Saturday, April 21, 2012

Miette and Marshmallows



Last summer, we took a family vacation out west to California and Oregon.  We spent a few days in San Francisco sightseeing.  Whenever I'm going to a new place, I always look for bakeries and farmer's markets to pop in and visit if there's an opportunity.  When I mention hitting up a local bakery, my kids roll their eyes and groan, but really, there are worse things I could ask them to do! 

The Ferry Building was on the top of my must-visit list.  There's the Farmer's Market outside and inside, the most beautiful bakery I've ever visited called Miette Patisserie.  There were beautiful pastel cake stands and wonderful treats residing in every nook of the store.  The painted furniture, the wallpaper, the packaging... it just melded together perfectly.   We tried a cupcake and a hazelnut macaron and both were delicious.


When we came home from that vacation, I promptly put the Miette cookbook on my Christmas list.  And Mark surprised me with one of the cake stands for my birthday - a small 6-inch cake stand in the prettiest pink.  It's one my favorites.



The cookbook arrived in my stocking for Christmas and I was so excited to try some recipes. 


I tried the mini oatmeal chocolate chip cookies which proved to be addicting.  They were gone before I remembered to snap a photo!

 And I tried the Miette marshmallows.



I have made marshmallows before, but these are different.  The Epicurious Marshmallows I made before were super soft and had an airy melt-in-your mouth texture.  There was no way you could cook those marshmallows over a campfire without having a drippy mess on your hands.  But they were wonderful in a cup of hot cocoa, flavored with mint and melting into creamy hot chocolate.

These Miette marshmallows are more like the marshmallows you can buy at the store.  In fact, the texture was exactly the same - more substantial, more dense.  I think these could easily be roasted over a fire with no problem, although I haven't tried to yet.  I cut them into circles with a cookie cutter, placed them on a lollipop stick and dipped them in chocolate, sprinkles, crushed candy canes and unsweetened coconut (my favorite).


I liked both recipes for marshmallows, but I think I prefer the Miette marshmallows for eating out of hand or roasting on the fire.  For hot chocolate, I may prefer the Epicurious marshmallows.  So maybe I should call these "Summer Marshmallows", and the other ones "Winter Marshmallows".  Either way, try homemade marshmallows - they are delicious!

And if you find yourself in San Francisco, don't miss the Ferry Building and Miette Patisserie!


Miette Marshmallows
Makes about 48 1 1/2-inch square marshmallows
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder (4 packets or one ounce)
1/3 cup water, plus 1/2 cup
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 vanilla bean (I omitted)
3 large egg whites
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 Have ready a 9×13 inch pan lightly coated with cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together the corn starch and powdered sugar. Dust the bottom and sides of the pan with the mixture. Tap off the excess and reserve.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the 1/3 cup water. Set aside to soften.

In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the sugar. (Save the pod for another use.) Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Over medium-low heat, cook the mixture to 246 degrees F. 

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt. When the syrup reaches 230 degrees F, start to whisk the egg whites on low speed. When it reaches 246 degrees F, immediately remove the syrup from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin until no lumps remain. Pour the syrup through a fine mesh sieve into another pan or a heatproof bowl.

With the mixer still on low speed, pour in a small amount of the syrup, away from the whisk so the hot syrup doesn’t splash. Continue to add the syrup in a thin stream; when all the syrup has been added, raise the speed to medium-high. Continue to whisk until the meringue has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form.

Scrape it out into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Dust the top with some of the remaining cornstarch mixture. Cover the pan and allow the marshmallows to set for approximately 6 hours. To cut, slip an offset spatula between the marshmallow and the sides of the pan. Invert the slab onto a cutting board dusted with the cornstarch mixture. Using a lightly oiled knife, cut the marshmallows into 1 1/2 inch squares. Dust the cut edges with the cornstarch mixture and store in an airtight container or bag for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Escarole with Cannellini Beans



Believe it or not, there are times when sweet just doesn't cut it for me.   Sometimes I just need warm and healthy and wholesome and filling and slow-cookin', but not heavy.  This dish fills the requirement perfectly.

Start the night before and soak your beans in cold water overnight.  Then drain and rinse the beans.  Add the beans to a stockpot with some chicken or vegetable stock, water, and olive oil.  Add some onions, carrots, garlic, and sage and simmer away until the beans are tender (1 1/2 - 2 hours).


When the beans are tender, remove from the heat and remove and discard any large pieces of onion, garlic, and sage.



In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes and pancetta, then the escarole.  Cook 5 minutes until escarole is wilted.



Add the tomatoes and seasoning...


...then the beans.  Sprinkle with lemon and adjust seasonings.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan shavings and feel good!



Escarole with Cannellini Beans



  • 1 lb. dried cannellini beans or Great Northern beans
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves, 4 left whole, 4 minced
  • 2 fresh sage sprigs
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (I used a scant 1/4 tsp)
  • 2 oz. pancetta or unsmoked bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 2 heads escarole, about 2 lb. total, cut crosswise into strips 2 inches wide
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, drained
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Extra-virgin Olive oil for drizzling and shaved parmesan for garnish


Pick over the beans, removing any misshapen beans or grit. Rinse under cold running water. Put the beans in a large bowl, add cold water to cover by at least 2 inches and let stand at room temperature overnight. Alternatively, for a quick soak, put the beans in a large pot, add water to cover by at least 2 inches and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans.

Stovetop method: In a large Dutch oven, combine the beans, the broth and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add cold water to cover the beans by about 1 1/2 inches. Add the onions, carrots, whole garlic cloves and sage. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, partially cover and simmer gently until the beans are very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the onions, garlic cloves and sage and discard.

Slow-cooker method: In a slow cooker, combine the beans, the broth and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add cold water to cover the beans by about 1 1/2 inches. Add the onions, carrots, whole garlic cloves and sage. Cover and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until the beans are very tender, about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Remove the onions, garlic cloves and sage and discard.

About 30 minutes before the beans are done, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the minced garlic, red pepper flakes and pancetta and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the escarole and sauté until the leaves begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have softened and the mixture is reduced to about one-third, 5 to 7 minutes.

When the beans are done, add the escarole mixture and stir, breaking up some of the beans with the back of the spoon to thicken the mixture slightly. Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, passing the remaining olive oil and shaved parmesan at the table. Serves 6 to 8.

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