segunda-feira, 23 de novembro de 2009
Nuts speak to me and it definitely can explain why I am totally crazy for nuts, specially Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashew nuts and peanuts. But I also adore almonds and hazelnuts. I can cook everything with them and eat them everyday. Actually, I always have grounded nuts around so I sprinkle some toasted almonds, peanuts or Brazil nuts over ice creams, mousses or puddings as an extra flavor. I love caramelized nuts to and I regularly make pralinés with both whole and grounded nuts and they are amazing.
I love nut-based biscuits such as amaretti, basler brünsli and macarons for example. There is something about the mixture of wiped egg whites and nuts which makes me totally amazed. This time I made macarons using grounded toasted Brazil nuts and the result is so incredibly good that I just couldn't stop eating them straight out of the oven. Once baked the macarons keep the dense and strong aroma of the Brazil nuts which reminds me of home and I feel more homesick than I actually am...
The macarons were made with the nuts a friend brought me from home some months ago and I saved them very tight because I just feel like saving some of the good things from home that I have until the day I can actually get some more, or buy some more, to replace my small stocks. Since I will be traveling soon and a good friend has already sent me some more nuts I could relax and enjoy my last box of nuts..
I love macarons without any filling, just plain as I find that most of the fillings can be pretty dominant, extremely sweet and disturb the light flavor of the macarons' shells. The shells are very sweet by nature as it is nothing but a nutty meringue, but I love the way they are. So, even if had planned to make an orange ganache to fill Brazil nut macarons, I just didn't make it and ate them like this.
I think it will fit wonderfully with some citrus filling, maybe next time I will go for it. Besides I find it really boring the process of macaron filling and I think they loose their texture once filled and become a little bit mushy after a couple of days. It resists a lot better if the shells are kept unfilled.
Brazil nuts Macarons
100 grams of egg whites (approximately 3 egg whites which must be aged for a couple of days at room temperature)
30 grams sugar
125 grams grounded Brazil nuts
200 grams confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
First separate the egg whites and leave them covered on the counter at room temperature for two or even three days).
On the day you plan to make the macarons process the nuts and confectioners sugar in a food processor until well grounded, sift the mixture oncee, sift it again to remove all the big pieces of nuts. Line two or three large cookie pans with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of a electric mixer beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the granulated sugar, one table spoon at a time and let the mixer continue beating until you have a glossy meringue.
Add the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture to the meringue in three or four parts folding until the dry ingredients were completely incorporated to the meringue and your don't have any more white parts in the batter. Make a test to check the batter. Put a teaspoon of batter on the corner of one of the prepared pans and if the batter flattens immediately you are ready if it form rustic peaks you still have to fold the batter couple of times more.
Once it is ready put the batter in a pastry bag, or a plastic bag, and pipe the batter to a diameter of three centimeters on the prepared pans. Let the piped macarons stand in room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes, while your oven is heating. You can sprinkle some nuts over the shells, before they dry completely. I sprinkled some of the bigger pieces of nuts which didn't pass through the sieve. You can also sprinkle some sugar or any other grounded spice or nut.
Bake the shells for 10 minutes at 150 C/275F in a preheated oven. It is important to turn the pans halfway through for a more equal baking.
Makes 60-70 shells (30-35 filled macarons)
sábado, 14 de novembro de 2009
Mate is my favorite cold drink and it reminds me of Brazil and those very hot days on the beach, in Rio de Janeiro, when happiness was easily confused with a glass of iced mate shaken with some lemon juice and served with manioc starch biscuits. As time went by I started to appreciate mate blended with passion fruit juice or cashew fruit pulp and lots of ice cubes.
For those of you used to drink green hot mate, I am sorry, I know iced mate might sound a little bit crazy, almost like a crime but it is so good, deliciously fresh and seductive with its smoky aroma and I just can't resist. If you don't know anything about mate it is an amazing and delicious South American herb which is drunk by native Americans since long before the arrival of the first European colonists. It is a delicious drink, hot or cold...
Iced mate with pomegranate juice
1 liter of water
2 tablespoons of roasted mate or black tea
one big and ripe pomegranate
1 tbsp of sugar (use more or less if you prefer)
Ice, lots of ice cubes
In a pan boil one liter of water and once it is boiled add the mate and let it in infusion until it cools completely. After the infusion has cooled put in a jug and transfer it to the fridge. When you are prepared to serve transfer the chilled infusion to a blender, add the pomegranate pulp, the sugar, ice and blend it for 30 seconds as you don't want to smash the pomegranate seeds too much. Pass the mixture through a sieve, discard the solids and serve the drink with lots of ice cubes.