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Archive for July 21, 2014

RECIPE: Chocolate Blackberry Macarons

Here’s another delicious blackberry recipe: Chocolate Blackberry Macarons. Blackberry, a summer fruit, is a nice change from the chocolate or raspberry fillings often found in macarons.

The recipe was developed by blogger Naomi Robinson of Bakers Royal, and contributed to Driscoll’s recipes. Visit Naomi’s blog for more delicious recipes.

Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 15 to 17 minutes, plus cooling time.

RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BLACKBERRY MACARONS

Ingredients For 24-30 Macarons

For The Chocolate Macarons

  • 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 eggs)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups plus 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups plus ¼ cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  •  
    For The Blackberry Filling

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) blackberries, puréed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 envelope plain gelatin
  •    

    chocolate-blackberry-macarons-driscolls-230

    A summer flavor for macaron lovers. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

     

    http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-blackberries-basket-image26804436

    Sweet summer blackberries. Photo ©
    Pretoperola | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 330°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

    2. TRACE out 1 inch circles on parchment and set this aside as a “master copy.” Reserve two extra sheets of parchment and set aside.

    3. PLACE egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and fit mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium low speed until egg whites start to form loose, translucent bubbles.

    4. INCREASE mixer speed to medium and beat until meringue turns foamy and white and starts to resemble well-lathered shampoo, about 2 minutes. Increase mixer to high and beat until meringue holds glossy stiff peaks, about another 2-3 minutes. Turn off mixer.

    5. PROCESS almond meal, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor and then sift. Add these dry ingredients to the meringue. Using a sturdy spatula fold and smash dry mixture into meringue against the bowl for about 20-25 folds.

    Don’t worry about being gentle; the idea is to knock the air out. The batter should hold its shape when spooned on itself and start to slowly flatten out after about 15-20 seconds. Start checking the batter after 20 folds for readiness. Transfer batter to pastry bag and let rest for 20 minutes before piping.

     

    6. PLACE the master copy of the drawn circles on a baking sheet and then place a sheet of parchment on top. Fill a pastry bag with batter and pipe until the batter reaches edge of circle. Remove the master copy from underneath the piped layer. Place it on a second baking sheet and pipe the remaining batter. Remove the master copy and save for future use.

    7. GIVE each pan a quick hard tap against the counter, turn the pan 90 degrees and give it another quick hard tap. This will deflate any bubbles and prevent cracked shells.

    8. BAKE for 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Leave meringue shells to cool completely on the pan. Shells will cleanly peel away from the parchment when ready.

    9. MAKE the blackberry filling. Place water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir until sugar is melted. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool, 15-20 minutes. Once cooled, sprinkle gelatin on top and leave untouched for 1-2 minutes for the gelatin to bloom.

    10. RETURN the pan to the stove top and over low heat stir the mixture until the gelatin bloom melts and mixture resembles the consistency of maple syrup. Remove from heat and stir the gelatin mixture into the blackberry purée. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes or until the filling becomes thick and slightly sets.

    11. ASSEMBLE the meringues. Pipe the filling onto one shell, place a second shell on top and repeat.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Ocean Water

    We love this idea from Spoonful Of Comfort: a soft drink turned into “ocean water.”

    It’s not just for kids! Even adults like the Swedish Fish garnish; and they’ll especially appreciate it with a hit of vodka or other clear spirit.

    RECIPE: OCEAN WATER

    Ingredients

  • 7 Up or Sprite
  • Optional spirit: gin, tequila or vodka
  • Blue food coloring
  • Swedish fish
  • Straw (preferably red or red and white stripes)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a glass or mason jar with soda. Add spirit to taste.

    2. Using an eye dropper, add one drop of blue food color. Stir. Add more color as desired.

    3. Drop in a Swedish Fish. Serve with a straw.

     

    ocean-water-spoonfulofcomfort

    Turn a soft drink or cocktail into “Ocean Water.” Photo courtesy Spoonful Of Comfort |
    FB.

     

    We’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend Spoonful Of Comfort’s chicken soup. Send it to friends and family: new parents, new homeowners, under the weather, or lovers of chicken soup.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cucumber Drink Garnish & Types Of Cucumbers

    cucumber-lemonade-hendricks-230

    Cool as a cucumber lemonade. Photo
    courtesy Hendricks Gin.

     

    Hendrick’s Gin sent us a cocktail recipe called Cucumber Lemonade. We enjoyed both the drink and the garnish and thought: Why don’t we use more cucumber garnishes?

    The Cucumber Lemonade recipe is below, but you can also use a cucumber garnish with:

  • Club soda
  • Citrus sodas: Fresca, 7-Up, Sprite
  • Savory cocktails: Bloody Mary, Martini
  • Fruit or vegetable juices and ades
  • Tonic Water
  •  
    Try adding a cucumber spear to these drinks, and you’ll have a crunchy snack to enjoy with the drink.

    RECIPE: HENDRICK’S CUCUMBER LEMONADE

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 3 parts Hendrick’s Gin
  • 2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 parts simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Sparkling water
  • Garnish: cucumber spear
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the first three ingredients in a tall glass. Add ice.

    2. TOP with sparkling water, stir gently and garnish with a cucumber spear or wedge.

     

    CUCUMBER TYPES

    You can garnish with any supermarket cucumber, but why not have fun and look for specialty varieties?

    Growers define cucumbers in five categories: slicing, pickling, burpless, space savers and specialty.

  • Slicing cucumbers include the typical supermarket variety: long and straight with thin, non-bitter skins and seeds. They are bred for slicing and eating. The skin of younger cucumbers is tender enough to be eaten. As the fruit* grows, the skins thicken and more seeds develop. If left on the vine too long, the flesh may become bitter.
  • Pickling cucumbers are shorter and stouter. They are bred to have drier flesh, which allows them to soak up more of the pickling brine.
  • Burpless cucumbers are slicing cucumbers that have been bred to produce less of the bitter chemical that releases gas in the stomach. They were developed because enough Americans had this sensitivity.
  • Space saver cucumbers, also called container cucumbers, are bred to create compact vines that fit into small gardens and deck planters.
  •  

    armenian-cucumber-burpee-230

    You know what conventional cucumbers look like. Check farmers markets for specialty varieties like crystal apple cucumbers, lemon cucumbers and the Armenian cucumber, shown here. Photo courtesy Burpee.

  • Specialty cucumbers are heirloom cucumbers that have less developed disease resistance than modern hybrids, but are appreciated for their different flavors, shapes and/or colors. Long, light green Armenian cucumbers (see photo above) are heavily ribbed—decorative and ornamental—and taste like a melon without the sweetness. Their ribbed shape makes interesting cross-sections when sliced. Lemon cucumbers look like round lemons. White cucumbers Look for them in farmers markets. Crystal Apple cucumbers, heirlooms from New Zealand, have pale green, roundish fruits resembling Granny Smith apples. Suyo Long is a traditional variety from China that delivers burpless, sweet ribbed fruits that can be used for slicing or pickling. Hybrids like Palace King have a ripples of yellow on emerald green skins.
  •  
    Your homework: Go to the farmers market and look for specialty cucumbers. If you have a garden, check out the options and plan to plant at least one variety next year.

     
    *Yes, cucumbers, C. sativus, are fruits. They are members of the same binomial genus as cantaloupe, honeydew, Persian and other melons.

      

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    PRODUCT: Pistachio Chewy Bites

    pistachio-tea-3-230

    A favorite snack: chewy pistachio bites.
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    While several of us tried to determine the name of the company, we all agreed: These Pistachio Chewy Bites are good stuff.

    Simple and nutritious, they’re a blend of roasted pistachios and dried cranberries, bound in a honey-like mix of two low-glycemic* sweeteners, agave and brown rice syrup.

    The bites are small—2″ x 1-1/2″—but nutrient dense and filling. One is enough, really, although the serving size is two.

    We’ve been enjoying them as an on-the-go snack, for breakfast and at tea time. We have afternoon tea at THE NIBBLE, and these snacks can hold their own with biscotti, cookies and other sweets we sample each day.

    If you need a quick dessert garnish, you can dice the bars as a topping for cupcakes, ice cream or sorbet.

    The only confusion is the name of the company, only visible on the bag in the logo. There’s no URL, no company name in the marketing copy on the bag.

    We don’t have room for a photo here, but look at it.

     

    Is it Seffon Farms? Selton Farms? Setton Farms.

    It’s the latter. We had to Google it.

    The line is certified gluten free and certified kosher by OK.

    Learn more about Setton Farms, a California pistachio grower,

    Buy the bites on Amazon.
     
    *The glycemic index of table sugar is 60-65. The glycemic index of agave is 32, and brown rice syrup is 20. Honey is 58 and pure maple syrup is 54. Agave is 1.4 to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and honey, so you don’t need to use as much.
     
      

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