Food: Oh so delicious macarons!

The other day I was checking out the site My French Life, and I came across a post on a stroll in Paris, which featured a photo of a box of macarons. Reading further, I found a post on the website CakeJournal and decided to try to make my own.

My macarons.

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams of almond flour (or grind your own)
  • 100-110 grams egg whites (about 3-4 egg whites, depending on the size of your eggs), left out one day (cover dish with plastic wrap)
  • 200 grams of powdered (icing) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar

Mix the icing sugar and almond flour together in a bowl. I used a whisk, but you can use a food processor too. It’s important to mix them thoroughly.

Beat the eggs, and as they get foamy, start putting in the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until the egg whites are glossy and stiff.

Fold in the almond flour and icing sugar mix using a spatula, and go slowly. Be careful not to overmix, or you’ll lose some of that nice fluffiness. When you’re done, it should look a cream colour, and be reasonably thick. Take this mixture and put it into a piping bag (pastry bag, to the Americans), and on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper, put 1-inch dollops of the batter. (Give them a bit of space, as they will spread a bit.)

Let the batter sit for one hour (yes, really–this was the hardest part for me, I wanted to get them baked!), and then put them in an oven that has been preheated to 300˚F (150˚C) for 10-12 minutes. I found that 10 minutes was enough to make them hard and just a touch golden.

I filled my macarons with chocolate ganache (I *love* chocolate), but you could use buttercream icing, or jam, or whatever else caught your fancy. Also, if you want to make your macarons chocolate, substitute a bit of cocoa powder in the dry mix. And don’t be afraid to experiment with colour dyes!

But, my favourite part about this recipe, aside from how delicious it is? It’s gluten-free.

Happy New Year! Bonne année!

Book Review: Cowboy With a Cause, by Carla Cassidy

Cowboy with a CauseCowboy with a Cause by Carla Cassidy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“I’d apologize for kissing you, but I’m not all that sorry.” 

Dancer Melanie Brooks had escaped small-town Oklahoma, giving up the country for Broadway’s bright lights. Yet after her mother’s funeral called her back, her own health issues forced her to stay. Now her tenant, too-hot-for-his-own-good Adam Benson, is giving her a reason to dance again. But has a killer set his sights on her, too? 

Adam knows a little something about fresh starts. As for his beautiful neighbor, he doesn’t see a wheelchair-he sees a woman who understands. But as the heat grows between them, he can’t avoid the feeling that more than her big-city past haunts her-and that danger has been lurking, waiting to strike….

Melanie is a heroine I can really get behind, a woman of strength and vulnerability, and fully 3-dimensional. I also appreciate reading about a physically disabled heroine, as it’s a refreshing change from the majority of books. I was reminded somewhat of the character of Stephanie in the film ‘Rust & Bone’, as both women are quite suddenly disabled and have to adjust to their new circumstances.

The hero, Adam, was interesting as well, though I did not find his character quite as compelling. However, he’s a good match for Melanie, and doesn’t coddle her or assume she can’t succeed because she’s in a wheelchair.

As for the mystery — it worked for me. I never want to say too much about the puzzle to be solved in suspense fiction because I’d hate to inadvertently give away a clue. However, I will say that I had to debate with myself, and I didn’t figure out the solution until the reveal.

This is a good romantic read, with just the right balance of love and mystery.

View all my reviews

Missing something in your office? Pick up some FELT TIPS.

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Food: Seared Sea Scallops with Crème Fraîche & Caviar

Photo by @afpalmer.

I snagged this delicious recipe from the Epicurious site, one of my favourite places to go for new dishes. I made it as an appetizer for a larger family gathering, and it was enjoyed by many (though not all, as there were a couple of people who *really* were squicked by the caviar).

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 12 large sea scallops, cut horizontally into 2 rounds

 

  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/2 ounce caviar
  • 4 fresh chives, cut into 1-inch lengths

I seared the scallops for about 4 mins (2mins per side, until beginning to brown), then let them cool to room temperature. I then laid them out on the serving dish and spooned crème fraîche over them. I was unlucky to get a container of crème fraîche that was a bit runnier than usual, hence the drips. Usually it’s about the consistency of sour cream. I used salmon caviar (bought at the local Russian delicatessen) and topped each scallop with a few finely chopped chives. They were a little bit messy so when you serve them you’ll need to put out side plates and forks. And, bonus? This recipe is gluten free. :)

FELT TIPS cover reveal!

Waiting to see the official cover of the hot office-supply themed erotica anthology (edited by Tiffany Reisz)? Wait no more! And on 12-12-12, buy the anthology and help us help kids get school supplies, and down-on-their-luck parents the work clothes they need. It’s a one-handed read for a good cause, so how can you go wrong? ;)

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Films: ‘Tomboy’ and ‘The Challengers’

I’ve just finished watching the 2011 French film ‘Tomboy‘, with Zoé Héran. While watching, I was reminded of the Canadian-made TV movie ‘The Challengers‘ (which stars a young Gema Zamprogna and the always brilliant Eric Christmas — check out the trailer), as the themes of the two films dovetail.

The latter film was made in a different era, and, I suspect, with far different intentions.

Both films star a girl who dresses as and passes for a boy. In ‘Tomboy’, Laure is settling into her new home outside Paris, and when she meets the gang of kids nearby, she decides to call herself Mikael. In ‘The Challengers’, Mackie is settling in a new town after the death of her father, and her interest in the local gang of boys, and a previous history of dressing as a boy for talent shows (she does a mean Cory Hart ‘Sunglasses at Night’) inspires her to dress as a boy, Mackie’s cousin ‘Mac Dales’.

(note the awesome 1980s clothes & hairstyles lol)

Where the two films split is the intention of the filmmaker. ‘The Challengers’ is really more about a story of a girl who is mourning her father; all the gender roles and other characters are incredibly hetero-normative, and (look, I’m going to spoil things here because this film is old) the resolution is very happy family TV-movie-esque: Mackie stops dressing as a boy and gets over her grief and is accepted in her new community. Her dressing as a boy is a phase of her grief, of wanting to become someone else. There’s no real hint of it being a strong part of her gender identity. Heck, the filmmakers probably didn’t even consider the concept of gender identity.

I’ve watched ‘The Challengers’ about a million times, so much so that I could probably recite whole sections of the film from memory (it was a standby for family programming on CBC, plus we had it on VHS when I was a kid). I wish that films like ‘Tomboy’ had been around, with their more gender-fluid interpretations.

‘Tomboy’, on the other hand… its intentions are different from the beginning. When we first meet Laure (and until she’s addressed in the feminine, some minutes into the film), it’s very easy to think she is a boy. She has short hair, wears boys shorts and vests and trainers, and she’s just young enough that she hasn’t begun to develop. If I hadn’t read the blurb about the film on Zip, I wouldn’t have even known up front that she was a girl.

There’s a greater sense of gender identity in this film; Laure has to measure up to the boys, she fights one of them and wins, she takes off her shirt while playing football. But of course, it’s only a matter of time before the truth is found out.

Interestingly, the reactions of the parents are pretty similar. A lot of denial about what their daughters are doing, and an insistence upon ‘proper’ gender roles. Mackie is told ‘No more Mac.’ Laure is given a dress to wear instead of her usual shorts and vest. However, I think that Laure’s mother is far more understanding in that she tells Laure that she doesn’t care if Laure wants to dress as a boy, except that she’ll be starting the school year and it would come out then anyway.

Where these films excel is in showing what boys and girls go through, and how their lives are affected by how others see them. There are certain things expected of a boy: he’s to be tough, no crying over small bumps and bruises (like Jonathan getting a fish hook in his palm in ‘The Challengers’), he must play football, he must be able to fight, that sort of thing. And girls… it’s dresses and an interest in makeup, and boys, a sensitivity that boys aren’t supposed to possess (or at least, admit to). Both films (though ‘Tomboy’ perhaps more than ‘The Challengers’) let the viewer think on these differences, and why certain roles are expected.

Can you recommend any films that deal with similar ideas and issues?