Mixology 101

Put ‘what’ in the coconut?   Lime would be the predictable response – for cocktail drinks.  For a baker in need, however, sweetened condensed milk is a friend indeed.  Intentionally flying off grocery shelves, a single can of ‘Eagle Brand’ is ideal for the creation of fragrant coconut macaroons.  But, don’t let the compact size fool you.  Guaranteed grandiosity – in results – a little bit of ‘this’ certainly goes a long way.

macaroon before arrTo make yours, let’s get ‘cracking!’  Can’t break an egg?  Don’t worry!  Courtesy of the ‘Eagle,’ this no-fuss recipe caters to all bakers – entry-level, advanced and food-sensitive.  With your ‘dozen’ safely nestled away, a complete omission of eggs happily equates to no separating, no beating of egg whites, and clearly no walking on eggshells around this task.

Where the ‘bird’ is the word, a checklist  of “must-haves” include:  one can of s.c.m plus shredded coconut, and spiked flavourings – dash of vanilla essence and almond extract.  Textured additions – chocolate, nuts and/or candied fruit – also make for the many faces of this chameleon cookie.  Ignorant of complications, whipping up a basic batch of pure coconut macaroons is bliss.  Simply shake contents, out of their package, and well-combine the ‘four’ into a bowl.  Keeping up with efficiency, continue by measuring uniform portions of the blended mix, using an ice-cream scoop, and neatly arrange the mounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Ready for a heat treatment, pop your bountiful tray into a 325 F preheated oven, and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Can’t get enough of golden crisp – edges?  I don’t blame you!  macaroon after arrTawny glow reached, ‘before’ shots of this tropical treat are undeniably pale in comparison to its dramatic bake-over – toasted success!

In a nutshell, macaroon-making can be fast and far from tedious.  Did I mention there’s a catch?  Well, there is – but, just one!  Brace yourselves:  you must like coconuts, and plenty of it; six cups worth, to be exact!  Surmountable in coconut flesh and outlasting in intense nutty flavour, there really is no substitute for this palatable delight – the ‘ultimate survivor.’  So if you’re after a taste of the islands but not necessarily “cuckoo for coconuts,” a great escape may lie in another fruit-inspired indulgence.  Team ‘coco’ or not, rest-assured, a following persists.  Ceasing to leave any, not one delectable morsel, abandoned – on a dessert plate – macaroon fans will turn coconut into something wonderfully edible.  At last, paradise found!

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

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Pier 3 Imports

BAB beach arrHave you heard the tale of three cities?  Allow me to divulge…  Beyond borders, along sandy coastlines, you’ll find B.A.B. – Biarritz, Anglet, and Bayonne.  Home to surfers – competitive and amateur – this triple threat vacation destination boasts in innumerable sporting events and non-aquatic recreation:  upscale boutiques, live entertainment and casino complexes, summer festivals; and last, but not least, an ode to all that is supremely authentic in regional cuisine. BAB cheese arr

‘Bain de soleil,’ anyone?  But, of course!  Surf’s up, the sun’s out, and no French ‘séjour’ would be complete without flocking to the beach.  Daily sunbathing session fulfilled, a continuance of – as they say – ‘joie de vivre’ persists with another highly anticipated rendez-vous.  BAB olives arrNot entirely the typical tourist, I exchange my beach tote for another carry-on as I fashionably prepare for an open-air meeting.  Inclusive to my personalized itinerary, I make my way for a food-shopping excursion to the ‘marché fermier’ (farmer’s market) – ‘allons-y’, let’s go!BAB salt arr

Happy trails, indeed!  Canopies stretched and ranging in plenty, the unbeaten path is host to ripe “farm-fresh” favourites:  fragrant doughnut peaches, vibrant charlotte strawberries, and honey melons.  The best, however, is yet to come!  BAB saucisson arrAmidst the Pyrénées Mountains, the vast spread of Basque-inspired delicacies stands as a true testament to traditional fare, rich in flavour and culture.  Also a gathering hotspot for foodies – native and foreign – the ‘marché’ encourages masses to mix and mingle, where the topic of conversation is consistent with these readily-available selects:  ‘saucisson’ (genuine Basque Country salami), ‘croustade aux pommes’ (apple pie), ‘gâteau basque’ (pastry cream almond cake), a spectacle of olives and tapenades, in addition to Brebis and Chèvre artisan cheeses.  Unique and incomparable to other markets, the use of homegrown ingredients coupled with age-old techniques contributes to the underlying essence, texture, and taste that’s evident in Basque cuisine – without a doubt, “Made in France!”BAB farmer's pies arr

Food scoured and some devoured, I’d say my touristic work here is complete. Leaving this local market, I gain a renewed understanding of the expression, “you are ‘what’ you eat;” ‘where’ you eat is of equal value.  BAB flowers arrAfter all, in Basque Country, a sought-after taste for freshness doesn’t get any more expedited than bottled crème fraîche.  So go ahead – picky-eaters – be selective!  And before you inquire, the answer is “yes!”  This ‘refreshing’ chilled sour cream is both naturally-prepared, and ready for pick-up – ‘sur la table!’    On or off shore, my overall southern French experience has taught me this – life’s a beach!  As such, be sure to soak up life’s endless splendours:  swim, shop, explore, sleep and, before you repeat, definitely take time to eat – “B.A.B.-ulously!”

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

A Lesson in Palmistry

“Tell me your name, and I will tell of your fortune.”  Believer or not, I’m a clairvoyant of sorts.  After a mere glance, the reading of one subject resulted in a predictable fate.

Palmier arrLooks demystified, I found complex lines to be revealing; they run close, tight, and high in number.  As for origin, it beckons French.  Capricious in nature, it can be described as both delicate yet malleable, and must not be overworked.  Foreseeing a luxuriously rich outcome, I proceed to handle ‘pâte feuilletée’ with care.  As seen in Napoleon – the dessert – the same multi-layered butter and flour pastry correlates well with its translation, ‘thousand leaves.’  Talking about dough, one glimpse of ‘puff’ is enough to anticipate a promisingly delicious near future – let’s make ‘n bake!

PuffLog arrEvading flouring messes and time constraints, I conveniently use pre-made overlapped pastry sheets as my “go-to” for the creation of sweet and savoury flakey morsels.  Easily enhanced with fruit or vegetable fillings, ‘buttered bundles’ are equally versatile in shape and can be folded into triangles, crescents or pinwheels.  Tearing a page out of past travels, however – Barcelona, Las Vegas and San Diego – I feel inspired to transport the tropics into a present-day baking session of ‘palmiers’ (palm leaves) – the other sugar cookie.  Sometimes taking the appearance and title of “elephant ears,” reincarnated sugar-coated rolled pastry stands tall among nature’s finest offerings – delectable edible flora. PuffSlices arr

California-palm-dreaming, I shape the fate of my foreseen golden leaves by taking a hiatus from strenuous scratch-work, and use the ‘essentials’ – a pack of frozen ‘puff’ and sugar.  Simple and sweet, the plain ‘palm’ calls for a generous sprinkling of caster sugar over a partially defrosted pastry sheet; ideal blends of sugar and spicy cinnamon or aromatic vanilla-infused sugar can be used as alternative additions.  Intensified or not, fold opposing ends of the flavour-coated pastry inward until they meet at the center; and freeze the roll for twenty minutes.  Time-elapsed, evenly spread cut pieces of the log over a parchment-lined cookie sheet, then bake for (unknown time) and at (unknown temperature).  What?  Quite the psychic, right?!  Seriously, brands vary and so, too, will their instructions.  Flipping ‘palms’ half-way through, my magic numbers  included a baking temperature of 375 F for about 10-12 minutes.  Fingers-crossed, quick consumption of your short-lived ‘palmiers’ will echo a victorious finale – sumptuous bites of crisp success!

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.