1950′s France.

    Prep: 20 minutes; Cook: 20 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

    Yield: 10 cups of stuffing

    6 ounces pain au levian (sourdough)

    1/4 pound chicken livers

    1/4 pound ground sirloin

    1 cup mirepoix {French vegetable combination using equal parts carrots, celery, and onion}

    2 bay leaves

    1 cup chopped, fresh parsley

    1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

    1/2 cup raisins (substitute any dried fruits)

    1/2 cup grated Parmesan

    2/3 cup cooked chestnuts, chopped

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1 teaspoon dried rosemary

    1 teaspoon dried sage

    1 teaspoon dried thyme

    1/4 teaspoon marjoram

    1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    Preparation: How to make 1950′s-style French stuffing

    Soak the pain au levian in water for 15 minutes. Drain the bread in a colander for 5 minutes and squeeze it dry. Pull it apart into small pieces.

    While the bread is soaking and draining, prepare the livers and ground beef. Boil the livers for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are done. Finely chop the cooked livers. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, and transfer the meat to a bowl.

    Sauté the mirepoix and bay leaves in the remaining beef fat for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and stir together the shredded bread, cooked livers, browned beef, sautéed mirepoix, parsley, eggs, raisins, cheese, chestnuts, salt, pepper, and dried herbs.

    This napkin was signed by Marilyn Monroe on Thanksgiving Day, 1961 was auctioned. A letter giving details about the dinner accompanied the napkin (as the writer of the letter sent the napkin to a family member).

    According to the letter, the dinner was held by Gloria Lovell, Frank Sinatra’s secretary (and interestingly the woman who took Marilyn’s dog Maf after she died). Attending the dinner were Danny Thomas’ secretary, Janet, Gloria’s hairdresser, Jimmy, Inez Melson, Jo and Marilyn – six total including Gloria. The dinner was held in Gloria’s home, which was actually an apartment in Marilyn’s former building on North Doheny Drive.

    “I know the writing on the little napkin is hard to read…if you can’t make it out its Marilyn Monroe, she was at Gloria’s Thanksgiving dinner. There were six of us including Gloria.”

    “Marilyn is no more like she is on screen than anything…I did not know who she was, hardly…..her voice is diff, altho she has that little hi pitched note, its most exaggerated in her pix. She is as tall as I, but oh so slender, thin face, little bucket, small breasts, wears size 12….she looks (?) times that lagre (sic) on screen…is very sweet, nice as can be, very down to earth, not a bit stuck up or anything,,,just folks. She had on blk short skirt, (black) pumps. a silk jersy (sic) pull on sweater, hair tied up in white silk scarf, (said) it did not look good in back so did not take it off, you’d like her. She (wore) the most elegant, sheared white beaver coat I have ever seen, (I WANT ONE). I’m laughing, who can afford it? Not me…….”

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    Saturday 16 October 2010

    Macarons are sexier than Cupcakes


    Swoon over these jewel-like, sugary sandwiches of joy.

    Move over, cupcakes:

    macarons are what the fashionista is eating this season.

    {Times of London}

    The French macaron is a smooth-skinned,

    soft and delicate round of naughtiness

    that comes in every imaginable colour and flavour.

    These brightly coloured, mini meringues,

    daintily sandwiched together with gooey fillings,

    have become the sweet holy grail.

    Will the artisanal snootiness save the macaroon from the fate of the cupcake

    — once fêted as the loveliest of novelties?

    Fashion Cupcakes prop-styled by Lisa Edsalv and shot by Swede photographer Therese Aldgard. The duo created 5 delicious cupcakes, inspired by Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Agent Provocateur and Betsey Johnson.

    Anyone can make near-commercial-standard cupcakes — and you can buy affordable versions in supermarkets. Macaroons are different: they are very temperamental. You can make them at home, but they come out nothing like those on offer at Ladurée or Pierre Hermé. In Paris, a patissier is judged on his macarons.

    Even the professionals struggle with macaroons, says Meike Beck at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “Three seconds of overbeating and they’re ruined.” The institute spent a month making hundreds of batches of macaroons, trying to perfect a recipe. In the end it gave up. “

    Macaron shells are supposed to be completely flat (dome like shells are frowned upon), and should have a lovely “rim” along the bottoms, or “feet” as they are more commonly called. The term “macaron” now commonly refers to what is technically a “gerbet”, a pair of macarons sandwiched together with ganache (chocolate truffle cream), or butter cream.

    Jour du Macaron

    Macaron Day (Jour du Macaron) held on 20 March was created by Pierre Hermé and the other members of L’association Relais Desserts (of which Pierre Hermé is joint-Vice President). The purpose of Jour du Macaron is to raise awareness (and money) for charity. On this day, you can visit any of the participating pastry stores (including all the Pierre Hermé boutiques) in Paris, and get yourself some free macarons. Donation boxes are set up in each store for optional donations to the charity of choice for that year.

    Pierre Hermé is known as France’s greatest pastry chef &

    the King of Macaroons.

    Hermé says that you should eat macaroons only if you are hungry — and not out of greed. “That way you will not put on weight.”

    What makes his macaroons popular? “Twenty years’ hard work,” he shrugs. In 1976, aged 14, he was apprenticed under the innovative patissier Gaston Lenôtre. At that time, macarons came in four guises: coffee, chocolate, vanilla and raspberry.

    “I didn’t really like macarons, they were too sweet for me” says Hermé. “I started to experiment with them in the mid 1980s,” he says. “I tried creating different flavours, such as lemon, pistachio, salted caramel and mandarin.” The result caused a sensation in France.

    Pierre Hermé’s world-famous mini-meringues ~ many testify that they are the most delicious macarons ever!

    Take his pistachio flavour – an early Hermé classic. You bite through the thinnest crisp crust into a soft, airy pistachio and almond meringue that melts into white chocolate and pistachio ganache, with just a hint of bitter almond.

    Hermé’s macarons are the most exotic, especially Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit)

    and Arabesque (apricot and pistachio). You can only buy them in Paris, Tokyo & London.

    The much-lauded gastronomic tome Macaron by the undisputed master Pierre Hermé

    showcases 30 years of creativity and techniques.

    Laduree :: Queen of Macarons

    For chic and proper old-school macaroon-ness, Ladurée is unsurpassed. Smaller and more modest than Hermé’s rock’n’roll creations, they include the subtle Turkish delight; a Ruby Kiss (summer pudding in macaroon form) or Orange Saffron (Chocolate Orange in macaroon form).

    Laduree made a box of 7 tiny charms for Christmas 2008.

    For those of us who don’t live close to a macaron patisserie, and are feeling adventurous, these two macaron recipes look delicous and each one makes about 72 macarons.

    Yuzu Macaron with Candied Grapefruit & Wasabi

    {Macaron Delicieux by Pierre Hermé}

    For the candied grapefruit:

    2 grapefruits, 1 liter water, 500 g granulated sugar, 1 star anise, 10 peppercorns, 1 vanilla bean, 4 tbs lemon juice

    For the meringue:

    300 grams almond flour, sifted

    300 grams powdered sugar

    110 grams egg whites, aged 7 days (or left outside covered overnight)

    300 grams powdered sugar

    75 grams bottled spring water

    110 grams egg whites, aged 7 days (or left outside covered overnight)

    For the yuzu ganache with wasabi:

    40 grams yuzu juice (or lime juice)

    300 grams creme fraiche

    375 grams Valhrona white chocolate

    20 grams grated fresh wasabi (or use tube)

    For the finish:  150 grams pistachios, non salted

    For the candied grapefruit:  The day before, wash the grapefruits. Cut and discard the extremities and slice (top to bottom) thick chunks of the skin with one centimeter of the pulp still attached. Place them in a pot of boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Drain. Run the grapefruit chunks under cold water. And repeat the same operation 2 more times.

    Crush the peppercorns with the back of a saute pan and place in a small pot with the water, sugar, lemon juice, star anise and the vanilla bean split in half. Bring to a simmer. Add the grapefruit chunks. Cover the pot 3/4 and keep it at a very low simmer for 1 1/2 hour.

    Transfer the candied grapefruit + syrup to a container. Let it cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

    The next day, drain the grapefruit from the syrup and cut into little cubes.

    Dry the pistachios in a very low oven. Turn them into a powder in a food processor. Sift and reserve.

    For the meringues:  Sift the almond flour and the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add them to the almond flour and to the powdered sugar. Add the first batch of egg whites (110 gr) without mixing them.

    In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil until it reaches 118′C. Meanwhile, place the second batch of egg whites in the bowl of a mixer equipped with the whisk attachment. When the sugar is at 115′C start beating the whites on medium speed.

    Pour the sugar at 118′C over the egg whites. Beat until the temperature of the mixture drops to 50′C and you have a compact and shiny meringue. Fold the meringue into the almond-sugar-egg white mixture until it’s homogeneous. Place in a large pastry bag with a plain #11 tip.

    Place parchment paper on 4 baking trays and use a pencil to draw 1 1/2 inches circles to cover the surface with 1/2 inch in between. You should have about 36 circles on each parchment papers. Turn over the paper so the pencil markings won’t transfer to the meringues.

    Pipe rounds of the meringue dough onto the prepared parchment paper. Sprinkle the pistachio powder over the meringues and let them out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This is a very important step where the piped meringue rounds develop a thin ‘crust’ over their surface.

    Preheat the oven to 350′F. Bake the meringues for exactly 12 minutes. Open the oven door quickly-twice during cooking. When the cookies are cooked slide the parchment paper onto a work surface and leave them to cool.

    Macaron au Chocolate Amer

    {Macaron Delicieux by Pierre Hermé}

    For the macaron shells

    10½ oz/300g icing sugar

    10½ oz/300g ground almonds

    4oz/120g 100% cocoa solids chocolate (Pierre uses Amedei Italian chocolate or use Willie’s –

    8oz/220g egg whites at room temperature (about 6-7 egg whites)

    1 tsp (4.5g to be precise) carmine red food colouring (or cochineal)

    5 tbsp mineral water

    10½ oz/300g granulated sugar

    Cocoa powder for dusting

    For the bitter chocolate ganache

    5oz/140g butter at room temperature

    12½ oz/360g best-quality plain chocolate (such as Valrhona Guanaja couverture chocolate), chopped

    14oz/400g whipping cream

    1½ oz/40g 100% cocoa solids chocolate

    To make the shells   Line 2-3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Mark the parchment with circles 1½in/3.8mm wide (I drew around a piping nozzle of the correct diameter), spacing them ¾in/2cm apart. Turn the paper over (the circles should show through).

    Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds (you’ll need a fairly wide mesh sieve for this) into a large bowl.

    Chop the 100% cocoa solids chocolate and put it in a bowl over a pan of just-simmering water, leaving it to melt and reach a temperature of 122F/50C.

    Divide the egg whites into two equal portions.

    Mix the food colouring into one portion and add to the bowl with the icing sugar and almonds (no need to mix it).

    Put the mineral water in a small pan and add the granulated sugar. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then boil the syrup using a thermometer to track its temperature.

    Meanwhile, put the other half of the egg whites in a bowl and plug in the electric beaters. When the syrup reaches 240F/115C, begin to beat the second quantity of egg whites to soft peaks.

    Once the syrup reaches 244F/118C, pour it slowly on to the whites, beating all the time. Keep beating until the mixture returns to a soft peak consistency and has cooled to 122F/50C. (This egg white-syrup mousse is what chefs call an Italian meringue.)   Add the beaten egg whites to the bowl with the icing sugar and almonds.

    Mix, then add the melted chocolate. Once it is incorporated, beat the mixture hard with a wooden spoon for a minute or so, without trying to incorporate more air.

    Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a ³/8in/10mm plain tip. (Depending on the size of your piping bag, you’ll probably need to do this in three or four batches.)

    Pipe the mixture onto baking sheets lined with the parchment paper marked with circles. Using a sifter, sprinkle lightly with powdered cocoa (you’re aiming for a few freckles, not an even dusting).

    Tap the baking sheets on a work surface covered with kitchen towel. Let the shells stand for half an hour, until a skin forms on the surface. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4.   Slide the baking sheets into the preheated oven.   Bake for 12 minutes, quickly opening and shutting the oven door twice during the cooking time to let the steam escape.  Take the baking sheets out of the oven. Slide the sheets of parchment paper with shells onto a work surface and leave to cool.

    To make the ganache

    Cut the butter into pieces.  Put the chocolate into a bowl. Boil the cream and pour about a third at a time onto the chopped chocolate, mixing each time. The mixture will separate and look grainy, but keep mixing and it will come together.  Allow the chocolate mixture to cool to 122F/50C.

    Add the chopped butter and beat until smooth.  Pour into a wide dish. Press clingfilm onto the surface of the ganache and refrigerate until thick enough to pipe.

    To assemble the macarons

    Spoon the ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a ³/?in/10mm plain tip. Pipe a generous mound onto a shell, then top with another shell, twisting lightly so that the filling spreads and bulges enticingly.

    Store covered in the fridge for at least 24 hours to allow the inside of the macaron shells to soften. Bring back to room temperature before eating.

    This turned into a long posting ~ I was seduced by the macaron!

    And while this isn’t a gourmet blog, I couldn’t resist the recipes

    although I’m not sure how successful I’d be as a macaron chef.

    {Sources & Images: Bread et Butter; Pig Pig’s Corner; Kitchen Musings; Zen can cook; Ladurée; London Times}

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    Friday 15 October 2010



    The Delicious Miss Dahl and her Voluptuous Delights.

    It’s impossible not to be enamored with the charming Sophie Dahl and her very pretty cookbook of gourmet temptations.

    Cherish the beautiful moments in life of “ice-cold beer from the bottle … as boats sail in,”

    of a “cake slowly baked” while “Nina Simone [sings] huskily on the stereo”,

    of “goat’s cheese and frittata” and “epic” margaritas,

    and the things that are “rare and precious in all that is higgledy-piggeldy and crooked,”

    and embrace that “to everything there is a season.”

    The supermodel-turned-chef is the granddaughter of Roald Dahl who married Jazz pianist, Jamie Cullum earlier this year. She has been big, she has been slim and now she has reinvented herself as a foodie princess.

    In March and April 2010, her six-part cookery series entitled The Delicious Miss Dahl aired onBBC 2. Dahl wrote and presented the series. The show was cancelled due to poor ratings and unfavorable critical review.  The spin-off recipe book is called Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights.

    The cover captures Miss Sophie Dahl sitting pretty, in a pair of garden-green Wellies and a woolly overcoat, on the steps of an enchanting Gypsy caravan. Charming, delightful and lovely, this book is a return to the child-like, intrinsic and instinctive joys of eating, cooking and sharing. The author herself admits the difficulty in “translating” these recipes, as having “learnt the rudiments of [cooking] from [her] mum,” an “instinctive cook” who “rarely cooks from recipes.” via The Pantry Door

    Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights simply oozes on every page like sticky yumminess  straight out of a golden syrup tin. Here are a few featured dishes and recipes from the book via Daily Candy. {I haven’t cooked these yet maybe this weekend.}

    Asparagus Soup with Parmesan


    2 leeks, white parts only
    1 shallot
    1 small bunch asparagus (about 24 small to medium stems)
    Olive oil
    1 quart of hot stock (vegetable or chicken)
    Parmesan rind
    Salt and pepper

    1. Chop the leeks and shallot finely. Chop the asparagus, minus the tough ends (keep them for making stock later, should you feel like a domestic goddess).

    2. In a soup pot, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and gently sweat the leeks and shallots until they turn translucent.

    3. Add the stock and Parmesan rind. Simmer for 15 minutes or so on low heat. Pop the asparagus in and cook for another 7 minutes.

    4. Remove the Parmesan rind (what’s left of it) with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Let the soup cool. You can puree it or leave it as a broth with vegetables. Serves six

    Flourless Chocolate Cake

    Says Dahl: “This is the mother of all chocolate cakes. It is incredibly rich and very good cold from the fridge, smothered in creme fraiche. Eat it at your discretion.”

    Butter for greasing
    2 c. broken semisweet chocolate (or 1 c. each dark and milk chocolate), plus extra to decorate (optional)
    1 c. superfine sugar
    ¾ c. boiling water
    2 sticks salted butter, cut into cubes
    6 eggs, separated
    1 tsp. instant coffee
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract
    1 c. raspberries, whole
    1 c. strawberries, quartered
    7 oz. tub creme fraiche

    1. Grease and line the base of an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan (though she prefers to use a springform pan, as the texture of the cake is quite moist and sticky). Preheat the oven to 350°.

    2. In a large food processor (or do in two batches), pulse the chocolate and sugar until fine. Add the boiling water, butter, egg yolks, coffee, and vanilla.

    3. In a glass bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add them to the mixture in the food processor and blend for 10 seconds or so. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45-55 minutes. The top will be cracked like a desert fault line.

    4. Put the cake in the fridge for a few hours. When you are ready to serve, remove from the pan and smother it with the raspberries, strawberries, and creme fraiche. You can also grate some more chocolate on top.

    Note: After you take the cake out of the oven, it will collapse in on itself quite a bit. This is okay. It’s not meant to be a proud, cool cake; it’s meant to look slightly rough around the edges and homemade. And the creme fraiche and berries hide any dips and cracks. I bought myself a vacuum sealer and will try it out. I have seen people using it and everyone recommend it, I have FoodSaver brand and I recommend you to first read Foodsaver reviews before you buy vacuum sealer. There is many ways to preserve food but I think this is the best way.

    And the show is a testament to a beautifully and simply designed kitchen. The Delicious Miss Dahl was filmed in the  home of british photographer paul massey, For more of this stunning abode visit my previous post: Home drooling!

    {Images: Courtesy of William Morrow, BBC, youtube and Paul Massey Photography}

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    Sunday 10 October 2010

    Macarons in Mexico


    Whilst Ladurée will always be the Queen of Macarons,

    I would not be able to resist visiting  Theurel & Thomas

    in Mexico to swan around the stunning interior and enjoy the sweet temptations.

    The store is predominantly white to allow the colours of the macarons to stand out.

    Mexican studio Anagrama created the interiors and branding

    for the first pâtisserie in Mexico dedicated to French macarons.

    Insights from studio Anagrama.

    For this project it was very important to create an imposing brand that would emphasize the unique value, elegance and detail of this delicate dessert.”

    One of the most important extensions of a brand, is the design and ambiance of the stores.

    The pâtisserie of Theurel & Thomas has an enlighten space with an exclusivity and elegance atmosphere.

    Details were an essential part of our work. We meticulously selected each porcelain piece making a balance with sophisticated specks that made the value of the brand and the exclusivity of the product outshine.

    We created the brand as well as the architectural space.

    White was our primary tool for design.

    As a result of this the attention was fully oriented to the colorful macarons.

    We selected Didot (created by Firmin and Pierre Didot),

    a French typography that would present the brand with sophistication.

    We placed two lines in our design in cyan and magenta, as a relation with a modern French flag to inject a vanguard vision to the identity.

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    Sunday 25 July 2010

    Café éphémère


    I’m dreaming of experiencing Café éphémère: Collection d’objets gormand. Thanks Pia!

    Curated by designer Anne Xiradakis,

    it is an experimental space between design and cooking,

    and takes place in various places around the world including

    artist studios, cultural or historical places, festivals, bookshops, gardens…

    People are invited to stop,

    taste lights meals with original recipes,

    in specially designed objects.

    Presented in unique settings such as the apartment of French artist Guillaume Hillairet, guests are invited to dine at a table where a tantalizing petit menu is served within beautiful ceramic ware that Anne has designed specifically for the occasion, and are available for purchase.

    Another exhibition was held lin the 19th arrondisment of Paris, along with furniture designer Pierre Hourquet, and chef Delphine Zampetti. The free petite dégustation featured sablé au beurre salé, boisson aux fruits rouges,  and langue de chat au caramel all served on Anne’s new collection called “variables“.

    Who is Anne Xiradakis?

    While studying Applied Arts and Fine Arts in Bordeaux, Anne worked in her family’s restaurant, “La Tupina”,

    and developed her interest in tableware, cooking and service ways.

    Based in Paris and Bordeaux, she has been designing packaging for Champagne & Bordeaux brands,

    and developed a series of porcelain pieces for the three stars chef Guy Savoy

    restaurants in Paris, las Vegas and Moscow

    … she keeps on exploring the field of “arts de la table”.

    Porcelain vases and containers, designed in collaboration

    with a ceramist in Limoges will also soon be available.

    Along with her designer activity, she collaborates with « A Suivre » art place

    in Bordeaux,where she works as curator for an annual design event.

    I discovered Café Éphémère through Pia Jane Bijkerk’s beautiful Enhance the everyday blog.

    Images via Pia Jane Bijkerk & Café Éphémère.

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