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Salted Toffee Cherry Tomatoes

Liven up your summer drinks with this salty & sweet apéritif – adds fun to a centre-piece too!

Savoury Macarons: Festive Starter Ideas

Who can believe that the year has just about made a wrap?  Before it ties up with a silver bow on Hogmany, let me share some starter ideas to serve with your savoury macarons.

Not all of us are into savoury macarons such as chocolate and fois gras as an apéritif (me included!) but have you tried any of the savoury macaron recipes from the book’s ‘Mad Macs’ chapter yet?  Many of them are HOT and SPICY, which makes an interesting tasting sensation: the sweetness of the macaron helps put out the fire after the first couple of seconds!

beet horseradish macaron with smoked salmon

Gourmet meals can be given that extra touch of chic with a horseradish and beetroot macaron (recipe on page 103). Here I’ve served it with Salar Scottish smoked salmon with an apple and horseradish sauce.  Our previous family visit to Corsica included a surprising gourmet treat consisting of a Terre et Mer simple yet sophisticated starter: it may look and sound unusual but, believe me, the mix of smoked salmon with smoky charcuterie dried hams is amazing!  The chiogga beetroot and spicy macaron adds that je ne sais quoi.

terre et mer beetroot macaron

Mini tikka curry macarons are also a spicy surprise on the side to warming soups, like this leek, pumpkin and ginger velouté.

festive savory macaron ideas

Or why not try them with a mini amuse-bouche of parsnip, round carrot and coriander soup? Round carrots, or Parisian carrots are round, short and dumpy and have an even sweeter flavour than normal carrots.

Curry fans can add another touch of chilli spice under the mistletoe with the mini Thai curry macarons. Make them red or green, depending on your mood with a hint of coconut.

Thai red christmas curry macarons by Jill

Thai green curry macarons can be a surprising addition to a starter of sweet potato, crab and thai herb croquettes, served with a thai-style mayonnaise to use up your egg yolks.

Or what about serving a mini mac with these light, gluten-free ginger, crab and coriander quiches?

Inspiration for this warming watercress soup came after a wee trip to the watercress beds in Normandy this summer. Serve with garden herb macarons (recipe on page 97 of the book).

Or surprise your guests with mini herb macarons as a side to this cherry tomato, wild strawberry and rocket salad, peut-être? For those lucky sun-kissed macaronivores in the Southern Hemisphere.

 Or serve with a Bloody Mary macaron for a surprise with a slightly bigger punch?

It’s time to wrap up presents but just a few festive starter recipe ideas to accompany the savoury macaron chapter in the book.

I’m a green and red curry macaron ‘read-thai’ to party!

Are your macarons ready to party?

christmas macaron ideas

Check out the full index of bonus recipes to accompany the book, including many egg yolk recipes and desserts to serve with your sweet, gluten-free macaron treats.

Thank you for all your support, your lovely, motivating comments over the year here on le blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and for spreading the word about Mad About Macarons!

Happy holidays
and wishing you a
Healthy, Happy and a Macaron-ivorous New Year!

 

Not Mushroom to Moan but Going In-Seine

I know. It has been a bit silence radio here, as they say in France. I’m not going to moan but just to say I haven’t forgotten about you, my sweet macaron friends.

Blooming on the local bridge over the River Seine

Instead I’ve been going insane with recurring back problems since the summer. It’s lovely to be told to do no housework, no lifting shopping, no gardening but sitting at the computer has been an even worse idea. After various diagnoses, I think I’ve finally found the right doctor and am happily cancelling surgery this month. It just goes to show that you need to ask around and, in this case, it’s thanks to friends on Facebook!

Driving a macaron golf ball in-Seine

Meanwhile our house improvement project is in full swing: anyone who follows me on Pinterest will see I’m having fun finding ideas, especially for my new office in the attic, a place I can hide and nibble on my favourite chocolate so that I can work on the next exciting venture. If you have storage and design tips for the kitchen and pantry, I’m especially all ears: the pâtisserie moulds and other foodie odds and ends are taking over the asylum! I’ll talk about this in another post. Why is it that so many other things are urgently needing repaired or replaced at the same time?

With mushroom season sprouting around Paris, you must try this dinky little mushroom cappuccino recipe. And, for all of you mad about macarons, enjoy it with a mini mushroom and truffle macaron. Delicious with a glass of chilled Jura white wine…like Vin Jaune, hmm.

As I gradually get straightened out from looking like a twisted Eiffel Tower, please do swing by and say bonjour via Instagram and via the usual social chatty buttons at the top. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite photos I took at this time 2 years ago, in case anyone missed it. 

A Macaron Mushroom? It’s magic.

A très bientôt !

One Night in Bangkok: Back to the 80s Disco Macarons

A few days ago, I fell in love with some dazzling upbeat music on the car radio. I had never heard it before. For a few seconds, I felt the trendiest Mum: the car speakers were put to the test and down zipped the car windows as I casually picked up my daughter from collège. Dude. As Julie approached the car she shuddered, begging for a speedy getaway.  Mum? ‘One Night in Bangkok’?  But that’s ancient!  Where was I?

Could we be Sandy and Travolta look-a-likes?

Granted, I was not a trendy teenager in the 80s; playing in orchestras and excited by Stravinsky, Brahms or Dvorak rather than discovering Murray Head from Chess in the Charts could be considered downright nerdish. Then again, when Shirley Manson‘s sister (that was cool) asked at choir practice if I’d been to see ‘Grease’, I remember the cringing confusion as I said I’d never been – which was a pity, especially since I adored moussaka.

Boom. That was it!  After my daughter’s ‘boum‘ before Christmas, it was our turn. It may have been the end of the festivities of Christmas and New Year but last weekend we discoed back to the 80s. It was time catch up with friends, put on our red shoes and dance away the January blues. One girlfriend took it literally: I’m still in awe how she managed to wear her 20cm-heeled red sparkling Bowie shoes without keeling over. Another friend simply wrapped aluminium foil around his training shoes: great idea! My favourite gear in the 80s was the all-in-one jumpsuit but as it was difficult to pin down again (just as well), I found one quickly on the internet.

Jill Colonna

My John Travolta. Or was it a snazzy barman for the evening?

When my brother saw the party wig on Facebook, he thought I’d bought a dog. It wasn’t a dog but whatever it was, it was on top of my head most of the evening and I can tell you that it was sizzling underneath. So sweltering, that I dared take it off later and reveal the soggy dishwater blonde mop underneath. By that time, with the dancing and sweet (why did I want to write that with an ‘a’?) macarons served, who cared?

pannacottas, choux, hot macs & a sizzling wig

On the 80s food front, apparently microwave popcorn appeared in the USA but hey, we also wanted to serve up chic stuff.  So out came my good old favourites with easy recipes to prepare in advance: macarons and mini chocolate-beetroot fondants. On the day: ginger & cardamom panna cottas with rhubarb compôte, plus a huge batch of caramel-orange knitted-looking chouquettes (mini sugared choux buns).  We did serve up savouries, though. Try garlic snail toasts for starters, smoked duck and raspberry mini salads, Crab, Ginger & Coriander gluten-free quiches, Macsweens’ Haggis balls with whisky diane sauce … and mini mad macs.

Some like their macarons hot!

In the 80s, Mum and Dad went exotic with the latest Vespa curry mixes. So, some mini tikka mac’salas were a must to add some 80s pizzazz to hand around with drinks.  In making the curry macs (recipe on p.100), I should practise what I preach and done what I suggest in the book: use a disposable piping bag for piping out the curry filling. Now just look what I did: here’s what can happen with a potent curry filling mixing with a not-so-hot piping bag hooked up on the kitchen window (mac hook – it’s handy for drying it quickly.) I completely forgot the fresh coriander for the curry macs, so instead augmented the chili dose; don’t ask me why, but just as well they were tiny since they were hot, man!

My camera is not great. Unless you’re a static macaron and taken in the daylight, a Canon G10 is no use for night time and parties. It’s a crying shame there are no decent photos, since all 30 of us had so much fun dressing up and dancing. Then again, it’s probably for the best that they’re censored! If anyone knows me, I never have any New Year Resolutions but I’m putting in a quest for a new camera, just in case hubby ever reads this. I never bought these shoes near Place Vendôme – just gazed at them – if that helps my case.

Paris-Bangkok tea infused chocolate macarons

One Night in Bangkok macarons

This post is dedicated to MacTweets – as this month the MacAttack #26 Challenge was for Razzle Dazzle Macarons: featuring the Ostentatious with glitzy, dazzling and starry macarons. And being MacPassionate (love it, Deeba and Jamie), the party included One Night in Bangkok with some classic Madagascan Vanilla macarons – dusted with gold edible lustre to give it the in every golden cluster look from the Chess 80s musical.

Paris-Bangkok infused chocolate macarons

For an unexpected twist to dark chocolate macarons, I infused some Paris-Bangkok tea from Mariages Frères in the chocolate. The colour was purely to match the packaging, but I’m sure that it had something to do with the tea’s dazzling hints of red fruits, steamed pudding fragrances, and slight bubble gum tinges.

chocolate macarons infused with Mariage Freres tea Paris-Bangkok

It perhaps wasn’t Bangkok but it was One Night Near Paris and it rocked. I’m already planning the next one. We need more parties to chase away the winter blues, don’t you think? Vive starry nights, great friendships, laughter and loads of fun!

Saturday Night Disco Macaron Fever

Now I just need to keep a lower profile when picking up my daughter from school – unless you can give me some clues to the latest trendy numbers before the next move…

Leek, Pumpkin and Ginger Soup with Curry Macarons

Happy New Year! Have you all had fun over the festive season? Survived the gargantuan meals? It’s still not over for us yet. With Epiphany on Sunday 8th January, the traditional Galette des Rois are now in all the French pâtisseries and so it’s time to taste all the different variations: plain, chocolate, candied fruits… Admittedly, I prefer to make my own – just to ensure there’s the maximum amount of my favourite frangipane inside, sneak in some fancy trinkets, and change fillings such as this recipe for Praline and Pear Galette des Rois. But I’ve already talked about Epiphany on le blog.

It was good to be back in Scotland over the holidays with the family. Feeling the proudest auntie in the universe, I was introduced to another gorgeously smiling baby niece. Isn’t it amazing how you can easily forget how small they are? Especially when it seems like yesterday when my two girls were born, who are now wee ‘giants’! It’s great to see the wee ones enjoying their food so much, too. No wonder, as Grandpa was serving up his amazing warm homemade bread and Arbroath Smokie Pâté just for starters…

Take a leek or two…

On our return to France, I was listening to a French doctor on the radio, concerned for us all after over-indulging in rich, festive foods. His suggestion? Eat plenty of leeks. Apparently they help to clean out the gut. Trust the French to sound so poetic. With that, I headed straight to our local market and loaded up on leeks.

Are you ready for a tasty clean-out? Then this is the ideal soup to follow the Christmas – New Year extravaganza meals. The hardest part of making this soup is cutting up the pumpkin, but it’s worth the effort since it’s full of iron, zinc, fibre and carotene. Carotene is what we all need at this time of year to bring the glow back to our cheeks, and the ginger gives a great kick-start to 2012, as it’s great for digestion, keeping colds at bay and virility (I keep meaning to ask hubby on that one.)

Bring a healthy glow to kick-start the New Year

Leek, Pumpkin and Ginger Soup

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes

40g butter
4 leeks, sliced
800g pumpkin,
roughly cut into cubes
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
800ml chicken stock
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1.  Melt the butter in a large pot then soften the leeks, ginger and pumpkin together.  Sweat gently for about 5 minutes.

2.  Add the stock (just enough to cover the vegetables), cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

3.  Blend with a hand mixer, add the nutmeg and season to taste.

pumpkin leek and ginger soup served with mini curry macarons

Or serve this as a mini amuse-bouche with macarons

Take Your Soup to the Next Level with Macarons

To garnish you could swirl in some naughty cream and sprinkle on smoked crispy bacon. For a festive look, add some herbs to look like holly and add a couple of pink peppercorns – although ATTENTION! Pink Peppercorns should be strictly avoided if you suffer from nut allergies – read more about it HERE from my friend, Christina.

Moreover, take your soups to another level and excited intriguing faces are guaranteed at the table. For macaronivores, why not serve with a couple of mini curry tikka mac’sala macarons (See page 100 of the book.)

Who wants baby bear’s bowl?

In between sane bowls of soup and greedy galettes, it’s just the right timing to prepare loads of macarons today for this weekend’s party. Hm. Too many choices of flavours – what favourites would you prefer to see on the table: classic or wacky? Dress is also ‘back to the 80s’. What on earth did we wear then? Do you remember? Shoulder pads? Jumpsuits? Disco gear? What would you wear?

Happy, Healthy Holidays!

spiced pumpkin and leek soup with curry macarons

Bonne Année – Bonne santé !

Mini mad macs

And it doesn’t stop there.  After the classics and becoming more creative you can amaze your guests with savoury “mini mad macs”.  They are the lightest, sugar-reduced macarons that can be served as an apéritif or with a starter.  Try Jill’s hot and spicy Tikka “Mac’Sala” or Beetroot and horseradish macarons.