Tag Archives: 14 juillet

Bleu-blanc-rouge pour le 14 juillet!

We had a potluck party last night to celebrate various happenings at the lab.  The original excuse was somebody being accepted into a PhD programme, but since one of my labmates recently handed in, we added that as a further excuse.  And then “oh, it’s French national day on Sunday?  Let’s celebrate that, too!”  So a Woohoo PhD/no more PhD/Bastille Day party.  Sacré bleu, what an excellent idea!

Macarons tricolores 1

As the lab’s bona fide French person, I wanted to do something relevant to Bastille Day, something French.  I was considering madeleines, a particular speciality of mine, and always a popular offering.  But then I realised that it’s been a while since I made macarons…  And then it hit me: I could make blue, white and red macarons like the French flag, aka macarons tricolores!  So one blue shell, a white filling and a red shell.  I think that qualifies as suitably French.

Macarons tricolores 2

I used a white chocolate ganache for the filling.  I was originally going to add Amaretto, but discovered that we didn’t have any, so I used Frangelico instead.  It was a delicious alternative.  I thought that making two batches of shells would be terribly time-consuming, but actually I was able to make the blue shells whilst the red shells were setting and they then set whilst the red shells were baking.  So actually it worked out rather well.  I didn’t work the blue batch for quite long enough which is why nearly all the blue shells ended up with nipples, which irritates my perfectionist side, but doesn’t affect the taste.

Macarons tricolores 3

The macarons were a hit and definitely a fun way to celebrate le 14 juillet (Bastille Day).  Everybody loved the whole French flag thing, as well as the taste (most important).  Now get your berets on* and have a marvellous 14 juillet.  Maybe even let off some fireworks (if that’s legal where you are).

Super keen French Mel

Yup, super keen French person, right here.  Cocorico!  (That wasn’t last night by the way, but a few weeks ago when France played the All Blacks at Eden Park.  France lost.  Quelle surprise.)

Macarons Tricolores

Makes about 80 small macarons (so about 160 shells of 1.5/2 cm diameter)
Macaron shell recipe based on Mad About Macarons!
Ganache recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves

Obviously making two colours of shells is totally optional, but it does make these macarons fun, and is actually not as time-consuming as you’d expect.  Make sure you leave these at least 24h before eating them, in order to allow the ganache to soak into the shells a bit.  They’re best stored in an airtight box in the fridge – just remember to bring them out at least 30mins before eating them, so that you can appreciate the flavour fully!

Ingredients

For the macaron shells:
150g room temperature egg whites
270g icing sugar
180g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
Red & blue food colouring paste or gel (optional)

For the ganache filling:
40g whipping cream (NZ: pure cream)
150g white chocolate
30g Frangelico or Amaretto

Directions

To make the macaron shells:
1.  Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.  Prepare two piping bags with plain round piping tips of the same size (if you only have one, you can wash it in between the two batches of shells, but make sure to dry it thoroughly).

2.  Split the egg whites evenly between two large mixing bowls.  If you can’t get it exactly evenly, adjust the proportions of all the other ingredients according to the weight of the egg whites.

3.  Blend half of the icing sugar (135g) and half of the ground almonds (90g) together (don’t skip this step!).  Sift them through a medium sieve into a bowl.  Sift them again if necessary.

4.  Make the French meringue by whisking the one of the bowls of egg whites into glossy firm peaks, gradually adding half the caster sugar (50g).  Add a few drops of the red food colouring gel to the mixture just before the end and mix well to get the shade of red that you wish.

5.  Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well.  Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture.  Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes.  The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.

6.  Transfer the mixture to one of the previously prepared piping bags and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 2cm in diameter).  Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round.  Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.

7.  Leave the shells to set for about 30 mins (this helps to produce the feet).  Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C.  When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.

8.  Whilst the red shells are setting, repeat steps 2-7 with the remaining shell ingredients, but this time add blue food colouring to make the batch of blue shells.

9.  Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10 mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3 mins longer).  Leave them to cool on the baking trays, and when they are completely cool, carefully remove them and pair one red and one blue shell up by size.

To make the ganache filling & assemble:
10.  Whilst the macarons are setting and cooking, make the ganache filling.  Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the chocolate (broken into pieces) and the Frangelico.  Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?).  Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to thicken on the countertop (or in the fridge if absolutely necessary – if it’s taking too long or not setting).

11.  Once cool, use a teaspoon to deposit a dollop of ganache onto one shell of each pair. Then place the partner shell on top, and use a slight twisting motion to squash the shell down onto the filling.

12.  Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult! But so worth it!!)

Enjoy!

*I’m allowed to stereotype because I’m French.

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Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Cocorico! C’était le 14 juillet!

Saturday was the 14th of July, France’s national day, or Bastille day as it seems to be called in English.  In French, we just call it le 14 juillet, and it is, obviously, a day of national celebration.  This post was actually planned for Saturday, but my photo editing program decided to go on strike, presumably in honour of France, so that obviously didn’t happen.  But today’s recipe is worth the three-day delay (and pre-recipe rambling), I promise.  Whenever we spent le 14 juillet in France, my main memories are of food, followed by fireworks.  Always a winning combination.  Ordinarily, I’d have probably thrown a dinner party for le 14 juillet, but aside from the minor logistical issue of only having a tiny dining table with a grand total of two chairs, one of my labmates was having a birthday party in the evening.  I also had a friend staying for the weekend, and we had various things planned, resulting in a busy but thoroughly enjoyable weekend, which included discovering a new farmers’ market and a wine tasting (always a win).

The closest we got to something specifically French-oriented was going to see a so-dreadful-it-was-hilarious stage version of ‘Allo ‘Allo.  My other little nod to le 14 juillet was my party contribution in the form of madeleines (which are not the subject of today’s blog post… apologies if you got your hopes up there!).  However, if I had been hosting a 14 juillet dinner party, I’d have made soup for starters (remember it’s winter here), specifically sweet potato and pear soup, which isn’t especially French, but is utterly delicious.

This is actually one of my favourite soups, because it’s wonderfully smooth and creamy, which I adore.  The combination of sweet potato and pear may sound a little strange, but it results in a very refined flavour, making this soup a perfect dinner party starter, with the added bonus that it can be prepared in advance.  It’s so delicious that it would be a shame to restrict this soup to just dinner parties though, particularly since it’s so easy to make.  In fact, this was the soup that Kat and I had after spending several hours in the snow queuing for Christmas Ball tickets and discussing my idea to start a blog.  Certainly not a dinner party, but definitely what we needed to warm up on that wintery day!  Since sweet potatoes and pears are currently in season here in NZ, this is my entry to this month’s Simple and in Season blog event, which was started by Ren at Fabulicious Food, and currently hosted by Homemade by Fleur.

Sweet potato & pear soup

Serves 4
Adapted from my mum’s recipe

Make sure you blend the soup to within an inch of its life, because this soup is all about the smooth creaminess, which is what makes it feel quite light.  If the soup is too thick for your liking, just add a little bit of water and mix well before adding the cream.  This soup freezes really well – freeze at the end of step 4, before adding the cream, and then once defrosted, heat the soup up and just add the cream right before serving.

Ingredients

1 small onion
800g orange sweet potatoes (orange kumara)
2 pears (Doyenné de Comice if you can get them)
800ml vegetable stock or water
200ml crème fraîche
A few sage leaves to garnish (optional)

Directions

1.  Dice the onion.  Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and pears.

2.  Sweat the onion in some butter in a large saucepan or pot for a few minutes, but don’t allow it to brown.  Add the sweet potato and pear and allow to cook for about 5 mins, stirring often.

3.  Add the vegetable stock (if you don’t have any, you can just use water) and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for about 20 mins.

4.  Remove from the heat and blend until perfectly smooth.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and return to the heat if necessary.

5.  Swirl a big spoonful of crème fraîche into each bowl and garnish with a couple of sage leaves before serving.

Enjoy and I hope you had a wonderful 14 juillet!

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods

Cocorico, c’est le 14 juillet!

Today, le 14 juillet, is French national day (hurrah!), which I believe is referred to as “Bastille Day” in English.  This is obviously a day of national celebration, which means that large amounts of delicious food are involved, followed by fireworks where possible.  I had originally been planning to bake tricolore cakes or madeleines or something for today in celebration, but sadly one of my French great-aunts died on Tuesday and the funeral is tomorrow morning, so as this post publishes itself (I do like the scheduling feature in WordPress – awfully convenient) I should be located at an altitude of around 10,000m en route to France.  In a plane, might I add.  Which isn’t exactly the ideal place to go about baking cakes.

I was working in St Andrews over the summer last year, so to celebrate the 14 juillet (yes, I’m going to stubbornly write that in French throughout this post) I threw a small dinner party for the people I knew who still happened to be in St Andrews (with lots of help from Kat – thanks again Kat!!!).  Although only two of us were actually French, everybody else was a francophile and appreciative of good food, and I think I can say that we all had a great evening.  I hung up the string of French flags that I happened to be storing for French Society (I was President of the society, I didn’t just steal them, don’t worry), decorated the table with blue, white and red candles in little dishes, and set out blue, white and red napkins at each place.  Ok, so I was a little over-enthusiastic with the whole tricolore thing, but it was French national day, so whatever.  My back-up plan for today had been to share the recipe for the spiced lamb and chickpea stew that I’d made, but since this was pre-blog and therefore before I took 56 million photos of everything that I cook, it turns out that I unfortunately don’t have any photos of the stew.  In fact, the only photo that I seem to have is of one of the clips that I used to hold the three coloured napkins together on each plate.  I totally don’t play up to stereotypes whatsoever:

Afterwards, little frog clips mysteriously appeared in random places throughout the flat, and they were added to over the course of the summer.  I left them up as an amusing reminder of a delightful and relaxed summer evening (although anybody who came round and hadn’t been at the dinner party must have been somewhat confused by the profusion of tiny frog clips dotted around for no apparent reason).

So to conclude this slightly pointless ramble of a blog post, whether you are French or not, I hope you have a lovely 14 juillet, filled with lots of delicious food and pretty fireworks!!  (Although be careful with the fireworks bit if you’re doing them yourself.  Actually, I don’t even know if it’s legal to let off fireworks from one’s back garden in the UK.  Maybe.  Maybe not.)

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Filed under Ramblings