Last night’s dinner

This is actually the strata that I made the other day but I just realized that I didn’t put a picture up of it.

Yup! There are the lovely marshmallows full of their sugary goodness. If you really want to get fancy you can cut them into shapes with cookie cutters but at this house they are usually eaten to quickly to really notice the shape they are.

Tonight’s dinner

We’re going to have sesame tofu with udon noodles for our main meal but the star tonight is going to be…

My sister brought the most beautiful macaroons to my Mom’s on Saturday that were gorgeous different flavours; blueberry, lemon, chocolate and sea salt, coffee, lavendar… I can’t get them out of my head and so the only cure for that is to make some for myself. I plan to give away as many as possible because I know that unlike most sweets I won’t be able to have these around and leave them alone.

I found a gorgeous site that has some unique flavours of macaroons and decided to use these as I can grab the mint from my garden. I’m going to use chocolate mint for this recipe. How can anything be better than chocolate and strawberries?

http://www.mytartelette.com/2008/07/cracked-pepper-mint-and-strawberry.html

Cracked Pepper, Mint And Strawberry Macarons: (I’m doubling as usual)

For the Shells: (makes about 20-30 depending on size)

3 egg whites (I like to use 1-2 day old egg whites)

DON’T THROW OUT THE YOLKS-A RECIPE WILL COME LATER THIS WEEK THAT USES THEM

50 gr. granulated sugar
200 gr. powdered sugar
110 gr. almonds
2 tsp. chopped mint
3/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Pipe or spoon some buttercream on one shell and sandwich with another one. One tip I read is that if you use fresh whites, zap them up in the microwave on medium high for 20 seconds to mimic the aging process.

Strawberry Mousseline Buttercream:
Half a recipe of vanilla mousseline buttercream to which you add 1/2 cup pureed strawberries and 1/2 tsp mint extract.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

4 sticks butter at room temperature
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar divided
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
food coloring if desired

In the bowl of stand mixer, whip 5 egg whites until they have soft peaks.
In the meantime, combine 1/4 cup water with 3/4 cup sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan and bring the syrup to 250F. Slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites. If you use hand beaters, this is even easier and there is less hot syrup splatter on the side of your bowl and in the whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Continue to whip until the meringue is completely cooled.
Slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. The mass might curddle but no panic, continue to whip until it all comes together. Add the vanilla extract and the food coloring if using.

Here is the recipe for the udon noodles and sesame tofu from:
http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2009/06/udon-noodles-with-sesame-crusted-tofu.html

This is a really neat site that a guy out of North Bay writes. The search engine is particularly great.

INGREDIENTS
– udon noodles (I used 3 175g pkgs (i.e. those small packages you seen in Asian grocery stores))
– 1 pkg tofu, cubed
– 1/3 cup sesame seeds
– 2 tbsp cornstarch
– oil for frying
– 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
– 1 small orange pepper, thinly sliced
– 1″ piece of ginger, minced
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 1/4 cup rice vinegar
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
– 4 green onions, thinly sliced

METHOD
1. Cook noodles according to the directions on the package.
2. Place tofu in a bowl and add sesame seeds. Toss until most of the seeds are stuck on the tofu (you don’t need full coverage here). Add cornstarch and gently toss until tofu is coated. If you still have some seeds in the bottom of the bowl, dump the tofu out on a cookie sheet and roll the cubes in the excess seeds.
3. Fry tofu in some oil over medium heat until nicely golden. Turn regularly to brown all sides. You don’t need a lot of oil here. Start with a relatively thin layer and add more as needed. Remove tofu from pan/wok and drain.
4. Add peppers, ginger and garlic to the pan (there should be just a bit of oil left) and stir fry for 3-4 mins, until softened and fragrant. Add noodles to the pan/wok and fry for a min.
5. Add vinegar, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce and mix well. Add tofu and mix well. Cook until sauce thickens/soaks into the noodles. Adjust flavours/wetness to your liking by adding more of any of the three ingredients.
6. Remove from heat. Garnish with green onions. Serve.

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