I really did not mean for it to be this long in between posts but this week really got the best of my time. Deadlines and meetings crept up all of a sudden when clients realized I may not be online as much in the next couple of weeks. But work is good. Vacation? Finally! Yes. I am taking a vacation. The first in 4 years! I am going home to France tomorrow and as much as I hate that B. can’t join me, I just can’t wait to put my bags down in my old room and chill on the patio with my family.
Hugs from my nieces. Chats with my mom. Mapping outings with my dad. Listening, in awe – always – to my grandfather’s stories. Planning his 100th birthday party. Taking pictures. Aperitifs on the back porch. My brother’s never ending supply of energy being wasted on my vacation brain. I intend to soak it all in. Smile, cry, get riled up (because that’s what we do in our larger than life family). All of it.
My parents now reside outside of Paris and we will be spending some time there before heading out on a mini road trip, heading down South. Toulouse first where my brother can’t wait to show me the house he built. Then it’s a trip down memory lane stomping my old grounds in Provence and the Alps where I grew up. That’s the beauty of France being on the small size, one can cover a lot of territory in a relatively short period of time. And it helps that someone else is driving, ahah!
Of course, I have already been volunteered to be the photographer at my grandpa’s birthday party/family reunion but I am really looking into capturing the places of my childhood. Unlike Beatrice from La Tartine Gourmande who grew up in Lorraine, I can’t promise you pictures of cows, apple trees or fields and crops. Nope. I grew up among endless seas of lavender fields, olive tree groves and red clay canyons. Valleys, mountains, rocks and wildflowers. That’s my France. Just thinking about it makes my soul and heart at peace. But that’s what I love about France. The diversity of people and places within human (driving) reach.
As I was jotting down places and things I wanted to see and visits, foods and desserts and I wanted to eat again, I was also working on leaving a "happy fridge" for Bill while I’d be gone. The phrase is pretty self explanatory: the man does not cook or bake so I tend to leave homemade meals for him to reheat after work. I also know he’ll be invited at the neighbors and his parents so I am not worried. And he can boil water!
One thing that is really easy to leave also is a bunch of frozen treats so I did make lots of ice creams and sorbets this week as well as his favorite cookies, macarons. He like to eat them like Oreos. Separate the layers, eat the filling. Or dunked in his coffee. I don’t question. I am just happy he is willing to try my ideas.
One thing we’ve been eating just about everyday is the blueberry sorbet I last made with the loads of blueberries we keep getting at the farmers' market. I pretty much made 3 batches in a row we could not get enough! One night, instead of giving him a bowl of sorbet and a couple of macarons shells, I just filled said shell with said sorbet and that’s how these came about. There are a dozen at the ready in the freezer. And I know I am a tad envious because dang! that sorbet was awesome.
Oh wait… what am I talking about? I am going home to my mom’s cooking. Forget what I have said in the previous paragraph. Well, no. Make that sorbet first. Then some macarons and eat them together. You won’t be disappointed. I promise!
One more thing: Caitlin and J’s engagement set is finally up for your viewing pleasure, here. I had such a great time, I can’t wait to photograph their wedding!
Blueberry Sorbet Macarons:
Makes about 30-35 filled macarons and about 4 cups sorbet
Blueberry Sorbet, adapted from Richard Leach in Sweet Seasons:
3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
zest and juice of one lemon
In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, place the blueberries and the rest of the ingredients and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Puree until smooth in a blender or food processor and then strain through a fine mesh chinois (strainer). Process in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (use egg whites that have been preferably left 3-4 days in the fridge)
25 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
1 tablespoon cherry pink powdered food coloring
Prepare the macarons:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar and almonds and powdered color in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store the shells in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks (longer and the sugar starts to seep out which makes them sticky).
Fill the macarons with the sorbet and store in the freezer in an airtight container. Eat them within the week if you can.