Easter Egg French Macarons

This year will be a different Easter for people all over the world. Most churches will not be holding in person services, and so many people will be at home in their Easter bonnets and dresses (or, more likely, their comfy clothes) watching a screen and singing along in their living room.

My family went to church every Sunday growing up, so of course we went on Easter too. In fact, we spent much of Easter morning at church because my dad led the church choir, and my sisters and I sang in the children’s choir at both services. I remember going shopping to pick out our Easter dresses; coming down the hall on Easter morning to check out what awaited us in our fluffy, pastel-colored Easter baskets; and the way it felt to sing Hallelujah for the first time in weeks on Easter Sunday. Our church always hosted a big breakfast for the choir members in between services and I always looked forward to the Cheesy Egg Casseroles, the sweet baked goods, and the chocolate candies we would later get to eat.

After mixing the batter and piping them out, the macarons rest for 20-40 minutes

I grew up knowing the meaning of Easter was more than candy and the Easter bunny, but like any kid I looked forward to the tangible pleasures of the occasion – the treats, the egg hunt, and the pretty dress. Though as an adult I haven’t gone to church every Sunday, I still look forward to Easter. It often marks the arrival of spring, and the chance for hope, renewal, and growth.

This year there will likely be no in-person egg hunts and definitely no big Easter breakfast at church for me. Maybe we’ll do a small egg hunt in the backyard for my daughter and a nice breakfast, but it will definitely be different. I don’t know about you, but I am still struggling with how to help and connect with my neighbors and my community in this time of social distancing. In a normal time I would bake cookies and treats and share them with my neighbors, but instead now I just bake to distract myself.

Nonetheless, I’m still going to hold on to the hope that comes with the Easter season. Hope that we as a country will come together and take care of each other as best as we can during this crisis. Hope that we will come out a better nation (and world) at the end of this. Hope that this time of social distancing will help us to reach out to each other more and appreciate the simple things in life.

For this occasion of Easter, I made these Easter Egg Macarons from Tessa Huff’s book Icing on the Cake. Mine did not turn out nearly as beautiful as hers, but I was still happy with the result. Making macarons is no easy task, but even if the results are somewhat misshapen and puffy, hopefully you will still find comfort in the whipping and the stirring, the resting of the batter, and filling of little sandwich cookies. Leave me a comment if you want the recipe.

The baked shells

Happy Easter! Sending everyone peace!

Breakfast Berry Pie (gluten free!)

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For some reason last week I ended up eating a lot of pie. Monday I went to a movie with a friend and we followed it up with a delicious slice of pie at Pie Bar (the Ballard Bumble Berry Crumble is amazing!). Wednesday evening Sam and I took a mini vacation to Whidbey Island and ended our evening with a shared (and equally scrumptious) berry tart (basically an individual pie) at Christopher’s. Then the next day we stopped at Whidbey Pies for lunch and though we started with a savory pie for lunch, we also ended it, of course, with a slice of dessert pie. Continue reading

Seattle Apple Pie

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We made it to beautiful Seattle and in a week’s time we have toured apartments, visited family and friends, walked around a hilly but beautiful new city, and eaten delicious food. Surprisingly I have hardly cooked in the last three weeks. Between staying at a hotel our last week in Boston and now staying with my in-laws, I don’t even remember how to do meal planning and shopping as all of our food has been prepared by others (and for that I am grateful!) Eventually we’ll have to get back to real life, but for now I’m enjoying it. Continue reading

Ming Tsai’s Spiced Ginger Cake

I always look forward to the summers with childlike glee. And not just for the sunshine, warm temperatures, and beach days, but for the summer produce. I think of the piles of emerald zucchini and fuzzy peaches at the farmers’ market stands. I pine for the days when there is fresh corn on the cob and sweet ruby berries. In winter or fall it always seems like summer weather and summer produce holds so much potential for summer magic – spontaneous backyard cookouts with fresh, colorful salads or that shiny, happy feeling when you see a beautiful sunset after the perfect day.

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So after all this talk of gorgeous summer stone fruits and squashes, why am I making a ginger cake in August? Here you are nearing the end of a hot and feisty summer season and you’re making what’s essentially a Christmas treat? Okay, okay, let me explain. Continue reading

Post 113 – Burnt Caramel Pudding with Candied Pecans

IMG_0800I have been wanting to make butterscotch pudding for a long time. Well, at least since January when this recipe appeared in my inbox. Or since last fall when I ate a whole giant bowlful of it at Lineage despite telling myself I should take half of it home for later (who takes desserts home?) Maybe even since Dave loaned me his beautiful cookbook With a Measure of Grace and I began drooling over the colorful pages. That cookbook has given me a reason to go to Utah. Hell’s Backbone Grill – Look it up. Continue reading

Post 59 – Pumpkin Crème Brulée

There are never enough pumpkin recipes, in my opinion. Here is another delicious one.

I know, I know. I’m a little late for your Thanksgiving meal planning and for that I apologize, BUT pumpkin season isn’t over yet. Please save this gem of a recipe for another time. Make it for a fancy dinner party dessert and impress your guests (dinner party? does anyone say that anymore?)

Remember when we made lavender  crème brulée and it was much easier than you thought? Pumpkin crème brulée is no different. A little canned pumpkin (or roast the pumpkin if you like), some warm and exotic spices and bam! you have a mini pumpkin pie in a dish with a crunchy sugary crust. How could you say no? Here’s how it’s done.

So you start with your egg yolks and sugar and vanilla (not pictured).

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You heat up your cream.

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For the pumpkin part mix pumpkin, a little sugar, and spices.

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Voila – the primary colors and building blocks of Pumpkin Crème Brulée.

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Temper your eggs by very gradually adding the cream. Strain it (in case you scrambled any of your eggs) and you are good to go.

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For my particular technique I layered my pumpkin and cream mixture separately, though I’m sure you could try carefully folding the pumpkin into the cream and egg mixture. I assembled my ramekins and poured the cream on top of the pumpkin.

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Bake in a water bath until slightly jiggly and let cool. Torch and plunge your spoon into the crackly shield of sugar.

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Then enjoy!

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Pumpkin Crème Brulée

makes 3-4 servings depending on your ramekin size. You can easily double the recipe.

2 egg yolks

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 T. sugar, divided, plus some for sprinkling on top

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

sprinkle of nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. cloves (or allspice)

Prepare a small pot of boiling water. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat cream in a small pan over low just until small bubbles start to appear around the pan edges. Do not boil! Remove from heat. Meanwhile in a small bowl beat egg yolks, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla. In another small bowl mix pumpkin, spices, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

While whisking, gradually add the cream to the egg mixture. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the mixture.

Lay out your ramekins in a big oven safe pan (use multiple pans if necessary) and divide the pumpkin mixture between them. Spread out evenly and wipe off any that you get on the ramekin edges as it will burn. You can put as much or as little pumpkin in as you like but I think it’s best to keep the layer no deeper than 1/4 inch. Carefully divide your cream mixture between the ramekins, pouring on top of the pumpkin mixture.

Carefully pour your boiling water around your ramekins, being careful not to get any water in any of them. Cover the pan with foil and slowly and carefully transfer your pans to the oven.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the depth of your ramekins. You want the custard to jiggle only slightly in the center. Remove carefully, remove the foil and cool. As soon as possible, remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool on a cooling rack or counter.

Refrigerate until ready to serve (at least a few hours for chilled custard). Top with a thin layer of sugar and torch according to your torch directions. Let cool slightly to allow the sugar to harden and serve.

And since Spoon Fork Bacon and I seem to be on the same wavelength (believe me I had the idea to make this before seeing their post), here‘s an even more impressive version.

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Post 43 – Peach Cobbler

Ok, now that it’s September let’s be honest. Summer is pretty much over.

Fall is great and all – beautiful colorful leaves, cozy temperatures, and a stash of pumpkin recipes you’ve been waiting until this time of year to try, but I have to admit I will miss the summer produce. I am going to miss all of the delicious, fresh, juicy, and sweet nectarines and peaches that summer provides. They have been a staple in my breakfast granola and afternoon munching.

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So this past week when I stopped at the farmers’ market, I was thrilled to find an abundance of cheap, local peaches. I bought a few pounds (now I wish I’d bought more!) with the intention of making a peach dessert of some sort.

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When one of my friends invited me to hang out with her and some of her friends, I figured it was the perfect opportunity. Wanting to avoid rolling out a piecrust and crimping it just perfectly I opted for Mark Bittman’s fruit cobbler recipe. He makes his with blueberries, though he says you can use any fruit. I used 8 cups of peaches and did a one and a half recipe of the cobbler topping for a 9×13 pan. (I also sprinkled cinnamon on the peaches.) I recommend if you make it with a juicy fruit like peaches to toss the peaches with a little flour as mine turned out a little too soupy and made a sticky mess when I tilted it while carrying it on the T.

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As with most of Bittman’s recipes, this one is simple and for me – fun. I get to use my favorite tool – the pastry blender!

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It’s perfect served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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I hope you get a chance to enjoy the last few weeks of ripe summer fruits and vegetables. I’m hoping to take advantage of the warm weather and longer days as long as possible.

What’s your favorite peach recipe? Please share it with me in a comment below!