9 December 2008

Macaroon-age Daydream


Apologies for the long gap between posts but I'm sure everyone else is just as busy as me if not wildly more so, what with the approaching Christmas and economy and global warming to worry about. Not helping is the fact that my computer has been monstrously slow of late. It took about five goes to upload my photos without the entire thing having a nervous breakdown, and you don't even want to know how many frustrating minutes it took to even get to the point where I can type here. Using that same excuse, I apologise deeply if I haven't been reading as many blogs as I should - I wish I could keep up with them all but my computer would require smelling salts and a cold compress. Now, seeing how this is the time of year that office parties and such become more prevalent, why not gaze upon this bowl of antioxidants as inspiration for what to do should you wish to engage in a little, um, oxidanting?

Above: You know that fruit that you get at markets sometimes that they sell for reeeally cheap because it needed to be eated ten minutes ago? Well I bought myself a bushel of the stuff on Sunday and using Nigella's Antioxidant Fruit Salad from Nigella Christmas as a starting point, made myself an incredibly gorgeous breakfast. A slightly wilting mango was sliced into a bowl - the whole thing - followed by some strawberries, sliced and tumbled over, chopped mint from the garden and a handful of pomegranate seeds, lovingly harvested from a tupperware container in the freezer. Not pictured, but unbelievably essential, is a sprinkling of pistachio nuts, which gave the most fabulous contrast in textures and tastes, their waxy, almost chocolatey creaminess next to the zingy acidity of all that fruit. I added them at the last minute as an afterthought, but they completely made the salad.

Such are my mad domestic goddess skillz that I managed to whip up these chocolate macaroons while making the Christmas Dinner last week, obviously they aren't the echt article from Pierre Hermes, you know, faint-makingly light, requires 19 egg whites, only 3 people worldwide know the recipe - these are rather unchic, stumpy little biscuits, but no less delicious.

I guess it's fitting that such a quick and untaxing recipe comes from Nigella Express. I took them into the office the next day for a colleague's birthday morning tea and they were, I'm immodestly proud to say, enormously popular. Of course, maybe people were just saying they like them because I was sitting right there. Who knows, they're certainly easy enough to make so why not find out for yourself (although rigorous quality control in my kitchen proved that they were in fact fantastically good.)

Chocolate Macaroons

2 egg whites
200g ground almonds
30g cocoa powder
175g icing sugar

Heat oven to 200g C, and line a baking tray with paper or a silicone sheet. Mix the egg whites in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients till you have a sticky chocolatey mixture. As I said, this is very easy - no intrepid egg-white beating here. Roll the mixture into small balls and arrange on the baking tray. Bake for about 11 minutes although I took them straight out of the oven at about 8 or 9 minutes, that's just because I get a bit nervous around biscuits - they always carry on cooking even when removed from the heat. They will be solidly chewy and densely chocolatey once cool, if you can wait that long, and are marvelous with coffee, ice cream, anything at all really.

On Monday, Tim and I went to the local Italian restaurant, Red Tomatoes, because with us both working full time and travelling round the place we've hardly seen each other. Red Tomatoes was recently on a New Zealand version of that Gordon Ramsey TV show where he goes into restaurants and swears a lot and then sorts out their problems. I've been to this place before a couple of times and it has definitely improved, in terms of decor, clarity of menu and staff attentiveness. The menu itself is not terribly adventurous, but this is not a bad thing, what is there is familiar and done well. The meals are still a little on the slow side, so don't go there on an awkward first date. With Tim and I nattering away we barely noticed.
And the pizza is divine.

Thin, crisp, slightly chewy base...generous, piping hot toppings...lots of cheese...brilliant. Tim got the Meditteranean chicken and I got the Puttanesca and we swapped pieces as we went.

Can't bond and connect emotionally, too busy eating own body weight in cheese.

As if cheese wasn't exciting enough in its own right, the current economical crisis which had resulted in astronomically high prices for dairy means that eating cheese is now a hedonistic, decadently luxurious experience. They do say absense makes the heart grow fonder (and probably less clogged too, in this case.)
Next time: Who knows. Christmas is hot on my heels and I've barely done the dreaded but necessary shopping at all. I need a buffer month between November and December - who do you go to see about getting this sort of thing organised? And what could we call it - Lauratober?


  1. I definitely need a "Lauratober" too. Soooo much to do. Sooo little time. Was starting to wonder what had happened to you as there were no blogs or twitters for a while. The macaroons look lovely - and easy. One of my (many) favourite foods!

  2. Those cookies look simple and good:-)

  3. I'm so behind on blogging, don't even go there.

    Those cookies look DE-lish, girl!

    As for the holidays and being organized...oh goddess...help us all.

  4. I recognised that restuarant from our trip to Wellington. We were just talking about where to go to eat in Wellington when we come down in Feb.
    Loved the look of the fruit salad -anything with fresh mango is ok with me

  5. haha i was on that tv show, i get on tv twice in a month, peow!

  6. Nice-looking pizza! You are lucky to have a local place that does a good one. Around here they look at you funny if you ask for a thin base and no sweetcorn on it.

  7. damn! if i could eat my own weight worth of cheese i'd be in heaven. orgasmic encounter that would be!!!
    lovely looking macaroons darling. i'm thinking i need to go downstairs, flip open my nigella and making something. it's been such a long while!! xx

  8. Lauratober! What a great idea! I need one too! I am really not ready for Christmas.

    The macaroons look great, I have never made macaroons before, so I might have to give them a go. So many things to make on my 'to make' list, and not enough time to make it all.

    The fruit photos look delicious, and make me what to eat it!

    Oh and: mmmmm, pizza!