Thursday, July 28, 2011

Switched at Birth- review

Switched at Birth was one of the summer shows pushed pretty hard over on ABC family in America. The concept is an interesting one. Two families, each from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds are going along doing their own thing and then they find out that their daughters do not belong in the right families and that they were switched at birth, this could be the basis for an interesting and intelligent look into the difference between blood and water, into the effect that growing up in a different culture than your genetic family has on an individual and into the struggle that would naturally occur once the truth came out. That did not happen in this case.

Switched at Birth decided to make the whole show into a ridiculous sitcom about different families coming together and living in the same place without ever knowing each other. They spend ridiculous amounts of time focusing on situations involving love triangles and gambling problems. Within 3 episodes the daughters appear to have completely adapted to the fact that the new woman in the situation is their real mother and they all appeared to have established some degree of familiarity and love based on.........

The mother's seem to have the emotional and intellectual maturity of 16 year olds while the red-head mis-placed daughter appears to be the only one in the situation with the slightest grasp of reality and level-headedness.

If I am fully honest I must say that I have only watched maybe 4 of the 8 episodes that have shown to date and even then that's something of an exaggeration because the dialogue is so ridiculous that I literally had to skip whole scenes within each of the episodes. I decided to watch this based on the fact that Vanessa Marano (Luke's Daughter in GG) was a main character. Honestly she does not impress. To me, in my humble opinion, it looks like she is still playing the same character as she did in the Gilmore Girls, except now that she's hit her television teen years, she's showing a wild side, which leads to her making several crude jokes and one really awkwardly sexy scene that I skipped through, it was just too forced and awkward, yuck! Anyway suffice is to say that I will not be watching this ever again and despite the dismal amount of summer tv I wouldn't recommend anyone else to watch this either.

On a brighter note I am watching True Blood season 4 and I hope to do a review, Wednesday next week of the season so far.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

French Macarons for Bastille Day

 Seven years ago I spent a year living in France, studying the great language and the great philosopher Sigmund Freud in all his perverse glory. It was during my time there that I was introduced to french macarons. Every Sunday I would take a 'me day.' Get up early and walk to 9am mass in the cathedral, then on to a swimming lesson and then spend the afternoon doing whatever I felt like before an evening cycle around the beautiful village of Angers. After my evening cycle I would come home to enjoy a little treat, usually one that I had purchased that morning from some bakery or another. I had one favourite bakery that was on the little street leading to the cathedral.
To set the scene a little more this bakery was on a little shopping street. The street was pedestrianized and first thing on a Sunday morning it was usually abandoned. The only people around would be on their way to mass or in the apartments above the shops. It gave the street a slightly festival feeling with no cars or rushing business people around. The little bakery was on the corner of a row of shops 3/4 way down the street and to be precise it was more of a patisserie, chocolaterie than a bakery. The windows of this place where a sight to behold, always filled with different beautiful sweets and treats. They had everything from the traditional to the seasonal treats and usually they had a selection of macarons, sometimes even arranged into a wedding 'cake!' These were art, not food and I dreamed of one day being able to make something so tantalizing and so perfect.

I have not yet reached that day but I have made steps towards it.

Touch of summer macarons

125g      Ground almonds (sieved)
175g      Icing sugar
25g        Freeze dried strawberries and raspberries
3            Egg whites (1 day old from fridge)
25g        Caster Sugar
Tiny Pinch Cream of Tartar
1 Pinch Salt

Smash up your freeze dried fruit in a baggy. Sieve your almonds before weighing as some bits don't get through the sieve and it is important to be exact. Sieve together the ground almonds, salt, icing sugar and crushed freeze dried fruit. The result should have just a few specks of the red throughout the dried ingredients.
Whisk up your egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff then add the castor sugar and whisk until you reach the stiff peaks stage. Add the dried ingredients to the meringue and fold in until all thoroughly incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe 1 inch circles onto a lined baking sheet. Allow this to sit for 30 minutes before cooking in a preheated oven at 175 degrees for 5-10 minutes
Let them cool before removing from parchment or silicon and remove carefully as the macarons can easily break. Fill with buttercream or seedless raspberry jam. I also used a lemon curd here but I would not recommend as it was too heavy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer time = Fresh Strawberry Jam

Ok well it would be nice to say that this was a family tradition, that each year we would pick dozen of strawberries and make jam from the family recipe, but that would be a lie. There is an amazing recipe for apple jam somewhere but I've gotta find it before autumn. My Mum was more the sporty, musical type so we spent our summers playing tennis, swimming, playing outdoors and going to susuki conventions.  We did pick blackberries behind the tennis court and have them with ice-cream which was amazing. However today is strawberry jam and it's pretty amazing also.

This Sunday was amazingly sunny and myself and my friend went walking, then we stumbled upon a berry-picking farm and well what kind of a foodie would I be if I hadn't suggested we go picking. So we each came home with about 2Kg of strawberries and slightly burnt shoulders ; ). I love strawberries and while I could have eaten them all I think I might have turned red. Therefore after some debate I decided to make a small batch of jam. It being my first time and with a severe lack of any jam making accessories the ultimate recipe had to be Jamie Oliver's quick strawberry jam that he made in an episode of Jamie at Home. He crushes together 150g of sugar per kilo of strawberries (with his hands) and cooks this for about 30 minutes, while scrapping off the scum that forms on top. My strawberries weren't quite as perfectly red as I would have hoped and some were less sweet than others so I decided to up the sugar to about 185g per kilo and increase the cook time to 45mins to account for the extra sugar. The jam turned out amazingly and although it doesn't look very thick in the saucepan as it cools it gets to the right consistency pretty fast. As you can see..

Any small amount of food photography mojo I may have developed has clearly disappeared but take my word for it the jam is amazing and delicious.  It tastes fresh and sweet like freshly picked strawberries in a jar and not like that crap I sometimes get in the supermarket.

Honeymoon first Stops: Boston and Las Vegas

We left London on A Saturday afternoon and flew to Boston, arriving in at 7.30pm Boston time. We somewhat regretted flying from London when ...