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Baking for Katie Fisher Day: Vanilla Macarons

macaronsKatie Fisher baked cookies for her brother Matt every single week he was away at college. She was killed in a car accident in 2010, and to honor her memory, Matt declared March 12 “Katie Fisher Day.” The goal? Get “everyone in the world to follow Katie’s example and send some cookies to someone they love.”

I hope you’ll take part, and if you do, share what you make over at katiefisherday.org.

In honor of Katie Fisher Day, I made cookies for Ramsey. It seems like an easy choice, and there’s no mailing involved, but this man deserves some cookies. He makes me laugh more than anyone and helped pull me out of some stressful times over the past year. He’s also dedicated to his work, exhibiting laser-like focus at his home office desk late into the night while I refresh my Facebook feed for the millionth time.

One of my favorite memories from our trip to France last summer was eating macarons on the steps of the Pantheon, so I made him vanilla macarons with bittersweet chocolate ganache filling. macaronsandchocolateIt wasn’t easy, but the results were worth it. And did I mention they’re gluten-free? Recipe and more photos after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Recipe Rookie: Marshmallows

I love any recipe that calls for boiling sugar. It’s beautiful to watch a cloudy pot of sugar and water become clear, bubbling syrup. If you let it begin to brown and add cream and butter, you can make caramels.  If you keep the temperature a bit lower and add it to softened gelatin, you can make marshmallows that will put the cylindrical Jet-Puffed versions to shame.

I decided to make marshmallows for the first time yesterday, and as I read over the marshmallow recipe I found on JoyofBaking.com, I exclaimed “I get to use my candy thermometer!” in all sincerity. Ramsey looked up from his book with confusion and concern for my mental state. It’s about the little joys.

As long as you have a candy/frying thermometer ($12 at your local kitchen store) and an electric mixer with a whisk attachment (hand-held or standing), it’s an easy recipe. It starts with boiling sugar, water, corn syrup, and a little salt. Continue Reading →

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Recipe Rookie: Carrot Soup

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After a weekend of parties, movies, and a trip to Teddy Roosevelt’s house in Oyster Bay, I spent Monday winding things down and preparing for the week. As I was cleaning items out of the refrigerator in the morning, I discovered that I had a pound of unused carrots on the bottom shelf. I turned to the New York Times’ Recipes for Health, where recipes are broken down by main ingredient and, as the title of the website section suggests, they’re good for you.

A pureed carrot soup looked like a perfect option. I had most of the ingredients on hand, and other than peeling and chopping two pounds of carrots, preparation was simple. You can find the recipe here and some photos from my adventure after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Recipe Rookie: Key Lime Pie

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When I think of pie, my mind immediately goes to setting up a workstation complete with flour, ice water, a rolling pin, and plenty of wax paper. I recall the careful waiting game of chilling the dough, then rolling it out (but not too much!), and trying to place it into a pie dish without ripping it. It’s a rewarding but stressful process that I’m not always prepared to undertake.

Enter the graham cracker: a buttery, sweet angel to the rescue of those who want to bake a pie but don’t want the hassle of a flour-based crust. It’s the crust of choice for chocolate and banana cream, but it’s most notably found lining the pans of key lime pies everywhere.

I made my first key lime pie this weekend for a small gathering of friends. Although I had consumed more than my weight in the pie as a child visiting my grandparents in Florida, I’d never even looked at a key lime recipe before. This was the simplest version I could find, as I wanted to skip the meringue topping.

Overall, it was one of the easiest baked goods I have ever made, save for the labor involved in squeezing the limes. No stress, no rolling pins. I was unable to find key limes in Greenpoint, I so I used regular limes, a dash of lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp. of lime zest in the filling to make sure it had the right balance of tart and sweet. My only recipe suggestion is lightly greasing your pie dish with butter because the graham cracker crust may stick a bit.

In place of photos from my baking process (I was frazzled getting ready for company and forgot to document), I offer you photos from a yo-yo competition I attended the following day at South Street Seaport. Continue Reading →

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Recipe Rookie: Pizza

There was a pizza disaster in my kitchen a few months ago. I tried to make a simple pizza topped with zucchini and tomato, but something went horribly wrong. The combination of bad dough and the moisture of the toppings led to a blob of undercooked, misshapen crust and vegetables that not even our agile hamster would want to nibble on. Ramsey and I ordered take-out instead.

My pizza stone and peel went unused until last week when I finally worked up the courage to try again, inspired by my abundance of homegrown basil. I was also armed with a different dough recipe and the determination to keep trying until I got it right. Luckily, I got it (mostly) right on my first attempt. Continue Reading →

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Recipe Rookie: Salted Caramels

I took my second foray into candy making on Sunday afternoon. My first was with chocolate truffles for a New Years Eve party and this time around, I decided to take on salted caramels. The inspiration came from a Barefoot Contessa episode I saw a few weeks ago, during which Ina Garten made Fleur de Sel Caramels rolled into small circles and topped with a sprinkling of salt. They looked delicious and easy to make, as long as I had a candy thermometer and kept a close eye on things. Continue Reading →

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Recipe Rookie: Chocolate Truffles

As I was finishing up my holiday shopping in SoHo in early December, I sensed my blood sugar levels taking a turn for the worst. The answer was pit stop at Kee’s Chocolates on Thompson Street for a few truffles and a lychee macaroon. While not the healthiest afternoon snack, it was the perfect indulgence for a Friday afternoon in Manhattan. 

Kee’s Chocolate’s got me thinking about truffle making and how involved it may be. It’s really just chocolate ganache with a few flavorings dipped in melted chocolate, right? How difficult could it be? I decided to find out last week. Continue Reading →