Pistachio Macarons Recipe

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Ingredients

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/4 cup finely ground pistachios, plus 2 tbsp finely chopped to decorate

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 extra large egg whites

1/4 cup superfine sugar

green food coloring paste or liquid

Filling

6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

green food coloring paste or liquid

1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2 tbsp finely chopped pistachios

Directions

Place the ground almonds, ground pistachios and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Sift the mixture into a bowl. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whip until holding soft peaks. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar to make a firm, glossy meringue. Beat in enough food coloring to give a pale green color.

Using spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue one-third at a time. When all the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbonlike consistency.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch/ 1-cm plain tip. Pipe 30 small circles onto the prepared baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets firmly onto a work surface to remove air bubbles. Sprinkle over the chopped pistachios. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 °F/160 °C.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Carefully peel the macarons off the parchment paper and let cool completely.

To make the filling, beat the butter and a little food coloring in a bowl. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar until smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pistachios. Use to sandwich pairs of macarons together.

References

Drake, A. (2011). Macarons : 30 Recipes for Perfect Bite-Size Treats. UK, Parragon Books LTD, p 20.

Image source : http://cdn.taste.com.au

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The Great French Macaron Tragedy

I have been so desperate to learn how to make french macarons. I was mesmerized just looking at the photos of those lovely varicolored little sweet delights. I did not know how it taste like as I haven’t tried one before. All I know is that they’re completely vibrant, beautiful delectable delights and I want them. An interest of making macarons blossomed and one day I found myself procuring the ingredients day by day. I can’t help but get enraptured with the thought of making these exquisite goodies.

I bought a book from Winners (Macaroons : 30 Recipes for perfect bite-size treats) for 5 bucks and commenced into gathering all my tools and ingredients. It was my first time to bake and make these lovely sweets and I was so confident I’d make them perfectly because the directions seemed pretty unchallenging until I began to follow the formula. I tried to make the basic Vanilla French Macarons. Wheew! It’s not as simple as I thought it was. I struggled making meringue and had troubles piping the mixture into the trays lined with parchment paper. I have an excuse — it’s my first time! Then I finally settled them in the pre-heated oven. I was very excited but the excitement dropped as I watch the disaster happening in the oven. The inside of it leaked out and flooded the entire tray. My hopes were doomed. I was so disappointed with myself. I messed up. I started blaming my tools. I thought the one’s I have would suffice for the procedure. I was wrong. I told Neil about what happened and he just laughed at me. “It could be good with ice cream,” he uttered. Then I thought maybe — but then it wasn’t the macarons I fancy.

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Behold, The Macaron Disaster. Not very appetizing, isn’t it?

Glaring at the tragedy, still struck with astonishment and surprise. What did I do? I thought I followed every single detail on how to make it. I watched youtube videos on how to make french macarons. Finally, I understood something. The ignorant part of me used liquid egg whites for making meringue. First timer and did not do a research properly. I just realized I poured a liquid meringue to the sifted powder ingredients (confectioner’s sugar and ground almonds).

It was a nice and lovely Saturday when I decided a second attempt. Jade, a friend of mine came over to lend a helping hand. This time, I made sure to use fresh egg whites, whisk with electric mixer properly until it form stiff peaks. I would say I did it 85%. It’s not perfect but it looked better than the first time. I was delighted. We carefully followed the procedure step by step. And as a result…

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Tadaaa! 

Just kidding. Not mine. I wish.

ImageImageNow these are my macarons. Ok, I know they are not as pretty as it should be, I’m proud I did it better this time. Close enough to perfection. Need more practice though.

So Jade and I tried a bite and it wasn’t too bad at all. Sweet, crusty on the outside and gooey on the inside. Though some of it are kinda hollow with a huge air bubble inside the cookie, I know what to do to make it even better next time. The most important thing in making macarons is the meringue. Second to that is proper sifting and making sure there are no granulated almonds in order to have a smooth surface and makes it more appealing after baking.

As simple as they look, macarons can be a little tricky to make. Indeed, pastry chefs can spend years perfecting the art of macarons. But once the basic techniques have been mastered, it would feel a lot easier. It’s just about practice and patience. 

Guilty Pleasures on Fridays

ImagePizza. Neil and I loves pizza on a Friday night. Why? Because it has everything to palliate our appetite. It is hot, cheezy and crunchy. It has meat, fruits, vegetables and different kinds of cheese which makes it very savoury. Adding a little bit of Franks Red Hot Sauce makes it even better. The combination of flavours makes it taste amazing. We prefer a thin crust pizza rather then the thick one. It’s good in combination with wings and beer. Very satisfying.

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Wings. Buffalo wings in particular. Neil and I both love the hotness of the buffalo recipe. He makes the wings and he’s so good at it. For all those years we’ve been together and for all those Friday nights we decided to have wings for a treat, he has mastered how to make them perfectly. The best buffalo and barbeque wings I’ve ever tasted was made in The House of Byrne, by Master Chef Neil. Like pizza, wings are best with beer as well. Finger licking good!

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Ice Cold Beer. Not my favourite but Neil’s. He discovered Bud Light just recently. He loves the combination of beer, wings, pizza and boxing.

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Mc Donald’s French Fries and Caramel Sundae. My best loved. I do have a deep affection with this combination. It started when I was studying for Canadian boards. I tried to dip the fries into the Caramel Sundae and oh! La La I never thought it would taste so good. The saltiness and the sweetness of the two blended together in the taste buds, taste like heaven. Sometimes if I feel naughty, I pour my fries into the Sundae cup and mix it with the ice cream. Yummers! It might sound weird or look weird to others, I did not care. Mayonnaise and ketchup mixture is also good.

ImageSalted Caramel Squares. I love this new discovery. I can’t help but think about the goodness of this special brownie from Starbucks on a Friday night or even on Saturdays and Sundays. Tall Skinny Latte and this makes my day. Neil loves it too. The best brownie I’ve ever tasted. My second best guilty pleasure.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes. Whenever we go up to Calgary, I’ve always wanted to have a bite on a red velvet. Though the red velvet they have is not as good as the red velvets in Cupcakes located in English Bay, Vancouver. I am missing that divine icing they have. It’s never the same. Just recently, I discovered that Save-On-Foods makes red velvet cupcakes. We gave it a try one time and we liked it. It wasn’t too bad at all. There you go, red velvet 5 minutes away from our house.

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Marble Slab Ice Cream. When we were still in Vancouver, we used to ignore marble slab. “What? 6 dollars for just a scoop? I will never buy that ridiculously priced ice cream.” Though I was so curious why it so so expensive. One day while Neil is at work, I went to Marble Slab and bought a scoop in a cup. I was so ignorant, I did not know how to order. I just heard one customer ordering vanilla flavour and strawberries on top. I watched how they mold the ice cream into a tile folding the strawberries into it. “Oh, ok maybe that’s what make it so expensive, add-ons.” I ordered green tea flavor and added walnuts into it. I took my first bite and alright it’s not just an ordinary ice cream in the corner. It was very scrumptious, melt-in-the-mouth creamy, yummy special ice cream. Since then I got addicted into it. I was so thankful there’s Marble Slab here in southern prairie land. I love Pistacchio and Black Walnut flavour the best.

It’s always good to give yourselves a treat after a hard day’s at work. It doesn’t have to be Friday all the time. Whenever you feel stressed out or exhausted at anytime of the week, one of these treats would definitely make you feel better. These treats are not very healthy as you can see, that’s why their called guilty pleasures. So always follow the rule of thumb, “Everything in moderation and be responsible.”

How about you? What’s your guilty pleasure?

Photo Credits to the following:
http://www.dinehere.ca
http://www.pinchmysalt.com
http://www.f0o0od.tumblr.com
www.hlntv.com
www.seriouseats.com
http://barberha.com
www.delectablychic.com

http://www.arabnews.com

Typical Pinoy Breakfast

“Mom, what’s for breakfast?”

Filipinos love to eat. We can have five to six meals in a day.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are the three major meals and 2 or 3 snack times in between. We love waking up early in the morning for a pre-breakfast snack. “Pandesal” or sweet buns with white cheese or a sandwiched slice of Dairy Cream butter dipped in a cup of coffee is the usual appy at around 6 o’clock in the morning. The moms usually prepare for the main meal while the rest of the family enjoys the early morning treat. On rainy days, we love going back to bed after a nice and satisfying “pandesal” treat.

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At 7 o’clock, breakfast is already served. School time is early and moms are used to preparing easy-to-cook recipes. The typical Filipino breakfast is usually fried rice and sunny side eggs with any of the basic breakfast favourites such as beef tapa, tocino, fried chicken, sweet sausage or “longganisa”, red Tender Juicy Hotdogs, marinated-deboned-fried milk fish, corned beef with minced potatoes, embutido and salted fish or “tuyo”. Spiced vinegar, banana ketchup, sliced tomatoes and pickled papaya are always good on the side.

Cooking the above mentioned favourites is a piece of cake, effortless. It’s just about heating a frying pan,  a tablespoon of canola oil and fry any of the dishes in 5-10 minutes.

ImageTapsilog means “Tapa + Sinangag + Itlog” (marinated tenderloin beef tips fried to perfection, garlic fried rice and sunny side eggs). Pampanga’s Best is a good brand for processed breakfast goodies or if you want you can make your own beef tapa as well. Tapa are slices of beef flank or tenderloin cut into thin strips marinated for 12 hours with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sugar, salt, lime and black pepper. It’s almost similar to beef jerky. The meat soaks all the flavours after immersion.

ImageTocilog means Tocino + Sinangag + Itlog”. Tocino is cured slices of pork shoulder blades that has a sweet taste. They are available in Filipino Stores as well but I prefer making it myself to avoid nitrites in our meal. I use the Mamasitas Tocino Marinade Mix, it makes my life easier. I sometimes add more sugar to the mixture to make it even tastier. It’s lovely with vinegar and soy sauce.

ImageLongsilog means “Longganisa + Sinangag + Itlog”. Longganisa came from the Spanish word Longaniza which pertains to a spicy pork sausage. Well, I don’t know how to make this one. It’s a bit complicated for me and Neil. It can be bought from a wet market in the Philippines and is also available in Filipino Stores. Longganisa is made up of ground pork mixed with minced garlic, sugar, black pepper, vinegar and salt. The combined ingredients are pushed into a hog casing and tied in knots at even intervals. Some are called “Skinless Longganisa” which are molded and without the sausage skin. They make different flavours such as sweet, garlicky, spicy and regular.

ImageCornsilog means Corned Beef + Sinangag + Itlog.”  We add diced potatoes and lots of onions to it. Sometimes we add a tablespoonful of soy sauce and brown sugar to make it more enjoyable.

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 Bangsilog means “Bangus + Sinangag + Itlog”. The Bangus also known as Milk Fish is scaled and cut into a butterfly form and marinated for hours with a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, black or white pepper and chopped garlic. After marinading for hours, it is fried until crispy. It’s one of my favourite. Pancake House serves the best Bangsilog, pricey but worth it.

ImageHotsilog means Hot Dog + Sinangag + Itlog”. The famous red Tender Juicy Hotdog in the Philippines is the best hotdog I’ve ever tasted. They have the brown ones as well with cheese in it and it was just divine. Any brand of hotdog would do to have Hotsilog for breakfast. This is the easiest one to prepare. It’s best when you have UFC Banana Ketchup on the side.

The other types of Silogs are : Chiksilog (fried chicken), Embusilog (embutido – sausage like) and Litsilog (lechon kawali), Spamsilog (spam), Dangsilog (with “Danggit” or rabbitfish) and Chosilog (chorizo).

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Aside from “Silogs”, Filipino’s also likes porridge. It’s not the oatmeal one but the sweet chocolate rice porridge. We call it Champorado. We have acquired it from the Mexican traders who stayed in our country in the early years. It is made by boiling a special kind of mucilaginous rice with cocoa powder or Milo (popular chocolate drink in the Philippines) which gives a chocolatey color. We usually add milk and sugar to make it taste sweeter and yummier. Some would add Tuyo or salted dried fish which contrasts the sweet taste of Champorado making it more enjoyable.

Filipinos love to have coffee as well with the breakfast and fruits are served after the meal.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for Filipinos. A heavy breakfast gives us energy to get through the summons ahead. A good breakfast gives brain power.

Pinoy breakfast is one of the world’s best. Simple buy delicious and satisfying.

One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast.” 
― Robert A. Heinlein, Friday

Photo credits to the following :

http://kuboresto.com/, http://www.islakulinarya.blogspot.com, http://www.yelp.com, http://www.flicker.com, www.bubblenews.com, http://www.angsarap.nethttp://www.mommyandmatt.blogspot.com

Kara-age Chicken : The Japanese Fried Chicken

I remember when Neil and I went to Guu Garlic at Robson Street in Downtown Vancouver, it was my second time in the restaurant and it’s Neil’s first time. I went to the original location on Thurlow just off Robson with my friends before and I was impressed with the food, though not everyone in the group agreed with me, I still enjoyed the experience. Guu is an authentic Japanese Izakaya with a set of traditional social customs. The servers are all Japanese if i’m not mistaken and they greet or welcome the customers, thank them and wish them well as they leave. Well I must admit, the greetings can sometimes get a little too loud but it’s tolerable and I kinda like it. It sure beats going to most western restaurants in Vancouver and getting totally ignored the entire time. I like the setting where customers can sit on the bar and have an ice-cold Dry Asahi or Sapporo (Japanese Beer). They have low tables and cushions on the floor. Customers who prefer a nice and quieter atmosphere can choose the upper level where the low tables are situated. One of the Japanese table manners is removing shoes before dining and using the chopsticks properly as it is essential for Japanese dining etiquette. Neil and I are not quite sure if the customers practice all the dining etiquette but we are there to enjoy the food and the company of each other.

We ordered a variety of food in their menu (which is so hard to understand) and we enjoyed every bits of it. One of our favorite was the Chicken Kara-age.

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Unlike other types of fried chicken, the Kara-age never left me with the greasy feeling at all and slightly gross afterwards. It was served with a cut of lemon and you have to squeeze liberally before eating. That could be one factor that made it so special. The mayo dip was divine too, it was not like any other local mayonnaise, on the other thought, it could be the chicken which made everything special on the plate.

The Guu Garlic experience inspired me to make a simple version that a beginner like me can make.

Kara-age Chicken

Ingredients (Serves 4)

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, about 3 1/2 oz/100g each

4 tbsp shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)

4 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp finely grated fresh gingerroot

2 garlic cloves, crushed

oil, for deep frying

2 1/2 oz or 70 g or 1/2 cup potato starch or cornstarch

pinch of salt

lemon wedges, to serve

Method

1 Cut the chicken into large cubes and put in a bowl. Add soy sauce, mirin, gingerroot, and garlic and turn chicken to coal well. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in a cool place for 20 minutes.

2 Preheat a wok, then fill one-third full with oil, or use a deep fryer. Heat the oil to 350-375°F or 180-190°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds.

3 Meanwhile, mix the potato starch with the salt in a bowl. Lift the chicken out of the marinade and shake off any excess. Drop it into the potato starch and coat well, then shake off any excess.

4 Add the chicken to the oil, in batches, and cook for 6 minutes, or until crisp and brown. remove, drain on paper towels, and keep hot while you cook the remaining chicken.

5 Serve with lemon wedges.

Some people like to add a sprinkling of grated yuzu peel and/or sansho pepper.