Hi friends! This is Day 6 of Pandemic Blogging here. A lot has happened lately but I hope we are all doing fine and are holding on. It’s times like these where we learn more about ourselves and about each other, and that the true measure of the strength of our characters lie in how we hold onto hope and the courage to face our challenges. So, let us all be strong, be hopeful, and be courageous.
Now is the time that we take good care of our own health so we can be as healthy as we can be and for our loved ones as well. There are a lot of things we can do. First, we really need to practice social distancing. We may not be sick but it doesn’t mean that we’re not incubating the v because we haven’t been tested at all. So, if we’re not careful, we can put our elderlies at risk. Also, even if you’re young, you can still get the v and the symptoms vary a lot for everybody. Some had had it mild while some experienced the opposite, but mind you, it’s never easy when you’re sick. So better be on the safe side, right? Apart from social distancing, we can also keep our bodies healthy, and that includes keeping up with our exercises or to simply keep moving. We may be working from home now, but it’s still important to get some fresh air (walk around the house/yard) or do our stretches so we can keep our circulations going.
Another thing I like to do lately is to take my vitamins and supplements. Sometimes I used to skip this but lately, I try to make sure that I take them diligently. So, if you have some Vitamin C or any Multivitamins at home, please take them. They could potentially boost your immune system. However, times are hard nowadays and you may not be able to get your hands on any vitamins or supplements, not to mention being wary about going to your local grocery store, but it’s ok. As long as you try to keep yourself healthy by eating a more balanced diet, despite the lack of variety or availability of fruits and vegetables we can get nowadays and practice a healthy lifestyle in general, then you won’t be needing any vitamins or supplements at all. The most important thing is that you are safe and you are well.
For me personally, I’ve been liking the supplements from Samaya Ayurveda. I reviewed this brand before (here and here) and I really like their natural Ayurvedic products because they are clean, vegan, kosher, non-GMO, and cruelty-free. As someone whose Dosha (bodily energy in Ayurvedic medicine) belongs to the Kapha range, I had a chance to try Samaya’s Kapha Supplements (60 capsules: £39) which contain a blend of Ayurvedic herbs, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, Turmeric, Gotu Kola, Aloe Vera, and Ginger among other things. These ingredients help to promote energy, metabolism, skin collagen formation, tissue repair, and immunity support, as well as it helps in balancing oily skin which a lot of Kapha people like me tend to experience. I love that this supplement is made of natural ingredients and this doesn’t irritate my stomach. Also, this has no aftertaste and I haven’t experienced any side-effects. I’ve been taking this for a couple of weeks now and this helps in improving my energy level and this also helps with my skin. I start to notice a more subtle glow and I will keep taking this to see if this improves my skin’s elasticity as well. I also like that this has the essential vitamins needed for strong immunity which is beneficial nowadays. Apart from the healthy ingredients that this supplement has, I also like its sleek packaging which comes in a beautiful matte jar and is safe and easy to store anywhere. Overall, I recommend that you take a look at this au-naturel supplement and hope you enjoy it as much I do.
What are the vitamins and supplements you’re taking nowadays? What are your tips to keep yourself healthy while on self-quarantine?
*Thanks to Samaya Ayurveda for providing this supplement. The reviews and opinions herein are solely mine.
There are several restaurants I like to visit regularly close to where I live. One of them is a Middle Eastern restaurant located in an obscure street but the food there is a delight. For a long time, I’m a big fan of their amazing Kazandibi which I always order after a big serving of Izgara Kofte (Grilled Meat Balls). Kazandibi is a Turkish caramelized milk pudding dessert. A reminiscent of Crème Brûlée. It is so delicious and super addicting. The taste of burnt sugar added with the soft creamy texture of milk plus a hint of cinnamon is just so heavenly.
This Kazandibi recipe is inspired by that favorite Middle Eastern restaurant of mine, and though I will never be able to recreate their perfect Kazandibi dessert, at least I know that I can actually do it at home and hopefully master it as I keep practicing. To my Middle Eastern friends and readers, please be aware that this recipe is nowhere near perfect as what you guys have at home. Mine is definitely a beginner’s attempt, so feel free to give me your preparation tips and techniques.
There are different ways, measurements, and even ingredients on how to make Kazandibi. My recipe is somewhat tailored to my own personal preferences. Here’s how I made mine.
For the Pudding
4 & 1/2 cup Whole Milk (I use Lactaid because it’s Lactose-free) 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour 1/2 cup Cornstarch 1 cup Sugar a pinch of Mastic (aromatic gum)
Hello everyone! A few weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday and instead of receiving gifts and organizing a party, I decided to do my usual birthday tradition, which is to disappear in the kitchen and cook or bake for my family and friends. In other words, my birthdays are usually not a time for receiving, but instead, a time for giving. So, for this year, I decided to take on the challenge, which is to make my dreaded French Macarons. I finally did it and I will tell you in this post how I made it and how you can make your own delicious French Macarons at home.
I must admit that it took me some time and some practice to figure these finicky pastries out. Well, I did some sort of experiment on a bunch of ingredients first, like making my macarons sugar-free, vegan, and low-histamine. But good Lord, there was no way on earth I could do these things since macarons rely on real sugar for their structure. Neither Xylitol nor Stevia could do that. Also, I couldn’t figure out how to make a decent macaron using Aquafaba a.k.a AquaFabulous (a brine or leftover liquid from a chickpea/garbanzo can which simulate real egg whites). So, if you have some tips on how to successfully make macarons using this specific ingredient, please let me know. However, the fillings in this French Macaron recipe are definitely low-histamine, and since macarons are made of almond flour, they’re of course, gluten-free.
There are several ways to do French Macarons (there’s even an Italian way), and it’s true that making these fickle pastries do require patience, timing, right weather, right temperature, right measurements, right equipments, and heck right mood and energy because these macarons can play tricks on you and you could be at your wits’ end before you’d totally figure it out. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. As the saying goes “Practice makes perfect, but then again, nobody’s perfect, so why practice? LOL 🙂 Anyway, here’s how I did my French Macarons and read what has worked for me below.
(Most of the ingredients and the materials used in this recipe can be found in Amazon. You can click directly on the list below.)
Set aside 2 eggs and make sure they’re in room temperature. To bring refrigerated eggs to a room temp, put them in hot water.
1. In a Food Processor, mix 1 cup Powdered/Confectioners’ Sugar and 3/4 cup Almond Flour for about 5 seconds, then stop. Manually mix with a spoon to make sure all areas are completely mixed. Do this alternate mixing three times.
2. Sieve the Dry Ingredients using a mesh strainer and carefully throw away the large particles. Set aside.
Wet Ingredients (Meringue):
1. Once eggs are warm, separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. Do this very carefully. You can use your hands or you can use a spoon. We only need the egg whites.
2. Using a handheld or stand mixer, slowly whisk/mix the egg whites until they become frothy or bubbly. Add in 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar and a pinch of salt. Continue mixing. Then slowly add 1/4 cup Caster/Fine Sugar.
3. Keep whisking/mixing progressively the Meringue until it starts to look thick and white.
4. Add Food Color
5. Gradually increase the speed of whisking until the Meringue looks glossy/shiny and develops stiff peaks. Its peaks should not fall over or curve. One way to tell is to lift the whisk and make sure it looks stiff at the tips resembling a bird’s beak. Once it does, stop whisking.
6. Mixing Wet & Dry Ingredients (Macaronage):
7. Mix the Dry Ingredients (Almond Flour + Sugar) with the Wet Ingredients (Egg whites etc., Meringue) using a flexible spatula (silicone ones). You can mix half of the dry ingredients first into the bowl of fluffy yet stiff Meringue. Then mix in a circular motion while cutting through and folding over the batter. This is to minimize bubble formation.
8. Finish adding and mixing the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. The batter should start to look like Lava or Sand Mixture and your arm should start to hurt from all the mixing by this time, LOL. I don’t really count the number of mixture to achieve the ideal batter consistency because it’s easy to overlook it or make a mistake that way. Instead, I LOOK at it, because you know what they say “To see is to believe”, LOL. Here’s my cue: If the batter (Macaronage) runs continuously and could form into a ribbon or like a figure 8 without breaking, then you’re doing great. BUT, it should settle back or sink into the batter within 30 seconds (I use my phone’s timer). Once it does, then stop right then and there.
9. Place the batter (Macaronage) into a pastry bag with a piping tip. Make sure you twist the bag on top of the tip to prevent the batter from going through directly and spilling all over the counter.
10. On a Silicone Macaron Mat or Parchment Paper resting on a Baking Pan or Cookie Sheet, pipe out the batter straight through (90° angle).
11. Bang the pan/tray against the counter several times (as many times as you like, really) in order to bring the bubbles to the surface. Pop the visible bubbles on the surface using a toothpick and bang the tray again to make the batter more even.
12. Let the batter rest for 1 hour or more. It will start to develop a skin which you can touch lightly on your finger and it won’t stick. It will also look shiny and feels dry. I like to rest mine in a cool dry area, preferably close to my AC.
13. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 300 °F or 150 °C.
14. Notice the macarons developing feet.
15. Carefully lift the Silicone Macaron Mat from the pan and put it on the cooling rack. Let it cool for 30-40 minutes. Then slowly peel each macaron shell off the mat and put it on another cooling rack to continuously cool and dry.
16. Refrigerate for storage
1. Whisk 1/4 cup or 2 sticks of Unsalted, Softened, Room Temperature, Butter
2. Add 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar on it
Add the following Low-Histamine fillings: (I used fresh ingredients for this recipe).
– Cut the Melon/Apple/Mango into thin slices or in cubes, and put them in a saucepan with a cup of water. Bring them to a boil and mash them once soft, turning into a puree. Use 1/2 cup or more according to your preference. For Blueberries, you can mash them directly through a strainer if they’re ripe and soft, separating the skin from the juice. If they’re too hard, you can bring them to a boil with a bit of water.
– Use 1 tbsp peppermint/mint extract and add it to the butter with sugar. For Decaf Coffee filling, I used my Nespresso machine and used one decaf pod. I only needed 2 tbsp of it and it gives a concentrated coffee taste. I then added it to my mixture of butter and sugar.
– You can add some food color to your fillings according to their taste or flavor.
– Pipe out the fillings into one macaron shell and look for its pair.
– Store in refrigerator for 3 days, or in the freezer for 6 months.
– Macarons should taste crunchy on the outside and chewy inside.
Important Things to Consider
Macarons taste better as they age, that is after the next day or so.
In my experience, there are four crucial times that could literally make or break a macaron. First, the Meringue (egg white mixture/wet ingredients) should achieve stiff peaks. Second, mixing the batter is very important. It needs to form a ribbon or a figure 8 and it should also sink into the batter within 30 seconds time. You can’t overmix. Third, check your oven temperature. It’s good to always have an oven thermometer whenever you bake these temperamental beings, LOL. And lastly, bang that tray against the counter, or better yet, drop it on the floor, LOL, but be very careful when doing that. These will help the macarons develop feet and prevent excessive air bubbles which could give you problems during baking.
Silicone Mat vs Parchment Paper? For now, I’m baking with silicone mats because I like that they come in predrawn circular patterns. I’m not good at eyeballing my macaron shapes yet. Also, silicones tend to hold the macaron’s round shape better than the parchment paper. However, silicones don’t dry the macarons completely, and that means the macaron’s bottom could stick to them pretty easily. Parchment paper really dries the macarons which makes them easy to be peeled off.
You can dry the macarons for more than 1 hour. The drier they get, the better they’ll turn out to be.
If you’re not gonna fill them up with fillings immediately, you can store macaron shells on top of each other separated by a parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together
There are several options for fillings and you can do them however you want.
To achieve a smooth top macaron shell, always sift almond flour and powdered sugar after mixing them
Use gel food color since it won’t fade during baking
If your macarons are lopsided or its feet are imbalanced, your oven type or your oven temperature could be the culprit, and probably your baking pan as well. Use an oven thermometer and use an Airbake Cookie Sheet to bake the macarons because it allows for an even distribution of temperature when baking.
If your macarons have nipples. No joke, this happens a lot. The batter could be too thick and was undermixed or you didn’t bang the tray/pan more. It could also be that you’re using a narrow piping tip. Use a wide-opening piping tip and bang that tray against the counter. Drop it like it’s hot. LOL.
If your macarons have zits, LOL, you know those pesky bumps that appear after you bang the pan/tray and they look like tiny breakouts? Pop them with a toothpick and bang the tray again to make the batter’s texture more even.
If macarons don’t develop feet, there must be a problem with the way you mixed your batter or you forgot to bang the tray. Also, measure your ingredients accurately.
Cracked macarons? you must’ve overbeaten the egg whites (Meringue) or you probably undermixed the batter (Macaronage) which could also make the macarons hollow.
If your macaron batter didn’t dry after one hour, check your place’s humidity level.
These macarons are probably the most challenging pastries I’ve ever baked, but they’re also the most fulfilling because I received a lot of positive feedback from my friends and family who have tasted them. They’re not that hard to make, but they do require a ton of time and patience. Be ready to spend long hours when making these and be prepared to lose your temper (hope not, LOL), and don’t be afraid to experiment, because just as when you think you’re ready to throw in the towel, it’s when you realized you’ve finally figured it out.