Spring Fruit Sensations

Love your macarons
Delicious treat but really
It’s a foot fetish.
Haiku in comments @ Leave Room For Dessert

It’s time for Mac Attack 5 at our other blog Mac Tweets, and for me the roller coaster ride was on once again. It’s time to find those evasive feet  and this time the feet fairy abandoned me good and propah! I’ve had a maniacal time dealing with the lows of macaron-mania, and I have to say it’s not been easy… yet I battled on. I’ve experimented with oven temperatures, double baking sheets, nut meal, almond meal, different parchment paper, varied piping bags …
Spring is the most inspirational season of them all. For the Mac Attack 5 this time, Jamie and I let the shout out for a SPRING FLING! I had so many ideas, but sadly used up all the little pansies I giggled and pressed a while ago. The gardner would give the plants weird looks, wondering where all the little flowers were disappearing. I pressed and thought how wonderful my Spring inspired macs would look. It was not to be! I even oven dried strawberry slices and ground them up to make powder for pink macarons … but no feet found!!
Trying to find my ‘feet’ became second nature to me, and part of my daily routine. Earlier, once the kids left for school, I would settle down to read the day’s newspaper. Times are a-changing! Now the minute they get out of the door for school, I hit the kitchen – sugar / nut meal / egg white / granulated sugar , CHECK …. and here we go again. Eggs aging on the counter is a common sight; no one even bothers batting an eyelid at them. Day after day this Mac Attack, I’ve tried  recipes from Ottolenghi, Lebovitz, Pierre Hermes, Tartlette … you name them, I’ve tried them all. No luck this time.
For next time I have 2 new recipes on hand, one from my fave twitter Yoga Lili who sent me her Italian meringue recipe with the words … After eating these at Pierre Herme, Laduree, and Maison de Chocolat last summer, I became obsessed and determined to show them off to all my friends.  I tried every recipe under the sun and failed more times than I could count…until I finally got this recipe together and it has never let me down. I need to begin collecting egg whites to try her recipe as it involves 5 egg whites. It’s an Italian meringue one which I hope to make one day! The other is from Carol Gillot who paints Paris dreams at Paris Breakfast. For now, I am out of nut meal of every sort! BIG  S I G H!! I used the last lot in a recipe I just found…

Time was running out, and thanks to La du Jour I got a much needed time extension. Every year on March 20, the world celebrates Macaron Day. According to the site Relais Desserts, Le Jour du Macaron is the day when each one of us can succumb to the delights and pleasure of this lightly domed delicacy, crispy on the outside with a tender, moist center in a dazzling array of colors! I was back to the kitchen, thinking big on all the tips I gathered on Twitter last night. My twin sistah Jamie offered precious advice; add more nut meal if the batter seems a little flowy. Do it with Ottolenghi screams Meeta who has perfected the art of macaronia! Ken from Hungry Rabbit NYC told me what worked for him… he rests the macronage for a bit in the fridge. 162C is what works for him… sigh… why does nothing work for me this time?

And then while I wrote my mac-saga, I piped out yet another tray of macarons. This time, a recipe I followed from Ellin’s beautiful blog Almost Bourdain to a Martha Stewart recipe that usesd ‘fresh’ egg whites! The batter looked a bit thin, so I added more nut meal on Jamie’s advice. I left one tray out to rest, while I bunged the other batter sealed in a piping bag to chill on Ken’s advice. 2 hours later, in went the piped tray and I almost fainted. with joy … FEET GLORIOUS FEET! Not the prettiest, but YES FEET!
All is well in this mac-passionate household once again. I am pretty exhausted but I have found feet, and a new recipe to share….Parisian Macaroons by Martha Stewart. I was so kicked that I for one mad moment contemplated changing my blog name to Meeting Martha Over Macarons… tee hee! With time being short, I decided to sandwich my macarons with some Strawberry Cape Gooseberry Frozen Yogurt with Pink Peppercorn. I saw something similar at my fave food blog Canelle et Vanille that Aran had posted way back on May 2008. They were Pink Peppercorn Macarons with a Strawberry Sorbet Filling. I had always found the idea intriguing, and was happy to have made some more frozen yogurt just recently, so I decided to try it Aran’s way.
I have to say, IMHO, that these were the best macarons that I’ve ever made. I loved what the tangy fruity frozen yogurt did to the macarons. It added in leaps and bounds to the beautiful flavours, the nutty meringues married the burst of fruity flavours in perfect Spring moods! I couldn’t have done it better, and am glad I battled on. The good thing was that you could serve these right out of the freezer! They made for delicious SPRING FLINGS!!

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
I made half the recipe and got about 15 macarons
Makes about 15 filled macarons
1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
1 cup finely ground  milled nut flour (from Linswood UK)
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Macaron Filling
1 cup Strawberry-Cape Gooseberry Frozen Yogurt  (recipe here)

Preheat the oven to 150C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift the confectioners sugar and nut meal 2 times. Reserve.
Whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form.
With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until completely incorporated.
Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons and the shiny surface turns dull, about an hour or more.
Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macarons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macarons from the parchment.

Soften the Strabwerry-Cape Gooseberry Frozen Yogurt slightly.

Turn macarons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, spoon about 1 teaspoon of softened frozen yogurt. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Freeze. Serve directly from freezer!


♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
Do you want to join us making MACARONS?? If you do, you are most welcome to join the challenge. You can find all the information at our dedicated macaron blog MacTweets. The rules for Mac Attack #5 can be found here. You still have until the 15th of March to join us with happy feet, or you can always join us next month.
This post appeared onthe CHICAGO SUN TIMES

Don’t miss a post

“Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.”
Al Bernstein
The Click duo, Jai & Bee have got a beautiful theme going this month, CLICK: April 2009. (Spring/Autumn), and as usual, I’m racing. This post is not a foodie post. It’s just a SPRING post, posted a little sadly, because Spring disappeared quite a while ago. Currently we are in a ‘mercury rising’ situation, where the highs are around 43C, & hot summer winds are sweeping the Northern Indian plains! Another degree & they’ll declare it a heat-wave!! Whatever…
…the life & times of my carnations
Can you tell I’d been busy clicking when Spring was here? I loved it – new sprigs, new branches, nests in every nook & cranny, birds amorously cooing, butterflies & bees,blossoms… I posted a few more pics earlier here for Earth Hour in March when Spring was officially around!The first picture above is a guava flower from my dad’s little patch; a TI NY patch in his back yard, yet it’s amazingly fertile. He has a guava tree, a papaya tree, a curry leaves tree, a pomegranate tree & a lime tree all in one small patch ( about 6 X 6 ft) … & they are all in full bloom! There were over a 100 flowers, now turned into tiny guavas, & similarly for the poms!

Guess who built her nest in my Mom’s kitchen window? A robin!! The son looked at the chicks that had hatched 3 days ago , & then looked at the Mom who was guarding from a safe distance. Shook his head in disbelief,“How can the babies be so big, when the mother is so small?” I nonchalantly said, “Look at you & look at me! You are almost taller than me!”. Case rested!! The chicks flew the nest the day after I clicked them!!
…my green chili plant
Also followed my chili plant when it flowered much to my glee, & then the flowers became chilies. Fascinating. Loved that too!!

This last picture is my entry for CLICK: April 2009. (Spring/Autumn) @ Jugalbandi. Mulberries herald the beginning of Spring here, & are a constant source of fascination for me (as all berries are now). I can sit around mulberry trees for hours gathering this juicy berry. Used them for my Daring Bakers Cheesecake post, & also mentioned them as one of a clutch of Indian berries here!

“Give me book, fruit, French wine, and fine weather and a little music out of doors played by someone I do not know.”
John Keats
Basket a la Melons!! Spring is in the air!
To my delight, this month’s CLICK at Jugalbandi‘s is ‘Au Naturel’. This is my entry for one of the most inspiring foodie ‘visual’ events. It’s an eye-opener to creative photography!

Doing away with decadence, though very temporarily, it’s Spring in the air. Melons are beginning to show up here. These pretty yellow fruits are probably called cantaloupes, casabas or melons overseas, but are called ‘sarda‘ locally. Till last year, they were imported from Afghanistan & were priced quite steep. I didn’t buy them last year because I like to subscribe to the’ grown within the 100 mile radius’ way of life. I’m not completely steadfast though; will buy the odd kiwi etc.
Make Melons Part of Your 5 A Day Plan…

This year the prices are way more affordable because these pretty melons are being grown in nearby farms. Fresh, juicy & ever so sweet! That’s why I went & bought a couple the minute I got to know. Just helps in looking after the environment in my small way & so I tend to buy locally. I also believe that fresh produce bought locally is more nutritious & hasn’t been doused with stuff to keep ’em going for longer! Transporting, packaging, use of preservatives burden an already burdened planet which is struggling to survive. Give it a thought…eat what is seasonal & try to eat local!

As ‘Sustainable Table’ says…The concept of buying local is simply to buy food (or any good or service) produced, grown, or raised as close to your home as possible. With industrialization, our food is now grown and processed in fewer and fewer locations, meaning it has to travel further to reach the average consumer’s refrigerator. Although this method of production is considered efficient and economically profitable for large agribusiness corporations, it is harmful to the environment, consumers and rural communities.
Sardaor Melon

Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) is a species of melon that has been developed into many cultivated varieties. These include smooth skinned varietes, such as honeydew, and different netted cultivars known as cantaloupes. It is an accessory fruit of a type that botanists call a false berry. It was first cultivated more than 4000 years ago in Persia and Africa.
Samarkand melon vendor in the 1910s (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Melons are generally rich in vitamin C and also contain moderate levels of Potassium, Vitamin A and Folate. While they are mostly consumed around the world as raw fruits, melons are known to be cooked, pickled and preserved.

Nothing much to what I did…no cooking, baking etc.

  • I just cut the melon in a zigzag manner across the centre with a sharp steak knife. You can draw a light line with the knife if you like; I did it extempore.
  • Then I took a sharp smaller knife & gently cut out the flesh of the melon & chopped it up. Be careful you don’t puncture the outer skin.
  • Tossed the cut melon pieces with craisins, walnuts, kiwi, grapes. Actually, that’s all I had. For those who have access to colourful fruit, this would look lovely with oranges, berries, strawberries, cherries, watermelon etc too. You can use the melon baller for fun round shapes too. Top it off with fresh mint.
  • I plaited some lemongrass stalks into handles for the baskets. (I have some growing in the far end of my garden). Secured them to the sides with wooden picks…& I was ready to go!

I got them ready for the kids afternoon snack…they were thrilled to see them. Even though the son doesn’t enjoy the taste of melons, he polished off the smaller basket because it looked like fun! The daughter on the other hand relished each morsel, using wooden picks as a fork, & asked if she could have another basket! She said she felt like she was on a tropical island !! PHEW…I just sliced up the other melon for her the 2nd time round as the baskets took quite a while!!

This would make a nice picnic centre-piece…

…& seems like just the thing to send to Monthly Mingles where the chosen topic is Spring Fruit Sensations.The event is the brainchild of Meeta @ What’s For Lunch Honey…a delightful concept which has been thoroughly enjoyed by foodies across the blogosphere. This month onwards, it’s been passed on to different hosts & this times host is Abby of Eat The Right Stuff. In her words…”One of the things I love about blogging is the inspiration it provides me with. However, inspiration is only half the story. taking that exciting spark of an idea and turning it into something on the plate in front of me, is the real challenge. “

My thoughts are quite the same…the inspiration is untold!

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