Happy 2012 !

Happy 2012!

It is a bit late to wish everybody a happy 2012, but better do it later than never. I thought this year I will be more active on the blogging side, however until now I failed miserably at it. I abandoned my blog for quite a while, but now I am back …and I am back with a new type of recipe. 

No, my new years resolution is not to drink more alcohol :-). But I discovered this cocktail a while ago and I thought it would be good to share it. First time I tried the virgin version, but I must admit, the spiked one has its advantages.

It is based on the idea of a mojito, but there are few extra ingredients in it, that make it a bit more special:

rum

limesraspberries & mintand lychee

lychee mojito

Ingredients

5-6 fresh mint leaves

6-7 lychees (canned or fresh)

1 tablespoon sugar

the juice of one lime or half lime (depending of your taste)

30-50 ml rum

150 ml club soda or lychee syrup (if you use the canned fruits)

2-3 raspberries

ice

Place the mint leaves in a cocktail shaker and muddle them together with the lychees and sugar. Add the lime juice, rum and ice. Top up with club soda/lychee syrup. Shake well and strain it in chilled glasses decorated with sugar. Garnish with raspberries, lychees and mint leaves.

Alternatively, you can omit the alcohol, makes a great drinks for kids.

Tweak a bit the taste by puree-ing some raspberries in.

Merry Christmas & Macarons !!!

Merry Christmas!!

Finally that time of the year came again. Despite being busy, rushing around to do so many things like this is the end of the world and not only the end of the year, I like Christmas time so much. It is the time to be together with the family, to enjoy a bit of peace and quietness and eat a lot of food. Well, that last part is great, I can get to cook whatever, without looking like I am insane. And for this special time, I wanted to try something a bit more challenging and different – THE MACARONS.

A while ago, I mentioned the fabulous macarons that I tried in Paris and since then  I’ve been gathering some courage to try reproduce them at home. Meanwhile, I read gazillion recipes, learned all kind of secrets about the perfect way of making the fearful macarons. The macarons are supposed to be very, very finicky little beasts :-) .  I read that you can get disastrous results if you breathe around them, if the day is too humid, if the chicken was stress or tired when it made those eggs that you are going to use, if the almonds did not get enough sun, if your kitchen is not following the feng shui concepts and so on.

Well, they are not as difficult to make as the rumor has it. I made them once, I danced and sung in my kitchen like a fool for an hour, guess my neighbours still think I am insane. Hallelujah, I made it!!

I thought it was just a coincidence, a little mistake, beginners luck. Well, second time they worked again, third time I though…oh well, these things are not that difficult to tame. I am not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing, cause since I then I can’t stop making them, just to make sure various flavours work together  :).

And here is the recipe that I followed each time and worked like a charm…each time.

macarons

yields 12  macarons

60 g almond meal

100 g powdered sugar

50 g egg whites

15 g granulated sugar

food coloring gel

Start by lining the baking trays with baking paper. Make sure the paper is properly attached to baking tray so it doesn’t move around when you start piping the macarons. Meanwhile prepare a piping bag with a round tip or simply a plastic sandwich bag by cutting off one of the corners.

To prepare the macaron batter: weigh the almond meal and the powdered sugar. I usually place them in the food processor and blend them for a bit, to make sure they are very fine. Stiff the almond/sugar mixture in a dry bowl.

Weigh the egg whites in a dry mixing bowl (glass or copper work fine for me) . Beat the eggs on low-speed until form soft peaks. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and beat until the meringue forms stiff peaks and the sugar is dissolved.

Add the food colouring (if using any) and mix. Fold 1/4 of the egg white into the almond/sugar mixture until well combined. Add 1/2 of the remaining egg white and fold in gently. Add the remaining egg whites and fold again gently until the batter has a lava-like consistency (well, it means it is not very runny but rather viscous).  First time I tried making the macarons I started counting the strokes – the rule says you should not fold for more than 50 times. I think I had to stop counting around 40, when the batter gained a consistency that seemed right to me. No clue if that was the right time, however the macarons turned out fine :-).

Pour the batter into the piping bag and pipe circles of batter on the baking paper, leaving a bit of space in between them, to make sure they won’t stick to each other during drying and baking.

Let them dry out for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Bake at 140 C for about 20-30 minutes or until the shells are dry and baked.

pistachio -white chocolate ganache

150 ml whipping cream

70 gr white chocolate

70 gr pistachio finely grounded

Boil the heavy cream and add the grounded pistachios and let them infuse for 30 minutes or so. Re-heat the mixture and add it over the chopped chocolate. When the chocolate melted, mix to make sure the mixture is homogenous. Let cool down. Whisk the mixture until it reaches a solid consistency.

Happy macaroning :-) !!

Sole meuniere

The weekend usually brings along the farmers market in my city. Every Saturday the city center is filled with stands with fresh produce from around the Utrecht area. Beside the mushroom stand, one of my favourite buys is fresh fish. Few weeks ago I bought some beautiful Dover sole and since then I am totally hooked.  Every Sunday for the past few weeks I am preparing sole meuniere for dinner. I think this is one of the easiest and the best dishes ever. Served along with some sautéed veggies, some french fries and some garlic sauce this makes one of the most delicious meals out there.  According to Wikipedia meuniere refers to both a sauce and a method of preparation, primarily for fish. The word itself means “miller’s wife”. Thus to cook something à la meunière was to cook it by first dredging it in flour. A meunière sauce is a simple preparation — brown butter, chopped parsley, and lemon — and the name refers to its unelaborate rustic nature.

sole Meuniere

1 cup flour

6 fresh sole fillets

butter

salt

pepper

lemon juice

freshly chopped parsley

In a large skillet heat about 2 tablespoons of butter until it starts browning slightly (clarifies), this will give it a nutty flavour. Mix flour, salt and pepper and dredge the fish fillets through the mixture. Place 2 sole fillets in the hot skillet and lower slightly the heat. Cook the fillets for about 2-3 minutes and carefully turn on the other side with a spatula.  Add fresh lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper (if needed).

Repeat the same procedure for the remaining fillets and serve immediately.