Monday, 23 May 2011

Oven-dried fruits

Oven-dried Manggo 2

For me, baking macarons is like playing a fun game. Yes, tons and tons of fun! In one of my post, I promised to share with you the method I use for drying fruits. The idea was started when I wanted to bake Tartelette's Powdered Strawberry and Vanilla Bean Macarons. In this country, powdered strawberry is not available in the market, so buying one is not an option. Before that, I read Tartelette's post on Carrot Cake Macarons, and got my inspiration from there, knowing that fruits or vegetables can be dried in an oven. I quickly went to web-search on how to dry fruits and vegetables.. and found several methods for drying fruits or vegetables. Most of the articles on the web that I read were explaining how to dry fruits or vegetables using an electrical food drier, which I don't have and would be difficult to find in this country. It's a much easier method of course. But I was interested only to dry fruits and vegetables using oven. One method that I know I can do for this time being.

After reading more than ten articles about how to oven-dry fruits and vegetables, I could grasp some basic principles on how to do it properly and to maintain the flavor. In fact, the flavor becomes more intense when it is dried.

Strawberry Macarons with oven-dried strawberry

The initial reason to dry fruits was to flavor my macarons shells with different powdered fruits... but since I know how to dry fruits using my oven, I do it often, simply to have a healthy snacks in my jars. So, instead of munching on a bag of potato chips, why not munching on a small bowl of dry-fruit chips? Yum...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Lemon Macarons

Since I was a kid, I always love sour or tart fruits or vegetables. I love the feeling I have each time this particular taste hit my senses. I consider myself to have an extreme liking on tartness/sourness, compared with the rest of people in this country. So many different fruits and vegetables always available all year long apparently make people quite picky on how the fruits taste. People say sour fruits are not the good fruits. Fruits should be sweet, not sour. Let’s take orange as an example. My mom does not eat orange if it has even a hint of sour taste. And many are like her. So many locally endemic fruits are forgotten and become rare and some are almost distinguished, simply because they are sour. Which is a pity.

I always feel soooo happy whenever I find these rare fruits in a market. Kecapi, dhuwet, gandaria, green mango, kepundung or buah-menteng, kelubi, kedondong, langsat... those are only a few of maybe hundreds of variety local fruits that now are difficult to find in the markets. Nobody wants them... but I long for them.

The worldwide well-known sour/tart fruits also not that common, except strawberry. For kiwi-fruits, people look for the sweet yellow variety instead of the sour green one. Sour plum and apricot is not bought as much as peaches and nectarines. In fruit stores, you can find more than thirty kind of sweet fruits and only less than five sour fruits.

Lemon is one of my favorite. Not only to have it in my desserts but also to flavor the dishes I cook with it... to marinate chicken, duck, fish, seafood, beef..., or simply squeeze them on my meals.

For long since I know how to bake macarons, I wanted to make lemon macarons. I have never tasted Ladurée or Pierre Hérmé’s Lemon Macarons, so mine might be slightly different. I flavor the shells with grated lemon zest, and filled them with thickened lemon curd.

Considering my liking on sour/tart taste, I think I am a bit late to know about lemon curd. This was the first time I cooked lemon curd. I chose Tartelette's recipe for
lemon curd, knowing that she loves sour taste also. And Tartelette's Lemon Curd is amazingly delicious... a taste of heaven for me. I filled some of my lemon macarons shells with it, but I thought it needed to be thicken a little bit so it doesn't squeeze out when we bite on it.

Spinach and Cheese Muffins

Inspired by Yuni, my sister A's friend, with her delicious Bolognese Muffin recipe, for two weeks I have been thinking of baking a different savory muffin. Finally, it hit my cooking mood in one Saturday morning when my niece P stayed over. Quickly checked the fridge on what were laying there, my eyes were set on a bunch of spinach and a piece of gruyere cheese. That would be our breakfast. Spinach and Gruyere Cheese Muffins.

You can substitute the spinach with other leafy vegetable and substitute the gruyere with other type of cheese of your choice. My sister A (P's mother) likes it better with cheddar cheese.