Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Day After my Walk in the Parisian Snow

Walking around after a snow fall can be very interesting for me. I see the snow fall as some kind of artist, making a new creation in something old, albeit temporary, in everything it "touches."

I took a walk along the Seine river at about 9:30 a.m., to meet up for a coffee date with a friend. With the sun out in full force, it was a pretty day.

An icy patch, with autumn leaves on the ground now showing...the snow had already melted a bit...and the sun was up and melting it even faster, aided by human traffic...not very pretty the day after, I thought.

On the other side of the Avenue de New York is the Palais de Chaillot...with a set of steps now resurfaced with compacted snow, with shoe imprints of other curious people like me..going up to see the snow's creation on the ground...

and on the concrete this reclining beauty!

Walking on this compacted snow was so much easier than on the icy side walk. I even made a crackling sound for every step I took...thank goodness, it was not my bones, this time.

I made it by the Trocadero...I noticed the little Christmas stalls, still closed; took a mental note to come and visit it this weekend (last year's post: to make a left to cross the bridge towards the Tour Eiffel.

There are not too many tourists coming here via the Seine river shuttles, at this time of the year.

One of the tower's pylons, now snow-frosted...

and the ground is fully snow covered...but that does not keep the tourists away...there's still a long queue.

I'm almost at my girl friend's place.

A view of the Eiffel Tower behind the bare-branched trees...

and the pond with surroundings now snow-covered all around...the awesome view from her living room...what a sight!

How wonderful that places can change their look during the cold, winter season. Thanks to the beauty of snow...what a creative artist we have in our midst!


Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Walk in the Parisian Snow

It was my first time to really see snow falling all day. I had gone out for my walk earlier in the morning, at the same time to buy flowers for the church, all bundled up in layers as we had been having negative temperatures for more than a week. So early in the season, I thought, to be having this low, cold temperatures. That was not going to keep me from getting my walking exercise done.

But today turned out differently. What started out as light shower of snow flurries picked up steam by lunchtime, and began to sound like heavy rain coming down.

But when I looked out the window, it was snowing heavily.

The snow had started to pile up. I thought that it might be fun to go out and walk in the snow. And we did, my daughter and I.

The first thing we noticed was the dirty slush. While walking on 4 inches of snow on the sidewalk, we had to be careful as it was slippery.

The use of public bikes is a popular mode of transportation for people working in the city. When we got to this bike station, I wondered how the people who relied on biking to work would be able to bike to go home.

Getting to the street from the sidewalk was not easy. We ended up soaking our boots in slushy water, when they sank deeper than we thought.

With soaking feet we continued towards the Champs Elysees, via rue Marignan, wondering how it would look like.

There were not as many people here, for a change.

After our 2 supermarket stops, it started to get dark.

We headed back on another route.

The Champs Elysees rond point was all aglow with more lights plus glistening snow.

Soon, we found ourselves by the beginning of the Christmas market.

The roasted-chestnut cart was inviting...

...but we succumbed to macarons artisanales, instead.

A time check indicated we still had one hour to go to church, to hear mass in honor of the feast of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

We had to get going as we remembered that we could only walk at a much slower pace. When we got to this corner, I looked at the display window of Chanel, slipped and lost my balance, and fell on my left knee. Thanks to an umbrella I was holding, it helped anchor me and prevented me from falling down all the way. The moral of the story is I will always have to look on the ground I walk, in this kind of condition.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

In the Kitchen: Time to Make Some French Macarons

If I were to be the judge, I would proclaim the macaroons, macaron in French, as the national cookie of France. There is a bit of history about how these cookies were developed: "Created By Italian Monks, Refined By French Pâtissiers."

The macaroons come in different sizes, colors and flavors.

Technic is key in making this cookie. For this, my friends and I decided to take a "Macaroon" class at the Henckels Store, 12 Boulevard Madeleine
75009, Paris, in their demonstration kitchen.

Preparations to be made beforehand:
1. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
2. Heat water for the bain marie (double boiler)

A. Chocolate Macaroon Cookie
1. COLD, 3-day old of 250 gms. egg whites ( one egg = 30 gms. yolk and 30 gms. egg white)
2. 500 gms. glace sucre (very fine sugar) to be added to the egg white
3. 500 gms. almond flour
4. 500 gms. glace sucre (very fine sugar) to be added to the almond flour
5. 20 gms. of cocoa powder (Van Houten bitter chocolate)
6. pinch of salt
* Need a piping/frosting plastic bag readied on the side


Beat cold, 3-day old egg whites slowly

When the egg whites get to a moussy consistency, add half of the sugar (250 gms.) until it dissolves. Increase speed a little bit when the whites get shiny and add the rest of the sugar (250 gms) at high speed, until it gets stiff. Set aside.

On a separate bowl place the almond flour, remove the lumps. Then, add to the other 500 gms. of sugar glace with a spoon...

add a pinch of fine salt, plus the cocoa powder.

Blend in the almond powder/sugar/chocolate mixture into the beaten, stiff egg whites by hand, using a spatula, until you get...

something like this.

Push the cookie mixture into a piping/frosting plastic bag.
TIP: Place tip side of the bag into a glass as you fill the plastic bag.

Cut the pointed tip to make a 1 cm. opening.

5. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, press the bag to make the mixture come out, in a spiral direction, making 1 inch (app. 2.5 cms.) circles, and lay them out on the cookie sheet...

in this arrangement. Rest for 30 minutes to dry out the sugar. Tap cookie sheets to get air out.

Bake at 200°C (app. 390°F) for 5 minutes, then bring down to 165°C (app. 320°F), for a total cooking time of 12 minutes, or 20 minutes for a larger oven. Set a timer, more or less for the approximate time. Also, your nose is a good indicator of telling when the cookies are about to be cooked. When done, take out the cookie sheets and allow to cool.

B. Cookie filling - chocolate ganasche
1. 300 gms. chocolate 70%, sugar free, cubed
2. Whole cream 15 cl.
3. Add 1 Tbsp. of cold butter, cut up
4. orange zest + a drop of rose arome
* Need a piping/frosting plastic bag readied on the side

PROCEDURE to make the filling:

In a double boiler set up, using a stainless-steel bowl for the top,...

throw in the chocolate chunks and stir until softened.

Remove top pan from the double boiler and set it down on the counter.
Blend in 1/2 of the whole cream (150 gm) by hand, with a spatula.
Add 1 Tbsp. of cut-up cold butter and blend in.
Then, add the rest of the cream.

When the chocolate mixture starts to separate from the side of the bowl, add some orange zest and rose flavor, and blend further.

Place the chocolate ganasche into a pastry bag and refrigerate to cool down.


Squeeze the bag to test the flow of the filling.

Pick up a cookie half and press out a big dot of the filling on the cookie's center.

Get another cookie half, and press it, then, turn the two sides in opposite directions until the filling thins out to the circumference of the cookies.

Voila! The macaroons are ready to be enjoyed.

From the ingredients, you can see that this is a more high-protein cookie compared to most because of the use of almond flour, which needs to be at least 80% of the flour ingredient, and the rest is 20% wheat flour. Luckily, there are a good number of macaron fabricants who use 100% almond flour, and this works well for my daughter who suffers from the celiac disease.

Let's venture and check out other recipes in the internet or make our own variations. My favorite flavors are fleur de orange (orange blossoms), dulce de leche (caramel), rose, pistache, framboise (raspberry), pasion fruit/chocolat, and so many other flavors to still try or concoct! I'm thinking of making a more diabetic friendly recipe.

I'll be in the kitchen, experimenting!


Related Posts with Thumbnails