French Rose Geranium Macarons

A Parisian window without geraniums is like a macaron with no filling.

Even starting out as students in our first Parisian apartment, geraniums brightened up our rickety shutters. It was one of the first things a girl-fresh-from-Scotland just had to do to feel a little French. The other Frenchie things: the discrete bum-wiggle walk, the designer handbag, the slender figure – “le look”, quoi – would need rather more time (20 years on, I’m still awaiting this transformation), but at least this was something easy in the meantime. Le quick fix.

Along by the Parisian quays, it’s also de rigueur.  Geraniums are beautifully decked out on peniches, or houseboat barges moored along by the Seine.

Outside Paris, geraniums are coordinated with more colourful shutters for le country look.

So pretty, jolie, French. But have you heard of the rose geranium or pelargonium? When you rub their velvety leaves, a strong lemony-rose scent perfumes the fingers and can pack a powerful punch. Can you imagine the next scene?  No, not Rocky – more a French garden scene, peut-être.

Pop in for a rose macaron with a pot of darjeeling, mes amis

Rose geranium leaves can be used to perfume your baking. For your macarons, follow the rose recipe on page 45 of Mad About Macarons. Omit the rose water, using 100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) cream and infuse a few pelargonium leaves in it. Turn off the heat, cover and leave to infuse for an hour. Turn the delicately scented cream back on the heat and follow the recipe. Adding just a few drops of rose geranium aroma just gives it that extra je ne sais quoi for a most delicious macaron sensation.  It tastes of rose, but it’s not.

Anyone for a rose-geranium macaron?

Sue, of Tales from the Giantswood, also has an interesting tip with rose geranium leaves: put the leaves in a sealed jar of sugar and when you bake a cake, place the leaves at the bottom and when it’s baked, peel them off and your cake has the lovely scent of rose geranium. Why not place the rose geranium leaves in caster sugar and use the sugar later in your macaron making?

So sit back and relax with a pot of Darjeeling tea and a few rose geranium macarons.  You deserve it.  It’s decadent but don’t forget that macarons are gluten free and if they’re homemade, you’re saving for that designer handbag, n’est-ce pas? Now, where was I on that bottom wiggle? No question about it: I shall always be behind on that one.

Rose geranium macarons

Time has come, my friends, for me to take a small blogging break. Well, most of Paris is shutting down for the holidays so I may as well join them. 😉 I can’t thank you enough for all of your wonderful support via your comments on Le Blog and for sharing in the fun of macarons in macaronivoreland. I shall see you again on 29 August for more mad macarons, French recipes, and foodie adventures in Paris and around my local haunts.  I have so much in store for you so stay tuned.

Great Party Times Giveaway

Don’t forget the Mad About Macarons! competition over at Pippa Middleton’s site, ‘The Party Times. You have until 13th August (2011) to post your entry – you could be one of the 10 lucky winners to receive a copy of the book.  The competition is open to everyone – no matter where you live – so head on over and join in the fun! Good luck.

Egg Yolk Recipe Series

It’s a real pleasure to have my friend, Carolyn – otherwise known as FoodDreamer – as my guest this week.  She has shared her wonderful recipe for Rum and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream.  It’s not just a dream to taste – it’s also sugar free, low carb and gluten free.  How cool is that?

Herb-Hugging John Dory with Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc

The signs were all there.  First this one, rue St Pierre – or St Peter’s Street- looked down on me as my keys dropped to the ground.

Was I heading for the Pearly Gates to say b-b-b-onjour?

Thankfully to my relief, the sign appeared again a few minutes’ later at the local market in St Germain-en-Laye. Saint Pierre – or John Dory – was laid out beautifully chez le poissonier. Taking it as the real sign, it was high time to do something with this gorgeously thick fish fillet.

I couldn’t just fry it and shove it on a plate with lemon and parsley.  No. This was for Alchemy in the Kitchen, so it needed some transformation with some simple ingredients, as Hester puts it so well.

I found a French recipe by chef Vincent David but adapted it.  The result?  I’m making it again and again for my French guests. Sounds très posh? It’s so simple yet sophisticated and delicious. The topping is referred to as à la viennoise. It’s when you coat it with breadcrumbs and fry it.  Here, the topping is added at the last minute and quickly finished off under the grill.

Update: I’ve discovered the topping freezes well, especially as you’ll have some left over.  Cut the topping into fillet portions and stack each slice between baking parchment and seal in a container in the freezer.  Use just at the last minute when needed, grilling just a minute longer.  It’s one less thing to worry about if you’re entertaining guests!

Herb-hugging John Dory with Smoked Beurre Blanc Recipe

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time:
40 minutes

Serves 4

4 John Dory fillets

Viennoise Topping

100g butter
100g breadcrumbs
100g block of parmesan,
freshly grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme

1.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the breadcrumbs, parmesan and garlic.   Here I added  a tablespoon of dried seaweed (found in Asian supermarkets) but you can add freshly chopped herbs if you prefer.

2.  Spread the mixture out on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

3.  Top with another baking parchment sheet and roll it out until it’s flat and even (about 3mm thickness).  Place in the fridge to set.

Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc Sauce

50g shallots
40cl dry white wine
25cl single cream
90g butter
1 Lapsang Souchong teabag

4. Using some of the butter, sweat the shallots for about 5 minutes until translucent (don’t brown).  Add the wine and leave on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until reduced by half.

5.  Add the cream and stir until boiling.  Take off the heat, whisk in the rest of the butter until it melts then add the teabag and leave the tea to infuse for about 10 minutes.

6.  Meanwhile, prepare some vegetables of your choice.  Here I cooked some green beans, added some fried mushrooms and sautéed them together with a touch of lemon juice.

7.  Filter the sauce into another saucepan and keep on a low heat.

8. Season the fish fillets and fry in some olive oil and butter gently until just cooked; no more than 5 minutes, depending on thickness.

Keep bathing the fish in the butter

9. The viennoise topping is now ready to cut. If you have any extra, cut them into portions, place each between the paper and freeze until needed.

Place the fish in a roasting tin, layer the topping on top of it and melt it under the grill for a couple of minutes.

Just placing it under the grill gives a magical effect: the topping just hugs the fish like they were meant to be together.

Viennoise topping hugging the fish

Serve on a bed of vegetables and surround with the sauce and enjoy with a chilled glass of white Burgundy.

Santé! Slàinte!

This recipe was published as a guest post over at Alchemy in the Kitchen.
Hop on over to Hester’s blog if you would like to leave a comment.

Guest Recipe: Rum and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream (low carb/gluten free)

How often do you dream about food?  Do you think about lunch at breakfast, dinner at lunch and breakfast at dinner – and then continue dreaming of recipes in between meals?

Let me present you to my friend, Carolyn, who is otherwise known as FoodDreamer.  When I first discovered her blog, All Day I Dream About Food, there were a number of names that kept ringing out. Sugar was replaced with interesting names such as erythritol and stevia, for example.

What baffles me about Carolyn, is that each time I see her beautifully sweet and mouthwatering photos of cakes, cookies, tarts, bread, and candies, you wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.  They all look stunning.  But study each recipe carefully and there’s also something extra special behind each and every one she produces. They are ALL low carb and/or gluten free. You see, Carolyn is diabetic and has been ever since giving birth to her third child. It’s amazing how she has relearned how to cook all of our favourite treats but transformed them into low carb / gluten free masterpieces.

I am so honoured to have her on MadAboutMacarons, to concoct another stunning low carb recipe for us.  Let me hand you over to the sweet – but with no sugar added 😉 – Carolyn Ketchum.

FoodDreamer: All Day I Dream About Food

When Jill asked me to guest post on her blog, I may or may not have let out a squeal of delight.  I am not saying I did, but I am also not saying I didn’t.  See, if you are a regular reader of Mad About Macarons, you already know that Jill is brilliant.  She is an amazing cook, and has taken on the world of French cooking and that now infamous treat, the macaron.  She has written a cookbook devoted to them, and for those of us who are wildly scared of actually attempting to make macarons, she assures us that it’s really not that difficult.  I have promised myself to put her assurances to the test and make some very soon, but I haven’t quite worked up the courage.

So you can see why I was so delighted to be asked to guest post on such a wonderful blog.  But that delight was also tinged with a little fear.  Would I be able to come up with something that was Mad About Macaron-worthy? Jill requested that I develop a recipe that uses egg yolks.  I love that most of her guest posters do this, it makes so much sense.  After all, macarons use the whites, and we can’t let those leftover yolks go to waste.  I’ve made plenty of things that use yolks, and I am not one who fears undercooked or raw eggs, so I figured I was up for the challenge.

But what to make?  Mousse or crème brulee seemed too obvious, too…French.  I love both these desserts, but I thought if I made them, I might look like I was trying too hard to belong on Jill’s blog.  My mind kept circling back to ice cream, but I dismissed the idea several times.  Ice cream was just too unsophisticated, too child-like for Jill’s lovely blog.  But I couldn’t shake the idea.  It’s hot here in New England and ice cream is fun to make. Besides, I really wanted to try making it with some coconut milk, and the idea of coconuts made me think of rum.  And adding rum to ice cream takes it to a whole new level, so maybe it was Mad About Macaron-worthy after all?

If you happen to follow my blog too, you know that I am a diabetic and most of what I make is low carb and gluten free.  This ice cream is no exception, as I sweetened it with a stevia  blend called Stevia In The Raw.  But you could easily use whatever you like to sweeten it, it’s very versatile.  It’s also incredibly rich, as I used full-fat cream as the base.  But once again, you can change that up and use whole milk or a combination of cream and milk.  Adding the rum is up to you.  I find that a few tablespoons of alcohol in any homemade ice cream gives it a better texture and keeps it from freezing too hard.  And the dark rum in this particular recipe gives it a distinctive edge and flavor that is unmistakeable.

Rum and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

2 cups cream, whole milk or a combination thereof
½ cup Stevia In The Raw* (or sugar, honey, splenda)
4 large egg yolks
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
½ cup unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons dark rum

Set a medium bowl in a large container of ice water.

In large saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and sweetener and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 170F on a candy or instant-read thermometer.

Meanwhile, beat egg yolks until light yellow and thickened, about 3 minutes.  Very slowly whisk ½ cup of the hot cream into the yolks to temper them, then gradually whisk tempered yolks back into the saucepan.  Continue to cook mixture, stirring continuously, until it reaches 175F to 180F.  Do not let it come to a boil.

Stir in the coconut milk and toasted coconut.  Pour mixture into the bowl set into the ice bath and let cool 10 minutes, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 3 hours.

Stir in rum and pour into canister of an ice cream maker.  Churn according to manufacturer’s directions until thickened and creamy, about the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  Transfer to an air-tight container and press plastic wrap flush to the surface.  Chill until firm but not rock hard, about 2 more hours.   Serve immediately.

If you will be freezing the leftovers for later use, be sure to let them warm in the fridge or on your counter to make them soft enough to serve.

* Stevia In The Raw is a stevia blend that is meant to be measured cup for cup like sugar.  Pure stevia extract (liquid or powder) is much stronger and a little goes a long way, so sweeten to taste.

Thank you so much, Carolyn, for not only such a deliciously melting-in-the mouth rum and toasted coconut ice cream but you’ve done it again.  It’s not just ice cream but low-carb-with-no -sugar ice cream!  It’s high time I tried out baking without sugar – you have inspired me so much.

Don’t forget that Carolyn is on Facebook via ‘All Day I Dream About Food’ and don’t forget to drop in to her blog, All Day I Dream About Food to check out many more fabulous gluten-free and/or low carb recipes and say bonjour from me!

Guest Post Chez Alchemy in the Kitchen

Aha!  I’m back to cooking again. Perhaps a bit slowly, but after a painfully long period of not exactly total form plus some carry-out cardboard pizzas and plastic sushis, it’s enough motivation for anyone who adores cooking to return to ze kitchen. And fast.

I am so proud to be guest posting for one of my loveliest blogger friends, Hester Casey, dropping in on her idyllic County Wicklow in Ireland.  I can’t tell you how much I was excited when Hester asked me to guest post on Alchemy in the Kitchen, as I’m one of her biggest fans.

Anyone who already knows Hester’s blog can appreciate her knack of enchanting us with her fabulous dishes that have all been given her touch of magical creativity.  You may remember that she guest posted here on Mad About Macarons with her stunning White Chocolate and Raspberry Paris Brest, which she confirmed were “wheely-wheely good“.

If you don’t know Hester yet, you will not only appreciate her wonderful recipes but also her sense of humour.  I particularly love getting to the main photograph, where she injects her Irish wit with wonderful one-liners such as: “Does my bun look big in this?”, ” Soy Far, Soy Good“, and  “Well, I did tell you that drizzle was forecast“. Speaking of drizzle, that is something else we both have in common apart from food. Being Irish and Scots lasses, we certainly know what it’s like to be prepared for northern summers: a typical blustery June day could start T-shirtingly sunny and end with a Damartingly snow flurry. Oh, and we also chat a lot.

What on earth was I going to pick as a recipe?  Here was my first sign of inspiration…

…and check out Hester’s wonderful captions that she has added to all the photos!

Hop on over to Hester’s magical blog,
Alchemy in the Kitchen,
for my guest recipe post
.

Herb-Hugging John Dory with Smoked Beurre Blanc

Mad About Spam and Pippa’s Mad About Macarons’ Book Giveaway

Do you remember Monty Python’s Flying Circus?  Growing up in Scotland in the 70s, we used to watch this outrageous BBC comedy – even although I hadn’t a clue why Dad would laugh so much over such silly stuff; he’d be in tears clutching his stomach from belly laughter. Now that I’m ‘grown up’, I’m doing the same. Except I’m laughing out of sheer frustration.

If you have a website, a blog, or work on the internet, you will understand what it is to be swamped with SPAM – and I’m not referring to the luncheon meat in tins.  Blogging since February, the amount of spam has hit 1500 messages. It might not sound a lot but when you’re dealing with this stuff manually, it’s a pain in the backside (and believe me, I know what that means, too!)

Did you know that the word, “Spam” derives from this Monty Python sketch?  If you have never seen it, you MUST take out a silly minute to watch this.  You’ll get the idea why spam was the chosen word…


Monty Python: Spam par CrazyCat

It’s eccentric but I do love this part of the menu:

  • Spam, egg, spam, sausage and bacon
  • Spam, spam, spam and eggs
  • Lobster thermidor, crevettes and mornay sauce garnished with truffle paté, with fried egg on top and spam.
Most of the spam messages have attached themselves to particular posts, such as March into Spring with Mimosa Macarons. Whatever mimosa macarons and spring have to do with most of these, it beats me:
box mimosa macarons Jill

We want mimosa macarons without spam!

  • get rid of cellulite on thighs
  • registry cleaner reviews
  • buying digital cameras (Who am I to complain if they at least offer me one to test on the blog ;-))
  • grants for single mothers (perhaps a reference to feeling like a desperate housewife on one post?)

Spammers should pick these without gloves

Then with the post, If you go down to the woods today, there have been particular messages asking about gall bladder symptoms and wait for it, “Adultdating: Russian Brides are not just a dream”…

  • The latest: Buy friends on Facebook (is that not sad?)
  • Buy designer Vuitton or Gucci handbags at a fraction of the price (Attention! Don’t let the French see this.  They are extremely serious when dealing with copies!)

This one is cute: it comes now and again for the recipes posted as part of the egg yolk recipe series:

  • kitchen cabinets: a well known finish is eggshell

And one of my favourites:

  • “we love Madaboutmacarons.com and have bookmarked it.  Buy electronic cigarettes!” (Update: since posting this, I’ve had another one: I’ve made myself a bargain since mentioning this. Now it’s “Buy Cheap Electronic Cigarettes!)
Electronic cigarettes? Now that could come in handy for that someone extra special, don’t you think?  Love them enough that you don’t want them to smoke?  Ideal.  Thanks to spam, I would never have heard of this. Better idea: why don’t you spammers just plug yourself in and smoke away?

Rose-cardamom panna cotta with spicy spam cherry macarons without spam

The worst spam are the normal looking addresses and comments which look harmless: at first you read the comment and you could honestly be taken in.  Lovely post, great writing, I must subscribe to your rss feed; Madaboutmacarons.com is the best ever! etc.  When you read that, the obvious reaction is to think, “Cool, somebody thinks it great” and hit “approve comment”.  Oops.  That just opened up the site to even more spam with 14 comments in the space of an hour from the same silly spammer via different email addresses.

My website designer has disappeared and left me in this stuff. HELP! Isn’t it enough I blog, cook, and take all the photos? That’s without the actual life part that goes around it all.  It’s high time for a spam filter – but each time I want to tackle it myself, the confidence just vanishes as fast as the designer. Not much luck that we’ve hit holiday season, either.

Spam Saltimbocca without the spam, please

Looking at so many different spam devices on other blogs, sometimes it’s hard to leave comments as the eyes are subjected to reading tests with Captcha codes “type out what code you see”; the number of times I’ve got it wrong, panicked then gone to the Opthamologist to get the eyes checked out.  Would you believe, I now have to see an eye gymnast.  Could this be due to too much screen and Catpcha submit codes?
Apologies for the technical talk. I’ll get back to recipes next post – promise.  It could be the back pain that’s making me go potty. Then again, it’s probably just all of this spam.
BUT WE DON’T WANT ANY MORE SPAM!
Who could possibly disagree?
Well, perhaps the people at Spam, who make the stuff (tinned pork and ham) and have some real menus to use spam, if you’re interested.  Now try and say, “I’m a spam fan” 30 times – really fast.
Anyone for a chocolate, spam & beetroot macaron without the spam? 😉

 

Spam, chocolate & beet macarons without the spam

 

Party Times Competition

10 Mad About Macarons books are being given away!

In case you missed it, The Party Times has posted a fabulous competition and it’s open to EVERYONE.  Just pop on over and tell them why you think the macaron is so special.  Go on, I don’t have to tell you that they’re gluten free, only about 80 calories each, beautifully crispy meringue shell on the outside with a velvety, voluptious centre, so luxurious, lighter than a cupcake, etc. Be creative!  You may just be one of the 10 lucky winners.
Don’t forget to tell your friends via email, Facebook, jungledrums, or Twitter (I need your help as I’m not a twitterer, just a twit) – they don’t have to be macaronivores.
Oh and, if namedropping helps, the Party Times is Pippa Middelton’s website. Yes, I don’t mark my emails from Pippa as Spam, that’s for sure 😉

X-ray of a Macaronivore’s Spine

Things are a bit slow this morning. Who am I kidding? It’s afternoon already and still in pyjamas but what a spectacular firework display last night and fun on Bastille Day, our Fête Nationale en France. I’ll do a post on it but in the meantime, here’s something I want to share with you all.

You’ve got to laugh.  I must be mad to have let this go on for so long.

This could also happen to YOU if you’re not careful.

At the end of May I seized up in front of the computer – just like that.  Stuck in my chair in absolute agony. Doctor came next day, confirmed it was a “sore back” without any examination, “see the physiotherapist”, take painkillers (the ones that gave me an ulcer last time, thank you) and you’ll be as right as rain. Why do people say that?  “Right as rain.”  How can rain be right?

What’s up doc? Shouldn’t we point that the other way?

Things worsened, doc came back same time next week, then the next, then the next.  He was impressive at bringing out the credit card machine, to be fair. I couldn’t even get in the car without seizing up. And I still had no idea what was wrong. Meanwhile, making macarons was one of the few things I could still do…

Macarons for the end of year school bake sale…

After seeing doc#2 six weeks later, infiltration treatment was on the menu for a herniated disc. Following the injection, doc warned, “You may just get a sore head, in which case lie flat”. Mon Dieu! He didn’t tell me I would be flat out for over a week with the most skull crushing headaches, propping myself up with orthopedic pillows, not even able to talk but “carry on as normal” chatting on Facebook, blogging to take my mind off things.  I just couldn’t speak or sit up, that’s all.

This week was the first time I woke up without having the impression that someone was drilling through my head.  In any case, carry out pizzas and sushis were enough motivation to get back in that kitchen. Then came the revelation. I could just see it. Book 2: Mad About Blogging and a Herniated Disc. This photo could be for the book’s spine.

X-ray of a macaronivore’s slipped disc

What would be the main theme of the book?
SIT PROPERLY AT THE COMPUTER! We can all get carried away in front of that screen at times but PLEASE, be careful.  Ensure that you’re sitting with the screen at eye level and have a good posture. I should have read Carol Gillott’s blog post on bad backs at Paris Breakfasts

And now for something completely different…

I’m so excited.  Mad About Macarons is featured on THE PARTY TIMES ONLINE, the online magazine that accompanies Party Pieces.  A couple of recipes from the book are featured, courtesy of Waverley Books, plus they have now posted a fabulous international competition for you all.  Just pop on over and tell them why you think the macaron is so special...

Party Times Competition to
Win 10
Mad About Macarons! books

Go on, I don’t have to tell you that they’re gluten free, only about 80 calories each, beautifully crispy meringue shell on the outside with a velvety, voluptious centre, so luxurious, lighter than a cupcake, etc. Be creative!  You may just be one of the 10 lucky winners.

And don’t forget to tell your friends – they don’t have to be macaronivores.  Although they soon will be… 😉