Cook N Bake French Series: French Macaron

Dear Reader,

sadly this week we say goodbye to our French series. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did while researching and picking some of the most interesting recipes of the French cuisine. To conclude this journey and to reward you from being such a great supporter and follower, we would like to present you a little treat, the French Macarons.

French Macarons are smooth, egg based, almond flavored, cookie-shaped meringues filled with jams, buttercream or ganache. The shells are incredibly soft and airy that melt in your mouth, while the cream makes it chewy and..yes, quite addicting!

The origin of macarons seems to be contended between France and Italy, where they appeared in the 18th century, probably forwarded by a French Carmelite monastery during the revolution. Someone attributes their origin to Catherine de Medici. It’s even told that her granddaughter in Nancy, France, survived starvation thanks to the macarons. Later they were also served in the Versaille Court in Paris to the royalty, a fact probably contributed to make them popular in the 1830s. Today they are famous thanks to the patisserie Laduree, known all around the world for their delicious treats. Each season they create a new flavor, as they use different ingredients for their filling based on the availability of the season.

If you wish you were in Paris but cannot afford the trip, then bring Paris into your home with this delicious macarons recipe!

Ingredients (for about 16):

for the meringue:

1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioner sugar

1 cup finely ground sliced, blanched almonds

6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

for the filling:

3 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until completely incorporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macaroons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.

Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macaroons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

While baking, you can make the filling.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar. Set mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat mixture, whisking often, until it feels warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until mixture is stiff and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, and continue mixing until butter is thoroughly incorporated. The filling can be kept, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before stirring. You can add finely ground fruit to it or mix in some flavored jam.

Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

(Recipe by Martha Stewart Recipes)

~ENJOY!

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Cook N Bake French Series: Beef Bourguignon

Rometti - Cook N bake French Series - Beef Bourguignon

Here we are with the second to the last Cook N Bake French Series!

Rometti’s passion for turning every meal into a celebratory moment and create everlasting memories simply couldn’t avoid taking into consideration a dish that is synonymous to celebration, Beef Bourguignon. This dish is a harmonic combination of aromatic vegetables, spices, sauce and wine which create a delicious, savory bed for the beef.
Beef Bourguignon is a typical French dish that originated in the eastern Burgundy region (Bourgogne in French). Burgundy is also the kind of wine that is traditionally used to braise the beef (typically cut into small cubes), to which a broth of garlic, onions, and mushrooms is added towards the end of the cooking. Bacon is also another important ingredient that adds flavor to the beef.
Just like many other dishes, Beef Bourguignon was a creation of the lower class, and later it got introduced into restaurants for the upper class. The reason why the simmering of the beef takes so long was in fact because the cuts were not of tender meat (reason why it was not served in the “haute cuisine”) which needed to be moisturized and softened.

Beef Bourguignon is similar to the Italian spezzatino, or the Hungarian goulash. In America Beef Bourguignon was popularized by Julia Child, it can be served immediately after cooking or can be served later. And it’s to honor Julia Child that we decided to use her original version of the recipe as it appears in her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” recipe book.

You will be unbelievably pleased by the aromatic smell and wine-infused, rich taste of such a homely dish! Whether you decide to cook it on a rainy day, or at Christmas to share it with your beloved ones, you will be blown away by how deliciously all the ingredients work together! As long as you are patient enough to cook the beef perfectly!

Ingredients:

6-ounce chunk of bacon
9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole, 3 inches deep
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
Slotted spoon
3 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups of a full-bodied young red wine, or a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock.
1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered, sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove rind, and cut bacon into lardoons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 cups of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in the middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for the seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

~ENJOY!

Copyright image: Gareth Morgans

Cook N Bake French Series: Ile Flottante

Cook N Bake French Series : Ile Flottante

Hello Everyone,

Have you ever wondered despite of having eaten more than enough we can always find some room for dessert? Sometimes we end up ordering a whole slice of cake when all we wanted was to savor one little bite of it! But we just couldn’t help it, and dinner wouldn’t be the same without it. It is desserts take us back to our childhood memories probably more than any other course.

Today Rometti wants to explore a traditional dessert from the French cuisine that, even if you’ve never had it before, its simple and popular ingredients that we hope will in fact take you back to those childhood memories.

The French have a wide array of desserts, from the popular creme brulee to the apple tart tatin, without forgetting crepes, cookies, creams, flans, ganaches.. Our choice was not easy this week, but we decided to dedicate our blog to the Ile Flottante which we had the chance to taste a few weeks ago while in France at the restaurant Le Boeuf A La Mode (Versailles) which we nicely recommend.
The Ile Flottante, or Floating Island, which looks like a cake is actually nothing less than a light meringue made of egg whites and sugar and dipped into a custard sauce such as the Creme Anglaise. Ile Flottante is a delicious, dreamy, airy dessert that melts in your mouth, but don’t be fooled, its preparation requires precision!
Ingredients:

for the meringue:
9 large egg whites, room temperature (reserve 4 yolks for making creme anglaise)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
for the Creme Anglaise:
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Coarse salt

Preheat the oven at 375 F and brush a Bundt pan with oil.
Start making the meringue with bringing a kettle of water to a boil. In the meantime whisk egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a mixer at medium speed until soft. Add very slowly some superfine sugar and while doing that increase the speed to high. Beat for about 3-4 minutes until stiff. Reduce the speed to low and whisk in some vanilla.

Put the meringue into pan and smooth it with a small spatula to remove air pockets. Set the Bundt pan in a roasting pan to put into the oven. Add about 2 inches of boiling water into the roasting pan so not to burn the meringue. Bake for about 20 minutes until puffed and lightly browned. Transfer the Bundt pan to a wire rack and let it cool.

For the Creme Anglaise: combine milk and cream in a saucepan. Scrape vanilla seeds into pan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, salt (only a pinch). While whisking pour the milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Put the whole mixture back into the pan. Cook about 5 minutes at medium heat without stopping stirring. When the mixture is very thick strain through a fine sleeve into a bowl. Press a plastic wrap on the top of the creme and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Unmold the meringue onto a cake plate. Cut in slices and top each slice with the creme anglaise to make the Ile Flottante. Serve cold!

Note: you can add a caramel sauce or a fruit sauce to it, as well as you can decorate it with dry fruit or almonds.

~ENJOY!

Cook N Bake French Series: Bouillabaisse A La Marseillaise

Rometti Limoncello - Cook N Bake French Series: Bouillabaisse

Last week we started out with a very simple yet delicious French cuisine dish, this week we’re elevating to something a little more complicated, a recipe from Marseille, la Bouillabaisse. Marseille is the second biggest city of France after Paris, the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region and the oldest city in France (it was founded by the Phoenicians in 600 BC)! Its economy has always evolved around the port, both for the trade and for the transportation. Today Marseille is one of the most visited cities in France because of its naturally beautiful landscapes and breathtaking coastal scenery, the art scene, the restaurants and the cafes that extend along the port.

La Bouillabaisse A La Marseillaise is a traditional dish similar to a seafood stew made with at least five kinds of fish (or seven, the more the better!), a classic Mediterranean recipe that originated from the lower class as a meal for the fishermen returning from their trips. Initially they used shellfish and rockfish that restaurants refused to serve, eventually, as the city developed in its richness, more ingredients were added to refine the recipe and the dish started to be served in restaurants for the upper class.
Like many other dishes, Bouillabaisse‘s rich flavor is the anthem for Summer, but since we’re almost at the end of Summer, we’re sure that its savory, garlicky, seafood and herbs combination will take you back to those sunny days with just one sip!

Ingredients (serves 6):

3 pounds of at least 3 different kinds of fish fillets, fresh or quick frozen (thaw first)

1/2 cup Olive oil

1-2 pounds of Oysters, clams, or mussels

1 cup cooked shrimp, crab, or lobster meat, or rock lobster tails

1 cup thinly sliced onions

4 Shallots, thinly sliced OR the white parts of 2 or 3 leeks, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup canned tomatoes

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2-inch slice of fennel or 1 teaspoon of fennel seed

3 sprigs fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

2-3 whole cloves

Zest of half an orange

1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup clam juice or fish broth

2 Tbps lemon juice

2/3 cup white wine

Sliced French bread

Put 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large saucepan. Once it’s hot add and sauté for about a minute onions and shallots. Add the garlic and sweet red pepper, followed by tomato, celery, and fennel. Stir for a few minutes. Add another 1/4 cup of olive oil, thyme, bay leaf, cloves and orange zest. Cook until the onion is soft and golden.
Cut fish fillets into 2-inch pieces. Add them and 2 cups of water to the vegetable mixture . Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes (in French Bouillabaisse is a combination of the verbs bolhir, to boil, and abaissar, to reduce the heat). Add the rest of the seafood: oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, crabmeat, lobster tails (you can choose other types of fish and shellfish as long as they are super fresh!).
Add saffron, salt and pepper. Add clam juice, lemon juice and white wine. Let it simmer and cook for 5 minutes longer.
Serve hot with a crisp slice of French bread, and..
~ENJOY!

Cook N Bake French Series: Croque-Madame

Rometti Cook N Bake French Series Croque-Madame

“After one taste of French food … I was hooked. I’d never eaten like that before, I didn’t know such food existed. The wonderful attention paid to each detail of the meal was incredible to me. I’d never really drunk good wine before, and knew nothing at all about it. It was simply a whole new life experience.”
Julia Child

This Thursday we start our Cook N Bake: French Series, inspired by the elegant and memorable culinarian journey that we experienced during our latest trip to the fascinating capital of France, Paris. To inaugurate this new series that will celebrate the French cuisine for the next month, Rometti decided to let you discover the Parisian flavors by starting with a simple recipe that everyone can easily replicate at home, the Croque-Madame.

Croque-Madame is a variation of the original Croque-Monsieur, a hot ham and cheese sandwich which takes its name after the French verb croquer, “to crunch”, and monsieur, “mister”, and born as a fast snack appeared for the first time in a Parisian Cafe’ on the boulevard des Capucines in 1920. Croque Madame differs from Croque-Monsieur because of a fried or poached egg on top, believed to resemble a lady’s hat. The Croque-Madame, as well as the Croque-Monsieur, can be made with different kinds of cheese (gruyere, Gouda, Swiss, bleu d’Auvergne cheese…) and ham can be substituted by other cold cuts such as turkey or chicken, as the French chef Jacques Pepin did on an episode/cookbook of the Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home series in which he worked with nothing less than Julia Child (who by the way yesterday would have turned 100 years old!).

For a successful Croque-Madame you will need to use the freshest sliced bread you can get, white, with cereals, or you can even try with an English muffin or an American bagel.

Ingredients:

2 soft white bread slices

2 thin slices of ham

room temperature butter

1 egg

2 thin slices of gruyere cheese

Take the two bread slices and spread them with butter on one side. On one slice lay 2 slice of cheese, and then the 2 slices of ham. Top it with the other bread slice having the side with the butter touching the ham. Set aside.
In the meantime warm up the oven to 465 F (240 C).
Take about 1 oz of butter and melt it into a small nonstick pan. Melt another 1 oz of butter in another little pan.
When the butter start sizzling, pour in the egg without breaking the yolk. Pour the rest of the melted butter on top of the egg, cook for about 2 minutes and then put the pan into the oven until the yolk is cooked to desire.
Grill the Croque-Monsieur on both sides, into a toaster or on a pan, and when the egg is ready gently put it on top of the croque which is now a Croque-Madame!
Eat while it’s still hot.

ENJOY! ~

Image by Radvaner: http://www.bernardradvaner.com