Yellow Macarons with Strawberry Ganache

After tons and tons of reading, blogs, sites, videos and walkthroughs about these delicate beauties, I ventured into this attempt, just to make sure that I didnt end up being a failure without even trying it out. I was pretty much intimidated by the amount of research that has gone into the making of the perfect macaron but the more pictures I saw, the more I wanted to create one.
Since Spring is in the air and Mactweets have announced the arrival of spring by their 

SPRING FLING ... Mac Attack 5 

I decided to go for a spring inspired theme...spring is for yellows, violets and strawberries for me...

Spring holiday crocus flowers  photo
Woman holding a wicker basket full of vibrant yellow tulips photo
spring flowers photo

Spring holiday crocus flowers  photo

Do educate yourself as much as you can before you attempt to make them, cos from what I have read, the same recipe can turn out to be a complete success or an utter failure, it just depends on how you treat the ingredients.

I have tried to make things easy and while compiling all tips I have collected through my own research, I am trying to give it in a chronological order.
After going through many, I decided to follow Tartlette's recipe for the basic French macaron.
Basic Macaron Recipe (French Method)
3 egg whites, or 100g weighed
25g granulated sugar
200g powdered (icing) sugar
110gram blanched almonds, whole or ground

1. I started 4 days prior. Fix the recipe you are going to follow. Seperate the egg whites and keep it in a plastic container inside the refrigerator for 3 days. 24 hours before making the macarons, remove the egg whites from the fridge and put it in the coolest part of your kitchen.
You can also refrigerate for 5 days in the fridge and use it.

2. On the big day, prepare your cookie sheet, 2 or 3 if you have. Draw circles of 2cm diameter on wax paper, cut to the size of your cookie sheet, each circle 2cm apart, and keep ready.

3. Use a scale. Weigh all your ingredients, try to be as precise as you can.

4. Almond powder bought from shop is the least preferred option. You never know how long it has been on the shelf and how pure it is. You can either use blanched and peeled almonds or use raw ones. The raw ones will give a nice grainy look to your batter which I loved. Pulse the almonds  for 1-2 minutes in your grinder. Then add the icing sugar and grind for 1-2 minutes.

5. Sieve this mixture atleast 3 times. I used 2 pieces of wax paper to sieve to and fro. Make sure there are no lumps and the sugar and almond powder is mixed well.

6. Wash and dry your mixing bowl. Pour the egg whites into the bowl. Using your mixer, start to whisk the egg whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar. Add desired food coloring and flavor at this point so that it gets nicely incorporated. Beat until the mixture forms firm peaks and becomes glossy, but not too stiff.

7. Macronage: This is the vital step in the process of making macarons. If you beat the wrong way or beat either too much or too less, you are bound to end up with flat discs or broken macarons or anything other than the perfect macarons we all die for.
Using a spoon, add the powdered mixture of almonds and icing sugar, in around 6 parts to the whisked egg whites. Add each part and mix briefly. The ideal way to go is to mix quick and firm for the first 30 seconds and then slow down. Using a flexible spatula, scrap the sides and slowly mix to the center of the batter, being careful not to deflate the batter. The pictures at Kitchen Musings are a good indicator of how you should go about macaronage. The entire process should take only around 50 strokes. Remember, it is better to under mix than to over mix. Make sure that the ingredients are well mixed within the first strokes.
This video gives an idea of how to go about mixing the ingredients while not disturbing the batter much.

8. Consistency of Magma: This is another pointer every macaron maker eagerly looks into. This means that the batter should be neither too thick now too thin, it should be the cosistency magma. A useful test for me is that if you take a spoonful of batter and pour it down into the bowl, it should fall back in thick flowing ribbons and flatten themselves. If it doesnot, give it a few more folds.

9. Put spoonfuls of batter to the piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and keeping the nozzle at the center of the circle you have drawn, pipe into the center with small circular motion. Do this until you have filled 1/2 of the circumference of the circle. We want the batter to flow out and fill out the rest of the circle. Do this way for the entire circles you have drawn. Leave for 1 hour so that the batter develops a skin, which I find to be as important as aging egg whites to achieve the perfect macaron.

10. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C or 300 degree Fahrenheit.

11. Once the macarons are ready, bake for 12-15 minutes. 5 minutes or so into the baking period, if everything you have done is good or if your stars are just lucky on the given day, you will be lucky enough to see the little feet popping out of your beauties, which is every macaron maker's dream come true.
Once th baking period is over, Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

12. For me, the hardest part was removing the macarons from the baking paper. After cooling the macarons for 5 minutes, when I saw that I couldnot lift them from the paper without breaking th delicate macarons, I decided to use the water technique. I sprinkled some water on to my kitchen counter top and carefully kept the wax paper containing the macarons on top of it. After 5 minutes, they should come of easily. Use a flat spatula to lift them. Remove from top of water after 5 minutes or your macarons will be soggy.

13. Fill the downside of one macaron with your choice of filling and keep a similar one on top. Do not press. Repeat for the rest of macarons.

For the White Chocolate Strawberry Ganache
11/2 cup white chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup strawberry jam
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and keep ready in a bowl. Heat the cream until hot. Pour the cream into the chocolate, add the jam and mix well until everything is well blended together. Cool and keep it in fridge until it sets, for around 2 hours.

From Bahrain...With Love

Who hasn't tasted this dessert and fell in love with it!!! 

Bahrain has almost become synonymous to this exquisite sweet, at least for the gastronomers. This jelly like sweet, made from corn startch, saffron and nuts, highlighted with the taste of cardamom, has taken the center piece of all arabic desserts.
Comes in 2 varieties and personally I favor the red one over the green.

Salad De Glorious

Lettuce, holland - 2 cups, shredded into bite size pieces
Mandarin Oranges, peeled and cut into bite size pieces - 2 No.s
Pomegranate seeds - 1 cup
Lemon juice - 2Tbsp
Salt & Crushed Pepper - to taste
Olive oil - 1Tbsp

Toss everything together and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve on a bed of leetuce leaves. Garnish with mandarin segments.
I am sending this to Show Me Your Salad Round Up hosted by Divya of Dilse

Pasta with Sausage and Vegetables

True flavor of Italian food is brought out in the freshness of ingredients, especially the vegetables and the judicious use of herbs. I never had any appetite for the Italian food they serve at local joints since most were made junk with the over usage of cheap cheese and tomato paste. Until I tasted my first true Italian dish at Ciao. I couldn't help but appreciate the subtle flavors of fresh vegetables and herbs brought out by the olive oil used in the cooking. And there started my Italian Love Affair. I never felt like having Pizza Hut again.

This is my attempt at making signature Italian dishes at home. 

Pasta - 4 cups, I have used tri-colored pasta
Beef sausages - 8No.s, sliced round
Olive oil - 2 Tbsp
Onion - 1 Big, cut into chunks
Garlic - 2pods, mashed
Mushrooms - cut into big chunks, 2 cups
Red Bell Pepper - cut into big pieces - 1 cup
Brocolli florets - 1 cup
Small polento tomatoes - 5-6 pieces
Chicken stock - 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar - 2 tsp
Crushed Pepper - 2 Tbsp
Oregano - 2 Tbsp
Basil & Parsely leaves, chopped - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain and keep ready.
Heat 1Tbsp oil in a wok, add the sausages. Cook with a closed lid until they are nicely browned on both sides, stirring in between. Remove from pan and keep aside.
Heat the remaining oil int he same pan, add onion and mashed garlic and saute' for 1 minute, so that the garlic starts to give out a nice aroma. Add the vegetables except the tomato and saute on high heat, stirring continuously until the vegetables are all nicely browned. Add in the sausages and brown sugar and saute for another minute. Add in the tomatoes to the end and saute. Pour in the chicken stock, deglazing the pan with the stock. Add the prepared pasta to this, stirring so as to bring everything together. 
Add the salt, pepper oregano, basil and parsley leaves and mix everything in nicely, keeping the flame medium.

Serve hot. 

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins


All purpose flour - 2 cups
 baking powder - 3 tsp
salt - a pinch
brown sugar - 3 cups
White chocolate chips - 1 cup
raspberry, chopped - 1 cup

Milk - 1 cup
Vegetable oil - 1/2 cup
Egg - 1
lemon juice - to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare the muffin pan by greasing with little oil or use paper cups. Please note that if you prefer a crunchy crust, you should not use paper cups.
Sieve the flour together with sugar, baking powder, salt to make sure that everything is mixed together well. Add the chocolate chips and the chopped berries to this and stir gently to combine. 
Whisk together the milk, egg, oil and lemon juice until well mixed.
Gently stir in the combined dry ingredients to this, take care not to beat the batter too much. Just 10 - 15 light strokes to mix everything in will do. 
Pour the mixture into the baking cups until a little more than half full and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted int he center comes clean. 
Let cool for a few minutes, and serve.

Unnakaayi - Mashed Banana Snack

This is  delicacy of the Malabar Coast of Kerala, usually prepared for guests or to break the fast int he holy month of Ramadan. This can be made only with the Indian variety of banana.
Ingredients :-
4 No half ripe Indian banana  
2 No eggs  
2 Tbsp sugar  
1 tsp raisins  
1 Tbsp cashew nuts, chopped  
2 Tbsp grated coconut  
2 tsp ghee  
oil, for deep fry  
1 tsp cardomom powder  

Cut the banana into two by the center horizontally and steam in a steamer. Remove the skin, Cut again vertically into half and take out the black seeds in the center. Grind the banana to smooth dough with out adding any water. Keep aside. 
For the filling :-
Beat the eggs with sugar. Heat 2 tsp. of ghee in a saucepan. Add the egg mixture and stir it well till it reaches scrambled egg consistency. Add the cashew nuts, grated coconut and raisins. Remove from the fire and add cardamom powder. 

Oil your palms and take small balls of the ground banana. Flatten on your palm into a small circle. Put 2 tsp. of filling in it. 

Fold the edges and press lightly but firmly so that it does not fall apart while deep frying. Now roll it with your hands, and shape it like rolls. 

Heat oil and deep fry to golden brown. 

Remove using a slotted spoon and serve hot.

Storage tips:
Best fresh (with out frying stays in the refrigerator for 1 week)
Any additional information:
Donot use a mixer to grind the banana. I do it by placing on a cutting board and mashing with the bottom of a glass. 

This is my entry to the Sunday Snack - Healthy Snack event hosted by Divya of Dilse.

Simple Maida Sweet

This is a very simple yet tasty snack. 

All Purpose flour (Maida) - 2 cups
Salt - to taste
Water - to knead
Add salt to the flour and adding enough water, knead the flour into a chapati dough. Make small balls out of it and roll it out into thin rotis.
Cut each roti into small squares 2cm wide. Bring opposite corners of the square together and press firmly. Now bring up the other 2 corners and fold over to form the shape of a conch. Repeat for all the pieces until the dough is used up.
Heat oil in a deep pan and fry the pieces until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels. Repeat for all prepared pieces.
Sugar - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
In a thick bottom vessel, add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep stirring until  the mixture thickens to a consistency where it will not dissolve if you pour a drop in little water. This is the right consistency.
Pour this sugar syrup over the fried pieces and immediately mix everything together. Let cool and store in airtight container.

Chocolate Heart Cake

This is a chocolate chiffon cake with a layer of chocolate cream covered with chocolate ganache. 

Chocolate Chiffon Cake:

3 large eggs, separated
1 large egg white
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
2/3 cup (85 grams) all purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (40 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) safflower, canola, or corn oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Chocolate Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (28 grams) granulated white sugar
3/4 tablespoon cocoa powder
8 ounces (227 grams)semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter

Fresh Raspberries(optional)
Raspberry Sauce(optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.  Butter and flour an 9-inch heart-shaped cake pan (with 2 inch (5 cm) sides).
Chocolate Chiffon Cake:  
Separate the eggs, placing the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another.  To the whites, add the extra egg white and then cover both bowls with plastic wrap.  Bring them to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before using.
Meanwhile sift together 2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the oil, water, and vanilla extract.
In your electric mixer beat the egg yolks for a minute or two on high speed.  Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the oil mixture into the egg yolks until very well combined.  Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated.
In a separate mixing bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.

Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in the remaining 1/3 cup (65 grams) of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  With a large rubber spatula or wire whisk, gently fold the egg whites into the batter just until blended (being careful not to deflate the batter). 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  (When lightly pressed the cake will spring back).  

Cool on a wire rack.  To remove the cake from the pan, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake.  Invert onto a wire rack. 
For Chocolate Whipped Cream In a large mixing bowl combine the whipping cream, vanilla extract, sugar, and cocoa powder.  Cover and chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, so the cocoa powder has time to dissolve.  Beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.
To Assemble the Cake:  Once the Chocolate Chiffon Cake has cooled completely, place on a flat surface and, using a serrated knife, cut the cake, horizontally, into two layers.  Turn over the top layer of the cake (so the top of the cake becomes the bottom) and spreadwith the chocolate whipped cream. Place the second layer of cake, cut-side down, on top of the chocolate cream, gently pressing to compact.Cover with plastic wrap and place the cake in the refrigerator for several hours, or even overnight, before covering with the ganache.
Recipe Source:

This is my entry for the Hearts for St.Valentine's Day Contest.

Frosted Heart Cookies

Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1½ tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten
4 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
Cream the butter in a stand mixer on high speed.
Beat in the sugar until dissolved, about 3–5 minutes. Mix in the corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and egg.
Sift together the 4 cups of flour and ¼ teaspoon salt; mix into the butter mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl down as needed.
Chill the dough for one hour. Remove 1/3 of dough at a time from the refrigerator and roll to 1" thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place 1" apart on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake at 350° F for 10–12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before decorating.

Powdered Sugar Glaze

» This frosting will harden upon standing, giving cookies a glazed surface.
2½ cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk or half-and-half
2 Tbsp butter, softened
½ tsp almond extract
Food coloring (optional)
In small mixer bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, butter, and extract. Beat at medium speed until smooth, adding additional milk, if necessary, to reach the desired spreading consistency. Color with food coloring, if desired. Pour the frosting into small squeeze bottles for easy decorating. Frost the cookies. Let stand until hardened.

This is my entry for the Hearts for St. Valentine's Day Contest.

Happy Valentine's Day

"Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved."

Wishing everyone a lot of love and quality time with with your loved ones this Valentine's Day.

My kids selected the treat this year.

Veal Escalope with Mushroom Sauce