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Category Archives: Food & Drink

Monday Macarons!

Okay, so I actually made them on Sunday but am writing about them for Monday…Macarons!

Interesting thing is, usually my favourites to make are made with Rose Syrup. However, my friend Mary has given me some Kaffir Lime leaves and limes so I had to use them. I love the smell of Kaffir Limes and once you infuse it into the creamy center for macarons…YUM!

So here’s how it went.

Finished Kaffir Lime Macarons

Finished Kaffir Lime Macarons

They actually taste far better than they look!

I like to get myself organized when making Macarons. Which means the egg whites need to be aged. Usually eggs bought from the store are aged enough but if you use fresh eggs, I like to separate the whites into a bowl and let them sit covered on the counter-top for 24-48 hours. This really gets the albumin in the egg white to get more firm and creates a lighter meringue. Other keys to prep would be using silicon backing mats or silicon backing sheets. Sarah gave me some lovely ones that are marked for piping but I still tend to use the plain mats. You’ll also want a small pinch of Cream of Tartar added to your egg whites to make them nice a white. Even if you are adding colour it just helps you get a more true colour.

The tiny Kaffir Limes are extremely fragrant and it is best to do this step the day before to get the most intense flavour from them. I have had equal success using this method with the leaves after bruising them and leaving them in the cream overnight before a gentle rise in temperature.

I finely grated the Kaffir Lime into a sauce-pan. Once I had as much zest as I could get from the tiny limes I just threw the limes in too! Then I poured in some double thick cream and brought it to a low and slow temperature rise. Once the whole house smelled of lime and the mixture had turned a bit yellow I removed it from the flame. I left it to set while I was actually making the almond meringues. This allowed it to cool a bit before I strained out the lime chunks and broke up a block of cream cheese into the mix. Then I used a mixer to whip it all together. This was set aside until after the baking was done and cooled.

Tant por Tant is simply half almond meal and half icing sugar. I put it in the Thermo-Mix to make sure it is well blended and extremely fine. If I start from whole almonds, I have to make that well ahead and then allow it dry out a little because otherwise the oil from the nut makes it too pasty.

As I mentioned, be sure to put a pinch of Cream of Tartar into the egg white to get a really white and glossy finish. Before adding the first of the caster sugar to the egg make sure you have gotten it to a nice foamy consistency. I add the caster sugar in three sections just to make sure it gets well blended into the meringue.

Because liquid is an enemy of meringue, I use dry/powder food colouring. It’s getting a little easier to find but the colours are limited unless you go to a specialty store.

Once the meringue forms nice firm peaks you can begin to mix in the tant por tant. Again I do this in three parts so I don’t end up with clumps. Then it is important to macronize/mix well without over-mixing. If the meringue/dough is too firm you want to get that lovely smooth outer shell it will hold too much shape. However, if you over mix, you lose the air in the meringue and your cookie/biscuit is too flat. (Mine ended up slightly over-mixed).

Place your silicon mats onto baking trays, then pipe the mixture onto the silicon mats, remembering to leave a little room between each one because they will spread a little while waiting to go into the oven. Try to be as consistent with the sizing as possible.

To get that nice crunchy finish it is important to let the macaron mixture that you have piped out, sit for 20 minutes before putting them into the oven.

I set my oven for 160 C and usually bake for about 12 minutes. You can test to see if they are done by gently touching one of the macarons. If you can move it with your finger tip it needs to bake longer. When there is no give to a the tiniest of pressure they are ready to come out and cool.

We have stone counter-tops so I slide the silicon mats off the baking sheets to allow the macarons to cool quicker. Once they have cooled they are easy to remove from the silicon mat. As I am removing them I match them size wise into sets…mine are never all exactly the same size but I am getting better. I used to have a sheet of baking paper underneath marked with circles for the piping but as I have gotten a bit better I have stopped using it.

The Kaffir Lime mixture gets piped onto the middle of one of the two halves and then you gently rotate the other half on to make sure you get a perfectly filled and even center.

I find that if I stick them in the fridge and keep them cool that they hold up better in the warmer months.

Sometimes I add cocoa powder and chilli flakes into the Tant por Tant and do a ganache filling, or occasionally I do a jam middle of Feijoa if the tree has bloomed.

Be creative and enjoy is my motto with macarons.

Now I didn’t give you a recipe because there are three styles of making macarons, French, Italian and Spanish. They all have their slight variances. Plus there are a million recipes online. I really just wanted to make sure you knew some of the helpful hints I learned because many of them are NOT on the internet!

That’s it for Monday Macarons!

 

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What to do When You Have Crabs!

Yep, I’m thinking THAT got your attention didn’t it?! However, if you are looking for juicy gossip you’ll have to look elsewhere. Because when I say what to do when you have crabs…I mean the soft shell kind!

The Fashion Mister and I spent the day down in Williamstown, across the bay from Melbourne. We went to watch the young man we had sponsored at our football team for 5 years, play against our second string team. If you’re not familiar with the footy ground at Williamstown, it is absolutely right on the edge of the coastline with a bit of a view back toward Melbourne.

Cameron Wood at Williamstown

Cameron Wood at Williamstown

Williamstown Oval

Williamstown Oval

Usually, footy at this ground is tough going for fans because of the wind and often the rain. Luckily, today we managed to keep from freezing. I had promised Cameron I would cheer for him not Collingwood but The Fashion Mister and RaRa cheered for the Mighty Magpies.

Williamstown won.

As a treat for braving the cold, when we got home I made, for the first time ever, soft-shell crab for The Fashion Mister. The photos aren’t so great but the crab was pretty darn good if I do say so myself!

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 soft-shell crabs
  • 1 egg
  • milk
  • flour
  • salt and pepper
  • oil

Method:

  1. We have a deep fryer – so I turned it to 190 C and let it heat up while preparing the crabs.
  2. Using kitchen shears, cut off the eyes and face of the crab (if you leave them they are bitter).
  3. Turn crab upside down, lift the apron and snip it off with the shears (the male apron is thinner and more pointed, the female apron is larger and more rounded).
  4. Turn right side up and lift one side of the shell – remove the gills (also called dead mans fingers – they are inedible). Then repeat on the other side.
  5. Place flour in one bowl – add salt and pepper to taste (you can also add a bit of dried chilli if you want to make it spicy).
  6. Crack egg into second bowl and add a small amount of milk – mix well.
  7. Dust and coat the crab in the flour, then into the egg mixture and then back into the flour.
  8. Place crabs into the oil and cook for 7-10 minutes.
  9. Drain on paper towel
  10. Serve with a salad and some aioli. One crab each as an entrée or The Fashion Mister and I split them for a main!

Sorry the pics aren’t very clear. There were a few of removing the gills to show you how but they were impossible to see. If you’ve never prepared soft-shell crab, just have a look online, that’s what I did!

They turned out great. AND, we have four more for another night!

Highly recommend opening a nice Sauvignon blanc to go with.

Cheers,

Laura


Cinqo de Mayo!

It’s Sunday and it’s Cinqo de Mayo!

I’m going to spend it with a big jug of Margaritas.

See ya all on Monday!

Summer in a glass - Margarita

Summer in a glass – Margarita

Ingredients:

Method:

 

  1. Step 1

    Wet rim of glass with a piece of lime, then dip into salt to give a salt rim.

  2. Step 2

    Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full of ice, then add the alcohol and lime juice, shake, then strain into the prepared glass.

  3. Step 3

    Serve with an extra wedge of lime.

 

NB: Notice this drink is shaken over the ice…absolutely nothing about crushed ice slurpee style margaritas for me!

And just in case you need a little fashion fix. Here are some of my favourite photos related to Frida Kahlo.

 

 


7 Reasons Why Mitchell Harris is my Favourite Wine

This may be one of the easiest lists I have ever made. In fact limiting myself to only 7 reasons why Mitchell Harris is my favourite wine might be tough!

If you haven’t had a Mitchell Harris wine – you need to soon!

7 Reasons why Mitchell Harris is my Favourite Wine:

1.  The Rose – this is not NOT some silly sweet Rose that may as well be sugar-water. This is a beautiful dry and savory drop that is PERFECT to drink when the weather warms and it makes a great accompaniment to Turkey. Which is perfect for paying homage to my American roots and celebrating American Thanksgiving in the warm weather of November.

2.  The Fume’ – I have to admit, I didn’t even know what Fume’ was until after meeting the Mitchell’s and Harris’. But man am I glad to have been introduced. It’s made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes and almost has a bubbly texture. Impossible for a novice like me to describe but even more impossible for me to put down!

3.  The Sangiovese – It’s all black cherries and dark chocolate and completely amazing! One of my all time favourite drops of all the grapes because it goes so well with many of my favourite foods.

4.  If you have met the Mitchell Harris team – you will love them instantly. Four of the nicest, most friendly and passionate about good wine and food, young people I have ever met. Yes, I say young people because none of them is over 45 and I know they have been at this dream for at least 10 years.

5.  They have opened a tasting cellar/ wine bar here in Ballarat that has quickly become my favourite place to go with the Fashion Mister. The four owners are there regularly…actually all the time according to Alicia…the staff are some of the best in the region and you are welcomed and comfortable whether you are one or 10.

6.  The wine bar is B-E-A-U-T-F-U-L! They have taken an old tired brick building that was once a white-goods shop and transformed it into a  lovely open space by taking everything back to the brick walls and wood floors. It’s like having a cool Melbourne/Brunswick spot here in Ballarat.

7.  They have the tiniest kitchen ever and some truly amazing food comes out of it! They had been working with a local artisan baker to get just the right brioche bun to go with their Pulled-Pork sliders and I can tell you they are AMAZING! The Fashion Mister and I were practically fighting over them last week.

I could go on and on but I’ll show you the rest. You may have already seen some of the upstairs function room in my shift dress post or yesterdays “What to Wear” post.

There are the first 7 reasons why Mitchell Harris is my favourite wine!

Cheers!


Look Alike Day

Did you know it was look alike day? I did, thanks to my handy editorial calendar. Which got me thinking, “What ever am I going to write about”? I didn’t want to do the whole “Fashion Police” thing and have two starlets wearing the same look and you all know as much as I do about “how to get the look for less“.

So I put off thinking about it.

And spent some time looking at some of my old posts. Which sparked an idea! Occasionally I do a collage of food vs. fashion. Since I do that already, I needed something new…or at least new for me.

Fashion made of Food!

Two of my favourite things. And finding appropriate photos was far easier than Fashion made of Cocktails!

Where do Food and Fashion begin?

Where do Food and Fashion begin?

I have to admit I loved this print from D&G. But it’s not quite what I had in mind when thinking of Fashion made of Food.

Lady Gaga Meat Dress

Lady Gaga Meat Dress

Then again, this wasn’t quite doing it for me either.

Luckily, I managed to round-up a few Food as Fashion photos that I do like. Some are even pretty amazing. One is extremely gross but gorgeous at the same time.

All this has got me hungry. Wonder what fashionable thing I can find to eat?!


Caramel Popcorn Day

Since we attended a very adult version of the circus last night in Spiegelworld Empire, how appropriate is it that today is Caramel Popcorn Day?!

However, I don’t think of the circus when I think of Caramel Popcorn, I think of wine. Specifically from the Sonoma Valley region of California. The reason for that? A trip the Fashion Mister and I took back in 2010. Sonoma Valley isn’t far from where I grew up, the Fashion Mister and I like wine, the company the Fashion Mister works for manufactures wine-presses, and one of their customers is Kendall-Jackson!

During our 2010 trip, we stopped at Kendall-Jackson because they do a couple of food and wine matching menu’s. One is across the range of wines and food options and the other is just for desserts. We ended up doing both on two different days, but one of my favourite parts on both days was the Caramel Popcorn made there and served with one of their sweet late-harvest wines! By far the best I have ever had…anywhere…in any country! The caramel popcorn that is. Although the wine was pretty delish too!

Kendall-Jackson Wine Center

Kendall-Jackson Wine Center

Not only did the chef send us home with a box of salted caramel treat but he made sure we had the recipe too!

Kendall-Jackson Caramel Popcorn

Kendall-Jackson Caramel Popcorn

 

Kendall Jackson’s Double Gold Caramel Corn
(recipe from Kendall Jackson’s culinary team)

 

  • 12 cups air popped popcorn (pref. unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar (pref. golden brown)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large rimmed sheet pan (10×15 inches) with aluminum foil and lightly grease. A nonstick pan can also be used.
  2. Lightly grease a very large bowl with a very thin coating of cooking spray or vegetable oil. Place popcorn in bowl and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add corn syrup and brown sugar and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, without agitating or stirring the pan, for 4 minutes.
  4. Continue cooking for an additional 4-5 minutes, stirring well with a spatula every thirty seconds. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, salt and baking soda.
  5. Pour caramel over popcorn in the large bowl and carefully fold the popcorn with a spatula until it is evenly coated with the caramel.
  6. Pour caramel covered popcorn onto prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring or turning the popcorn every 5 minutes.
  8. Place one very large sheet of parchment paper on the counter-top and spread cooked caramel corn onto it after it comes out of the oven. Allow it to cool for a couple of minutes, then separate it into small clusters while still very warm.
  9. Allow to cool completely before eating or storing.

Makes about 12 cups.

Hope you enjoy Caramel Popcorn Day as much as I do!

 


The Emerald Isle and St. Pat’s Cross

As promised, today (naturally) is about the Emerald Isle and St. Pat’s Cross. Because it’s 17 March it’s all about the Irish!

Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin

Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin

King at the Entrance to the chapel at the Dublin Castle

King at the Entrance to the chapel at the Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

If the Fashion Mister and I didn’t live here in Australia, I’m pretty sure it would be in Ireland…and my first choice would be Dublin! Love that city. From the moment I got off the plane, it felt like I was home.

Across the Shannon to Killaloe

Across the Shannon to Killaloe

The Shannon River at Killaloe

The Shannon River at Killaloe

Dolmen in the Barren

Dolmen in the Barren

Killaloe, near Limerick is where the Fashion Mister’s great grand-father immigrated from. It’s a beautiful little fishing village along the banks of the Shannon river. It was about a 15 minute drive from the home of one of my good friends so we were able to track down some family history and catch-up with friends at the same time.

We also drove out to the Barren to check out this ancient Dolmen. The rocks are huge and you do wonder how 2500 years ago they managed to lift and stack them. And then you start to wonder WHY?

Hore Abbey near the Rock of Cashel

Hore Abbey near the Rock of Cashel

St. Patrick's Cross at the Rock of Cashel

St. Patrick’s Cross at the Rock of Cashel

They have moved St. Patrick’s cross inside to protect it and replaced it outside with a replica at the Rock of Cashel.

All this touring about can make you very hungry, and as it is Ireland, it must be time for a recipe based around POTATO! In fact colcannon, a traditional Irish dish of mashed potato with kale or cabbage, is often topped off with a little bacon. It’s this delicious Irish dish that inspired me when I returned to make what has now become a family favourite, Colcannon Soup.

Colcannon Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 ¼ hours
Serves: approx. 6
100 ml olive oil
1 white cabbage, cored & shredded
175 ml white wine
3 large potatoes, coarsely chopped
2 onions, coarsely chopped
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
6 thick slices of pork belly
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
200 ml double cream (sour cream works nicely too)
Salt & pepper

Heat 5 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add the white wine, potatoes, onions and nutmeg and pour in enough water to cover. Add the pork belly and bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour, until the meat is tender.

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan. Add the garlic and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until it is just beginning to colour. If necessary, reheat the soup (I often return it to the hot pan and keep it covered to keep it warm during this step.

Serve the soup hot in bowls with a swirl of cream and the garlic chips. Serve the pork belly either in the soup or separately on slices of toasted rustic bread.

This soup is divine. Haven’t met a soul yet that doesn’t go back for more!

Colcannon Soup - Potato, Bacon & Cabbage

Colcannon Soup – Potato, Bacon & Cabbage

My ode to the Emerald Isle on this St. Pat’s Day!


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