French

French Meringues (made easy, thanks to movita beaucoup)

Do you know movita beaucoup? If the answer is yes, then please proceed reading about how she helped me make beautiful French Meringues on my second try. If the answer is no, then get your butt to her website RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE

www.movitabeaucoup.com

Here's what happened. This is from my Facebook page on New Year's Eve:

I was hoping to set up a really beautiful, all white photo shoot with gorgeous French meringues, but it turns out, you can't make regular lemon pie meringue, pipe it onto a cookie sheet and make these little French dainties. They brown in about 3 minutes and stay ooey gooey no matter how long you leave them in the oven. Oops.

movita's reply:

No. No you can't. But had it worked? You would have been a Meringue Pioneer. Also, meringues are my most favourite baked treat.

From that point, I knew I would require movita's guidance to get it right the second time.

Me:

Was there even the teeniest, most slim of chances that it might have worked?

movita:

Whelp, the meringue most people use on top of pie is light and not very stable - so it all depends on the type of meringue you use. Swiss meringue is one of the most stable AND it can be consumed in three ways: right after whipping (it's food safe as the eggs have been heated to 160F), baked or in swiss meringue buttercream! It's my favourite!

So, here, with help from movita, is a recipe for French Meringues that worked for me on the first try. Some of my meringues cracked, but a) they look really pretty when they're backlit in a photo and b) they tasted amazing, so I didn't really care too much about that. I piped some short and flat like a French macaron with a little hat, and I piped others taller and fatter like a little meringue mountain. I used movita's beautiful meringue recipe, but modified it to use Meringue Girl's egg white to sugar ratio. I also added vanilla. They're pretty quick to make (other than baking time) and so pretty. Make them if you can!

French Meringues

4 egg whites, room temperature, weighed

sugar, double the weight of the egg whites

1/2 tsp vanilla

- preheat oven to 200ºF - line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

- grab a hand held whisk and a pot that the bottom of your stand mixer bowl fits into snugly - place 1-inch of water in the pot and bring it to a slight simmer on the stove - the water should be barely simmering - combine egg whites and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, mix on medium-low speed until just combined and a bit frothy, about 1 minute - remove the bowl from the mixer and place the bowl over the pot of barely simmering water - mix the egg whites with the hand held whisk for 3-4 minutes - you don't have to whisk the whole time because trust me, if you do, you will feel like your arm is going to fall off - just keep the whites moving so they don't scramble - remove whites from heat after 3-4 minutes and rub a bit between your fingers - if the sugar still feels gritty, return the bowl of whites to the pot and keep mixing until sugar dissolves - once sugar is dissolved, remove whites from heat and dry the bottom of the bowl with a tea towel

- return bowl to stand mixer - with whisk attachment, mix whites on medium-low speed for 1  minute and then crank up the speed to medium-high - I used speed 8 on my Kitchen Aid - mix meringue for 7-10 minutes until thick, glossy and doubled in size - I found the meringue doubled in size around the 5 minute mark but wasn't really thick and glossy until 9 minutes of mixing - I added the vanilla at the 8 minute mark

- movita uses an ice cream scoop to scoop meringue into dollops on the baking sheet and then uses a small spoon to coax the tops into peaks  - I used a piping bag - use whatever you fancy - just remember, the bigger the meringue the longer they take to dry out inside - scoop/pipe meringue onto parchment lined sheets and bake 1-2 hours until crisp and dry all the way through - if they start to brown at all, take them out of the oven - when movita's meringues are done, she turns off the heat, and lets the meringues sit, in the oven, for an hour unless, as I mentioned, the meringues are turning brown - if that happens take them out STAT.

 My small flat meringues were dry and crisp after 1 hour and 10 minutes in the oven - the taller fatter meringue mountains took 1 hour 30 minutes - just eat one to check for doneness - when all is said and done, if yours are chewy in the middle, don't worry, they'll still be delicious! I ate about 50 meringues in 3 days - some dry and crisp, some chewy in the middle, and I have zero regrets.

Prosciutto, Asparagus and Fontina Quiche with Oven-Roasted Honeyed Tomatoes featuring The Food Girl In Town

A few weeks ago, my friend Gabby, aka The Food Girl In Town (whom I met through Halifax Food Bloggers) and I decided to make a food video together. We've both visited France and Italy (in fact, Gabby was in Paris, Normandy, Bologna and Rome just over a month ago), and are both head-over-heels in love with French and Italian food culture, so we thought making a French-Italian-inspired Quiche would be a delicious way to spend the day. I have always wanted to make a quiche but have never made one from scratch. My heavens it was tasty. Salty, creamy, buttery, cheesy - who wouldn't want to eat that? It took us six hours to shoot the footage for our 3-minute video, but don't worry, you can make yours in probably about an hour.

Below are some still photos I took throughout the day and at the very bottom of the post is the recipe for the quiche.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prosciutto, Asparagus, Fontina Quiche with Oven-Roasted Honeyed Tomatoes

Oven-Roasted Honeyed Tomatoes

1 Roma tomato

2 Tbsp honey

1Tbsp olive oil

kosher salt

Crust

1 C flour

2 Tbsp grated Fontina

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 C butter, cut into small pieces then frozen

2-3 Tbsp ice water

Filling

1 C blanched asparagus, chopped

1 C chopped prosciutto

2 C grated cheese

3 eggs

1 C milk

1/2 C heavy cream

1 tsp salt

Oven-roasted honeyed tomato slices

- preheat oven 225º - slice tomato thinly into 6-8 round slices – arrange on parchment lined baking sheet – drizzle with honey and olive oil - sprinkle each slice with kosher salt– bake 1-1.5 hours until dark red and shriveled

combine flour, Fontina and salt in food processor – pulse to mix - add frozen butter pieces and pulse until crumbly - with the machine running, add ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough starts to form into a ball - dump dough onto floured surface, gather loosely into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, chill in fridge 30 minutes

- preheat oven 350º - roll dough on well-floured surface, large enough to cover the bottom plus inside walls of 9-inch tart pan – pick up dough with hands, drape over pan, press dough into bottom, in along  the edges and up the sides of the tin –roll pin over the edges of the tin to cut off the excess dough – prick bottom of dough all over with a fork and bake dough 35-40 minutes until golden – remove from oven and cool on rack

bring 2-3 cups water to a boil (we used the kettle) – chop asparagus into 1-inch pieces – in a heat-proof dish, cover asparagus pieces with boiling water and let sit two minutes – rinse asparagus under cold water until cool - drain

sprinkle half of cheese over bottom of baked crust - top with prosciutto and asparagus - sprinkle remaining cheese on top - whisk eggs, milk, cream, and salt until frothy - pour egg mixture into pie crust – top with oven-roasted honeyed tomato slices

bake quiche at 350º 30-40 minutes until edges are set but still jiggly in center – cool 20 minutes minimum

Our crust recipe was inspired by THIS recipe by Ina Garten (we subtracted the sugar and added cheese in it's place) and our filling was inspired by THIS link from The Kitchn. 

If you have a moment, please visit Gabby's awesome blog www.thefoodgirlintown.com!

Vin d'Orange

We were walloped with a pretty good blizzard yesterday - the whole province basically came to a standstill. Of course, the first thing I think of on a snow day is - what can I make today?

I wanted to choose something that didn't require using the oven in case the power went out. 

Enter Vin d'Orange.

I first heard about Vin d'Orange in a tweet from Food and Wine magazine with a link to an article called 'The Best Thing To Do With A Spare Bottle Of Wine'. From the article - 'Vin d’orange (not to be confused with orange wine, a style of wine in which white grapes are left to macerate on the skins) is a classic Provençal apéritif made with white or rosé wine, oranges, sugar, a neutral spirit and spices. It can—and should—be made at home by anyone with an extra bottle of wine and four weeks on hand.' Featuring Matt Hamilton, owner of Lulu & Po in Brooklyn, the article breaks down a very simple recipe, and process, in paragraph style.

I was intrigued because I love apéritifs - Lillet, Cinzano, Dubonnet, Aperol, et al - and because it sounded so simple with a big payoff. I like that.

When I tweeted at Lulu & Po and asked if the addition of Grappa (or any other eau-de-vie) was necessary, they tweeted back and said that Vin d'Orange could be made with just wine.

Sold.

I used a Cara Cara orange ($7.99 a bag!!! but worth it - they're delicious) and a bottle of Jean Max Roger Sancerre Cuvée GC from Bishop's Cellar. The only thing I did differently from Matt's recipe is omit the Grappa, and because the neck of my growler was so narrow, I had to slice of my orange and lemon instead of quartering them. The Vin d'Orange takes about 5 minutes to assemble and I believe the hardest part will be waiting 4 weeks to drink it.

To see the entire recipe click here.

French Sablé Cookies

French Butter Cookies

I don't think I actually have to explain what inspired me to make these.

The French word 'sablé' means 'sand', perhaps relating to these soft, delicate, crumbly texture biscuits and their golden colour.

Click here to see the recipe I used, which belongs to Dorie Greenspan, and was featured on the New York Times website

I made 2 batches of these cookies and I have 2 tips for you:

1. Slice your cookies rather thick - 1/2-inch or so. The first time, I cut them around 1/3-inch and they didn't seem nearly as good. You need thickness to hold up the buttery sandy crumble.

2. The recipe recommends beating an egg YOLK and brushing it around the edges of the cookies to make the sugar stick. I found the egg yolk was unpleasantly yellow, so the second time (pictured above) I used an egg  WHITE. I think it shows off the sparkle of the sugar much better.

French Madeleines + A Book Review: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. by Rob Delaney

 

French Madeleines.

Soft airy little cakey cookies.

The perfect treat to devour during a snowstorm as I finish reading Rob Delaney's November book release Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. published by Random House of Canada.

Rob spent his junior year of college in Paris, and each of his short, dark, true stories in the book are titled in French, so I thought Madeleines would be the perfect accompagnement.

From the Random House website - 'Rob Delaney is a father, a husband, a comedian, a writer. He is the author of an endless stream of beautiful, insane jokes on Twitter. He is sober. He is sometimes brave. He speaks French. He loves women with abundant pubic hair and saggy naturals. He has bungee jumped off of the Manhattan Bridge. He enjoys antagonizing political figures. He listens to metal while he works out. He likes to fart. He broke into an abandoned mental hospital with his mother. He played Sir Lancelot in Camelot. He has battled depression. He is funny as s***. He cleans up well. He is friends with Margaret Atwood. He is lucky to be alive.'

The introduction of Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. nicely sums up the why and how I came to be reading a book written by a comedian I'd never heard of. 

It's all because of Twitter.

In my digitally-consumed life, Rob Delaney's book is the first real, actual book I've read (other than a cookbook), in it's entirety, cover to cover in over a year. It was this passage that sucked me in - kept me reading straight through to the end:

'At the time I signed up for Twitter, I was in debt and adding to it every month... Other comics were publicly expressing worry about giving up their material for free on Twitter... I figured, Fuck it. I'll give it away for free. I decided to show the people who were kind enough to become my Twitter followers that, whether or not they necessarily thought I was funny, I had a work ethic and liked to write jokes all day, every day' (p xiv)

I liked that passage because:

a) why wouldn't I want to take a break from my iPhone, iPad, iMac and Macbook screens to read a real-live-honest-to-goodness-paper-book written by a (hopefully) funny comedian?

b) I liked his attitude about sharing. As my own burgeoning career takes flight, I too am nervous of sharing what I've learned. Then I wake up and realize, the same as Rob, Fuck it. If you're worried about that then you have no business working as a 'creative' in the first place.

c) I love to swear.

Here's the thing. This book is DARK. Raging alcoholism, drugs, sex, depression, car crashes, near drownings, and stories of memories that made me feel awkward and embarassed while reading.

But goddam it's funny.

I am guilty of sometimes (maybe) using one! too!! many!!! exclamation!!!! points!!!!! in my social media channels. As if my life is so friggin' positive and exciting all of the time!!!!!!

Well guess what?

It ain't.

There are dark, serious, depressing things in my life too and sometimes, the only way to keep moving forward is to poke a little fun.

And that's what I liked most about Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. You open the book and enter Rob's world of comedy, brimming with exclamation points, CAPITAL LETTERS and enthusiasm, yet, the points being driven home in each story are laden with gravitas - heavy and intense.

It's refreshing in a world full of phony plastic bullshit.

'The second credit card company said, 'Fuck off. Pay it you weird drunk liar.' To which I replied, 'Can do!' (p93)

'For the first few days after he (Rob's son) was born I would look at his adorable, smooshed-up little face and think, 'You little cutie pie! You will attend my funeral!' (p175)

'(Regarding entering an abandoned mental hospital, with his mom and his uncle) My insurance agent mom and insurance agent uncle, who should have done a speedy risk analysis and assessed the likelihood of us getting kidnapped and turned into human beef jerky, said yes! So I had to say, 'Okay, terrific, because I really wanted to go in too!'

So go ahead. Bake yourself a batch of these delightful little French cookies, settle in with a blanket and a cup of tea and get ready to identify with Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. I guarantee you will find yourself giggling, snickering and possibly guffawing as you also wonder at the goddam miracle that we manage to make it through the seemingly insurmountable piles of bullshit life throws at us.