Tuesday, October 18, 2011

walking dead

good afternoon! sam and i rushed back from portland yesterday morning, and i went straight from the airport to work. . . it always sounds like such a great idea to save $50 and get an extra night with your friends when you're buying the plane tickets, but i'll tell you, waking up at 4 am after a late-night sushi party is ROUGH. and working through it is rougher. i spent yesterday in major zombie mode.

before we left for portland, i made a batch of extra-large macarons. when i was in school, we were taught to make them about the size of a quarter - petit four size - and it has been a really hard habit to break, maybe because you get so darn many out of a batch and they're so tiny and cute that way. i decided it'd be easier to travel with extra large macs rather than a box full of delicate little guys, so i made them about three times their usual size, and i will never go back.


raspberry vanilla macarons with dark chocolate ganache

100 g aged egg whites, preferably at room temperature
28 g sugar
5 g egg white powder
1 t bakto vanilla ground vanilla beans (or vanilla bean paste, or just plain vanilla if that's what you have on hand)
1/2 t bakto raspberry extract
a few drops of deep red food coloring
120 g almond flour
200 g powdered sugar

for ganache:
200 g dark chocolate
about 3/8 cup (or 6 T, or 1/4 cup plus 2 T. it's a clumsy amount.) heavy cream

as always, get everything measured out and a nice big space cleared. i like to go ahead and prep 3 baking pans by trimming parchment to fit them and securing them down with butter before i start, and get a piping bag ready with a tip about the size of a pencil eraser.

sift together the almond flour and sugar and set aside. now combine the sugar and egg white powder. using a handmixer, whip the egg whites until they are foamy and no longer yellow; slowly add the sugar mixture and beat until you have a nice meringue, with peaks that will still droop a touch. before you're finished, add the extracts and color and mix until they're evenly combined. the egg white powder does a good job of preventing an over-mix, but you want to make sure not to under beat it, too - it should be nice and shiny.


at this point, shake off the beaters and grab a good, flexible rubber spatula. grab the sieve you used to sift together the flour & powdered sugar, and add the flour/sugar mixture to the meringue in five additions, sifting it through the sieve again each time to evenly distribute it. gently fold the flour each time until you don't see streaks anymore.



all right! pour all this into your eagerly awaiting piping bag; i usually fit mine over a quart container, twisting the tip, so i can pour it in there with both hands and get every bit out of the bowl.

move to your trays. the trick we were taught in school was to count as your piping, a quick "one-two-three," so that they all turn out the same size; err on the size of giving yourself too much space between cookies, because they'll spread a bit after being piped and even a bit more when baking. after you pipe a sheet, tap them once, hard, on the table to release air bubbles.

then just let 'em sit. while this is happening, turn your oven to just under 300; i'd definitely get a thermometer, if you don't have one already, as my busted old brooklyn oven actually burns at 375 when i have it set to 300, so i have to watch it and adjust accordingly.

let them rest, preferably not somewhere super hot or humid, until they develop a skin, and you can poke them gently without the batter coming off on your finger. pop them in your preheated oven and set a timer for six minutes, then rotate them and bake for six more - this is perfect for my oven, but yours might need a bit more or less time, so watch for them to start to barely turn light brown on their feet and take them out then.

let them cool entirely before peeling them off the parchment; you can refrigerate or freeze the shells if you don't want to fill them immediately, otherwise melt 2/3 of the chocolate with the cream over low heat on the oven, and mix in the rest of the cold, chopped chocolate after it's all melted. this should give you a good consistency for piping; pipe a dollop onto one sandwich, match it with a mate, and voila. these things only get better with a day or two in the fridge, so don't be afraid to make them ahead of time.

i know i've done macarons to death, but i continue to be delighted with them; as a pastry chef with a seriously stunted sweet tooth, i never tire of the mix of textures and the fact that you can make any flavor combination under the sun with these things. the raspberry flavor in this is as good, or better, than when i've tried pulverizing dried raspberries to use - i highly recommend all the flavors bakto offers. the woman behind the company is a scientist really does an incredible job of extracting the most natural tasting flavors. give 'em a try.

that's all from me for today. we had such a fantastic time up in maine and have lots to show for it, as soon as i've rested up and gotten my act together a bit.

xo audrey

Thursday, October 13, 2011

office food

hey y'all! i'm scrambling to get all my work done before i leave town tonight - sam and i are heading up to portland, maine for a long weekend with some very good friends of mine who fled there from new york about a year ago. in the meantime, i wanted to do a quick food post of some snacks i've made for my officemates lately.

i'm a pastry chef by trade, but currently working in an office full time while sam & i save our pennies towards opening a bakery of our own someday, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. i'm fortunate to have enough down time at work, along with a fully functional kitchen, to be able to practice my passion on an almost-daily basis, whipping up snacks for the office; no one's complained yet. a couple weeks ago it was lobster rolls, and today i made an apple-pear crumble to usher in the fall (and make my absence tomorrow a little less painful.)


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tarragon lobster rolls

(makes 10 full sized rolls)

2 lbs lobster meat, cooked
1 package standard hot dog buns
2 T melted butter
1 T chopped tarragon
1 t good, smoked spanish paprika
~ 1/2 cup mayonnaise (to your taste)
salt & pepper

very simple - set aside the hot dog buns and butter; mix everything else in a bowl, tasting as you go. add paprika, salt, pepper & mayo as you want to get it the consistency you like - this is a jumping off point (i like mine pretty salty and a little heavy on the mayo.) then turn your oven to 300, brush the hot dog buns with butter, and toast them for just a couple of minutes; fill and serve immediately, as they'll get soggy if you let them sit around.


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easy apple & pear crumble

i say "easy" because i made this entirely with stuff that was in my office already - no need for anything fancy. i even used a pre-made pie crust, which is a NEVER for me except that there are no pie pans in the office and i don't have a choice.

3 apples
2 pears
about 2 T unsalted butter
about 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
about 2 T flour

about 1 1/2 cups whole almonds
pinch ginger
pinch cinnamon
4 T unsalted butter
3 T flour

heat oven to 350. put your pre-made crust in and bake it until it's just browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. take it out and set aside.

peel & core apples and pears; cut into thin slices and set aside. start the butter in a medium pot. once the butter is browned, add the pears & apples and cook until softened. add sugar and spices and cook until the liquid has thickened and there isn't much of it, stirring occasionally. remove from heat.

to make the crumble, start the almonds, sugar, flour and spices in a blender or food processor; pulse until the almond has been chopped up into little bits. add the butter and pulse until it forms a clumpy crumb. put it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

pour the filling into the crust and smooth it out; place the crumble on top, crumbling it into bite sized pieces, and bake until the top and crust have browned, about 10-15 minutes. let it cook for ten minutes or so, and voila! delicious. i whipped up a little vanilla whipped cream to top them off. deeeelicious, and perfect for this season change (pears are so good right now.)


so have a great weekend everyone! i hope to come back refreshed, lungs full of northeastern air and legs exhausted from many dance-a-thons. i'll do my best to take lots of pictures.

much love,

xo audrey

*** edited to add lobster roll recipe for susanelle.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

sugar cookies

good morning! i should start off with a warning that i'm on day two of a three-day juice cleanse, and i'm feeling a little loopy. starting every morning with a shot of chlorophyll (easily the most foul thing i have ever tasted) is in no way a stand-in for a nice, hot cup of coffee. i'm not doing this to try to drop weight or anything - just to be clear - but, rather, because i've been drinking beer like a sorority girl on spring break in europe.

all that said, i'm going to torture myself a bit and post some cookies i made over the weekend. a friend just got engaged (congratulations sharon!) and asked me to make cookies for her engagement party. each one got wrapped up with a little note that said, "will you be my bridesmaid?" (or groomsman, depending.) i had a lot of fun decorating them, each a little differently.


i had a moment of panic when i woke up to make them, realizing that i have tons of sugar cookie recipes and wasn't sure which would be best for this kind of decorating; i decided to go with betty crocker, always reliable, and sure enough the dough was perfect. here's the (slightly modified) recipe:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 t raspberry flavor
a couple pinches ground vanilla beans
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda

a friend of sam's owns a company that makes and bottles natural flavorings, and when she heard i was a pastry chef she very generously bestowed me with a basket full of many of her offerings. i've been waiting for a chance to try them out - this summer seemed way too busy (and hot) for baking - so i subbed in raspberry flavor and ground vanilla beans. the flavor was so good that i used them in some macarons later that day, too - subtle, and REALLY raspberry, not some weird fake-tasting concoction. it can be so hard to find good, unusual flavors, and her shop has tons of them, and at super affordable prices. /end shill.

start the butter, sugar and flavor in your mixer; beat them together until nice and fluffy and white. add egg (preferably at room temperature) and mix just until combined, then add the flour, tartar and baking soda all at once until it comes together in a dough (mix as little as possible.) refrigerate for at least an hour, until the dough is nice and firm.

preheat oven to 37roll it out until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick - they'll puff up a little when they bake. i then decorated mine with fondant i dyed and some royal icing i made. voila!

hope everyone had a great weekend!

xo audrey

Friday, October 7, 2011


gooood morning. last night i finally had a quiet night in, so i cracked my knuckles, set up my trusty tripod, and took a few outfit shots so that i could put the "blog" back in "blogger." i can't believe how fast this week went - friday through sunday were spent basking in sweet, sweet music (highlights: flava flav and chuck d leading a 2 hour long public enemy set that was absolutely incredible, and probably the best show of the weekend; jeff magnum playing pretty much every neutral milk hotel song you could ask to hear with the aid of nothing but an acoustic guitar. i may have shed a tear or two.) i also probably consumed my body weight in beer and tacos, so i haven't much felt like getting dressed up and looking at my feet for photos. and as for cooking - monday night i had popcorn for dinner, tuesday chinese takeout, wednesday i went out for korean bbq with some friends and last night i ate leftover storebought pasta. so really, this week has been nothing to write home. . . or you guys. . . about.

one of the things i really wanted for fall was a vintage-feeling suit. i looked at a couple of shops near my office, but nothing was quite right (for the fit or the price) - i spotted this one on asos and patiently waited for the price to drop. it did - plummet, in fact - so i snatched it up and plan on wearing the heck out of it during this not-quite-hot-but-not-quite-cold weather.


blazer: asos
shorts: asos
shirt: thrifted, similar here
shoes: miu miu via ebay (and about 5% of the original price)

my hair is a source of much frustration these days. it kind of wants to do this "i'm a dandelion!" frizz thing at the top of my head, instead of lying down all nice and smooth and happy; as a person who's basically shunned a hairbrush for most of my life, i don't really have the skills necessary to tame it so i've taken to spraying it with a water bottle every morning, smoothing it down, and going. it's working okay, but what i end up with at the end of the day is. . . well. . . what you see here. anyone have any tips? how do you get your hair smooth and calm?

this weekend is shaping up to be a good one: tonight sam and i are going to see the ides of march, and tomorrow i'm making a bunch of cookies for a friend's engagement party then going to a yom kippur dinner at another friend's place. sunday there's a street fair not too far from my apartment that a few of us are going to hit up.

what about you guys? big plans? thanks so much for all the comments - i'll be finally getting back to everyone today, with my apologies for the delay!

xo audrey