Macarons

M is for Macaroons

When I was younger, I used to live in Amiens, France – known as one of the best place in France for macaroons (or macarons in French). I’ve never yet made macarons, but have been very eager to try, so M on this blog was the perfect excuse.

The recipe I used was inspired from my favourite patissier, Eric Lanlard. I only made a couple of his varieties, but there are plenty more to be made (pistachio, chocolate, lavender etc.)

Macaron ingredients

 

Macarons - whisked egg whites

 

Macarons - whisking in the ground almonds

Preparation time: 30minutes

Cooking time: 15minutes

Ingredients:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 egg whites (or 95g grams if using liquid egg white)
  • Food colourings (I used red and yellow)
  • Food flavourings (I used rose essence for the pink macarons and lemon essence for the yellow macarons)
  • Lemon curd
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 75ml double cream

Recipe:

  1. With an electric whisk, beat the egg whites into soft peaks then gradually add the caster sugar until there are stiffer peaks and the the whites have a sheen to them.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and ground almonds into the beaten egg whites and fold together with a metal spoon.
  3. Divide the mixture between two bowls. In one add a teaspoon of lemon essence and several drops of yellow food colouring and fold together. In the other bowl add a couple of drops of red food colouring and a teaspoon of rose essence. Add a couple more drops of food colouring if you need to, but each drop goes a long way. Have a little taste and add a couple more drops of lemon/rose essence if required. The mixture should have a hint of flavour and not be too strong.
  4. Line 2 trays with baking parchment. The take a piping bag and fill with one of the mixtures, folding the top of the piping bag back over your hand to avoid getting the macaron mixture all over you.
  5. Snip of the end of the piping bag, and gently squeeze out the mixture into 3cm discs on the baking parchment. Repeat for the other colour mixture. You should have enough mixture to make 56-60 macaron discs in total.
  6. Leave to dry for 5 minutes whilst you pre-heat the oven to 150°C. Then put all the macarons in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
  7. Take out the over and carefully slide each sheet of baking parchment onto wire racks and leave to cool.

Macarons - piping

 

Macarons - pre-baking

 

Macarons fresh from the oven

Whilst the macarons are cooling, you can make the white chocolate ganache for the filling of the pink ones. Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Tip in squares of the white chocolate and pour over the double cream. Leave for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat. Mix together with several drops of red food colouring until the chocolate has melted. Place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

For the yellow macarons, sandwich a teaspoon of lemon curd between two of the meringues discs. For the red macarons, sandwich a teaspoon of the red coloured white chocolate ganache between the meringues discs.

Try not to eat them all at once!

Macarons

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Lentil and vegetable curry - serving

L is for Lentil and vegetable curry

I picked up this recipe nearly 3 years ago and since then it’s been one of those great go-to recipes that I can tweak to whatever vegetables I have in. It contains at least 2 portions of your 5-a-day, is low in fat and is very tasty!

Lentil and vegetable curry - veg preparation

 

Making dahl for the curry

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 200g yellow lentils (washed)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 dried red chilis
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 2 small onions, finely sliced
  • 6 tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 1½ tsp ground corriander
  • 10 okra
  • 1 medium sweet potato – cut into ½inch cubes
  • a handful of green beans
  • 200g paneer cheese – cut into small pieces
  • a pinch of salt

Vegetable and lentil curry - adding the final veg

Recipe:

  1. Put the lentils in 1litre of  water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Spoon away any scum, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Add the turmeric and sweet potato and leave to soften for 20 minutes.
  2. The next stage is to make the tarka. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1 tsp of sesame seeds, cloves and dried chillies.
  3. Once the mustard seeds have started popping, add the curry leaves and onion and a pinch of salt and leave for a few minutes until the onion has softened.
  4. Then add the tomatoes and ground coriander, give it a stir and leave for another 5minutes until the tomatoes have soften and the flavours are well combined.
  5. Add the tarka to the lentil and sweet potato mix (which should be nicely soft by now). Then add the tamarind paste, coconut if using, green beans and ocra and leave to simmer for a final 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile in frying pan you used for the tarka, fry the paneer in a little oil, sprinkling over the remaining sesame seeds. It should take a couple of minutes on each side for this hard cheese to take some colour. Add to the curry and it’s ready to eat.

Lentil and vegetable curry - with the toasted sesame paneer

 

Limes and mint

K is for Key Lime Pie

Over the past couple of weeks, I managed to do my L blog before the K one, so I’ve been holding off publishing it to ensure they go in order.

K this week was always going to be a fruit-based dessert, perhaps a kiwi or kumquat…something, but then it hit me, Key Lime Pie! As a fan of all pies, and with help from my all time favourite chef Eric Lanlard, the blog this week is Key Lime Pie.

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - ingredients Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - ready to bake

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes

Cooking time: 35-40minutes

Whisked egg whites

Limes ready to be mixed into pie mix

Ingredients:

  • 350g digestive biscuits (crushed into small rubble)
  • 125g unsalted butter – melted
  • 175g caster sugar (125g for syrup & 50g for the filling)
  • 125ml water
  • 4 large eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
  • 6 limes (2 finely sliced; 4 zested and juiced)
  • 1 tin (397g) of full-fat condensed milk
  • handful of fresh mint
  • 300ml whipping cream (whipped to peaks)

Recipe:

  1. This recipe starts backwards, as we start making the decoration first. Mix 125g of caster sugar and 125ml of water over a medium heat until it reaches a boil. Add 2 finely sliced limes and poach for 10minutes with a few of the mint leaves. Then take off the heat and leave the lime slices to stoop in the syrup overnight.
  2. To make the pie base, mix the melted butter and crushed digestive biscuits together and press into a buttered loose-bottom pie tin (ideally fluted). Leave to chill in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Bake the biscuit base blind for 10-15mins until it takes on colour. This is done by lining with baking parchment (crumpled) and carefully half-filling with ceramic baking beans.
  4. To make the pie filling, beat the egg yolks together and then stir in the condensed milk (making sure to not waste any from the tin – it’s precious stuff), lime zest and lime juice.
  5. In a separate, clean, dry bowl, using an electric whisk beat the egg whites together, slowly adding the remaining 50g of caster sugar until firm peaks are formed.
  6. Fold together the egg whites and lime mixture together then pour into the biscuit-lined cake case. Bake for 25minutes until the pie mixture is set. It should be lightly golden on top. It will rise a little and then sink back once out of the oven.
  7. Once completely cool, loosen and gently remove from the spring-form tin. Decorate with the whipped cream, fresh mint and the syrup-infused sliced lime.

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - badly decorated

Scotch bonnet chilis

J is for Jamaican corn and sweet potato soup

 

Jamaican corn and sweet potato soup - ingredients

So I admit that there’s only a small ingredient in this recipe beginning with J (Jerk sauce). However the recipe this week is particularly appealing for several reasons: it’s hearty and warming, requires minimal effort AND there is only one pan for washing up. You can’t ask for better than that. It’s also vegetarian friendly.

Scotch bonnet chilis Yellow split lentils Sweet potatoes - chopped

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet chilli
  • 125g yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme, plus extra to sprinkle (dried will suffice if thats all you have in).
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 260g sweetcorn
  • 1 can (160ml) coconut cream
  • 400g sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into 1cm diced pieces
  • 2 tsp  Jerk paste

Recipe:

  1. In a large saucepan gently fry the chopped onion for 5 minutes or so to soften. Add a pinch of salt to reduce the chances of it burning. Add the chopped garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
  2. Make a slit in the chilli (to allow some of the heat and flavour to escape) and add to the pan with the split peas, thyme and stock. Be careful to wash your hands after handling the Scotch Bonnet – it’s hot!
  3. Bring the pan to a simmer, cover and cook very gently for 35 minutes or until the peas are very tender (you should be able to mash them against the side of the pan).
  4. Lift out the chilli and discard. Blend the soup using a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Reserve 2 tbsp of the coconut cream and then add the rest to the pan with the sweetcorn, sweet potato and jerk paste. Cook over a low-medium, covered with a lid, for a further 20 minutes until the sweet potato is tender.
  6. To serve, ladle into bowls, drizzle with the reserved coconut and scatter with extra thyme.

Jamaican corn and sweet potato soup

 

Jamaican corn and sweet potato soup