Soooooo…I’ve been away for a while. Yes, and totally slacking on the food blog front. My sincerest apologies to all my FFwD friends and everyone who I’ve missed in the past few months. Suffice it to say that my year off in no way prepared me to enter back into the working world where one is expected to put in an 8-10 hour day and then come home to create lovely food & photos for their blog! And I thought the long-neglected little blog could use a little colour rejuvenation.
It’s been kind of a rough week. The last-standing Canadian hockey team lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins (tho I congratulate the Bruins because they played great!). Yesterday I backed our car into the bike leaning against the back of the garage, punching a hole in the exterior of the hatch door and causing more than $1000 damage. And on Saturday, my favourite band lost one of their brothers: Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street band passed away.
Ha! You thought I’d forgotten or bailed on French Fridays, didn’t you? Nosiree!
I had such grand plans for this big cookie. My two sisters, their husbands and my mom came out for a visit and I made Dorie’s Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port, and I totally prepared ahead of time and made David Lebovitz’ Salted Butter Caramel ice cream for dessert. And my plan was to make the Salted Butter Breakups to go along with the ice cream, so we could all sit around the table and break off the cookie pieces and dunk them in our ice cream. Isn’t that a fabulous idea?
Funny story: on our recent trip to Boston, my sister & brother-in-law got us onto the steel-cut oats bandwagon. Jon absolutely loved the texture and chewiness to them with a little drizzle of maple syrup, while I was more into a little brown sugar and peanut butter on mine. And upon our return, I was ordered to find some before the following weekend so we could enjoy this delicacy at home!
However, I ended up buying old-fashioned oats instead of the steel-cut ones and was very clearly told that they were not the same thing when Jon saw them in the cupboard. Dammit! So, back to the store I went and returned with the right oats.
The supply of Christmas cookies in my freezer is dwindling, and not because I’ve been giving a lot away. Which is why I finally packed up a bunch into charming boxes, before I no longer fit into my new jeans.
I wrote a few weeks ago about my first attempts at macarons which turned out well for the most part, although I knew I could do better. My second attempt at them, however, was equally as varied. This time, the cookies turned out very well, but for some reason my caramel-making skills have disappeared. Strange, non? Which is why I couldn’t write about them last week because we were fighting after two batches of burnt caramel.
I am such a keener. Actually, I’m not usually – I’m pretty much the laziest procrastinator anyone’s ever met, I’m sure – but last week was my self-appointed Christmas baking week, and these two recipes fit so nicely into my list, that I made them both. In the same day. Along with another batch of chocolate-caramel macarons (I’m not going to write about those right now – we’re fighting).
A few years ago, I decided I needed a cookie press. I bought the least expensive one I could find (I think it was $6) at my favourite kitchen store in Calgary, The Compleat Cook, and managed to break it the first time out, so back to the store I went and bought the next-least expensive one. And then last Christmas, my mom bought me a new one which I didn’t get to use until this cookie-making season. This one is by far the best one though, and my cookies turned out great! It came with a lot of shapes that I’d never had before – snowman, wreath, candy cane, butterfly, dinosaur (it kinda looks like a camel to me), bat, pumpkin – along with the tree, flowers, star and heart, so one could use it year round! Cool! I stuck to the Christmas-themed ones this time, but I think some pumpkin flavoured pumpkins next fall will be sweet, as well.
The first time I made biscotti was from a recipe my cousin gave me at my Pampered Bride shower before I got married. Store-bought biscotti* doesn’t hold a candle to homemade in my opinion and once I made it for other people (mainly our friends & coworkers in Calgary), the clamoring for more never really ceased.
Not quite as easy as I thought. But not too bad. And, truthfully, super delicious! I’m quickly eating them all, even the ones I’m pretty sure I over-baked…
I decided to start with the Chocolate & Salted Caramel Macarons. I ground up the almonds in my food processor, added the icing sugar & cocoa powder and processed until it was all a fine powder, just like the recipe asks. I drew the circles on the parchment and preheated the oven, whipped the egg whites & sugar to ‘firm & glossy’ and very carefully folded the dry ingredients into the egg whites until no streaks were showing.
I’m so happy you stopped by!
So I have very lofty plans for my first post – I just picked up this season’s Food&Drink holiday edition and – mon dieu! – there are 4 recipes for one of my most coveted treats in there: French macarons!
First, an amusing story on my procurement of the magazine. You see, I’ve lived in Alberta for the last 6 years and they don’t have LCBO out there (being the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and all) so I’ve not been able to get the Food&Drink for a while. Their winter edition came out in September, shortly after we moved and I didn’t get to a store in time to get my copy, even though I was under strict orders from my sister to grab one for her as well. When I’d asked the store employees about it, they said you need to get one within about the first 3 days of the release ‘cuz they go pretty fast. So I was absolutely for SURE determined to get the holiday edition.