Friday, December 16, 2005

A blessing in disguise

I really wonder why risottos always look so ugly on photos. I got James to help me take of photo of this one. With no luck. Technique could not help us.

Risottos mouthblowing flavour lies in the choice of wine as well as the cheese used. But no matter how good it is, a risotto will always look like dull rice mish mash.

This one was really good, though: Courgette and Chicken. A nice white wine and delicate fresh shaved parmesan cheese were part of this genuine piece of Art. I even created a yellow wine sauce to enhance the green shades in the risotto.

I pinched the recipe from woman's weekly (shame on me).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ambrosia - Tabouleh

Posted by GiantSquid in Ambrosia

I like this photo a lot. It's very simple and elegant.
The focus is on the pita bread (thank you Barbara for the recipe), the tabouleh is a bit
blurred in the background. It's actually better that way, the photo is more balanced.

Chocolate Macarons

Here are the chocolate macarons I made for our photo shoot marathon on Sunday. The macarons themselves don't look as good as the blackcurrent ones I made last time but they tasted better: I reduced the amount of sugar, they tasted of almonds and chocolate. As expected, the outside was crispy while the center was soft. The filling is a white chocolate ganache, orange flavoured. A very Christmassy dessert.
This photo is so nice, thank you James.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A French Gastonaute in New Zealand.

Hi, this is a first draft of the food blog I have been dying to create for quite some time now. I just need to update and increase my food database and then, I'll be ready to rock.

The little cakes above are macarons, a French delicacy that cannot be found in New Zealand. I've been unsuccessfully trying to make some for years and last week, I eventually succeeded. What a bliss!

Theses ones are Ribena (blackcurrent) flavoured and filled with whipped white chocolate ganache. I followed the below recipe to achieve this result. Each attempt makes me quite nervous, it is still not a process I master.
This time I ended up with an amazing result, I'm thrilled.

I had a quick look at Pierre Herme's surreal PH10 (Oh Excalibur!). He seems to use humongous amounts of eggs whites and sugar... you're more likely to end up with an industrial production of macarons. My recipe roughly uses the same proportion of ingredients in smaller quantities.

- 100 g almound ground
- 125 g icing sugar
- 10 g starch
- 15 g castor sugar
- 2/3 (80g) egg whites
- A pinch of salt
- flavour. Use 20g bitter unsweetened chocolate powder for Chocolate Macarons

Let the egg white at room temperature for 24 hours.

Sieve almond powder, add icing sugar and starch, sieve again. The mix should be very light. If it seems to be too moist, place it into the oven for a few minutes to dry it. Extra dryness is the key to sucess!

Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat until foamy. Add a third of the castor sugar while beating and then, gradually add the rest and increase the beating speed. Stop whipping when the whites are firm and shiny.

Carefully add the almond mix, little amounts at a time. Don't overmix, it will cause the batter to be runny. And a runny batter means the macarons will not rise in the oven, they'll just flatten and crack!!!
Be extremely careful, this is a crucial step: The batter should be dense. Picks should disolve slowly at the surface.

Tranfer part of the batter into a piping bag and form little nut-like shapes on to a thick baking tray covered in baking paper. (If the baking tray is too thin, the base will cook too fast, it'll be all burnt and chewy).

Leave enough room between the macarons for them to expand.

Let them sit for at least 1 hour. Their surface will slightly dry out.
*From what I read you could also put the macarons straight away in a very hot oven and decrease the temperature:The outside is supposed to cook and dry fast leaving the inside moist and soft. Well, let me tell you it does not work in my little domestic, non-industrial oven. The macarons flatten and look like large cookies. Not too mention that their pretty crown base does not form.

Bake for 10/12min (140°C). Use the fan-bake option, if N/A, leave the over open using a wooden spoon and rotate the tray at half time.

When cooked slide some cold water under the baking paper, it'll help you taking the macarons off.

Pair macarons by size and sandwich with fruit coulis or chocolate ganache and refrigerate for 3 hours.