GINGERBREAD MACARONS

Is anyone else having a really hard time believing that Christmas is two weeks away? Holiday baking is in full force around here, as there are a plethora of work, friend and family events on the horizon. I've been making a lot of molten chocolate cakes and savoury aolis that ask me to use only the egg yolks, therefore I have a ton of egg-whites leftover. What better to make with leftover egg-whites than macarons? These are the first of a few flavours I hope to play around with over the coming weeks.

I would have liked to do a gingerbread buttercream as a filling for these babies. I had a large container of chocolate ganache leftover from a cake that I made a while back that needed using up instead. While the gingerbread flavours did come across (I think the ginger cookie sprinkled on top helped), the chocolate is quite prominent. I don't think that it would hurt to be a little heavy handed on the spices.
Gingerbread Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

GINGERBREAD MACARONS

For the shells
135g egg whites
45g granulated sugar
215g powdered sugar
125g almond flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground ginger
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

Ginger cookie recipe from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set out your piping bag and twist off the bottom so that no batter leaks out when transferring.Add powdered sugar, almond flour and spices to a large bowl. Combine and sift the mixture.

In another bowl, add egg whites. Beat on low speed until frothy, about a minute. Gradually add sugar. Increase speed to medium, and continue to beat until the egg whites are foamy, about two minutes. Increase speed to high, and beat until the egg whites stiff-peaks are formed and resemble thick shaving cream. Do not over-beat.

Add the flour mixture to the egg ones in one batch and gently combine. Continue to fold the mixture until if forms a ribbon-like consistency. To test, drop batter onto a plate. If the mixture collapses back onto itself within ten seconds, you’re good to go. If it beaks, give it a few more folds, continuing to test.

Once the batter is ready, transfer to the piping bag. Pipe small rounds. Give the baking sheets a rough tap on its side, rotate 90 degrees, and tap again. This helps to eliminate any air in the piped cookies. Sprinkle crumbled ginger cookie on top of the shells. Allow the piped cookies to sit out and develop a crust, thirty minutes to an hour.

Heat oven to 200F. Bake macarons for 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven, and remove from baking sheet to cool. Once cooled (30 minutes or so), remove from parchment.

For the ganache
1 cup heavy cream
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 TBSP light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Put chocolate into a large bowl. Bring cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate. Allow to sit for roughly a minute, then stir until smooth. Sit in corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Allow to cool until thick.

To assemble, spred or pipe chocolate ganache into cooled macaron shells. These are really great if allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight to develop the flavours.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

APARTMENT TOUR

I’ve been meaning to write about our apartment since we moved in nearly two years ago, and now the time has come that we’re packing up our lives to move to another space. When we moved in, we were so excited about it. A space of our own to with as we saw fit. We were finally living in the heart of downtown Calgary – something that I had dreamed about for years and years (I grew up in the suburbs). Writing about the space got delayed mainly because there was always something else that I wanted to add to the space before photographing and sharing it. I don’t think that it ever felt quite done, though does a space really ever?

I think there were a few problems going into it that made my vision not anywhere near reality. First is that I have these grandiose design ideas on a student (read: IKEA) budget. Second, Zach and I do not share the same ideas about design aesthetics. Third, a lot of our furniture is hand-me-down, so we didn’t really have a choice when it came to whether or not it fit our tastes. No complaints really, mainly because of Point 1. One of these days I’ll have a home of my very own to have my way with.

Nevertheless, I thought that I would share some photos of the space from early last year.


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VERMICELLI WITH VIETNAMESE GRILLED PORK AND SPRING ROLLS

Growing up, the extent of the 'cultural' food that my family ate was take-out Chinese. I didn't have my first lick of Vietnamese food until the end of elementary school and even now, in my mid-twenties, my knowledge of cultural foods is lacking. Zach likes asian food. A lot. On one of our first dates, he had me over and cooked a dish that he'd learned on a trip to Thailand. He's cooked me many more of those dishes since then, and I'm hooked.

Vietnamese take-out is one of favorites in a pinch, mainly because there is a great little restaurant right around the corner from our apartment. For some reason, I got it in my mind that making my own vermicelli dish would be a good idea—it's my favorite off the menu, while Zach prefers a Bahn Mi. This recipe is an amalgamation of numerous recipes I scouted on the web. I wanted to sweeten up the meat, making sure to use an alternative sweetener. I neglected cilantro, which is a personal choice. Feel free to add it if it's something you enjoy.
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Vermicelli with Vietnamese Grilled Pork and Spring Rolls
Serves 4

Ingredients
650 grams pork shoulder
2 TBSP honey
2 TBSP fish sauce
2 TBSP sesame oil
2 stalks lemongrass, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP sriracha
1 package vermicelli
1 cucumber, julienned
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
3 TBSP peanuts, roasted
Store-bought spring rolls
Hoisin, if desired

Slice pork into very thin strips. Combine honey, fish sauce, sesame oil, minced lemongrass, minced garlic, and sriracha to make a marinade. Combine with pork and let marinade for 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Pan-fry pork until cooked through. Cook vermicelli and spring rolls according to package instructions. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, beginning with vermicelli and finishing with cucumber, carrots, pork, spring rolls, and peanuts. Serve with hoisin and more sriracha, if desired.

ADVENTURES IN BREAD MAKING: HOT CROSS BUNS

Hot Cross Buns
Easter is right around the corner, which means hot cross buns and challah french toast. Okay, perhaps those two bread-y indulgences are only slightly related, but when I think of the holiday I think of those... And mini eggs... And peeps. Hot cross buns were one of the first baked goods I ever made, and were the first type of bread that I made without the help of a bread-machine. For that, they have a bit of a soft spot in my heart.

For these, I used a Martha Stewart recipe slightly adapted. I think that hot cross buns are not compete without the raisins, but I know that some (ahem, my brother) would disagree. What does not find itself in here are those candied fruits that supermarket versions like to put in because, blegh. To please the masses, I split the dough in two and made half with and half without the raisins. I also swapped the all-purpose flour out for whole wheat in equal ratios and had no problems. The crosses are made with a cream cheese icing as opposed to just confectioners sugar because, well, it's just better.

Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns

HOT CROSS BUNS // Makes 24 buns
Recipe from Martha Stewart.

1 1/2 sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk
4 1/2 tsp quick rise yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups raisins
1 large egg white

1/2 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Heat milk until warm, but not boiling. In a large bowl, combine melted butter, milk, yeast, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and eggs. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour one cup at a time. Continue to knead until smooth, approximately 5 minutes.

If making buns with and without raisins, separate dough into two rounds. Add raisins to one bowl and knead until distributed. Butter, spray, or coat both bowls with oil. Coat dough in the oil, and cover the bowls. Allow to rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours. Roll out dough into a log and cut into sections to make 24 rounds. Roll into a bun shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. With a sharp knife or scissors, slice a cross into the top of the buns. Wash buns with a mixture of egg white and water. Allow to rise for another hour.

Heat one to 375F. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

To make the cream cheese icing, combine cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. When the buns have cooled slightly, pipe crosses into their tops.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

ADVENTURES IN BREAD MAKING: MAST BROTHERS CHOCOLATE BREAD

Mast Bros Chocolate Bread
Mast Bros Chocolate Bread
Mast Bros Chocolate Bread
Lately, I've been doing a fair share of baking. Three cakes in the span of two weeks, two successful batches of macarons, cookies... I find myself doing a lot of sampling as I go along, but once I reach the finished product I am never quite satisfied. In the past, I would have considered myself to be a big fan of desserts, but these days it's all a bit much. I enjoy sampling obscure flavours, but overall I get little satisfaction from them. What I do come back to time and time again is, of course, chocolate. With the richest chocolate you only need the teeny tiniest bit for total satisfaction. It really is blissful.

I thought we'd change pace a bit around here and try a recipe that's a little more user friendly. Anyone who is a fan of chocolate knows the Mast Brothers reign supreme. Late last year, they released a cookbook that I have flipped through numerous times at the bookstore, but still have yet to purchase. I have managed to scribble down a few recipes though, and this chocolate bread is one of them. Chocolate? Bread? What's not to love.
Mast Bros Chocolate Bread
The original recipe calls for all-purpose flour, which I'm sure would have been nice as well. In congruence with the chocolate and hazelnuts, I thought that the bread called for something a bit more robust. I opted for a 50/50 blend of whole wheat and rye flours. The result is really quite lovely.

CHOCOLATE BREAD // Makes two loaves
Adapted from Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook

1 TBSP + 3/4 tsp quick rise yeast
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water, 30-35 degrees Celsius
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups rye flour
1 TBSP cacao powder
1 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
12 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup cream

In a large bowl, mix yeast and brown sugar with water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bubbling. Add flour, cacao powder, salt, 1 egg yolk and butter. Using a stand mixer, knead dough for 10 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, and then knead again for 10 minutes more. Add dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and raisins. Separate dough into two balls, cover, and allow to rise for two hours. Turn out onto a floured surface and punch down once. Place dough in two, lightly floured 9-inch loaf pans. Whisk the remaining two egg yolks with the cream, and brush each shaped dough with the wash. Leave to proof for 45 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425F. Bake for 12 minutes. Lower oven to 350F and continue to bake for 20 minutes.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

ADVENTURES IN BREAD MAKING: 75% WHOLE WHEAT WITH LEVAIN

75% Whole Wheat with Levain
75% Whole Wheat with Levain
Working at a gym, I am well versed in all the crazy trendy diets out there. One that I don’t really get is the gluten-free thing when you aren’t even gluten intolerant. I can guarantee that these (mostly) women have read or at least seen snippets of Wheat Belly and have since condemned wheat and specifically gluten as the devil. Of course, most of the conversations that I overhear go something along the lines of, “Have you tried that great gluten-free bread/snack/packaged something-or-rather,” at which point I have to roll my eyes a little. That slice of bread that you’re giving up? It would do you a lot less damage than that gluten-free garbage that you’re having instead.

Being so interested in food, food politics and cooking, it’s hard not to define myself by my diet. Vegetarian? Vegan? Paleo? Keto? I made the decision a few weeks back to reintroduce meat into my diet, and while I have yet to actually do so, it struck up an interesting conversation between Gabi and myself about the slight identity crisis that comes with this sort of thing. Our take on the matter is that since we have followed strict-vegetarian diets for so long, our identities are ultimately wrapped up our eating habits. We both follow plant-based diet for different reasons—Gabi more so for the animals, and myself as a political and health stance. My decision to move away from a strict-vegetarian diet and furthermore to move away from labeling my eating habits in general, was not an easy one. However, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for nearly two years, and now feels like the right time.

There is so much more that goes along with the consumption of food than the actual act. There are cultural aspects in regards to food preparation and practices, as well as the social aspect of food. Instead of smacking a label on eating habits and defining ourselves this way, we ought to focus on the important thing: finding nourishment and utter enjoyment in the bounties of the Earth.

I find great pleasure in the simplicity of enjoying a fresh-baked loaf of bread. The actual act of breaking bread with friends and family is something that I hold near and dear, much more so than any of the restrictions that I—we—place on ourselves from attempting to categorize our eating habits.

75%+ Whole Wheat with Levain
75 Percent Whole Wheat with Levain
75%+ WHOLE WHEAT BREAD WITH LEVAIN // Makes 2 loaves
Every so slightly adapted from Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast

For your levain
100g mature levain
400g all purpose flour
100g whole wheat flour
400g 32C water

For your final dough
50g white flour
750g whole wheat flour
660g 35C water
20g sea salt
1/2 tsp instant dried yeast
360g levain

Feed your mature levain six to eight hours before mixing the final dough. More information regarding creating a levain can be found in the book. In a large tub, combine white and whole wheat flours with water by hand. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Add salt and weighed levain and mix by hand using folding and pincer methods. Cover and allow to rest. The dough needs three folds, which should be made within the first 1 1/2 to 2 hours after mixing.

Roughly five hours later after the dough has doubled in size, it is ready to be divided into two. Shape the dough using methods outlined in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast, then place the dough into proofing baskets (or large bowls lined with floured kitchen towels) overnight.

Preheat the oven to 475F an hour before cooking. While the oven is heating, place 2 Dutch ovens on the rack with lids on. Turn out the dough into the Dutch ovens. Bake with lid on for 30 minutes, followed by ~20 minutes with lid off.

I found it's great served with a pat of butter or honey.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

ADVENTURES IN BREAD MAKING: JIM LAHEY'S NO-KNEAD BREAD

Jim Lahey No Knead Bread
* This post was first seen on withwanderlust.com

One of my intentions this year is to master bread-making. It's an art that I began to play around with last year in an attempt to rid the family pantry of preservative-laden breads that are found in the supermarket. Furthermore, I had an ideal of the perfect loaf of bread that I'd tasted in Seattle at Sitka &Spruce that I wanted to replicate at home.

Bread and our health

The obvious assumption is that a loaf of bread contains only the necessary four components: flour, water, salt and yeast, with maybe an additional cheese or spice to kick things up a notch. The reality of conventional bread looks a bit different.
Whole grain whole wheat flour including the germ, water, glucose-fructose/sugar, yeast*, vegetable oil (canola or soybean), salt, wheat gluten, vinegar, calcium propionate, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, monoglycerides, acetylated tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides, sorbic acid. May contain calcium iodate, calcium carbonate, calcium sulphate, cornstarch, ammonium chloride. *order may change. May contain soybean, milk ingredients and sesame seeds.*
Um, what? The amount of processing that now goes into something so fundamental and so simplistic is mind-blowing. Of course, the relatively long shelf life of a conventional loaf of bread should perhaps be a telltale sign of tampering from the get-go.

One would think that switching to whole wheat instead of white bread would make a huge difference in regards to health benefits. You’d be half right in that white bread is basically a glucose hit to the bod, but supposed whole wheat bread isn’t that much better. Case and point: the above label comes from a loaf of whole wheat bread. In Cooked, Pollan discusses just how much whole wheat flours have changed since we started making bread. It’s an interesting discussion, and one that included many facts that I did not know about the state of our whole grain flours.

Resources

I knew that there would be a few loaves that I would be making on my journey to master bread-making. Of course, I had an idea as to which would yield the result that I was after, but that it would be worthwhile to give the other methods a go. My first memory of home-cooked bread (or really, my only memory) came from a bread-maker. We purchased one again a few years back in an attempt to reduce the amount of supermarket bread that graced our table. Next, I took out both Tartine and Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast from the library, more so in the quest for exquisite pizza dough than bread. Nevertheless, I made one loaf with my own starter from each book and received decent results.

Recently, I read Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan. His book devotes an entire section to bread-making, and was ultimately the reason why I picked it up in the first place. Everything that could be said about the romanticism of bread-making is said in Cooked, so I'll leave it to Pollan to provide those words. What the book provided me was an excellent starting point in my attempt to understand the science behind the perfect loaf of bread. Pollan writes of his mentorship with Chad Robertson of Tartine Bread and the science behind Robertson's perfect white loaf. That is my starting point. I couldn't agree more with Pollan that most of the literature out there begins with mastering a good loaf of white bread as opposed to wheat, since white bread has been so commonplace for such a long time.

The health detriments caused by white flour and white bread are hard to ignore, and it slightly (very slightly) pains me to begin my bread-making journey there. However, I feel that, much like Pollan, in order to feel comfortable messing around with wheat flours I must first be knowledgeable in the creation of a white loaf. My first experiment of the year came in the form of Jim Lahey's no-knead bread, the infamous no-frills recipe that popped up on the web some years ago and has since gained cult status. Looking back, it seems perhaps a peculiar place to start. Why not a very simple loaf made by the bread-machine? I don't really have an answer for that, except that I was looking for something a little more artisan and Lahey's recipe seemed the perfect fit.

Jim Lahey No Knead Bread

The process

I mixed the dough the night before I planned to cook the bread. Just flour, water, salt and yeast mixed together to form a somewhat shaggy dough with a surprisingly high level of hydration. I covered it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let it sit for the maximum eighteen hours, falling into early afternoon of the following day. As the recipe suggests, the dough seemed aerated, with bubbles forming on the surface. I turned it out onto the counter (wetting my hands to avoid sticking, as I'd learned in Tartine), gave it a few turns, and allowed it to sit for the recommended fifteen minutes before leaving it for its second rise.

Ah, the second rise. This is the point where the dough is transferred to a bowl sitting on a floured kitchen towel. I had trouble with this process when I made my Tartine-inspired loaves last year, and I had the same issue with Lahey's loaf. The trouble being that my kitchen towel never seems to be floured quite enough, resulting in the dough sticking and ultimately deflating it when trying to peel it into the dutch oven. Furthermore, I'm concerned that at this point I skewed the process a bit by letting it rise longer than Lahey recommended. I left the house for a few hours and debated delaying the second rise a bit by putting the dough into the refrigerator. I didn't, and instead left it on the counter. Instead of a two-hour rise, I'm sure that it was more like four by the time I returned home and pre-heated the oven. 450F, pre-heat for an hour, followed by a half-hour cook with the lid on, followed by anywhere from an additional fifteen to thirty minutes with the lid off to form a browned crust. I cooked mine for the maximum length, hoping that my loaf would resemble one of the Tartinian ones I'd made in the past, only to find that it didn't brown quite the same, or get nearly as dark as I recalled. No, what resulted instead was a crust that I found to be a bit to crusty for my liking (although perhaps the better reasoning is that I need better knives).

After allowing it to cool, the first cut revealed an airy interior. The taste was good, but the scent was better. The slight sourness that comes with anything yeasted lent more to the loaf than the actual taste itself, and thankfully that smell lingered in the house for hours to come. I enjoyed the heel, still warm, with a pinch of butter. The rest I cut up and left to my family for sandwiches. They sang praises, thankfully.

It's easy for me to pick out where I went wrong in the process of making the no-knead bread, although I don't quite understand the science as to why. I have a lot more investigation to do before I come to that conclusion. For now, I suppose that I'll be satisfied with the result. In Cooked, Pollan mentions that he hasn't yet been satisfied with his results and that he has a-ways to go before achieving that perfect loaf. I imagine that for me, my bread-making experience will be a bit like that. The happiness that even a "mediocre" loaf of bread can bring my family is enough to subside my feelings of the need for improvement.

- s

*From Dempsters.ca

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Houses

Palace of Fine Arts
Typical Breakfast
Fisherman's Wharf
Craftsman & Wolves


San Francisco
Palace of Fine Arts

At the end of July, I took a long-planned trip out to San Francisco with a friend. By long planned, I mean years in the making, months in the planning. It was one of those sigh of relief, "we're finally doing this" moments, and for the most part, it lived up to the hype. The trip was definitely a short one—only four days—and we managed to cram one hell of a lot into the trip. A most-wise suggestion: Do not attempt to walk from Mission to Fisherman's Wharf, to the Golden Gate Bridge, and back. By the end of THAT day, all that was left were two very delirious, very exhausted girls. The trip was mostly food and shopping-centric, so here's some of our favourites.

flour + water. I think it's safe to say that this was both of our favourite dinner. The atmosphere of this place is really cool, and the food is amazing. We didn't do the full courses and opted just for an appetizer, pasta, and dessert, but it was all AMAZING. Get the budino for dessert.

Craftsman & Wolves. Three words: The Rebel Within.

Ritual Coffee Roasters. My somewhat surprising pick over the other coffee shops. The coffee was great, and we had some excellent pastries as well. Unfortunately, they're now undergoing renovations, but still one to keep on the list.

Bar Tartine. Brunch! Small plates! Bar Tartine has an ever-changing menu, but if you have a chance to try the smoked potatoes with black garlic, do it.

The Mill. The home of the $4 toast, and worth every penny.

Aesop. This place will bleed you dry, but the products are petty incredible and smell amazing.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

COOKED: A NATURAL HISTORY OF TRANSFORMATION

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

The first I heard about Cooked was on ABCs The Chew, a daytime television show that is part The View and part Rachael Ray. As a longtime Michael Pollan fan, I must admit that at first the context of the book didn’t interest me. Reading a book that investigates the history of food? No thanks. While most of my reading does revolve around food, it encompasses the topics of food politics and sustainable agriculture than anything else. Nevertheless, eventually I decided to give Cooked a read despite my convictions.

I’m glad that I did. Cooked takes a look at how the elements—Earth, air, water, and fire—are involved in the intricacies that take place in our kitchens. Beginning with barbeque, Pollan’s investigations continue on to stocks, perfecting the perfect loaf of bread, and mastering the art of fermentation. Cooked is part recount of Pollan’s investigation and part history lesson. True to his form, Pollan’s stories are thorough, witty, and will keep you turning the pages yearning for more.

What struck me in particular, and was ultimately the selling point for picking the book up in the first place, was the chapter about bread making. Learning to make beautiful breads is a personal goal of mine this year, so I enjoyed reading about Pollan’s journey, but more so the science and history that went along with it. As an avid baker, I know that baking is so intertwined with science, but most of the reactions and processes are unknown to the average home-baker such as myself. Cooked provides a thorough overview of just how the whole thing works, and it is much appreciated.

Cooked is a great read for anyone who is interested in food, but perhaps not a super-nerd such as myself who wants to take a thorough look at the politics. While the book does encompass a bit of this, it is more so a fantastic look at community building that making and sharing food is built on, both through history and the present.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLE MACARONS

If there is such a thing as "macaron anxiety," well, I get it. Majorly. Macaron making is tough business if you don't follow instructions carefully. The first time that I made them I had crazy beginners luck and they turned out wonderfully. The next few times... Not so much. I was discouraged and even afraid of making them again. Really though, they are not something to be afraid of. You do need to read through the recipe carefully and make sure that all of your bases are covered. I have read that aging the egg whites and leaving them out to form shells helps. I've also read that that's complete bullshit. These days I take all precautions and have had success.

Don't fear the macaron!

These macarons are based on Pierre Hermé's Frivolité, which are, well salted caramel and apple. I've been told that the caramel is the flavour that you get most, so I'd suggest being a little heavy handed on the apple pieces and definitely not skimping out on the freeze-dried apples in the shells. The ones that I used are Mrs Mays, but you can also find them at stores like Costco or Trader Joe's (so I've read). I can only assume that they turned out well, because I left for work one day and came home to two dozen macarons eaten by my family...
Salted Caramel Apple Macaron
Salted Caramel Apple MacaronSalted Caramel Apple Macaron
Salted Caramel Apple Macaron

SALTED CARAMEL APPLE MACARONS

For the apples
1 baking apple (ex. Granny Smith)
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP granulated sugar

Heat oven to 300F. Core and peel apple. Combine with fresh squeezed lemon juice and sugar. Place on a baking sheet and bake for roughly an hour until slightly dried.

For the salted caramel
Recipe via David Lebovitz

For the shells (Adapted from Bakers Royale)
135g egg whites, aged at least three days
45g granulated sugar
25g freeze-dried apple
215g powdered sugar
125g almond flour

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Create a template on another piece of parchment by drawing 1.5 inch circles. Set out your piping bag and twist off the bottom so that no batter leaks out when transferring.

Pulse freeze-dried apple in a food processor. Sift into a large bowl. Add powdered sugar and almond flour. Combine, and sift the mixture.

In another bowl, add aged egg whites. Beat on low speed until frothy, about a minute. Gradually add sugar. Increase speed to medium, and continue to beat until the egg whites are foamy, about two minutes. Increase speed to high, and beat until the egg whites stiff-peaks are formed and resemble thick shaving cream. Do not over-beat.

Add the flour mixture to the egg ones in one batch, and gently combine. Continue to fold the mixture until if forms a ribbon-like consistency. It should take no more than fifty strokes (although I lose track after the first twenty). To test, drop batter onto a plate. If the mixture collapses back onto itself within ten seconds, you're good to go. If it beaks, give it a few more folds, continuing to test.

Once the batter is ready, transfer to the piping bag. Place the macaron template beneath the prepared parchment, and pipe. Once you've finished a sheet, remove the template from that sheet and place it beneath the other sheet. Repeat. Give the baking sheets a rough tap on its side, rotate 90 degrees, and tap again. This helps to eliminate any air in the piped cookies. Allow the piped cookies to sit out and develop a crust, thirty minutes to an hour.

Heat oven to 200F. Bake macarons for 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven, and remove from baking sheet to cool. Once cooled (30 minutes or so), remove from parchment. For painting, I simply mixed some gel food coloring with a bit of water and brushed using a clean paintbrush. Allow to dry.

To assemble
Pipe salted caramel onto a macaron shell. Place a few cubes of apple in the center. Top with another macaron shell. I like to keep the macarons in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Keeps for three-ish days.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: THE NASH

The NashThe Nash
I've been relatively strict with my diet, which means almost no going out, which means that the always-increasing list of restaurants that the boyfriend and I want to try out never comes to fruition. The Nash has been on the list since before it opened, but it was really this photo that pushed me over the edge. Guys, I love dessert and I almost never get to have it. Dinner is great, yeah, but dessert is where my heart is at. So, we made our way down to the Nash.

I'll just start by saying that the space is gorgeous. It's a lot bigger than we had expected. Now that our days are a little bit longer, the sun was still shining, and shine it did. It really illuminated the space and made it kind of dreamy. They had changed their menu to their Spring offering, which was not a big deal, but we had definitely anticipated getting the 32 oz steak listed on their website. There is definitely a big difference between Winter and Spring type foods. Winter is hearty, Spring is fresh. I would definitely say that my palette is still in Winter mode, but DANG! this meal really made me excited for those Spring flavors.


The Nash
I had a good little laugh over how "we're basically five" for ordering fries off of a very sophisticated menu. I think it's fair to suggest that they made their way onto the menu to appease the younger crowd with perhaps a less refined palette. A quick glance over to a nearby table of folks who were there for a big family dinner confirmed my suspicions. The kids had two bowls of the frites and aioli. The heart wants what it wants though, and when it comes down to it, I am a burger and fries kind of gal. And of course, they were delicious.

We also got the roasted asparagus with prosciutto, egg, bacon, preserved lemon, and parm foam to start. THIS is what I'm talking about when I said spring flavors. We were warned that the lemon was a little bit strong and to try just a little bit at first, but of course we gobbled it up. I'm going to say this about everything that we had, but I don't know which part of this dish was my favorite. It all just went so well and was so, so, SO good. It makes me wish I could cook like that.
The Nash
For my main, I had bison with cocoa sauce, brown butter yams, asparagus and cipollini. Let me just first start by saying that I find it somewhat laughable that a year ago I was a vegetarian and now THIS is my birthday dinner. Oh, how things have changed. My favorite part of this dish was definitely the yams, because what isn't freaking amazing with brown butter? I'm not sure if I've ever had bison before, and this definitely didn't disappoint. The cocoa sauce was really interesting and paired perfectly with the bison.
The Nash
The Nash
Oh dessert, how I love thee. When the dessert menu was brought out and I took a look over it, I got a little too excited. Like, weirdly, noticeably excited. Let's start off with the weird and wonderful. Pictured above is a chestnut babba with porcini ice cream, cassis, and whiskey pearls. The most obscure part of this of course being the porcini ice cream, which was a lot more understated that I had expected it to be. Cassis is my favorite—I really love it's tang, and that's what really took the stage with this dish. Shown below is a a 72% chocolate mousse, crispies, dulche de leche, and milk sorbet. I don't know what else to say about this other than if I could eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be chocolate, so this is right up my alley and EXACTLY what I needed. The outer coating is dark chocolate, with more of a milk chocolate through the center. Amazing. Enough said. 

I also worked my way through two cocktails over the course of the evening, but didn't snap any photos and can't really remember a description. They were really wonderful though. Very boozy, but made in a manner that you couldn't really taste the booze. I'd call them dangerous. Next time, I'll definitely grab some descriptions of those. 
The Nash
All in all, dinner at the Nash was absolutely wonderful. I'd go so far as to say that it's my favorite meal since Revel in Seattle, which is my all-time favorite meal. The fresh flavors and really just the thought that went into the creation of these dishes really hit home with me, and we will definitely be going back again soon.

- S

Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

CHOCOLATE COCONUT ENERGY BAR

We're a big fan of Larabars around here. They are easy to grab on the way out the door on those mornings when we just don't have time to pack a proper lunch (or are simply to lazy to do so). My favorite thing about them is that they boast a short ingredient list, which in my eyes makes them a clean-eating packaged meal, if there is such a thing. The major downside is the price tag. Luckily for us, making energy bars at home is simple thanks to that short ingredient list. These bars are highly versatile (my favorite are a remake of the Coconut Cream version") by switching up the type of nuts or add-ins.

Chocolate Coconut Energy Bar
CHOCOLATE COCONUT ENERGY BARS // Makes 9

20 Medjool dates, pitted
1 TBSP raw virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/3 cup dark chocolate chipsLine a 9x9 baking tray with parchment paper.

* If you are using a food processor, feel free to make the whole recipe in the processor. If using a Vitamix, I suggest transferring the mixture to a bowl after processing and mixing the ingredients together by hand. It's a little rough on the motor to blend it all in the Vitamix. I'll be giving directions for use of the Vitamix, but take note that it can all be done in one process if using a food processor.

In a food processor or Vitamix, blend dates and coconut oil to form a paste. Transfer the date mixture to a large bowl after processing. Add the almond, pecans, shredded coconut and cacao powder to the Vitamix, and process until crumbly. Transfer the mixture to the bowl, add the chocolate chips, and mix by hand until it all stays together. Press the mixture into the baking tray and refrigerate for an hour or two until firm and easy to cut.

- s

SUPERFOOD SMOOTHIES

Most often, I find lunchtime to be pretty lacklustre. During school, I usually skip it all together, as it's just too much of a pain to put together and bring with me. However, if I am going to do lunch (and have really been trying to lately), it's going to be a smoothie. Now that we're not stuck in an arctic tundra, smoothie consumption doesn't have to be done while sitting in front of a space heater, which I very much appreciate. Smoothies are a great option on-the-go, and are an easy way to get in fruits, veggies, and superfoods. I find that there is a delicate art to constructing a smoothie that actually tastes good, and these three fit the bill.

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These smoothie recipes contain three superfoods with pretty insane nutritional benefits. I've listed a few of the benefits here, but there are plenty more associated with each.

Cacao: Raw cacao is packed with antioxidants and minerals such as zinc, copper, sulphur, magnesium, and calcium.

Spirulina: Spirulina is also an antioxidant, promotes immune function, and is a good source of aminos. It is also high in Omega-3s, chlorophyll, B-vitamins, and calcium.

Wheatgrass: Wheatgrass is a good source of chlorophyll, which aids with liver function and stabilizing blood sugar among other things. It contains 17 aminos, all minerals, and vitamins such as A, C, and K.

Almond Butter Cup Smoothie

ALMOND BUTTER CUP

3/4 cup (175 mL) almond milk
1.5 TBSP (14 g) raw cacao powder
1 (100 g) banana, frozen
1 TBSP (16 g) raw almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon

Chocolate Mint Smoothie

CHOCOLATE MINT

3/4 cup (175 mL) almond milk
1.5 TBSP (14 g) raw cacao powder
1 scoop Sunwarrior protein powder
1/2 (50 g) banana, frozen
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 tsp spirulina
ice

optional: raw honey or agave, to taste

Banana Wheatgrass Smoothie

BANANA WHEATGRASS

3/4 cup (175 mL) cashew milk (recipe to follow)
1 (100 g) banana, frozen
handful kale
1 scoop MusclePharm banana protein powder
handful wheatgrass
ice

CASHEW MILK // Makes 5 cups
In contrast to almond milk, cashew milk doesn't need to be strained after mixing, making it the easiest of the homemade nut milks to throw together. Cashew milk is delightfully creamy and is my preferred nut milk.

1 cup cashews
4 cups filtered water
4 dates, pitted
1 tsp cinnamon

Soak cashews in water for four hours or overnight. Drain and rinse cashews. In a high-speed blender, combine cashews with 2 cups of filtered water. Blend until thoroughly combined. Add remaining 2 cups of water, dates, and cinnamon. Blend for roughly two minutes. Keeps in the refrigerated for up to four days.

- s
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