The word “beer” always makes me think of the scene from Mickey Blue Eyes when Hugh Grant’s proper English character is trying to pretend to be a mobster and really can’t fake an italian accent! Now, unlike Hugh, accents I can do, but I’m not much of a beer person. Despite that, I’m just as game as the next person when it comes to trying new ingredients . . . SO, when some friends and I decided to have a food-off, iron chef style, with the only required ingredient being beer, I knew it was time to get creative.
Step 1: Thinking outside the box!
When I first started scouring the internet (ahem: Pinterest) for a recipe that would function as my beer muse, I found a lot of beer-battered meats and chocolate stout cakes. . . both of which sounded delightful, but both of which I knew would already be making an appearance at the bake-off (courtesy of my deliciously talented friends). It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the concept of homemade beer-flavored marshmallows that I knew what I was going to try. Originally from a gourmet sweet shop called Truffle Truffle, I found and followed an awesome copycat recipe from Kitchn.com. I was a little nervous making my first ever marshmallows. . . but they were actually pretty simple!
Step 2: Letting them Sit (Set)
After pouring the sticky goo into a pan, complete with just under 1 cup of delicous summer lager from Cisco Brewers in Nantucket, I was ready to keep going. . . but this is the part where you have to be patient and wait. Its a good idea to crush up the pretzels at this point. I left them bigger than my source did. . . pretzel powder is just a little too wimpy for me.
Step 3: Slice and Dice
Finally, when enough time has passed, you get to slice these fluffy little miracles into the size/shape you wish. I went for smallish cubes. . . It was kind of tricky because of stickiness, and so next time I might let them sit longer or go for a better knife or something!
Step 4: Chocl-i-fy!
Melt chocolate and dip those marshy-mellowy little lumps in them. Sprinkle them with pretzel bits and let cool/harden.
Step 5: Eat and Enjoy!!
The result was fantastic! They’re perfect little mouthfulls of sweetness with a hint of savory/salty in the finish. I would recommend them for upscale football-watching parties (if those exist!) and fancy dessert-like snacks!
Other beer-inclusive recipes on my to do list:
I am currently in love with making shakes, and not the Chik-fil-A/insanely delicious/add-five-pounds kind. I’ve been having some healthy smoothies to replace breakfast and as a snack here and there, and I’m loving them. Here are my two favorite healthy shakes of late:
The Breakfast Smoothie:
- 1/2 Scoop Raw Protein Powder (I use Vanilla)
- 2 Tbsp flax seed
- 1 c. almond milk (or Soy, if you don’t like Almond – I love Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla almond milk!)
- 1 c. frozen mango
- 1 banana
The Sweet-Tooth Snack/Dessert Shake:
- 1 banana, frozen in chunks in advance
- 1 c. almond or soy milk
- 1 Tbsp Cocoa
- 1 Tbsp peanut-butter (you can go healthy or not here, I just use whatever is on hand!)
- 1 Tbsp truvia/stevia (optional, but it makes it more of a dessert)
Give them a try if you’re looking for some healthy goodness this spring/summer, I promise you won’t be disappointed (unless you’re expecting a handspun Chik-fil-A chocolate milkshake – my personal gold standard for unhealthily decadent shakes, which these are not). Enjoy! I would love any suggestions from readers for other shakes . . .
Do you have any favorite combos?
Once upon a time, when I lived in France, I fell in love.
It was a whisper-soft morning in Aix-en-Provence, and the world of southern France was stirring like a spoon through honey – slowly; sweetly. Still new enough to delight in every minute facet of this uniquely french culture in which I found myself, I was awake and bent on luxuriating in exploration. Slowly weaving my way through the quiet bustle of the Saturday morning market, I drifted from booth to booth, internally marveling at the magic inherent in both le marché and the morning. It was in this state of naïve marvel, that I unwittingly came face to face with a serious epicurean love, or, what some people might refer to as a culinary crush. That’s right, this was my first experience with madeleines in France.
So began my life-long romance with the madeleine. A few euro later, and I was hooked. Nothing has ever compared to the delectable madeleines that I tasted in Aix-en-Provence at the market. . . but I continue to seek out a delicious madeleine in the United States; my own personal Search for Delicious.
Today, I chose two madeleine recipes to attempt and, in one case, dramatically adapt. First, I went to Martha. Okay, so she might have a reputation for ridiculously elaborate everything (not to mention the whole brief stint in Jail) . . . but the woman shares a mean recipe. Said recipe, which you can find online here, is just so imminently doable compared to many. I followed all of the steps.
First, you butter the pan, zest the lemon peel, and juice the lemon itself. . . Then, you mix the melty butter with eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice until it’s silky.At this point, you put all the highly-sifted dry ingredients into the liquid-mix and “fold”. I dislike “folding” mixtures together. It’s tedious, and I don’t know how I feel about the results (aka, it seems a little bumpy in the end). . . BUT, fold I did, and then let it sit the requisite 30 minutes before spooning it into the pan, and waiting the short 6-7 minutes until this first batch was done.The Result? A fairly lovely madeleine, if you ask me. After they had cooled a bit, I gave them the madeleine treatment and explored the potential success story. . .
Martha’s Madeleines are respectable. They stay moist and retain a tangy lemon flavor that can sometimes be lost on the madeleine. I would probably make these again, although I’m not sure it would be worth the number of eggs. 3 full eggs and 2 egg yolks in only about 24 madeleines? It seems a little excessive. And, sadly, they’re still not as good as the ones from Aix. HOWEVER, they did keep a little better than the others, remaining tasty into the following day, rather than getting dry. People who do not typically like strong lemon flavors still enjoyed this madeleine immensely, and the heavier/more-bread-like texture has a certain density (*cough* EGGS *cough*) that appeals to some more than others.
SO, it was with hopeful trepidation that I took on an adaptation of my own, blending a lot of different ideas I read online with my preferred ingredients and a little prayer (it was very loosely based on Christophe Felder’s recipe in his book Patisserie). Without further ado, I give you my second attempt… the quasi-original:
Madeleines de Cakey.
- 1 Stick plus 1 TBSP butter (melted)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp vanilla-bean paste
- 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP sugar
- 2 TBSP honey
- 1 cup + 1 TBSP cake flower
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1&1/2 – 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 TBSP lemon zest
First you melt the butter and set it aside so it’s not scalding hott. Then, while you’re on the subject of butter, grease up that madeleine pan generously. After you set that buttery cake mold aside, break the eggs into a bowl and add the vanilla extract.
Neeeext, whisk in the honey – it makes for a really lovely texture! When the honey-nilla-eggy mixture is smooth and shiny, pause to sift together the flour and baking powder, then mix it into the egg mixture.
Now that the mixture smells amazing and is flecked with beautiful bits of vanilla, it should look sort of like this: At this point, take saran wrap and cover the dough, right up next to the surface of the batter, and let it sit for 2 hours at room temperature. When two hours are up, bake them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 minutes (in a buttered pan). Careful! These are easy to overbake! But I promise, the vigilance will be worth it . . . check out this beauty!
This is absolutely my preferred madeleine between the two recipes I attempted. Although it’s still just not quite as good as the ones from Aix, the consistency was much closer, and the spongey-ness was much better. These dried out a little faster, so I would recommend serving them the same day they are made. The flavor was, while a little less abrupt with the vanilla to gentle it, still a very nice, quite-lemony delicious! In the 15(ish) blind taste tests, only one person preferred Martha’s to mine, so I believe we have a winner, folks! (At least until an even better one comes along . . . )
. . . but lots of people are looking to slim down for the impending (Lord willing) nice weather. Keeping in mind phrases like “bathing suit body”, I thought I would share my current favorite healthy treat with you!
That’s right! Cook your broccoli as you usually would, but instead of putting a pat of butter on top of that steaming bowl of greens, or loading it up with enough salt to make a life-sized replica of Lot’s wife, just squeeze a little fresh lemon over it. . . it’s insanely good, and kind of unexpected! As far as healthiness? I know too many people who eat greens/veggies with butter melting atop. Just say no. It’s not like you have to balance out the healthiness of broccoli with some sort of opposite unhealthiness.
And enjoy yourself the delicous, zesty, healthy goodness of broccoli with lemon!
Seeing as how I was highly grumpy when facing ANOTHER 16.5 inches of snow today (BLARGH), I decided it would be best to stay productive. Here are some snippets of what I did today, in hopes that they might inspire you out of the White Witch Blues. (Ahem: always-winter-never-Christmas, yes?)
#1: Make Homemade Cocoa-Based Brownies!
#2: Get “Artsy” and Give New Purpose to an Old Frame!
It seems that no matter where I am, I always have access to a ridiculous amount of plain paper and markers. . . which is a good thing. SO, having spray-painted an old frame in the basement, I set about making a useful piece of bathroom art.Once I had the artsy reminders drawn, I decided to clean up the old frame one last time and then see how my finished product looked. . . what do you think?
#3: Watch a Netflix Movie.
It was cute. Plus I got to listen to Morgan Freeman talk in the process of watching it, which is always a plus. I still say I would pick Jim Dale to narrate my life instead, but Mr. Freeman’s got some smooth tones regardless. Plus it was pretty adorable.
#4: Make the Best of the Shoveling.
I hate shoveling, and this year has definitely stretched me as a human being insofar as developing a higher shoveling tolerance. Then, just when you think you’ll be able to see the sidewalk again . . . WHAM! More snow. SO, I decided that even snow can be made to look springy, and I made (drumroll please) . . .
I even tried to give it a pompom bunny-tail. . . but it got pretty cold, so I decided to call it a day and go wash all the cold off in a steamy shower before meeting up with my favorite little frère for a late dinner!
All in all, my snow day experiences were a success, despite my initial snowy angst! I strongly recommend any/all of these activities, should you find yourself facing the chilly prospect of some snow-day-blues!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
Check out some of the notes that I shared with Friends (and students!) on this lovely day:
And. . . because laughter is just wonderful:
My handsome valentine:
The cupcakes I made for my students:
The adorable sweet notes that I received at work today!
A very Happy Valentine’s Day to you if you are reading this!
Occasionally, in the whir of daily life, it is easy to lose track of the small things that are so lovely about being alive. If you, like I sometimes am, are feeling cooped up or even just slightly stifled by the routines to which you remain relatively faithful, I have the perfect remedy.
Step 1: Be Productive, but don’t overlook the smile-bringing moments of your day!
Today, my students were working independently on a French History Project when I overheard the following conversation:
Student A: What’s your era again?
Student B: The second Napoleonic Empire.
Student A: Aww, I’m the third republic! Isn’t that PRUSSIOUS!
Step 2: Soak in some sunshine, however you can get it!
If you just happen to live in driving distance from the Coolidge Reservation in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, I highly recommend it!
Step 3: Get reacquainted with your local public library, paying specific attention to the old books that nobody ever remembers to open!
(Page 1 of This Side of Glory, by Gwen Bristow)
Step 4: Bake yourself a delicious pizza with whatever you might have on hand
(tip on awesome pizza crust: 2 &1/2 cups flour, 1 pkt/1 Tbsp yeast, 2 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp. salt – mix it good, let it rise 15 minutes and then top with whatever you have lying around – bake at 400 for about 20 minutes and voilà!)
Step 5: Own an adorable cat.
Step 6: Watch the movie “Leap Year” (courtesy of the Library)
. . . and fall a little bit in love with Matthew Goode’s character Declan, who has a pretty wonderful accent. And even if you don’t fall in love with him, it’s an adorable movie. Plus, if you’re lucky, you also got Taken at the library, so there is an option if Leap Year doesn’t quite do it for you!
Finally (Step 7), wrap up your day with a healthy dose of warmth…
Think about the good things that filled the day, forget the moments that made you angsty (because they pale in the beautiful sunshine that dazzles Ocean’s lawn and you can’t even see them beyond the forgotten stacks of glorious forgotten books. Just take a moment to feel good and tuckered out before snuggling down for the night – holding on to the beautiful facets of the day you just lived.
Today is a berry-flavor kind of day!
Sometimes, when you need to make something deliciously dessert-y, you just don’t feel up to the sexy-levels of chocolate or the stickiness of caramel, am I right? Lets face it, sometimes the last thing you want is MORE hot(t) or sticky! Welcome to the summer desserting dilemma . . . I know, I know, this post is slightly ahead of its season. However, in case you are facing one of these moments of desperation, I would not want you to remain sans resources within my power to provide. (I’m like a recipe philanthropist?) On those rare occasions where I can’t stomach the idea of caramel or chocolate, I find myself turning to some new stand-by flavors, and a coworker of mine was gracious enough to share the delectable recipe for the decadent Raspberry-flavored goodness to follow.
Now, I believe this delightful delicacy originally had some fancy name that involved the words lace and layer, but I never remember it, so I like to simplify and call this Pink Cake. Because . . . its pink.
Maybe it’s the primarily girly stereotype attached to this magnificent color, but the whole luscious confection (complete with layers of raspberry preserves, white cake, and pink frosting!) just screams “ladylike” and “delicious”. . .
Maybe I should start calling it Luscious Lady Cake. . .?
(But I feel like that sounds a little cannibalistic…or slightly awkward)
I could also just call it Magic By The Cake . . . since I’m pretty sure tasting this cake might possibly transport the eater to a magical tea-party where everyone is wearing pink hats, white organza, and spotless gloves with pearl buttons in a sunlit pavillion. That’s not all, the truly magic part is that nobody is uncomfortable in this strange tea-party world . . . and all this because you happen to be enjoying some Pink Cake. Probably accompanied by Pink Lemonade and cucumber sandwiches while the scent of peonies and lilacs wafts all around you. . .
In any case, what’s in a name? This cake is tasty. You should probably try it . . .
SO, please read on for the complete recipe for this cakely beauty.
First, gather all requisite ingredients listed below:
After that, all that’s left is to don your white gloves (literally or figuratively) and sink your teeth into a bite of this fluffy, raspberry-filled goodness!