Tag Archives: baking

Recipe: Rosemary Sea Salt Focaccia

I wish I had never discovered how easy it is to make focaccia from scratch. My first batch was out of the oven for less than an hour, and I’m already conspiring about the next flavor that I want to make. Then I remembered that I had an entire sheet pan worth of fresh focaccia sitting in my kitchen, ready to be made into sandwiches and snacked on all week long — bliss!

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Focaccia is that beautiful, puffy bread that comes cut into large squares at the bakery. This bread is completely saturated in olive oil, which makes it all the more decadent. I used Anne Burrell’s super simple focaccia recipe, adding a few tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary to the top just before baking it. This is more of a time-consuming recipe than a difficult one (like most breads, it has to rise twice before baking), and it was totally worth it when the bread came out perfectly golden and chewy. There was more than enough to share with friends and coworkers while still holding on to a stash at home, too! One night we made simple sandwiches by cutting squares of this bread in half, toasting it with a little butter and garlic, and stacking slices of grilled steak inside — such an easy and delicious dinner.

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Macaron class for all!

cayennemacaron

Super exciting announcement today! As you may know, I teach a monthly class on making French macarons in New York. Thanks to the awesome people over at Skillshare, I’m now able to teach classes that anyone can take, anywhere! That’s right, I’m taking French Macarons 101 online!

The class starts on February 25th, and will run over the course of a week and a half. You’ll learn everything you need to know to make your own French macarons at home through a combination of video instruction and class discussion boards — pretty sweet, right?

You can register now for just $15. I promise that I’ll talk about how to make the sinfully delicious cayenne chocolate macarons that you see above, as well as a ton of other flavors! Hope to see you there!

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Fall Flavors

I’m feeling very happy about the return of fall foods into our diets — I love incorporating carotene-rich foods like squash and sweet potatoes into our dinners. In a way, the natural sweetness of these kinds of foods makes them more of a treat to eat than a healthy food.

In other slightly unhealthy food news, I’m also having a great time incorporating some delicious fall flavor into my favorite treat: macarons! I tried out a new flavor combination last week that proved to be quite delicious: caramel apple! I’m a fan of caramel apples, but my one problem with them is that I am always tempted to just eat the caramel off of the outside and leave most of the apple uneaten (I know, I know… the point of a caramel apple is that there is an APPLE involved). These macarons were the perfect solution: sweet apple-flavored buttercream mixed with a buttery homemade caramel filling (Food52 had a great feature on making your own caramel last week). I dusted the top of these green beauties with a touch of cinnamon, and voila! Equally tasty parts of apple (ok, so it was in a buttercream — sue me) and caramel in a compact macaron bite! What fall flavors are showing up in your kitchen lately?

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Recipe: Chocolate Bacon Truffles

What is it about men and bacon? I’ve seldom met a guy whose ears didn’t perk up at the words “buffet breakfast” for the sole possibility that bacon might be involved. Not that I’m a hater of the crispy, fatty goodness either — I certainly indulge in a slice or two (or four) from time to time!

It was the boyfriend’s birthday last week, but I’d already given him his gift a few weeks before since he really needed a new bag for work. I subscribe to the belief that it is a complete and utter tragedy to not have something sugary to consume on your birthday, so I started searching for a great recipe to treat him with. As much as I would have loved making him a cake, it’s just not practical to make an entire cake when it’s just the two of us in the apartment (aka I would have eaten it all). When I came across this recipe for chocolate bacon truffles on Pinterest, I knew I had it. My bacon and chocolate loving boyfriend was going to be so thrilled.

Bacon bits going into the whipped filling

Of course, I had to buy pig-shaped candy molds to make these in, because it makes them that much cooler. The flavor in these is incredible, considering how little filling can fit in each mold (less than 1/4 tsp),  but that may have something to do with the bacon grease in the whipped filling. Maybe.

Wee piggies filled with bacon-y goodness!

When you bite into one of these little guys, you get a hit of porky, fatty flavor followed by the smooth dark chocolate and then crunchy bits of bacon. I’m pretty sure that this is where the phrase, “if this is wrong, then I don’t want to be right,” came from!

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Recipe: Pain d’Epi

I love baking (obviously), but something I’ve never quite been able to get right is bread. Everything always goes according to plan — flour, yeast, warm water, and a whirl with the bread hook in the Kitchen Aid mixer. But then after it bakes and teases me from the oven with that delicious gluten-filled fresh bread scent, I always end up with a loaf so crusty on top that there isn’t much more to it than, well, crust. For some reason, it’s always missing that soft, airy center that (let’s face it) makes bread worthwhile.

Last weekend, I decided to try a recipe that I saw on The Cooking Channel for Pain d’Epi, a baguette-like loaf of bread that’s artfully twisted into the shape of a wheat stalk. I did two things differently than I usually do: I kneaded the dough by hand for 10 minutes instead of using the Kitchen Aid, and I spritzed the inside of my heated oven with water before popping the bread in. Both of these steps were suggestions from the recipe, and they were both spot-on. I have a feeling that my previous attempts at bread may have been thwarted by over-kneading by the machine and perhaps a lack of moisture while the bread cooked. I was even surprised to find that kneading the dough by hand was nicely therapeutic!

The end result was a pretty impressive looking loaf of bread with the soft center I’d hoped for. A bonus of making bread in this “wheat” shape (which is SO easy to do, by the way) is that it’s pre-portioned for people to tear off a piece and enjoy!

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Macaron Class at La Cuisine Paris

My biggest goal for my trip to France was to take a macaron class in Paris. Not only do I jump at any opportunity to use a real kitchen with tons of counter space, but I also wanted to learn some new tricks for making my favorite dessert. I definitely have experience in making these guys, but I believe that you can always learn something new. I ended up going with a class at La Cuisine Paris, and it was the perfect way to round out my vacation. The class was just two hours long, so it didn’t take away too much time from sightseeing, but I learned so many new things about making macarons that are (dare I say?) rivals to those at Ladurée!

Our instructor Guillemette was really helpful and funny — the class was very hands-on, so we really got the chance to do everything from making the macaron batter to piping it and filling the cookies! We made two flavors: white chocolate raspberry and lemon. I was a little hesitant because I don’t love white chocolate, but with the raspberry mixed in it was absolutely delicious!

After our macarons were baked and cooled slightly, we took to our pastry bags and started filling them. I was really impressed by how glossy and puffy they came out using Guillemette’s method. When I’ve made them differently in the past, they have been a little flatter and they brown quickly in the oven. Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Lyon and bid farewell to the lovely kitchen at La Cuisine Paris. Unfortunately my friend and I were running a bit late, and we actually had to run to the train. Note to self: macarons are too fragile to run with. Don’t worry though, they still tasted amazing and we still ate ALL of them!

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Easter Dinner

This year, Easter was more exciting than usual for me — my family decided to come down to New York and hold our celebrations at my apartment. Yep, that’s right! I hosted this year. My mom usually hosts every holiday, so she was particularly excited that someone else was taking the reins for once. It wasn’t a very big crowd; just my mom, step-dad, sister, and a friend who was visiting from Europe. On the menu? We started the morning with coffee and palmiers. Then in the afternoon, we had a delicious appetizer that my mom brought of fresh chopped lobster, avocado, red onion, and watercress in a tangy dressing. Dinner was lamb with a dried cherry and port sauce, along with Israeli couscous with asparagus and peas, plus a glazed carrot recipe that used to be my grandfather’s recipe.

Of course we didn’t scrimp on dessert either! I taught my sister how to make macarons, and together we whipped up a batch of strawberry with vanilla buttercream and one of lemon curd-filled vanilla cookies. My mom also brought an amazing lemongrass and ginger creme brulee, which unfortunately we didn’t snap any pictures of before we devoured it. Then of course, there was the chocolate that my Swiss friend never fails to bring with him when he visits.

I think the dinner was a huge success, especially given that my one square of counter space in my kitchen measures approximately 2 feet x 3 feet — not a lot of space to work with! Imagine if I had a regular-sized kitchen… oh, the possibilities!

** All of these photos were taken by my sweet little sister, who properly documented my first holiday as I ran around the kitchen like a maniac. Thanks, Stephi!**

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