BAYFOOD COOKS: Apparently it’s World Nutella Day today. I’m just using it as an excuse to make something that involves Nutella. I came up with a few ides, but I settled on this since I haven’t made macarons in so long. Four years, in fact, right around the time I started this blog. The first time, they turned out way too flat and the tops cracked. The second time, they were ginormous but were otherwise great. I felt accomplished then, so I never bothered again, lol. I’m happy to say that this batch turned out alright for the most part.
COFFEE FLAVORED MACARONS WITH NUTELLA FILLING* Makes about 16-20 regular sized Macarons
1 cup powdered sugar
¾ cup almond meal (if you don’t have almond meal, use 75grams of whole almonds then grind them to create the meal)
1-1 ½ tablespoons instant espresso (the original reciperecommended 2, but I think that’s too much)
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 jar of Nutella, for filling
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have apastry bag with ready. I have a silicone mat specifically for macarons so Iused that as well as a pastry bag. You can always use a Ziploc even, to make a
makeshift bag or more parchment paper.
Sift together the powdered sugar, almond meal, and espresso.
In another bowl, either with an electric mixer or by hand,
beat the egg whites until they begin to rise. At this time, while whipping,
beat in the granulated sugar until you form stiff and firm peaks.
Fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites, until
the mixture is smooth and there are no egg white streaks. Fill your pastry bag
with the macaron batter.
Pipe circles onto the baking sheets. The original recipe
recommends 3.5 cm circles spaced 3 cm apart. When piping, make sure to pipe a
higher stack than you would except to, like in this video here. That was the
mistake we made, so the shells turned out a little flatter than anticipated.
Tap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter and
then let it sit for 30-60 minutes. At this time, preheat your oven to 350
Once ready, put them in the oven. My (accidental) mini ones
took about 13 minutes, but the regular sized ones took about 15.
After letting the cookies cool completely, match up the
closest size cookie shells and spread Nutella on one side before sandwiching
Let them stand one day in the refrigerator before serving.
I’m really happy with how they turned out! The only thing
was that I put the recommended amount of espresso and it was too strong for my
liking. I just want a subtle flavor, not get over-caffeinated by them.
Additionally, the piping wasn’t the proper technique, so they were a bit
smaller. That’s how we ended up with those mini ones the first time. Though, I
think it was a cool accident, since they look so cute! If your macarons are too
flat, they’ll turn out crunchy, as some of mine are, but otherwise it has that
same light flavor. The bitterness of the espresso is tempered by the sweet hazelnut flavor of Nutella. These are actually pretty easy to make, you just need to
dedicate the time to do it. If you want to be even more ambitious, try piping
them out in the shape of hearts for Valentine’s Day! I started the batter
before dinner and then popped them in the oven afterwards, so it worked out
really well. Happy World Nutella Day! :)
BAYFOOD COOKS:Biryani is magical. It can just be eaten on its own as a meal - that’s how delicious it is. I like to eat mine with Raita since it helps temper the spice a little bit and it’s just a good sauce. When I was younger my mom would make it with meat but then we (my sister and I) would just end up eating the rice around it lol. Which is actually pretty strange since most people LOVE the piece of meat (Boti) that’s in the rice.
Anyway, I wasn’t originally planning to post this since my mom had just made it one day when some of my friends were coming over to visit me while I was in my initial recovery stage. I posted it on Instagram awhile back and people seemed to like it so I thought I’d get the recipe from her and post it. She wrote down everything for me even though it took her awhile to explain it since she pretty much does it from memory lol. This is a vegetarian version of Biryani since it usually contains meat, so that’s a plus for all the herbivores out there!
*Note: One note that I would like to make is in regards to Shan Masala (a pre-made mixture of spices, which are available in Indian stores and halal markets): This recipe calls for the full packet to be used, and if you did that, the end result would be far too spicy. If you would like your biryani to be spicier, you may add more masala. Be sure to taste it before adding more masala.
2 Serrano chiles, sliced in long strips (for milder taste, remove seeds)
⅓ cup oil
1 teaspoon salt (you can use less since masala has salt in it as well for lower sodium)
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
½ tablespoon garlic paste
½ tablespoon ginger paste
1 ½ tablespoon Shan Biryani Masala (more or less to taste)
2 cups basmati rice
Slices of lime, for garnish
Yellow food coloring (optional)**
Before beginning to cook the rice, wash and soak the basmati rice 20 minutes before boiling. It’s really important to use basmati rice because other types of rice will affect the taste and texture which will change the dish. At this time, also preheat the oven to 250 F.
In a large, flat bottom pan or large wok, heat oil on medium heat. Add onions and fry until golden brown, then turn off the heat. Remove ½ of the onions from oil and put it on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Set aside.
Add the garlic and ginger pastes and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, Shan masala and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes until tomatoes soften. *Note: if you cannot find ready-made garlic and ginger pastes in stores, you can always create your own.
Add frozen vegetables and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1 ½ cup of water. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let it cook until vegetables are soft and there’s a sort of thick gravy. If the water dries, add more water to make gravy. At this time, check the salt and masala and adjust more or less according to your taste.
In a separate pot, boil 6 cups of water. Add rice and 1 tsp salt. Cook until rice is ¾ cooked so it’s not fully soft. Drain rice in a colander. *Note: Rice is not fully cooked because it will finish cooking in the very final step.
In the large pot, keep half of the vegetable mixture in the bottom, layer half rice, and then half of the fried onions mixture and repeat. Spread green chiles, cilantro, lime slices, and rest of the fried onions.
Cover tightly with foil. Place in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes. During this time, the rice will finish cooking. In Urdu, this is called “dham,” which basically means to steam.
Before serving, gently fluff the rice with a fork and transfer it to a platter or large dish, making sure you can see the vegetables spread out.
**If you are going to use food coloring (which is meant to give the biryani a more traditional look, as if it has saffron in it), drop 2 or 3 droplets in a spot, then move on to another spot. Do this in about 7 or 8 places. If using powder coloring, just sprinkle in 7 or 8 places. Complete this step before putting the rice into the oven.
You get really delicious, fluffy rice as a result! Because the rice takes time to steam in the oven, all of the flavors really come out and get mixed well into the rice and vegetables. The slices of lime are put in before since the steam also releases the flavor of the lime and combines with the rest of the dish. We usually put less salt than usually directed to decrease the sodium content and because the masala usually has a lot of sodium already. You can have this is as the main dish of your meal with raita or chutney, or it can be accompanied by chicken, kebabs, or even daal (lentils). It’s really up to you what you want to eat with it! I prefer it solo with yogurt. :)
My friends enjoyed it so much, we sent them home with it along with some butter chicken. They took it to work the next day!
BAYFOOD COOKS: I’ve seen these tea bag cookies online forever! I’ve been wanting to make them for awhile, and what better opportunity to enjoy them than eating them while watching the season premiere of Downton Abbey? Tea is a must during a viewing of this show.
Fun fact #1: That table cloth in the pictures used to be my mother’s wedding reception outfit. Still sad she turned it into table cloths! Fun fact #2: The teapot is my grandmother’s, so it’s actually pretty old. :) And then of course the other dishes are mine haha. Kind of cool to have three generations incorporated into a picture in a way.
I decided to add a little extra something to these cookies, which was actually incorporating tea into the batter! So not only is shaped like a tea bag, but it also tastes like it as well.
These took me forever to thread thanks to my slightly tremor hands from my transplant medications. I’m also impatient anyway, hence why I could never handle threading needles to sew something. One of these days, I’ll learn. Anyway, here’s the recipe:
EARL GREY TEABAG COOKIES Makes 3 Dozen
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cups butter softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon tea leaves or about 7 tea bags (I used Lipton)
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, and tea until the tea is just spotted throughout the flour. Alternatively, you can also use a stand mixer, which I did since we have a Kitchen Aid.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy.
Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
Combine tea-flour and baking powder in a bowl.
Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture; beat until combined.
Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
Cut out teabag shaped cookies. Cut rectangles, then snip off the top corners. I simply laid a teabag on top of the dough and cut around it as my stencil. Then use the end of a chopstick or a straw to make the hole for string.
Put the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper
Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. I would start off with setting your timer for 10 minutes, and then add 2 minutes from there if the cookies haven’t browned at all. Those last 2 minutes make all the difference, so be vigilant! (Constant vigilance, everyone).
Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets on cooling rack.
Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish.
You can add a tablespoon of vegetable oil per cup of chocolate chips to ensure even melting and prevent it from seizing up but it might make it taste weird.
Microwave it in 30 second increments and stir at each stop. Repeat until chocolate is melted.
Dip the cookies straight away in the chocolate.
Place them on parchment paper and allow to cool.
For melting the chocolate, you can also do it on the stove, but I figured microwave might be easier if you’re doing it for the first time. I would also recommend probably using chocolate pieces versus chips, since they didn’t met perfectly and you can see that my cookies are a little clumpy as a result. I also actually used a ½ tablespoon of tea, and while it incorporated really well, you could barely taste it, so I would stick to 1 tablespoon. You could alternatively use any type of tea to your liking to switch up the flavors as well as using dark chocolate or white chocolate, etc. These were really delicious and rich because they’re basically butter cookies, and are actually perfect for tea! I just hope the Dowager Countess would approve. I was pretty proud of them, so that’s what matters!
BAYFOOD COOKS: This is my new favorite way to cook pasta quickly. It only takes about thirty minutes from prep to finishing! I saw this great One Pan Pasta recipe from Martha Stewart and had to try it. The simple but tasty ingredients as well as the fast cook time is what drew me in. I made a couple of adjustments, such as using fettuccine, putting in Burrata cheese and taking out the Parmesan, but I don’t think that really matters!
Essentially, you chop up everything and put it in the pan together until the pasta is al dente (or to your liking). I think this is a great and easy way to make other simpler pastas as well since it only takes several minutes to cook things like tomatoes or pastas. I think it also helps to meld the flavors together better. You could really taste the tomatoes and basil.
BAYFOOD COOKS:Apparently all I know about French cuisine comes from Disney movies, so I decided to make a Ratatouille. Besides the fact that it looks like a pretty dish, I figured it would be a good way to make me eat my veggies!
I browsed around the internet looking at several different recipes and came up with this concoction:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 small yellow squash
4 medium tomatoes
½ eggplant or 1 small Japanese eggplant
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Dried oregano and thyme for seasoning
Salt and pepper for taste
Mozzarella cheese (or any other cheese that melts)
Slice up all of your vegetables into slices, about the same thickness so they cook evenly. Thinner cooks faster; thicker cooks more slowly. Try to get vegetables that are about the same size so it’ll make piling them into your container easier. I used a regular eggplant which made it difficult! I did also use frozen yellow squash since I had some, and it was luckily about the same size.
While you’re prepping all of the vegetables, have your onions cooking. In a medium skillet (I used the same cast iron skillet that I was going to use in the oven later), heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add in the onions and let them cook for a minute until they start to soften. Add in half of the garlic, red pepper flakes, and some salt and pepper. Continue cooking and lower the heat if they start to brown too fast.
Once you’ve finished prepping the vegetables, put the tomato paste into the onion pan. Coat the onions evenly and continue to cook until it becomes fragrant. Remove off heat and put the onions at the bottom of your dish (or just keep it in the skillet if it can go in the oven!). Drizzle with some olive oil.
Start arranging the vegetables in a pattern. I had them standing upright and had tomatoes as every other slice since I had so many. I also layered the eggplants in the middle, and then continued the vegetable pattern in the center until I filled the skillet.
Disperse the rest of the garlic on top of the veggies (I used frozen chopped garlic hence my cubes) along with oregano and thyme. I used dried herbs since that was on hand, but I’m sure fresh herbs would taste even better! Also add in a little more salt and pepper for taste and drizzle with olive oil.
Cover the container with foil and bake at 350 F for forty minutes to an hour. Once the vegetables look tender, take out the dish and switch your oven to broil.
Sprinkle or layer on your cheese on top of the veggies, and return the dish to the oven to bake until the cheese becomes bubbly and brown.
Let the dish cool for a few minutes and serve alone or with a complementary dish such as pasta, couscous, a meat dish, or rice.
This dish turned out so well; I was pleasantly surprised! I really think the herbs made all of the difference since I had seen so many dishes with little seasoning besides salt and pepper. While I understand it’s probably to ensure that the vegetables’ flavors shine, I really think the herbs added more oomph. They were nice and tender with the melted cheese adding more flavor as well. Those cooked onions were glorious with the tomato paste and garlic; that alone was already making me drool when cooking. I ate my ratatouille with some plain white rice, and it tasted great. I also drizzled some balsamic vinegar later on some leftovers, and that gave some great tang as well. I even put it in a sandwich too. If I were to make this again, I would definitely get the Japanese eggplant to keep the sizes even, and get fresh squash. While the frozen worked well, I felt like it was a little watery since it was in our freezer for months, lol. This is a really nice dish to eat in the summer when the weather is pleasant enough to have your oven on. :)
BAYFOOD TRAVELS:Weasley Wizard Wheezes (Diagon Alley, Wizarding Britain) - Though they also sell Chocolate Frogs at Honeydukes, they were available at the Weasleys’ store, so I had to buy it straight away! The large chocolate frog is the size of my hand nearly from my finger tips all the way down the palm. And it’s NOT hollow, so you get a lot of chocolate! I think it tastes better than super sweet Hershey’s, a little reminiscent of Cadbury, which is perfect since its supposed to be English chocolate.
I also thought it was fitting that I got Salazar Slytherin as my Chocolate Frog card since I got sorted in Slytherin thanks to Pottermore. You can see my Slytherin scarf as the background for the photos. You can see I bought a lot of souvenirs, which I knew I was going to do. I got Hermione’s wand and Time-Turner among other things!
Celebrated #nationalmargaritaday this past weekend and felt like I was in Hawaii for a second with this tropical sunrise margarita from #Chilli’s
#bayfood #drinks #dranks #margarita #ritas #chillis #unioncity #eastbay #baylife (at Chili’s Grill & Bar)