Pumpkin Chocolate Macarons

 

 

 

 

Several months ago, I embarked on a beautiful tour of Europe which included a visit to the gorgeous city of Paris.

While there, my diet consisted of: croissants, crepes, and lots and lots of macarons.

No this wasn’t the healthiest few days of my life, but perhaps the happiest. On my last day in Paris I swore that when I went back to the states I would learn how to make these light, pillowy sugar dreams so I could transport myself back to the gilded streets of Paris, even if just for a moment.

 

So I finally attempted to climb pastry everest. As you will see below, I mixed in my fall cravings with this Parisian classic, and came up with this recipe.

Did these taste good? You bet!

 

Did half of the shells crack or fall apart? Yes, indeed. But it’s more motivation for me to tweak my recipe and find out what works and what doesn’t. However, this is a solid foundation recipe and I hope you too will attempt to climb this tasty meringue mountain with me.

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Pumpkin & Chocolate Macarons

By Pleading and Pasta (C) 2013

3/4 cup almond meal

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

3 Tbsp sugar

1.5 tbsp of cocoa powder

2 large egg whites

FILLING

1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups  powdered sugar
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

 

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (Note, oiled foil WILL NOT work)

2. Put regular sugar and egg whites in a mixer and let mix for 7-10 minutes until stiff peaks form.

3. Meanwhile, sift together the almond meal, confectioner’s sugar, and cocoa powder.

4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients by folding the dry ingredients in. You want to do at least 25-30 turns on this particular recipe. “Knock” the air out of the merengue by turning and smearing the mix.

5. Put the mixture into a plastic bag for piping.

6. Pipe equally sized circles onto the parchment and lightly bump and shake the pan so the batter settles.

7. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should pop off the parchment.

8. Remove from pan and let cool and make the icing.

9. For icing, mix all of the icing ingredients together. To make the frosting more stiff, add small amounts of confectioners sugar until desired consistency is reached.

10. Put icing in a bag and pipe onto cookie shells. Put one on top of the other and serve!

Eat with all of your heart, mon ami,

 

G

 

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Filet Mignon with Balsamic Reduction and Goat Cheese

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Too much of a good thing is impossible. At least when it comes to goat cheese.

I am a goat cheese fanatic, and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate this rich and flavorful cheese into my recipes. Plus, for those that are lactose intolerant, it’s an LI friendly cheese!

Now, although Pleadings & Pasta likes to create original dishes, sometimes you come across a flawless recipe that needs to be shared with everyone. This recipe is one of those.

Ms. Giada De Laurentiis is my culinary muse, and her effortless approach to cooking is embodied in this recipe for a filet mignon with balsamic reduction and goat cheese.

The tangy balsamic reduction brought me back to my epic dinner at Acqua al 2 in Florence, Italy where I had a similar dish. The goat cheese melts so beautifully and makes for a fancy, but easy meal.20131014-122808.jpg

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Nutella Banana Fold-Overs

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Sometimes you just want dessert. Warm, gooey, chocolatey dessert.

However you don’t have a whole afternoon to dedicate to making a decadent dessert. So in honor of a visit to a dear friend and fellow chef in training, I made these nutella banana fold-overs as the perfect finish to our meal.

As a young girl I grew up on Nutella sandwiches. All of the kids in the lunch room would ask me how I convinced my mom to make me “chocolate sandwiches” and at the time, I had no idea how I was so fortunate. But, later on I learned Nutella is a staple of many European households, and growing up Italian-American, we were no exception to this rule!

Although I don’t eat Nutella as often as I did when I was a kid, it is still such a special treat for me and this recipe is a great way to get your Nutella fix.

Nutella Banana Fold-Overs

1/2 cup Nutella

Frozen phyllo dough or pastry dough equivalent

Sliced Bananas

1. Defrost the dough, and cut into squares

2. Fill with nutella and a few bananas

3. Fold over into a triangle shape, bake on 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Serve warm (be careful though, I wasn’t patient and burned my  mouth in the process since it was fresh out of the oven)

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Eat with all of your heart,

G

Rosemary Rack of Lamb

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Fall is here.

With the changing leaves, and chilly temperature comes the desire for rich, flavorful dishes to usher out the light, refreshing ones of summer.

Rack of lamb has always intimidated me with its fancy presentation, and the ability to truly destroy it by over or undercooking it. However, I took up the challenge and the result was juicy, tender, and downright delectable.

Rosemary Rack of Lamb

Pleadings & Pasta 2013

1 Rack of Lamb

Olive oil

5-7 Sprigs of Rosemary

4-6 cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Generously salt and pepper the rack of lamb. Crumble the rosemary sprigs and rub vigorously into the meat on both sides. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 2 hours.

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2. Remove lamb from fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, still wrapped.

3. Heat up a skillet to medium to high heat. Remove lamb from wrap, and brown the lamb on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side). Meanwhile heat up the oven to 400 degrees.

4. Transfer the rack to a pre-heated cookie sheet wrapped in foil and place in pre-heated oven.

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5. Cook for 12-15 minutes and then flip and repeat. Regularly check the lamb to determine how cooked the inside is. Some of my guests prefer their lamb more “well” whereas others like it more rare.

6. Remove and transfer to a cutting board. Slice according to the bone, and serve with mashed potatoes, asparagus, or your side of choosing!

 

 

Eat with all of your heart,

 

G

Lime Glazed Sweet Potatoes

photo 3When I think of sweet potatoes I usually imagine changing leaves outside, snuggling into a warm sweater, and gearing up for the holidays. However, this nutritious staple can be eaten year round, and when dressed up with a summer twist, it hits the spot just right!

Lime Glazed Sweet Potatoes

1 lime

3 tbsps honey

olive oil

cilantro to taste

salt/pepper

3 large sweet potatoes

  1. After washing, cut the potatoes into very thin strips. I prefer them to be thinner because they cook quicker on the stove top. Leave skins on if you prefer.
  2. On medium heat, warm olive oil (enough to lightly cover the pan) and add sweet potatoes. Sautee for 5-7 minutes until cooked.
  3. In bowl, mix honey, lime, cilantro, and salt and pepper.
  4. Throw mixture into the sautee pan with the sweet potatoes and stir continuously until coated and the liquid evaporates. Make sure not to leave it or else it may burn with the sauce.
  5. After a couple minutes, remove from heat and serve!

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This side dish pairs nicely with a light seafood dish, or is great all by itself!

Eat with all of your heart,

G