Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Heart Macaron

On a recent business trip to New York City I checked out a little café just off Broadway called Macaron Café macaroncafe.com for a sandwich and discovered these little French pastries for the first time. I bought one raspberry Macaron and watched as the woman behind the counter packaged and affix a cute little pink bow around the single perfectly colored raspberry dessert.

Image from La tartine gourmande's photostream

Since then, I have spent countless hours researching, downloading pictures and recipes of these perfect little sweets. More so, I have attempted to bake them myself.

Now… I’m no skilled baker and these things are no easy task even if you are. The eggs must be aged; the batter consistency must be perfect and piped onto a cookie sheet in perfect circular shapes. And I haven’t even really explored the fillings yet.

Nonetheless, after 4 attempts of runny, undercooked, overcooked, oddly shaped, flat Macaron, I have almost created the perfect Macaron.

Almost, because I think I overcooked or let them sit too long before baking. They were a little too crunchy.

Through my research I came accross a blog Mélange :: to mix.

It has quickly become one of my favorite blogs so I wanted to share it with all of you. Julia, a baking enthusiast has a fabulous blog. On her blog she shares many recipes, among some of them... the famous Macaron.

She also features Chocolate Eclairs, Salted Butter Caramel Ice cream, Scones and Fruit Buns to name a few. Please join me in indulging in this wonderful blog.

I'm just dying to try out some of her fabulous Macaron Recipes. Stay tuned for the follow up.


Friday, October 23, 2009

A formal introduction to cakes

For years I’ve found baking somewhat of a challenge. My husband even discouraged me from baking Christmas cookies since every year he got stuck having to eat all the rejected ones, which happened to be more than the good ones.

After the birth of my second child, I found myself baking more and realized how much I enjoyed the time to myself, the careful calculations and the warmth of the oven light as I watched my cake rise in the oven.

I started watching shows like Cake Boss and for the first time in a long time I was inspired again. It was time to express my creativity through cake design.

I recently joined Bonnie Gordon School for a few classes to introduce myself to this new world. I have quickly realized I have a passion for this. I find myself constantly thinking, dreaming and researching cakes.

I created my first fondant cake for thanksgiving. A chocolate raspberry butter cream filled cake. Here’s a super simple Chocolate cake recipe that I learned at the Bonnie Gordon School in my B1 baking class. It’s almost as easy as dumping it out of a box and adding water… I promise.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

1 tsp cornstarch

180 g all purpose flour

275 g sugar

1 tsp baking soda

60 g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp vanilla

75 ml light oil or melted butter

140 ml buttermilk

2 eggs

130 ml prepared coffee


  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF and line pans with parchment paper.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer, followed by remaining ingredients. Stir on low speed with paddle attachment for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and lump free.
  3. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at 325ºF for 20-25 min (or 12-15 min for cupcakes) until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Yields one 8" round, 4" high cake or about 24 cupcakes

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It’s all about balance

There’s something about the orderly complexity of a pattern that I absolutely love.

The busy pattern in this invitation I designed is classic yet it’s application gives it a modern feel.

Over-sized ribbon threaded through the rhinestone buckle demonstrates the sheer elegance of the event and sets the stage for an unforgettable evening.

The booklet design allows you to experience the invitation as a new chapter into the couple’s lives. As you flip through the pages, love quotes guide you through the pertinent information of the event balanced again with the emotional story.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It runs in the family

I’d like to introduce myself as a contributor to the Casarecce blog. I’m Vitania’s Cousin Anna and I too enjoy things “home made”.

Although I too have a knack for home cooked meals (it runs in the family), my other obsession is for all things paper and all things baked.

I look forward to sharing with you some of the creations I’ve made as well as my journey to perfecting my baking and decorating skills. I hope to inspire you with some ideas and help you shape your own beautiful creations.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday Night Chili

Usually, on the first Football Sunday in September, i make a huge Chili to kick off the season. Since we were a little busy this year, I made it yesterday . And boy was it delicious, fortunately there is enough left over for tomorrow night. I took the original recipe from Cooking light, but it had so many complicated ingredients - i simplified into this simple and savoury Chili. That's the great thing about Chili, it's yours to play around with and enjoy! As usual, my recipes are just guidelines, it's more fun to add more of what you like and less of what you don't..:-)

Sunday Night Chili

Photo Credit: Cooking Light via My Recipes

8 servings
Olive Oil
500 Grams extra lean ground beef
500 Grams of lean Turkey sausages, removed from casings ( or pork sausage)
2 cups chopped onion
1 cups sliced carrots, I like rounds
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup lager-style beer (such as Budweiser)
1/2 cup or more of Water or Chicken stock
1 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 (15-ounce) can or 2 cups of red kidney beans
1 (15-ounce) can or 2 cups of Romano beans
2 -3 Cups of tomato passato or crushed tomatoes. I use home made so it's fairly water - canned tomatoes tends to be a little thicker .
1 smoked ham steak (I used Schneiders Old fashioned ham steak ) 175 Grams

NOTE: There is no salt added to this recipe because I found between the sausages and ham, as well as beans that were pre salted, it was not necessary. Watch for salt if you are using commercially prepared ingredients, it can add up quickly.

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco OR Grated cheddar
8 lime wedges

Preparation :
1. Heat oil id dutch oven over medium-high heat. Just a tablespoon. Add lean ground beef
; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to slightly crumble. Transfer beef to side
2. Re coat pan if necessary. Add turkey sausage meat; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Transfer turkey to side dish
3. Re coat pan with olive oil. Add onion and carrots sauté 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer; cook 1 minute. Return Ground meat to pot. Add water or Chicken stock to mix. Add chili powder, and all ingredients (through ham stead) to dutch oven.
Cover over Med hi heat until it comes to a boil, and then simmer on low for an hour and a half.. Remove bay leaves. You can taste for salt and add a little if necessary. Ladle about 1 1/3 cups chili into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve each serving with 1 lime wedge. The lime wedge is delicious with Chili - I also served with some baked tortilla chips.