Saturday, 25 June 2011

Mandarin Macarons - I think I've done it!

After a few OK attempts, I think I have nice macarons now. These are shamelessly copied from a FABulous mandarin macaron Jeff and I had at Angelina in Paris.

There's reduced mandarin juice in the white chocolate ganache, and mandarin zest in the shell.

And I found out the secret of getting the really bright colours.

You use a lot of food colouring. Who knew? This is half a teaspoon or so of orange Wiltons gel food colouring.

And the way to stop the cracking was to turn the oven DOWN. I was using 140 (fan forced) and I dropped it to 120 degrees. I also popped a thermometer into the oven, to see what temperature it was REALLY at. Turns out that 120 on the dial, and fan forced, gives us 140 in the oven. And I baked only one tray at a time (there were 7 trays!). Watched Flash Gordon while I shuffled trays.

Now the issue is the big air pocket under the perfect top of the shell. Look at that top macaron in the stack - some of them you can see right through! So that's not perfect. We're in the right ballpark though.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Pretty, pretty stamp set

I bought these new stamps from Stampin Up, cos they are so pretty. And, to make them worth while, I had a go at using them straight away. As you must.

I've used a little masking, and favourite colours, and apart from that, not much in the way of clever tricks.

A winter toadstool

There's a cool toadstool in my garden. None of my kids were energetic enough to go all the way outside to look at them, so *I* was the only one who got to take the photo. Ha!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Salad for lunch

This is the kind of lunch I like to make myself on my days off. Ripe tomatoes from the window, real herbs, plenty of greens, and a poached egg on top.

I just learned how to poach an egg in the microwave - so far, perfect every time! You get a little microwave safe jug or cup (I use one that is big enough for my slotted spoon to dip into). Put in a little splash of vinegar, then fill it enough with boiling water. Crack your eggy into it, then cook for about 40 seconds on high (that may need adjusting in your oven, of course). Lift it out with a big slotted spoon, and there you go!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Using my Belgian stamps

I'm fond of papercrafts generally, and that includes rubber stamps. And that includes (confusingly) clear stamps, that are made of polymer, not rubber. And that includes clear stamps from Belgium. I just never knew until my recent Paris trip that there was such a thing as a Belgian stamp to like.

Well, once I found a shop called "Le Temple Du Scrap" I knew I was on the right track. There, and in a surprisingly well stocked bookshop in the Paris suburbs, is where I found by Belgian stamps (they are made by Artemio - good luck with the website). I'll dig the actual stamps our for a photo some other day, but here's what I made just now:

That rotten old grid paper I've used is actually pristine new cardstock, stamped with two paper-aging stamps - one has a grid design, and the other has aged edges that match. Sigh. There's even a hole! And the fruit comes from another set.

Do you remember when pears were the "in" thing in stamping? Now it's all birds and owls, but pears had their day, and we thought it would never end...

Ann-Marie taught me a great tip too. When I first used these clear stamps, they were stamping pretty badly. Wait, I'll show you...

Bleah, nobody would want to colour in THAT yucky berry!

When your brand new, clear polymer stamps are stamping badly, just run over the stamping surface with an eraser! Then give it a little clean and see the improvement. I've not had this problem before (but then, all my clear stamps have come from
My Stamps here in Melbourne).

Here's the strawberry after its eraser bath...

Hand me some markers, I need to colour that one!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

There's more Lego in Melbourne!

There's a big Lego exhibition just opened in fed square- Art of the Brick.
This is a super cool mosaic, which WE made a part of. That's Ryan, who designed it - he's a Lego professional, and that's a rare thing. His mum is my travel agent!

Prize winning coffee

Jeff and I are having a spur of the moment visit to the Good Food Show. This is the prizewinning coffee in the latte art competition. I drank it. Well, they asked for a volunteer, and you have to be quick!

Friday, 3 June 2011

More macarons part 3

You'd better read part 1 and part 2 first.

After reviewing the data from the first two batches, I decided that the middle of the oven is clearly the place to be, but you obviously need some company. SO, for my final trays, I put the best looking tray in the middle, and they slightly shonky one (some of my trays are not very flat) on the bottom.

And what happened?

The middle tray rose to the occasion, and was perfect, just like the first tray!

And the shonky tray was no worse than any of the others.

So, what do we learn here?
- Ovens are weird
- I need some more flat trays
- I certainly can make enough pretty macarons for a plate, but I always get lots of lunchbox bikkies along with them!
- oh, and I should really learn how to use colouring

I'm going to fill these with ganache. Fun to make, fun to say. GaNASH!

More macarons part 2

You'd better read part one first, OK?

I reviewed the data from the first batch of baking, and determined my plan for baking the rest of the trays (I had a whopping six trays in the kitchen).

I decided I like the middle tray best, so next round of baking only had a middle tray. Just one tray in the oven.

And they didn't come out perfect! They got these annoying cracks. Hmm.

Stay tuned for the third batch. Won't be long.

More macarons

Trying to iron out the bugs in my macaron baking procedure (yes, it's my day off and I'm still debugging). This is tricky!

I baked several trays at the same time. The different trays came out so differently! I'm posting the photos so Jeff can get debugging too.

Here's one from the middle tray. Practically perfect in every way (well, it was supposed to be bright orange, but that's an issue for another day).

Here's one from the bottom tray. They should have been the same, but they are cracked - not all over, just single cracks on each biscuit. Hmm.

Whoa, what's with the top tray? They're curling up? They have spread out considerably more, and the edge ones ended up browned. I'm going to say the tip of this oven is too hot.

Stay tuned for part 2. Real soon.