Herb Garden Pasta

We just got back from a long (much needed) weekend in Portland, Oregon. It was great, we walked, we talked, we ate everything (I have never been so full in my entire life). Among all the sight seeing, and in between bites of food, I started to notice little splashes of yellow on all the trees.

It's happening people! 

Autumn is around the corner, and I couldn't be happier. As much fun as this summer was with hikes, and traveling, my work load was crazy. Seeing just a snippet of Fall is giving me the motivation to power through the rest of September. 

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Honestly the only thing I am truly going to miss is my plants.

Not really sure if I told anyone, but over these past two months I have planted and grown an herb garden on my porch. It has turned into such a fun, little daily ritual. Every morning right after I made my coffee, I would head outside and stare at my garden bed. Hunting for new little sprouts of green, to offer words of encouragement. Just nice things like: good job chives! Look at you Mrs. Rosemary! Get some baby basil!

I have never really gardened before, so I am not entirely sure if this was a normal practice, but I thought, “what could it hurt?” I knew I was going to eat them eventually. I wanted to make sure they had a happy, positive life in the meantime.

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By the time mid August came around I had a full grown herb garden. Happy, little plants ready for picking. It was so exciting, and at the same time a little upsetting. Knowing I would have to trim some of them left me feeling a bit verklempt. I somehow mustered up enough courage, and got to harvesting. Though I thought it was good practice to say thank you after each trimming, in hopes they wouldn’t hold to much of a grudge.

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And if they were upset it definitely didn’t destroy the flavor. My herbs were delicious. I decided to make this fresh herb pasta right before we left for the weekend. I just kinda trimmed a bit of everything parsley, basil, rosemary, and sautéed them with some some garlic and olive oil. I tossed the pasta in right at the end, and topped it off with some grated parmesan. It was so wonderfully simple, and now that I know fall is coming I am going to try and use up as many herbs as I can. Maybe try my hand at drying some too!

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This recipe is from Mario Batali  

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Merenguitos


Well, the holidays are over.  Now, I do realize we’re halfway through January, so I should probably say they have been done for awhile.  But it’s not official until I take down the tree and put away my Menorah, and I did that yesterday. So now I can get back into the swing of things, ya know, eat more lettuce, try to stop eating those Ferrero Rochers that are still lurking around the house. I am sad it’s done, but I am also really relieved. This was my first holiday season with deadlines, packages, and actual customers. I have learned so much and am so incredibly grateful for the people who have purchased pieces of my work. It was definitely a learning experience, I didn’t get everything I wanted to do done, but I feel like I have grown so much in baking and ceramics. Which is why I started this blog in the first place, so thank you, to everyone who is reading this, it has helped me get a little bit closer to where I want to be. So here is to 2017. I already have a new list of goals and deadlines, along with exciting bakes and creative ceramic ideas so stay tuned. It’s gonna be good.

But for now I would like to talk about the magical world of eggs, or more specifically what they turn into when you whip them into a frenzy, to create a Meringue. There are so many different types of meringue, each has it’s place in the baking world, but meringue cookies, or merenguitos as my mom refers to them, is one of my absolute favorite types.

Having grown up in Miami, Florida with a feisty cuban lady as my mom, I was lucky enough to be introduced to a wide, delicious variety of food. Merenguitos, as I remember, came in a pack of two, and were quite darker than the ones I annually bake during christmas. It’s probably because I don’t cook them quite as long; I like to dance on that happy line between chewy and crunchy. There is also a vivid memory of them being too big for my hands, but that is probably because I must have been pretty little. But oh, were they good. I could eat them by the handfuls; happy, crispy, chewy handfuls!

Don't be afraid to try different designs, the possibilities are endless. Also please comment below to share any stories or tips that you might have about meringue, or even better make your own merenguitos and post a pic. I would absolutely love to see your creations!

The recipe below is adapted from my mother’s cookbook and Sugar rush


MERENGUITOS

Serving Size: around 22 cookies


INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½  cups confectioners’ sugar   

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. 

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and ¼ cup of the granulated sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.  Turn the mixer onto medium and whip until the whites are foamy, and should just be starting to hold the trail of the whisk along the sides of the bowl.

While the whisk is running, very slowly sprinkle another ¼ cup of the granulated sugar onto the whites between the bowl and the edge of the whisk (if the sugar is added to quickly it will deflate the meringue).  Slightly increase the mixer speed and whip until the whites to turn glossy, but are still soft. Slowly sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar and increase the speed to medium-high, and whip for 2 to 3 minutes longer. The meringue should be very stiff and glossy.

Detach  the mixing bowl from the stand and sift a quarter of the confectioners’ sugar through a fine-mesh strainer onto the egg whites. Using the largest rubber spatula you have, gently fold the sugar into the meringue. Move slowly so you don’t knock the air out of the whites. Continue to sift and fold gently until the all the sugar is used, and the mixture is smooth with no noticeable lumps.

Use a piping bag and different tips to pipe whatever shapes and squiggles you like onto lined baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour, rotating the pans halfway through. Baking time may vary depending on the size of the meringues; the cookies should feel dry, light, and hollow and have no give when you press on them.

 

Marshmallow

We all have something we are afraid off even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense. For me it’s a ridiculous fear of Alligators, which seems a bit of a stretch considering I live in Bozeman MT. However it must be ingrained deep into my subconscious because anytime I see water, I mean absolutely anytime. I somehow imagine there are alligators creeping about, whether it’s a chlorinated pool, a river, or even a deep puddle I have to drive through. It doesn’t really matter, I can almost feel them looking at me waiting to strike. Even now in the dead of winter, the thought crosses my mind every time i pass by the frozen pond when i take my dog, Koda out on a walk. In my defense I did grow up in Florida so I do have some good stories that could help explain why i’m so crazy. Nonetheless it helps to know I must not be the only one, because “Althaiophobia” is the fear of marshmallows!

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Not entirely sure what triggers someone to be afraid of a fluffy marshmallow, but I am almost positive that it stems from a failed attempt at trying to bake some from-scratch. Nothing strikes more fear into the hearts of novice bakers than a troublesome meringue. Which is all a marshmallow really is, a glorified meringue. However this recipe doesn’t call for any egg, it instead uses gelatin as a stabilizer which makes it wonderfully easy, so don’t get discouraged or scared, it’s really quite simple. And once you get the hang of it you will feel brave, adventurous, dare I even say, fearless!

The recipe below is from Alton brown.


MARSHMALLOWS

Serving size: One 9 x 13 pan


INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 packets unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼  cup Cornstarch
  • ¼ cup Confectioners’ sugar
  • Non-stick spray

DIRECTIONS:

Lightly spray a 9x13 sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar in a small bowl, and use it to dust the pan, making sure to completely coat the bottom and sides. Set aside and save the remaining mixture for future dusting.

Pour ½ cup of the cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and evenly sprinkle the gelatin over it.

Put ½  cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt into a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Cover and let cook for 3-4 minutes, once the sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to bubble put in a thermometer. Continue to cook for 7-8 minutes until the sugar mixture has reached 240 degrees F. Remove from heat.

Turn the mixer on low and carefully pour in the hot sugar syrup in a slow steady stream directly onto the whites between the mixer bowl edge and the outer reach of the whisk. Once you have added all the syrup, whip the meringue on high speed for about 12-15 minutes, adding the vanilla at the last minute of whisking.  When done the mixture should be thick, fluffy and luke warm.

With a large spatula, gently spread the marshmallow evenly into prepared pan, and dust with the sugar cornstarch mixture. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

When ready, cut the marshmallows into squares or snowflake shapes, and lightly dust the cut edges with confectioners’ sugar. They can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.