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Vive la France!

Time for a quick hop across the Channel to France for today’s cooking task. Without even realising that it was Bastille Day today until about 10 minutes ago, I’d decided to make macarons and even wore this snazzy, on-theme tee. –

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Therefore proving that I am indeed psychic, nothing at all to do with watching Ratatouille or the last episode of Sex and the City to get my Paris fix. That is all purely coincidental. I adore Paris, and even though there is a touch of hostility between the ‘Frogs Legs’ and ‘Le Rosbifs’, I secretly (until now that is) love the French. Yes, on our first trip to Paris we experienced some seriously rude waiters and had many French people cut us up in queues, but this is part of the English person in Paris package deal right? They just do what they want, don’t give a toss and their food is outstanding. They’ve given us baguettes, croissants, duck confit, creme brulee, tart tatin, moules mariniere, to name but a few, so how can I stay angry at them? Plus Paris is beautiful, so if I have to put up with a bit of rudeness then fair deal. If it bothers you, fear not for when the French are in the UK, we give them a dose of their own medicine. While queuing at a petrol garage, a French man tried to cut in at the front of the queue, and there was uproar. Good old Brits, we put up with a lot of crap at times (Cameron, Osbourne, I’m talking about you), but mess with our queues and you’re for it. Suffice to say, Frenchie shuffled to the back of the queue looking thoroughly ashamed of himself (quite right too). Anyway, it’s a happy accident that I chose to make macarons on Bastille Day, and justifies the need to bake should The Boyfriend go “tut tut, more baking eh?”.

The recipe came from Marian Keyes book Saved By Cake, which is a delightful and cheery cookbook, which is a testament to her writing skills as she touches on depression and suicidal thoughts quite a lot in the intro. Don’t let this put you off, the recipes are great and covered in glitter, which definitely brightens my mood on a bad day. These macarons are different and incorporate the ingredients of the Italian dessert tiramisu, so the filling is made with mascarpone, coffee and Marsala wine. I’ve always thought its the case that when you enjoy sweet things that have coffee and/or wine in them, it means you’re grown up and sophisticated. Ergo, I must be a proper adult and sophisticated too. Don’t hate me, I didn’t make up the rules. Oh wait, that’s right, I just did. In reality, I’m far from sophisticated (I spilt coffee all down my nice French t shirt while making these. Proof if any were needed that I am not sophisticated) and have liked coffee chocolates and cakes since childhood. The macarons (or macaroons depending on how authentic you want to sound) are a piece of cake to make, and the mascarpone filling goes a lovely latte colour once the coffee and wine are mixed in. Once assembled they don’t look like the picture perfect ones you see in patisserie windows, but unless you’re planning on selling them to Laduree or Harrods, there really is no need to worry about symmetry. Marian calls them ‘bockety’ and I think this is the perfect description of mine. To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure I actually like macarons. I’ve only ever eaten home made ones, so maybe it’s just my cooking, but I find them too chewy and bitter. My teeth actually hurt after eating them, and I then ask myself why I didn’t just make some cupcakes instead. These macarons do really taste like tiramisu, and are a real grown up treat, but it makes me crave the pillowy softness of an actual tiramisu instead. No disrespect to Marian though, I imagine for fans of macarons these are a delight, but I think when it ones to a sweet treat, I’m more of a softy than a crunchy. Think cakes, crumbles drowning in custard, tiramisu and you are speaking my language! I’ll leave the crunchy macarons to the sophisticated French, who have done a great service to the world of good food. For this, Happy Bastille Day, and Vive la France!

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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Baking, Books, Cooking, Food, French

 

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Lasagna, Key Lime and Masterchef

Someone please slap me. It has become increasingly obvious to me that since the boyfriend flew off to more exotic climes to work, I have turned into a big soppy ball of mush. It’s vomit inducing even for me, I need a good slap to knock some sense into me (although if you see me in the next couple of days, please don’t). Driving to work listening to the new Mary J Blige album (which is very good by the way), I was paying extra special attention to the lyrics and wondering when exactly I’d spoken to MJB about my love life and why she’d cruelly decided to turn it into a song for millions to hear? Thanks a lot Mary! But now any song which remotely mentions love has me going ” Oh my  god, this is EXACTLY how I feel, this song is about ME!”, and if it also happens to mention being separated by distance and/or time then I start wondering exactly when Alicia Keys started reading my mind and why I’ve not yet received any royalties. Its a sad state of affairs, I may have to take drastic action and start listening to heavy metal to remove me from this lovesick state. Cooking at least takes my mind off it, and I’ve taken another two recipes off the challenge list in the last couple of days. Not that this really puts a dent in the list, as I know already that come payday next week I’ll be adding another cookbook to the list. Like I said, its a sickness and I don’t want to get better.

I had a few work friends round for dinner last night, and decided that instead of playing it safe with the usual lasagne then chocolate cake combo (wonderful though it is) I’d cook a more unusual take on lasagne. This one was from the May 2010 issue of Delicious magazine which is dedicated to Italian food and the recipe was mushroom, parma ham and mascarpone lasagne, which also had pork mince in it. Well I must say it was very nice, and a decent change from traditional lasagne. The meat and mushrooms were cooked in a white wine and chicken  stock sauce with lots of parsley, garlic and onion, and the mascarpone béchamel sauce was really creamy and complimented the meat. Feedback was also very positive and empty plates are always a good sign. I forgot to take a photo of it though, but if you want to picture it, just imagine a lasagne with a white filling as opposed to the usual red one. Thats it!

Dessert was then chocolate and key lime pie from Nigella Kitchen, which is another great cookbook from Nigella. I’d like to point out that there is absolutely nothing nutritional about this dessert apart form the lime juice, which lets face it once mixed with double cream and evaporated milk, then placed into a pie crust made up of butter, digestive biscuits, cocoa powder and choc chips, has lost all of its citrussy goodness. But if you eat dessert for its nutritional qualities, then what the hell are you eating for junk food??? The lime stands up to all the other ingredients though and the filling tastes really zingy and is also super smooth and delicious. The pie crust, while nice did not set very well and ended up crumbling everywhere and became rubble next to the filling. Three slices are still sitting in the fridge and I just know I am going to cave in soon and grab one. It would be rude not to.

And on that note I’m going to eat some leftover lasagne, and catch up on this weeks Masterchef finals. I’m pretty certain that with these heightened emotions and the manipulative use of emotional music I will be crying my eyes out when they surely crown Shalina the winner. Masterchef gets me every time, better take my make up off first!

 
 

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