Currently I am practicing macaron recipes in preparation for a friends wedding at the end of May. For a day of celebration that is every bit in their character we are going to be partying in a Yurt somewhere south of the city with no wedding cake, but a tower of biscuits and cookies supplied by the guests! I once made macarons for a friend several years ago with a perfect turn out (if I say so myself) on my very first try. Now, two attempts in, and I've still got cracked domes, hollow shells, and too much buttercream filling (quelle horreur!)...
BUT, this makes for an interesting conversation about food efficiency. Macaron shells are essentially meringues that require only egg whites, almonds, and sugar, leaving behind a good deal of unused egg yolk. Stuck with what to do about this I researched the fillings for macarons. A traditional buttercream filling is just that, creamed butter with powdered sugar; however, if I had taken this route I would have been left with a bowl full of egg yolks that I would inevitably put in the fridge and forget about. Instead, I found a recipe for French buttercream filling (apparently a variation on Italian buttercream filling, who knew?) that involves warming egg yolks with sugar over a bowl of simmering water and then whipping with soft butter. The result is a glorious (and, of course, dangerously calorific) bowl of thick, shining buttercream - the perfect filling for macarons.
Having said this it transpires that if you use 6 egg whites to create your macarons, 6 egg yolks will make roughly two times as much buttercream as you need to fill them (hence my over-filling issues).On my second attempt this left me with 3 egg yolks doomed to a short life on the top shelf of the fridge before a swift slide into the trashcan afterlife. But all is not lost, since if you happen to be making these close to, or on, the weekend as I do, you can turn those egg yolks into a homemade Hollandaise sauce by similarly whisking over a bowl of hot water until they thicken before taking off the heat and whisking in some melted butter. Pour over poached eggs and bacon for a Benedictine breakfast! And remember to put your egg shells into food waste recycling, whether that's your own or the council collection service (you can request one for free here http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/bins-recycling-and-street-cleaning/order-new-bins-boxes-and-nets).
After much deliberation - my challenge? To increase my food efficiency! Over the next few weeks I want to try and streamline my shopping and cooking experience by limiting waste, expense, and food miles, as well as increasing the nutritional efficiency of each meal. Being conveniently located in Bristol - a city that prides itself on local food supply, food recycling, and city farming - I'm sure this won't be too difficult, but I'm anticipating an interesting and informative journey. I keep a blog (http://www.jenandjulia.tumblr.com/) in any case that keeps track of good recipes that I find or tweak myself, and photographs that help me keep track of what I'm eating. Mostly my job involves science outreach and talking about the brain, so writing about food consistently will be a brand new experience and I'm very much looking forward to it. Over the next while I hope to write about our brand new garden compost heap and how we limit food waste before it simply gets thrown away, our vegetable and kitchen herb growing, home-brewing including where our hops come from and where our grain waste goes, how you can increase the nutritional value of your food and why this is a good idea, where to buy locally supplied foods and whether this is a consistently viable option, as well as the practicality of making your own version of shop-bought foods like bread and pasta...but for my first post? Well, macarons of course!