Worlds 50 best restaurants

Here’s a list of the worlds 50 best restaurants in 2012. Congratulations to NOMA for making it 3 years in a row as being the number 1 best restaurant. I love the book and if you haven’t read it you should pick it up next time your in Barnes and Noble and browse through it a little bit. This list has many recognizable restaurants and a few that I have unexplored yet but am curious to find more information on. Check it out.

http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Venues/Noma-tops-World-s-50-Best-Restaurant-list-for-third-year-running

Macaron vs Macaroon

There is a common misunderstanding between a macaroon and a macaron something I was unclear of.  While both cookies are gluten free, they are quite different desserts. Macaroons are a popular confection worldwide and their composition varies by region. In some countries they are usually light and similar to a meringue, whereas in the United States they are dense and chewy and usually contain coconut. When most people hear the word macaroon they gravitate to imagine a chewy mound of shredded coconut, lightly sweetened and held together by egg whites.

<—-Macaroon

This post however is about the other sweet treat. The Macaron that I’m here to construe about is a delicate french filled sandwich cookie which, in its best form will fill your soul with warm fuzzy happiness after one bite as it does mine.  The English word macaroon comes from the French word macaron which is derived from the Italian maccherone or fine dough (Macaroni is also derived from this word). Just before  1792 macarons gained fame when two Carmelite nuns seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution baked and sold macarons in order to support themselves. These macarons were a simple combination of ground almonds, egg whites and sugar. No flavors or filling  just 100% cookie. It wasn’t until the 1900s that Pierre Desfontaines of Parisian pastry shop and café Ladurée decided to take two cookies and fill them with ganache. Today Ladurée continues to be one of the first stops for macaron-crazed fans in Paris. No longer a humble almond cookie, the macaron turned into an adaptable flavored treat with a thin, light crust briefly giving way to a layer of moist almond meringue following by a center of silky smooth filling.

<——Macarons!

The basic equation for a Macaron is:

1 part cookie [ground almonds + egg white + sugar] +
1 part filling [buttercream, ganache, jam] +
1 part cookie [ground almonds + egg white + sugar] =
1 complete macaron [happiness] 🙂

I truly enjoy these cookies and established it was time to try a batch of my own. This recipe is a little different from the traditional way. I used a mixture of hazelnuts and pistachios instead of almonds. I also used nutella for the filling and included an ice cream sandwich version as well. Now get baking!

To prepare Chocolate Macarons you will need:

-1 ½ C Hazelnuts

-1/2 C Pistachios

-2 ½ C confectioners’ sugar

-3/4 C egg whites from 6 eggs at room temperature

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1/2 C plus 2 tablespoons Granulated sugar

-3 T unsweetened cocoa powder

-Ice cream of your choice, for this recipe is used toasted pistachio (optional)

-Nutella

Preparation:

-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 3 inch ring cutter, trace up to 12 circles on the paper. This will be your guide so all the cookies come out the same size.

-Grind the nuts with ¼ cup of the powder sugar in a food processor until the consistency of freshly ground coffee. Do not allow the mixture to become a paste.

-Add the remaining 2 ¼ cups of powder sugar and cocoa powder. Pulse until incorporated. You may need to do in separate batches depending on size of food processor. Sift when finished to remove any large pieces.

-Whip the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment. While the mixer is running on medium speed, slowly add in granulated sugar little at a time and whip until the meringue is shiny and holds medium peaks, about 5 minutes.

-Using a rubber spatula, fold in the nut mixture 1/3 at a time until thoroughly combined. Mixture will begin to become fluffy and sticky similar to the jet puffed marshmallow cream.

-Fit a pastry bag with a ¼ inch plain tip and fill bag halfway with batter. You can use a Ziploc bag if you don’t have pastry bags.

-Holding the bag upright, pipe macarons inside the traced circles starting from the middle and working out.

-Let the cookies sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry. This will give you a crisp crust on the outside of the macaron.

-Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

-Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes rotating tray halfway through. Cook until slightly risen and crisp on top.

-Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

-Set macarons in freezer. Once they are frozen pull out to set at room temperature before eating. Cookies are delicate so be careful when moving.

For the sandwiches:

-Pull frozen cookies from freezer and lay upside down. Scoop ice cream onto one cookie. Gently press cookies together until ice cream comes to the edges.

-If you don’t want ice cream sandwiches this recipe also goes great with Nutella. Spread Nutella on one cookie and gently press together.

-If you don’t want to do chocolate cookies remove the step with cocoa powder and simply add in a few drops of food coloring of your choice after you mix in the nut powder to the batter. Add in food coloring until color comes to your liking.

-Enjoy!

-Cookies can hold in the freezer up to 1 month.

Source (s): Meringuediaries, and  seriouseats

Hanger tea

I think this is such a neat design for teabags. I don’t think this design will get me to drink more tea but maybe it will for other people. How do you feel about this teabag design?

 

Designer: Soon Mo Kang

Source: Yankodesigns.com

Belgium: The best beers in the world.

In the summer of 2009 I studied abroad in Belgium. Part of my graduation requirement was to take some form of a concentration to complete my Bachelors degree. I really wanted to do something other than take a class on campus for this requirement.  A few friends of mine were talking about how they were studying abroad in Europe for their program. I had never been to Europe and thought that would be a great idea for me to learn and experience culture outside of America while still getting college credits. Luckily I had a family who supported my request to study  in International Hotel Management abroad. I chose Belgium due to the fact that it was either that or Thailand. I would love to of gone to Thailand but with the world being in a rut during that time my family didn’t feel comfortable with me going over there alone.

While in Belgium I was surrounded by more beer than you could imagine. There was of course a lot of consumption of beer during this month abroad. This was my first time drinking real Belgian beer and I was in love. I didn’t ever want to go back to American beer. In Belgium, every beer comes served in its own individual glass. If you ordered a Stella it came in a Stella glass, ?If you ordered an Orval Trappist Ale it came in its very own designed Orval glass, etc. I loved the idea that every beer came in its own glass. The beer there is served in much smaller portions. You don’t get the usual 16 fluid ounces. Belgians believe in serving their beer as close to room temperature as possible, no ice cold beers here. Therefore, they serve in smaller glasses around 45 degrees so you can get all the flavor extracted from the beer. Belgian beers are very high in alcohol content and most beers such as Duvel for example have certain laws in the country with how many you are allowed to consume before operating a vehicle.

If you ever get the chance to go to Europe I suggest you make a stop in Belgium and get your hands on some wonderful Belgian beers. These beers have completely changed my way of drinking. I don’t hardly care for American beers much. Some great Belgian beer recommendations I have for you here in the US are: Stella Artois, Duvel, Orval trappist ale, Leffe, Chimay and if you enjoy fruity beers the cherry Lambic is very good as well.

Cheers!

Tour Belgium for beer: http://www.winemag.com/Wine-Enthusiast-Magazine/Web-2012/Tour-Belgium-for-Beer/

Smoked Gouda Mac-n-Cheese

As a kid Kraft macaroni and cheese was one of my favorite foods to eat. There was something about that blue box with the creamy texture not to mention cheesy flavor it had that always had me begging my father to make more. As I grew older I faded away from  macaroni and cheese. I started eating more food and beginning to learn how to cook and opened my taste buds up to other cuisines. Ive always loved cheese and thought that people who didn’t care for cheese were weird, unless they were lactose intolerant.

I was at a friends house one evening having what you could call a girls night. Sex and the city, lots of wine, and good home cooked food with just me and my two lady friends. Sitting on the breakfast bar attached to the kitchen was a cheese board one of the girls had assembled to go with our wine to snack on while  calmly waiting for our dinner to finish. I bit into a cheese Id never had before. This hard cheese with an edible brown rind and yellow interior blew me a way, I was instantly hooked. I began buying Gouda even though it was expensive and started coming up with recipes to use this cheese in. I decided one day to test it out in the form of a cheese sauce to make home made macaroni and cheese. That was the best idea I’ve ever had.

I make smoked Gouda mac and cheese at least 3 times a year. Its easy to make and has exceptional flavor. If you are usually an out of the box or frozen macaroni and cheese individual you should step out of your convenience bubble and give this recipe a shot.

You will need:

-4 Oz Smoked Gouda, grated fine on a micro plane (not box grater)

-2 Ea Slices American cheese

-4 Ea Slices bacon, cooked, rough chop

-1 Ea large yellow onion, brunoise

-1/2 Box of pasta noodles of your choice, for this recipe I used Penne, cooked al dente

-3 Ea garlic cloves, minced

-3/4 C Heavy cream

-1 C whole milk

-TT Salt and pepper

-4 Ea sweet peppers cut in rings

-1/2 C breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

-1/2 T Paprika

–  TT Hot sauce (optional)

Preparation:

-Cook bacon until crisp and set on a paper towel to catch grease. In the same pan on medium heat sauté garlic in leftover bacon fat for 1 minute then add in vegetables and sauté until translucent about 2 minutes. Set aside when done.

-In a sauce pot over medium high heat, bring cream and milk to a simmer.

-Begin slowly adding the Gouda one small handful at a time to keep it from clumping while stirring constantly.

-Add in American cheese one slice at a time still stirring until melted.

-Season with salt and pepper.

-Add in vegetables and stir until combined.

-Add in pasta.

-Garnish with bacon, breadcrumbs, and hot sauce.

-Enjoy!