Recipes for deliciously easy sauces, condiments or preserves. Also includes edible decorations for plating.

Guest Recipe: Caesar Salad Dressing with Croutons

Fancy a change of scene?  Well, this week we’re heading into the country.  We’re dropping in on my friend, Brandie, in Southwest Virginia, for a recipe to help us use up our egg yolks. Imagine the scene near the Appalachian mountains: it’s like a setting for a movie!

When I first discovered Brandie’s blog a few weeks’ ago, The Country Cook, I was instantly made welcome with her down-to-earth style of recipes and wonderful sense of humour.  Since then, her warmth and charm continue to ooze out of her blog; you get the feeling you live just next door and are dropping in to say hello, exchanging recipes, tips and discussing kids and life in general.

If you don’t know Brandie already, you soon will.  Don’t you just feel from her dazzling smile that you know her already?  Voici la belle Brandie – here she is, my friends!

Brandie, The Country Cook

First, let me say thank you to Jill for inviting me here today. Getting invited to do a guest recipe post on Jill’s “Le Blog” is kinda like getting invited to an elegant dinner party. You immediately start thinking,

“What should I wear?”

“What sort of hostess gift should I bring?”

“I’m definitely going to have to shave my legs.”

“Please, please, please do not let me drop anything down the front of my dress.”

You get the point.

It was such an honor for me to be asked by Jill to showcase a recipe on her blog and I certainly did not want to disappoint her or her lovely readers.

Jill tasked me with coming up with a recipe that uses egg yolks (since so many are leftover from making her lovely macarons).

I mulled it over for a bit and decided to share a recipe that is one of my favorites – Ceasar Salad Dressing.

I just adore Caesar Salad with homemade croutons and sometimes with grilled chicken. Jill tells me this goes best with a glass of California Chardonnay – and I would have to agree.

If you’ve never attempted to make your own salad dressing, I implore you to try it now. The depth of flavor just cannot be captured in a bottle. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not above using the bottled stuff but sometimes I want to bring something special to the table and this really does the trick. Especially if the salad is going to be the main star of your meal.

This is a two-for-one special today. I’m also going to share a homemade crouton recipe. They are so easy to make and the great thing about homemade croutons is you won’t break a tooth on them like you do the prepackaged ones.

Caesar Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves (if your cloves are on the small side, use 3)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. granulated white sugar
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. Dijon Mustard
salt & pepper to taste (about ¼ to ½ tsp each)

Directions

In a food processor, finely process the garlic until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

How easy is this recipe?

Put dressing into a lidded container and pop it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to give the flavors time to blend together (trust me –this makes a big difference in taste).

Cook’s Notes: If you are squeamish about using a raw egg yolk in your dressing, I would suggest purchasing pasteurized eggs. However, if you are using very fresh eggs, you should have no problems with your egg yolks. Just crack it into a separate bowl first, to ensure the color and texture look normal for an egg.

Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

½ loaf of stale French bread, cubed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). In a medium bowl, add cubed bread.  Drizzle olive oil all over the cubes until lightly coated. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and a little garlic powder.

Place cubes on baking sheet and bake for about 10-14 minutes until lightly browned.

Thank you again to Jill for letting me share this recipe with y’all today. I really hope you enjoy it and I hope  you’ll come by and see me sometime over at The Country Cook.

Enjoy!

Brandie

Thanks so much, Brandie, for sharing such a tasty recipe. Shave your legs for doing the post….see what I mean, folks? She has you in stitches! I don’t know about you, but I’m making double portions since it’s one of my favourite salads.

Now that we’ve tasted that delicious dressing and crispy crrrroutons, I’ll continue sipping that glass of chilled Chardonnay and head on over to Brandie’s blog.  She’s continuing to cook up a storm in her kitchen, so check out more of her mouth-watering recipes at The Country Cook. Don’t forget to say cheers from me!

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Nettles are full of healthy nutrients.  So this Stinging Nettle Pesto is particularly high in iron, packed with other minerals and vitamins, plus it’s a great detox for the liver.

Nettles are best in the Spring.  Ideally, pick nettles that are quite high (you don’t want them “sprayed” by animals) and the younger leaves are best since the older, outer leaves can be quite bitter.  Never pick nettles from the side of the road, as they are in danger of being sprayed by herbicides.  It’s best to get them far into the forest, as nature intended. Check out my previous post about picking nettles in the forest.

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Like classic pesto, this nettle variation is handy to have in the fridge.  It can keep for 3-4 days (just keep topping it up with olive oil after use) and it freezes well, too.  Pesto is SO quick and easy to make, it’s a crying shame if you buy that mass market stuff sold in jars at the supermarket. Although – this nettle version does take a bit longer but it’s worth it.

stinging nettle pesto

 

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Ingredients

100g stinging nettle leaves, stalks removed
30 pine nuts, (or walnuts) toasted
2 cloves garlic, core removed
40g parmesan, freshly grated (reggiano, although grana padano will do)
1 tsp sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
200ml extra virgin olive oil

1.  Keep your gloves on at this point, as the nettles still have their sting!

Don’t forget the gloves!

2.  Remove all the leaves from the stalks then soak them in cold water for a few minutes.

3.  Still with gloves on, plunge the leaves into salted boiling water for 2 minutes.  The salt keeps the green colour bright.  Blanching the nettle leaves like this removes their sting.

4.  Strain the leaves and cool.  You could reserve the cooking water (for stock, soups etc.)

5.  Once cool, squeeze out any excess water and place in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients. Add the cheese at the end.

Toss the pesto into cooked pasta.  There is no need to heat the sauce.  That way you get all the beautiful flavours oodling their way between the noodles…

stinging nettle pesto

 

Garnish the dish with crispy nettle leaves which have been deep fried for 30 seconds in 150°C and left to drain off excess oil on kitchen paper.  That way you get Le Crunch and not a sting…

Enjoy with a glass of red Bordeaux, such as a Fronsac, a chilled fruity rosé or a white Vermentino.

Santé! To your good health!


Guest Recipe: Blueberry Curd

Blueberries are guarded like the crown jewels by my daughter.  When Julie was a toddler she called them black balls.  Not very poetic, I know, but since they are packed with anti-oxidants and many more healthy benefits eating plenty blueberries is to be encouraged, whatever you call them.

When Erin from BigFatBaker.com came up with a blueberry curd, it was time to rejoice.  She was just in time to add a touch of blue to my first batch of Royal Wedding inspired macarons in honour of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Big Day.  Stay tuned for Monday’s post with a Royal Macaron procession.

blueberry sapphire macarons

Will Kate say yes today?

 

I am delighted that Erin said yes and has returned to share her fruit curd recipes with us.  They use up your egg yolks, are gluten free and can be used to fill your fruity macarons – that’s if there’s much left after relishing it by the spoonful!  Let me hand you over to Erin now while I find my hat for a Royal Wedding Party.

Erin, BigFatBaker.com

Having a second opportunity to write a guest post for Jill is truly an honor. I am in love with her egg yolk section, and I can only imagine what recipes we will see in the future.

Speaking of recipes, have you checked out my pineapple curd recipe? And what about Manu’s recipe for Genovesi? Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I can’t wait until I have a chance to make that one for myself!

To continue on the egg yolk journey I made a delicious and thick organic blueberry curd. It is sweet, but balanced and I can only imagine how amazing it would taste sandwiched between some of Jill’s vanilla macarons.

Making this blueberry curd recipe is just as simple as any other curd recipe out there.

Blueberry Curd:

6 tbsp unsalted organic butter at room temperature

10-12 oz. organic blueberries

3 large egg yolks

¾ cup white sugar

pinch of salt

¼ cup water

First, defrost the frozen berries, or rinse fresh ones (if you are lucky enough to find them). In a small saucepan combine the water with the berries and cook down until the berries have burst, and there is a slightly syrupy liquid forming in the pan.

Go ahead and remove the pan from the heat, and smash the berries with a spoon. Strain the contents of your pan through a fine mesh strainer. Be sure to press on all the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Dispose of the remains in the strainer.

In the same saucepan whisk together the sugar and butter. Slowly add in the egg yolks and mix until fully combined. Mix in the blueberry juice and salt.

Set the pan over low heat, and gradually increase the temperature of the mixture while stirring frequently. Gradually, over the next 5-7 minutes, increase the heat to medium while constantly stirring. At this point the mixture should be starting to thicken up.

Cook without boiling for 5-7 more minutes, or until the mixture has reached 170ºF. Do not forget to stir constantly!

Remove the pan from the heat and stir for 5 more minutes, and allow the mixture to cool slightly (about 5-10 minutes). Once it has cooled, pour into a pint sized jar for storage.

This curd turns out to be fairly thick compared to a traditional lemon or lime curd. I recommend allowing the curd to sit out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before trying to spread on something soft like bread or macarons.

But, there are many ways to enjoy this delicious curd. One of my new favorites is a peanut butter and blueberry curd sandwich, yum!

The curd will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

A huge thanks to Erin for sharing this with us to further our repertoire of egg yolk recipes.  Don’t forget to pop by BigFatBaker.com and say hello to Erin from me and check out many more wonderful organic recipes.

1st Guest Post: Pineapple Curd

I am so excited.  Not only for hosting my first Guest Post but also launching a NEW SERIES of recipes entirely devoted to using egg yolks.  What better way to kick off the series than with the organic guru herself, Erin, author of BigFatBaker.com.  When I read her blog post the other day that she had found a new passion in eating and making curd, I thought: this is it! EGG YOLKS!  She’s brilliant.  As macaronivores, we’re always looking for ways to use up these yolks and what’s more, we can use curd to FILL macarons, too.

Now sit back and pay attention.  You are heading for Erin’s most tangy pineappley curd which you can use to fill your macarons for an extra special exotic touch. Coconut ones would be beautiful, for example.  Like macarons, this curd is gluten free.  Now without my further ramblings, it gives me great pleasure to hand you over to Erin…

pineapple curd egg yolk recipe

 

Erin, author of BigFatBaker.com :

I am so honored to be a guest here on MadAboutMacarons.com. When Jill invited me to share my egg yolk recipes, I was overjoyed. I can’t think of a better place to do my first guest post! This is my first, in a series of three, guest posts on curd recipes – Enjoy!

If you are new to the curd making process, do not worry. Making curd is surprisingly simple! All you have to do is follow the steps, and pay attention. What’s even better is the ingredients list for curds is short, and easy to keep organic.

When Jill initially asked me about a guest post I was in the process of making a pineapple curd. Pineapple is one of my all time favorite fruits, and I was intrigued to see if it would be tart and tangy like lemon curd, or more subdued and sweet.

Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised with how the curd turned out. It is different from lemon curd in the sense that it doesn’t use butter. The lack of butter results in a slightly different texture, but it was still smooth and pudding like.

Remember how I said making curd is easy? It is. Promise.

PINEAPPLE CURD

1 medium sized, organic pineapple or 2 ¼ cups pineapple juice
6 large egg yolks
¾ cup white sugar
5 tbsp cornstarch

1.  First, juice your pineapple. Try and get as much juice as you can, you will need 2 ¼ cups.

Slice off the top and bottom, then carefully cut down the sides of the pineapple to remove the rind. Try and remove as little of the fruit as possible!

Cut into 1-inch pieces, and move all pineapple pieces to a blender. Add in 2-3 tbsp water, and blend. You could also use a food mill, or juicer.

You could also use the canned pineapple juice to make things even easier, but I highly recommend the fresh stuff.

2.  Next, in your saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add in the cornstarch and pineapple juice, and whisk until everything is combined.

Hey, using egg yolks now to make macarons later!

3.  Set your burner to low (between 2 and 3 on my stove), and slowly bring up the temperature of your mixture. Over the next 3 minutes gradually increase the heat to medium (about 4 ½ on my stove) while you continue to whisk.

4.  After about 10 more minutes of whisking your curd will be starting to thicken up. Once this happens turn off the burner, remove from the heat, and continue to whisk for 5 more minutes.

5.  Allow the mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes before pouring into the jars. And you are done!

You now have fresh, organic pineapple curd to fill macarons, cakes, or eat by the spoonful.

pineapple curd yolk recipe

 

Thank you so much, Erin.
Don’t forget to check out Erin’s blog at BigFatBaker.com and say bonjour from me, ok?  She has many more gorgeous organic recipes to share with you.  She also has the most delicious organic raspberry curd.  I can tell you’re going to share a curd passion, too, very shortly…

Salted Caramel Sauce (Caramel au beurre salé)

This has to be one of the most satisfying of homemade sauces: it’s so handy to keep in the fridge. Ever since my sweet French friend, Emmanuelle, showed me how to make it, I have been in salted caramel heaven; in Autumn and Winter there’s now a constant supply of this sticky nectar in the fridge. And I mean it’s so constant, it’s on a drip!

It can jazz up scores of desserts, adding an extra wow factor to the most simplest of sweet treats. What’s more, it keeps for up to a month sealed in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, transfer to a small milk jug, reheat gently in the microwave and dribble or zig-zag over vanilla ice cream (see p125), waffles, profiteroles, chocolate fondants, crêpes, rice puddings, poached pears, apple crumbles, apple fritters, etc.

It also makes a perfect Autumn/Winter treat served with giant caramel macarons “tatin-style” (see p113 of the book.) You can also use this sauce for filling salted caramel macarons. To make the sauce more manageable for macarons, make a ganache using 80g white cooking chocolate (I love using Valhrona) and melt together in a saucepan with 30g of whipping cream. Add half of the caramel sauce (save the rest for further pleasure) and leave to cool for a good couple of hours until an easy consistency to pipe on to your macarons.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

160g sugar
200g single cream, warmed
120g salted butter

1. Put the sugar with a few drops of water into a small saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir it now and again over a medium heat until a golden syrupy caramel forms.  This should take about 10 minutes maximum.

2. Turn down the heat and add the warm cream gradually, stirring constantly.

3. Mix in the butter, still over the gentle heat and keep stirring until thickened.

Pour the caramel into a serving jug at room temperature and set aside until needed.

The caramel can last up to 3 weeks if stored in a sterilised sealed jar in the fridge – so why not make double? 😉

UPDATE !

Passionfruit Caramel: Sieve out the seeds of a passion fruit and stir the juice in with the sugar in step 1 instead of the water.
Coffee Caramel: Add a tablespoon of granulated coffee to the caramel for a perfumed coffee caramel.
Orange Caramel: Add the zest of an orange for extra zing – or why not limes, kumquats, meyer lemon…


Rose & White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Cherry & Cardamom Coulis

Love is in the air. I have fallen in love with this dessert for St Valentine’s Day.

rose pannacotta and cherry cardamom coulis

rose & white chocolate panna cotta with cherry cardamom coulis

What I love about the Panna cotta is it’s so simple.  It’s the kind of dessert you can rattle out when in a rush and don’t have time to think of anything over the top or fancy.  It does the job.  Once you have the basic recipe you can make all sorts of flavour combinations – even savoury.

Informal? Serve them in funky little yogurt pots or shot glasses for parties with some fruit or purée dolloped on top. Something more formal? Pour into silicone moulds and turn them out on serving plates surrounded with a fruit purée and be creative on decor.  For a touch of Parisian elegance, mes amis, add a rose macaron or two, serve with a glass of bubbly and feel the toes curl…

Talking of bubbles, I needed a flute of pink Champagne just for the sake of a romantic shot.  In the end, the bottle and stem of the flute are barely visible.  I tried to get the Champagne in view but the angle was wrong; drank some more to see if a lower level would work.  No use.  Drank the whole lot and it still didn’t show.  In fact, there’s maybe a bit of camera shake?  Never mind.  It was deliciously fun!

rose, cardamom and white chocolate panna cotta

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours

Panna Cotta:

3 gelatine leaves @ 2g each
400ml single cream (min 30% fat)
100ml rosewater*
few drops of red colouring
80g white cooking chocolate
3 tbsp caster sugar

Coulis:

2 cups cherries, pitted
2 tbsp water
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods

1.  Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

2.  Heat together the cream, rosewater*, colouring and sugar in a saucepan and gradually melt in the white chocolate.  Stir until smooth.
(* Rosewater: I normally use half litre bottles of light rosewater from North Africa that I get in France.  When I was in Scotland this week I could only find small 60ml bottles, which was so much more concentrated.  I would suggest the smaller the bottle, the smaller the dose needed. Ideally it should be water with essence of rose no more than about 6%)

squeeze gelatine

3.  Squeeze in the gelatine and stir to dissolve into the warm cream.

4.  Pour into non-stick silicone moulds.  Here I used briochette moulds but you could use muffin moulds.

5.  Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

cherries and cardamom

6.  Meanwhile, make the coulis: place the cherries in a saucepan with water (no need for water if your cherries are frozen since not in season), sugar, lemon juice and the cardamom seeds.

7.  Cook for about 10 minutes until the cherries are soft.  Transfer to a blender and blitz to a smooth sauce.

cherry and cardamom sauce

8.  When ready to serve, run the underside of the moulds briefly under hot water then carefully turn them out directly on to the serving plates and pour around the coulis.

rose and white chocolate panna cotta with cherry and cardamom coulis

Et voilà !


 

This dessert recipe was featured as a Guest Post for St. Valentine’s on Kate’s blog at Diethood.com