Baby steps towards Fall Baking Season.

This would be fat free if it weren't for the whipped cream, but I'd say its worth it.

This would be fat free if it weren’t for the whipped cream, but I’d say its worth it.

Summer continues to hold on. The upcoming week holds highs in the 90’s until Friday arrives to free us all from the heat and work week responsibilities. Growing up in Southwest Florida summer was always my least favorite season, made only worse by the un-ignorable climate change. There is no such thing as eating with the seasons in The Sunshine State. Having spent the last five and a half years living in New York City however my views are beginning to change. Summer is now a scoch above winter. By no means my favourite season (that honor goes to Fall, who is hiding somewhere, ready to appear next week I hope) summer in the city has been pretty great to me. As a teacher I did not have to work so I took a huge two month long trip to Europe and Israel that I will post about at another time.

Yeah, it was so good that we couldn't wait to have some before photos took place.

Yeah, it was so good that we couldn’t wait to have some before photos took place.

Still despite the fact that feel ready for words like “crisp,” “cozy,” “spiced,” and “ooey gooey,” the world around me is not on the same page. But I wanna start fall baking right meow! The solution? Angel food cake. It’s light, airy, and pairs with the end of summer fruits and berries that can still be snapped up at the farmers market. If the berries are gone from your market fret not! This cake goes incredibly well with any citrus curd, canned fruit, or jam. Heck, you could even throw some frozen peaches or strawberries in a small pot with a sprinkling of sugar and some lemon zest and cook it until the juices release and the fruit softens. Just spoon that over a nice slice of this pillowy wonder cake. Whatever you do don’t forget the whipped cream, unsweetened of course (unless you have a couple pinches of vanilla sugar sitting around.)

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Rugelach, more effort than they’re worth?

Rugelach. Sweet, sweet rugelach. Despite my knowledge that these are Jewish cookies in origin every time I say the name my boyfriend and his family (Israelis) think I’m saying “arugula.” I’ve had these cookies prepackaged and store bought more times than I can remember. Equally forgettable were the stale, bland cookies themselves. Rugelach never excited me until I started working my way through Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry. In it the inspiringly talented Cathy Barrow mentions these flaky little rolls as her favourite cookie ever. This alone was enough for me to try the recipe. Also I had three jars of homemade jam that were halfway full.

So flaky, so pretty.

So flaky, so pretty.

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Dehydrated tomato peels, or “the new MSG”

First lets get over the whole “MSG” is totally super awful bad for you. It’s not. Harold McGee even says so. Now that that’s out of the way we can discuss how absolutely perfect MSG is as a flavor. Its pure umami. And MSG is just glutamates, found in large quantities in tomatoes. Which is what brings me to today’s topic: DEHYDRATED TOMATO SKINS. I don’t love tomatoes. In fact this is the very first year in my 32 on this earth that I have ever willing put a raw tomato into my taste space. It was okay. Not falling in love with it, but I appreciate the idea. Sun-dried tomatoes are a different story all together. Love those things. Dried skins are somewhere in between: rich and savory like sun-dried, fresh and bright like raw tomatoes.

That's a sexy color.

That’s a sexy color.

This is a project I save for when I have another big project planned, like oh I dunno, canning fifty pounds of tomatoes for the winter. Half of the tomatoes I put up pureed with the help of a food mill. The other half I blanch, peel, and crush before canning. This leaves me with a quart jar full of peels (not to mention the juice, whatever you do do NOT throw out the tomato juice there are many uses for it, which I’ll write about later) stored in just enough juice to keep them wet.

While this whole process couldn’t be easier its not quick. You have to bake the peels for about two hours. The active cooking time is only about three minutes per sheet tray laying out the peels. After you spread the peels out in a single layer place them in the oven. I don’t even bother preheating the oven. If I’m baking one tray cooking it at 180 degrees for 2 hours works perfectly. If I’m being smart and doing three trays at once I put it at 200 degrees and rotate the top and bottom tray after an hour. Check in after 90 minutes, though it usually takes the full 2 hours.

They're like a culinary secret weapon.

They’re like a culinary secret weapon.

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Welcome to my blog! Let’s learn about macarons, shall we?

Confetti macarons   Macarons seemed like the best place to start this all off for a few reasons. They’re cute, popular, and actually easier to make than one would imagine. That being said wonderfully rustic, adorable, and stupidly delicious macarons are easy to make. Picture perfect ones, however, are a different story. I’ve made a lot of macs in my day and I still cross my finger that every batch will have perfect feet,* chewy centers, and be free of any and all rogue cracks. More often than not they come out smooth as silk and bursting with light clean flavors. Today just was not my day. Consider it my disclaimer that macarons are just plain ole’ temperamental. You may do every little thing perfect and something will just not be as pretty as you’d like. These will be freaking delicious with a plush chewy center and a shatteringly crisp shell that just beg for a satiny buttercream filling. I can forgive these guys for being a bit bumpy. In fact if I keep too many of these around the house I’m going to start getting bumpy too. The amount of butter in the filling is no joke. If they don’t come out the way you want them crumble them up and use them to decorate a cake, or top some ice cream, or just give them away to the people in your life who don’t/won’t/can’t cook. They’ll still be impressed and if you’re not satisfied try again.

This time the recipe is not mine, which is kind of a crime for my first post. It can be found here on Brave Tart’s site. I halved my recipe and got 24 macs out of it. I also used her Swiss buttercream recipe using my own homemade vanilla extract (saved for a later post.)

To put it bluntly her recipe kicks ass but there are still some tips to help you out as you go that I’ve learned over the years.

*Feet are the little bumpy lining on the bottom of the macaron shell that is made when the macaron rises, assuming your batter isn’t too wet.

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