Sunday, April 20, 2008

All {creative} work and very little play...

... generates a whole lotta stuff!!

It's been a BUSY weekend for me! But I DO have a lot to show for it. Well, pictures at least. When that which is being produced is food - it doesn't stick around very long to "show". I suppose that's a good thing and a testament to my success with a particular recipe.

I'd been wanting to try soufflés for quite a while. It was up there on my list of potential "scary" items to bake, yet I knew I wanted to try someday. Perhaps because back in high school, I started building my baking repertoire with mastering the lemon meringue pie (random, I know) I seem to have a knack for the often tricky art of dealing with egg whites. Foamy, soft peaks, medium peaks, stiff peaks, glossy, firm, dry -- true baking success for all, once you can figure out what it means to beat egg whites to each of these degrees. That's when these "scary" items become not-so-impossible. Soufflés, macarons, meringues, sponge cakes... so far so good for me! Yay!!!!! So I tried this Grand Marnier soufflé recipe a couple weeks ago when I had Mom and Dad over for dinner (they're getting ready to go to France so we dined on fillet mignon, red wine reduction, French wine and soufflés!) They turned out so well and prepped up so quickly that I wanted to try again to make sure it wasn't just beginner's luck. I did another batch Friday night and they were beautiful - but boy do they drop fast! Look at them in the oven above... I quickly donned thick rubber gloves, grabbed one out of the pan, rushed it to my [already set up] "photo studio" and snapped. And it had already fallen to the top left picture!

The cutest thing I've heard in a while though, was Connie who said "ssshhhh be quiet next time and maybe they won't fall!" I suppose it's one strategy ;)

But before there were soufflés, there were macarons. In every sense of the sentence! Anyone who follows my blog knows I've gone ape-merde over making macarons lately. After some true failures last week I was even more fired up to make more since there's no way I'm letting eggs, nuts and sugar beat ME down!! Plus I finally tracked down some rose syrup at a local Middle Eastern grocery store to try what Deb claims is her favorite flavor. So more macarons it was!! This is the fullest my macaron cookie tin has ever been!! Connie stopped by to sample and got what I think was a very nice "macaron-tasting". Week-old green tea, week-old vanilla bean with salted caramel, rose, lemon, pecan praline with dulce de leche, almond with salted caramel... Her vote was the salted caramel. I think overall that comes in a very close second behind my quite successful pistachio!

I had the salted caramel, lemon curd and dulce de leche left over from other trials, so I made some small batches to use these up. Then I tried my hand at the rose macarons by keeping the cookie plain (but pink) and making up a rose buttercream.

lots of almonds to grind; sprinkled with ground pecan praline; cooling pretty macarons

I don't know whether I don't like rose macarons or I don't like MY rose macarons. But I'm about to throw this batch out. I think it's my rose syrup so I might try a batch with rose water instead to keep it a subtler flavor. The true test is to have Deb try them but so far no one has liked them (including Mom - who threw hers away!)

rose, lemon, salted caramel; pecan praline with dulce de leche; rose and lemon

And finally... I made napkins. I hinted that I may do this when exclaiming about the amazing Amy Butler fabrics I came across recently. And napkins I certainly made. These were fun and easy - and didn't involve whipping eggs! Just in time too 'cuz I used my last egg making the Friday night soufflés!

home-sewn napkins!

Even squeezed in time for a double date and "fun on the town", Saturday night!
What a productive weekend! Yet all I have to show for it is pictures, cute napkins and perhaps 5 extra pounds!!

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