Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blood Orange and Jicama Salad

I adore the crunch and flavor of jicama. It's sweet, starchy, crunch is a nice change of pace from blah carrots and celery. It has zero fat and cholesterol, and fits in perfect with my commitment to #10in10: Ten Weeks to Healthy in 2010. Thanks to Lori over at Recipe Girl for putting together this challenge, there are now 336 participants from 41 states and 15 countries!

I first made this salad ten years ago, after seeing an episode on featuring Curtis Aikens. I loved it's freshness and simplicity. The crisp, pear-like jicama combined with the sweetness of orange, and the spicy edge of the jalapeno... a winning combination. If you're worried about jalapeno in this salad, don't. For the most part, once the seeds and membranes are removed, it retains the flavor but loses most, if not all, of its heat.

Originally this salad called for everyday oranges- and made that way is absolutely fabulous. However, when I was at my local market the other day, I came across these amazing blood oranges for $.19 cents each. They were so sweet and so pretty, and a gorgeous alternative to the original recipe.

With blood oranges at pennies, and the combined remaining ingredients coming in at just under $3.00, not only was this a very healthy salad, but an inexpensive one as well. Perfect for the #10in10 challenge!

Blood Orange and Jicama Salad
adapted from Curtis Aikens

1 jicama, peeled and julienned
3 blood oranges, supremed
1 small red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed, minced (wear gloves!)
1 Tbs honey (I prefer orange blossom honey)
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped- I love cilantro, so I used more
Salt and pepper to taste- I only used a touch of salt

Combine all ingredients and chill. Best served when cold. Serves approximately 4 .

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Chili Cream Cheese Filling

Having taken an unannounced hiatus of sorts, I knew I had to come back from the holidays with a bang. What not a better way than to participate in MacAttack3, a virtual mac kitchen that was the brainstorm of Deeba and Jaime.

Having gotten to know Deeba via Twitter over the last year, I kept hearing her and many of my other Twitter friends getting ecstatic over these things called "feet"- the ruffley bottom, a sign of a perfectly "born" French Macaron. Monthly, the cries of joy, literally, from around the world, were like a wave through the Twitterverse, all full of happiness and parental pride. Supposedly, this little thing called a mac, simple in its ingredients, was a stubborn little mule.

So I decided to try my hand at the infamous mac a few weeks ago, using cardamom as my signature flavor. You know, Moi, the maker of custom cakes and all things fondantly difficult..? How difficult could a mac possibly be...pffft!

I ground the almonds. Try as I might they took forever to come to the consistency needed for a smooth batter. I whisked my egg whites and, for the very first time in my life, they refused to stiffen properly. I folded in my almonds and spice, battling the lumps with each fold. Finally, piping the mac batter onto a dark, non-stick liner, I placed them into the oven, certain that my macs would listen to their momma.


They baked all too quickly, and, while they had something resembling "feet", they were only a couple millimeters tall, too dark, and harder than the pan they rested on. Just like a difficult child.

After more encouragement from my Twitter friends, Deeba, Barbara, Paula, Renee, and Barbara, I decided to give it another go, this time using Paulas Chocolate Macaron recipe. The reason I chose her recipe, besides the fact that her macs are simply gorgeous, was simply because her recipe had all the conversions from grams to cups, which had been part of my prior difficulty, already done.

So today, on my second mac attempt, I gave birth to 20 pretty and perfect Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Chili Cream Cheese frosting... complete with all their chubbby little "feet".

One prepared recipe of Paula's Chocolate Macarons
Chocolate Chili Cream Cheese Filling

4 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1.5 oz StoneGround Guajillo Chili Chocolate (or your favorite chocolate)

In medium bowl whip cream cheese with vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar until well blended. Set aside.

In a small microwave safe bowl, grate chocolate, preferrably with a microplane grater. Place bowl into microwave and heat, in 15-20 second increments until melted.

Add to bowl with cream cheese and beat until well incorporated. Slowly add remaining powdered sugar, mixing well, until a nice smooth (but not runny) consistency, adding more if necessary.

Spread mixture on the flat side of one mac, making a sandwich with another.

Makes approximately 20 Macarons.

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