Saturday, September 24, 2016

Feastival of Fine Chefs 2016 - AFPA


Program for FEASTival and a bottle of win on the table
Last week, I was invited once again by Michelle (the tiffin box) on behalf of the Alberta Food Processors Association (AFPA) to partake in the FEASTival of Fine Chefs. I was excited to not only meet the chefs from the participating establishments and experience a multi-course dining experience but to also bring my husband Dan along. This was the 28th event for the FEASTival of Fine Chefs with tickets being $125. Like last year, there were a variety of establishments that participated in the event. All establishments do not receive their ingredients until 24 hours before the event.

Upon checking in, all participants were asked to choose a number packet. The number that you pick helps guide you towards having a four course meal where each course comes from a different establishment. All menus reflect food that is grown and/or processed in Alberta.

Sample Menu from Ernest's at Nail
Example of one of the many menus at the 2016 FEASTival of Fine Chefs. 
Before the dinner started, everyone had the chance to walk around, check out the different establishments, view their menus for the night including a preview of the dishes, or bid on the silent auction items. This was helpful, because it was easier to find where your course was being served from as each course came from a different place.

Here are some photos of the appetizer course from our table. We made all attempts to ensure that everyone got a different number so that there were almost no repeat dishes at our table. That way we could have a bite of each dish if we wanted. 

Crispy Pork Belly on a rectangular plate from River Cree Marriott
Brittney's Pork Belly from River Cree Marriott

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe


I have recently become slightly obsessed with salted caramel. It all started when I decided to re-visit making salted caramel macarons. In the past, the salted caramel that I made has either been too hard (candy stage caramel), too runny (making a huge mess when filled in macarons) or had the consistency and flavour of what was butterscotch-like to me.


This summer, I made a batch of caramel almost every few weeks until I got the consistency and flavour that I wanted. As a Speech-Language Pathologist (my other life when I'm not blogging) I would describe the consistency that I want as "pudding thick". This is when the caramel can be spoonable, but when the spoon is placed upright, the caramel will not stay upright and slides slowly down. In terms of flavour profile, after making different batches of salted caramel with varying degrees of colour (light brown to dark), I came to the realization that a dark almost burnt caramel was best. When a lighter caramel is used in the macarons it is difficult to distinguish that it is a salted caramel macaron. However, once a darker caramel was incorporated in the buttercream, everyone was able to say with certainly that it was a salted caramel that they were eating.

Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 tsp fleur de sel

Directions

  1. In a heavy pot (with tall sides) pour in a cup of sugar and add in a splash of water. Melt the sugar at medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the whipping cream in a small saucepan or pot at medium heat for 5 minutes. Once it starts getting hot, turn down to low heat.
  3. Continue to melt the sugar. Do not stir or touch the melting sugar as this will disturb the crystals. 
  4. Allow the sugar to melt completely. It will start to turn from a light amber colour to very dark amber (about 10 minutes). 
  5. Turn off the heat and slowly add in the warmed whipping cream (in 3 parts). Use a heatproof silicon spatula or spoon and stir quickly. The liquid will bubble up very fast so be careful to not burn yourself. 
  6. Continue to slowly pour in the whipping cream, stirring after each addition. 
  7. Slowly add in the unsalted butter and stir until incorporated. 
  8. Stir in the fleur de sel
  9. Transfer the caramel to glass jars. Once cooled they can be stored in the refrigerator.

    Salted caramel stored in mason jars and my re-used petit pots!
Enjoy your homemade salted caramel. The salted caramel can be kept in an air tight container for a few weeks. If you want to make a double batch of salted caramel, just double the recipe and ensure you have a large enough pot with tall sides. This will prevent you from getting burned due to the steam and heat! Try out the recipe and in no time you too will have many many jars of salted caramel in your fridge!

To make my salted caramel macarons click here. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Salted Caramel Macaron Recipe


How is it possible that it is already September? The days have been going by so incredibly fast and I have already been back at work for a week. Summer feels like it was ages ago! Speaking of summer, all summer long I was baking and perfecting my salted caramel macaron recipe. In fact, I brought almost 2 dozen of these french goodies with me to Toronto when I visited my family. I have been making these macarons repeatedly and for good reason as they have been super popular with everyone that has tasted them.

I have blogged about Hazelnut Salted Caramel Macarons previously, but I found that when I filled my macarons with only caramel the caramel oozed all over the place and was overall a big mess.

So this summer, I decided to spend more time experimenting and found that the best option was to surround that oozy caramel with buttercream! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blueberry Buttercream for Blueberry Macarons

Blueberry macarons

Woah, where has the time gone? My 2 months of summer vacation have flown by in a blur! Somehow in the past two months we visited Iceland (gorgeous place), Toronto to visit family, and a roadtrip of the small towns here in Alberta!

Since it has been a while since the last macaron post I bring you these gorgeous blueberry macarons. For these blueberry macarons, I used freeze dried blueberries. I have found that when making fruit based macarons the freeze dried components are much better for the texture and taste of the macrons compared to using real fruit. There is also less fruit juice that may potentially seep out of the macarons while they are resting in the fridge.  
freeze dried blueberries about to go into the food processor
Freeze dried blueberries
To make the blueberry macaron shells, follow the directions in my Macaron Basics posts here. For the macaron colour of these blueberry shells I used 3 drops of Wilton Teal gel food folouring. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

French Madeleines At Home

A tray of recently baked madeleines with the closest madeleine flipped over showing the browned shell side.

As you may have come to suspect, I love all types of French desserts. Certainly, macarons are on the top of the list but so are French Madeleines. On one side they have these beautiful fluted lines, and as you bite into them they taste like light fluffy butter cakes. I recall making a batch of these for dessert for friends that came over. After eating one of the madeleines, our friend's 3 year old asked if he could have more "shell cookies". Yup, I guess that is what you could call them! Thankfully, french madeleines happen to be very easy and quick (about 30 minutes to prep and bake) so making more batches of these "shell cookies" for the 3-year old in all of us isn't too hard at all. 
A green ceramic egg tray with three white eggs in it.

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