Fried Eggplant with Okra and Oatmeal Cookies– Enjoy Life

It’s raining and my mom’s coming to town…hmm, wonder what we will do for fun? Make SNACKS! I have buukuu okra that needs to be stewed into goodness, so I’m including here my favorite recipe for fried eggplant and okra—so southern. Then I recently read this article in Cooks Illustrated about the world’s most perfect oatmeal cookie, and I whole heartedly agree after testing in my kitchen. Also, there will be Scrabble.


Smothered Okra and Tomatoes

Adapted from Tony Chachere’s Cajun Country Cookbook

2 lbs okra, sliced

3 TB olive oil

1 TB flour

1 medium red onion, diced

½ green or red bell pepper, chopped

2 medium stalks of celery, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 hot peppers, chopped

5 fresh tomatoes, chopped

Cajun seasoning, to taste (I like Uncle Larry’s with a little dash of Tony’s)

Stir fry the okra in 2 TB olive oil in a non-cast iron skillet, non-reactive skillet. Fry until lightly charred. In a different, cast-iron skillet, make a medium-dark roux with 1 TB olive oil, 1 TB flour. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery, garlic and hot peppers and simmer until wilted. Add tomatoes and simmer for five more minutes. Add okra, season to taste with Cajun stuff, and cook for about one hour on low heat until very sauce-y. Serve on top of these delicious fried eggplants.

Fried Eggplant

Adapted from Down-Home Cajun Cooking Favorites

4 medium eggs

3 small eggplants, sliced ¼ inch thick, salted and dried

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 TB garlic and/or onion powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

3 TB olive oil

Mozzarella cheese

In a mixing bowl beat eggs. Slice eggplants, rub with salt, let dry out on a rack for 30 minutes, wipe the fluid off with a towel and rinse.

Mix together flour and seasonings. Dip eggplant slices into egg, then roll in flour mixture, then panko crumbs and fry on a hot skillet until each side is golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and sprinkle with cheese.

And now for the cookies…

Also, I’ll include this photo of my latest favorite granola bar from Enjoy Life, which are nice for the allergic sort who can’t have soy or milk or gluten or any of the goodies. They are delicious, especially the carrot cake ones. And I don’t even like carrot cake.

The Best Oatmeal Cookie Ever

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

4 TB butter

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar sugar

½ cup olive oil

1 egg plus one egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

½ cup currants

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Melt butter in skillet until it is brown butter. Stir in cinnamon. Add all the sugars and oil to the butter and whisk. Then add egg and yolk and vanilla and whisk again. Then add flour/salt/baking soda mixture (pre-sifted). Then oats and currants. Should be a really stiff dough. Bake 8-10 minutes. YUM.

These are enough to send Izzy right past bliss into euphoric ennui.




Baby Quinoa Cakes and Almond Crust Quiche ala Pereg

Standing in three feet of water on Saturday had me pondering apocalypse. Here in New Orleans, inexplicably, several pumps were out of order and then a cloud parked over the city and brought us 8 inches of rain in two hours. Maybe Randy Newman was right, “they try’n to wash us away, Louisiana.” Yeah, this was Saturday.

It’s times like these that I think about what kind of pioneerish/apocalypse-proof meals I can cook up for proper nourishment. For the last week, I’ve really been digging Pereg Foods. I received a box full of goodies (thank you!), a bouquet of flours amid baby quinoa and whole grain teff.

Here’s what I’ve conjured up so far from the ingredients.

Baby Quinoa Cakes with Cheddar and Squash

Adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup shredded yellow squash

1/3 cup whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/3 cup grated yellow onion

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

16 oz precooked plain quinoa

1-2 jalapenos (red or green), diced

3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divide

2 TB avocado oil garlic mayonnaise

2 TB plain greek yogurt

¼ tsp smoked paprika

divided 6 cups fresh baby spinach or watercress

Combine everything but spinach in a large bowl, except the olive oil. (OK, I put a few spinach leaves in the patties themselves.) Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Divide and shape mixture into 8 (1-inch-thick) patties (about 1/2 cup each).

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned and crisp. Remove from heat. Serve over baby spinach. These are so delicious– I ate them for breakfast lunch and dinner for two days.

Then here’s a little number that’s 100% Gluten Free.

Spinach and Cheese Quiche with Almond Crust

Adapted from Pereg Natural Foods

2 cups Pereg Natural Almond Flour

½ teaspoon Pereg Kosher Salt

2 tablespoons melted olive oil, more for greasing pan

1 large egg, whisked

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

For quiche:

1 medium shallot, diced

1 cup fresh spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 large eggs

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon Pere Kosher Salt

¼ teaspoon Pereg Red Pepper flakes

½ cup Vermont white cheddar cheese, crumbled, with just a sprinkle of parmegiano regianno

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine almond flour and salt. Then add in remaining ingredients and mix into a shaggy ball.

Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the 9-inch pie pan.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and heat olive oil. Add shallots and sauté for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Then add spinach and sauté just until slightly wilted, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in the cooled spinach mixture and goat cheese.

Pour the mixture in the crust and bake for 35 minutes or until the quiche is firm and just barely jiggles. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I can’t wait to experiment with all the rest of the goodies. Neither can Izzy.

Lebanese Eggplant Stew and Palm Done Right by Jewish Princesses

Palm Oil is a touchy subject amongst foodies. The tale as old as time. A food gets fancy, demand increases, then profit-hungry soulless corporations tromp into the villages of third world countries and destroy the economy, social networks and ecosystem in one foul swoop. In the news over the last decade, you may have seen pictures of Malaysian orangutans who lost their favorite swinging spot, rainforests burning, Indonesian people in the sun looking like they weren’t getting paid enough. Palm Done Right is a Natural Habitats campaign that provides education on palm products, supports farmers who produce palm oil by sustainable, organic and community-sensitive methods, and also promotes products using palm oil from good sources. There is a good way to harvest palm oil—just make sure you aren’t supporting villains.

The Palm Done Right campaign prompted me to review the available nutrition science on fats. Recently I attended a lecture on fats at the Tulane Goldring School of Culinary Medicine (at the Whole Foods in my neighborhood!) I remember when the popular message to the public said All Fat is Bad. Then I went to medical school and realized our bodies really need fat to function. In general, saturated fats still need to be in the no no category and try to limit intake to <10% of your dietary fat. Yes, that’s butter. It’s also about 50% of palm fruit oil (if its solid at room temp, high sat fat). But that’s not the end of the story, because there is this whole other world of fats that are really good for you—Monounsaturated fats (MUFAS) and Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS), these are the liquid ones at room temp. In this group, there are fats we cannot synthesize ourselves, essential fatty acids: the Omega 3 (alpha- linolenic) and Omega 6 (linoleic acid). Palm fruit oil also has Omegas, but much more Omega 6, which I’ll argue is to be used cautiously). Palm fruit oil has the added bonus of a bunch of carotenoids (like more than carrots) and tocotrienols (Vitamin Es). Just make sure you are getting Palm Fruit oil and not palm kernel oil. Big difference.

Omega 3 is important in making DHA (important for neurodevelopment and health). They also probably prevent heart disease. Foods with a lot of Omega 3 include: salmon, tuna, soy, wheat germ, walnut oil, flax seeds and oil, pumpkin seeds, scallops, crawfish. Omega 6 are okay (again, still better than straight saturated fats), but the higher the ratio of Omega 6, relative to 3, the more inflammation, autoimmune disease, cancer, CV disease it seems. The average US diet has a 1:10-1:30 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6. Ideally, you want to have 1:1 or 1:4 ratio of Omega-3:Omega-6.

In general, you want to eat about 1.6 times the unsaturated fats than saturated fats in your diet. This is a lot of math to do in the kitchen, right? Well, all the more control you have over food you create than the food you encounter eating out. When you are cooking more for yourself, you know exactly the ratio of fats going down the hatch. Plus, you can dance in the kitchen while you are waiting for the onions to caramelize.

I got to work in the kitchen testing out Palm Done Right products sent to me for sampling (above), and I’m a fan. I like Aunt Patty’s and Nutiva, companies that should be celebrated for their conscious curating of ingredients.  I decided to adapt some recipes from a new cookbook I’ve been dying to try—the Modern Jewish Table by the “Jewish Princesses” Tracy Fine and Georgie Tarn. I’m a shiksa balabusta (Yiddish for: total imposter Jewish wanna-be who loves to tear it up in the kitchen). This cookbook has a wide range of kosher recipes that reflect the cultural diaspora of Jewish people—so far everything I’ve tried has been delicious. And I believe a touch of red palm oil in this stew provided just the perfect dash of chutzpah.

Lebanese Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

Adapted from the Modern Jewish Table

2 eggplants, sliced and diced

1 TB kosher salt

7 TB olive oil

3 TB Aunt Patty’s red palm oil

2 onions, chopped

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

15 oz garbanzo beans

1 TB honey

17 oz stewed tomatoes

Black pepper to taste

2 oz water

Preheat oven to 350. Rub eggplant slices with salt and let sit on a rank for 30 minutes to dehydrate. Then rinse with water and pat dry with a towel. In a large skillet, add 3 oz olive oil and 2 oz red palm oil, heat and fry the onions until soft/translucent. Add cinnamon and brown sugar. Add eggplants and 4 oz olive oil, 1 oz red palm oil and let fry some more (about five min). Add the rest of the ingredients, not the water, cover and place in oven for 20 minutes. Then add the last 2 oz of water and continue cooking for another 40 minutes.

This is delicious when served on whole grain toast—buckwheat toast is what I used—delicious!

How about some gluten free nibbles for dessert/snacks?

Nutiva Cookie Bites

Adapted from The Modern Jewish Table

1 ½ almond meal

½ cup fine sugar

3 TB Nutiva chocolate hazelnut paste (it’s Nutella in the original recipe)

1 egg

Preheat oven to 325. Mix all ingredients until a smooth paste is formed. Line a baking tray with parchment. Roll one tsp of dough into a ball, and place on baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Sirtfoods, starring Buckwheat

Polyphenols. Xenohormesis. Sirtuins. These are not Star Wars trivia words, surprise, surprise. They are clues in the quest to understand why plants are good for us. The Sirtfood Diet by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten offers a compelling argument for the science behind why eating plants can give you a healthier, longer life. I’m usually not a fan of “diet” books because I don’t like used car salesman spiels with taglines like “lose 7 pounds in 7 days!” and I don’t think people should estimate the summation of their health as the number glaring back from the bathroom scale. What I like about this book is the way it describes the evolution of a common mechanism of action in the class of foods called “sirtfoods.”

Sirtfoods are foods that when eaten turn on a family of genes (SIRT1-SIRT7) which are evolutionarily critical for energy efficiency. Activation of SIRT1, for example, blocks the storage and production of fat, increases fat burning and conversion of white fat to brown fat, and regulates appetite. Sirtuins also play a role in the prevention of atherosclerosis, dementia, osteoporosis, and diabetes. These foods are like little cellular scrub brushes for the plaques of chronic disease. This is relatively new stuff—wasn’t on my test in medical school (though diet and nutrition rarely is, sadly).

Here’s my favorite part. As living beings, our bodies have systems that allow us to adapt to stress, called hormesis. When we are low on energy, dehydrated, fatigued from exercise, we have metabolic pathways that switch on to conserve resources and repair us. Consider a plant, however. Plants, when thirsty, say it’s been a New Orleans summer day, cannot go inside to enjoy the AC and get a La’Croix. Because plants are stationary, plant stress responses have evolved some rather elegant molecules—a whole menu of polyphenols- which effect hormesis for plants. Polyphenols you have probably heard of: quercetin, resveratrol, epicatechin, caffeic acid, oleuropein. Well, maybe you’ve haven’t heard of these chemicals, but they are the reasons why salad, wine, chocolate, olive oil, and coffee are “good” for you. When you eat them, your body gets to steal some of the plants hormesis effects—a process called xenohormesis.

In reading this book, I was excited to see that I’ve already been eating a lot of sirtfoods in my regular diet. Here’s a list of foods full of phenols to feel good about:








Extra virgin olive oil


Green tea


Red onion

Red wine





So I’ve been into buckwheat again lately. There are several delicious buckwheat recipes in this book. But also, I prefer to make loaves of bread with buckwheat flour and whole buckwheat groats. This week I was gifted a bouquet of flours from Pereg Natural Foods. (Their website in itself could be marketed as an appetite stimulant.) They make a delicious buckwheat flour. Buckwheat isn’t even a grain! It’s a relative of rhubarb.

This bread title sounds like a Muppet. Or a Harry Potter special at the Leaky Cauldron.

Buckwheat Sourdough with Toasted Groats

Adapted from the Tartine Bread Book (sorry, y’all Tartine is metric. Buy a scale, trust me, it’s better)

500g all-purpose flour

400g whole wheat flour

50g buckwheat flour

850g water

150g Sourdough

70g wheat germ (or flax)

25g salt

150g toasted buckwheat groats

70g crème fraiche

Mix the flours and water together with the sourdough starter.  Cover and let rest for an hour or two. Meanwhile, toast 150g of buckwheat groats on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes. Then soak the toasted groats in warm water for 1 hour, and drain. Quarter turn the bread dough every hour or so during the initial rise (which can be from 4-6 hours, just depends on how speedy your starter is feeling that day). Wait at least two hours before adding the salt (wet the salt in several tablespoons of water so it’s a slurry, easier to knead into the dough), wheat germ, buckwheat groats and crème fraiche. Let rise until it’s fluffy and gorgeous. Divide into two loaves, shape and proof for another hour in bowls lined with cloth sprinkled with either brown rice or corn masa. Place your cloches (I used cast iron pots with lids) in the oven and heat it up to 500 degrees. Yeah. Hot. Wait till the pots are pre-heated and then upturn the dough into the hot pots and put the lids on. Bake at 500 for 30 minutes, then pull the lids off and decrease oven temp to 450 and bake another 25 minutes. Oh this bread is chewy and has so much flavor. You won’t even need butter.

Another buckwheat delicacy (other than pancakes) is soba. You can make your own pasta noodles to serve with your stirfry. A little tricky, but delicious.

Soba Noodles

Adapted from Sonoko Sakai’s recipe for Ni-Hachi Style Soba Noodles on

280 grams stone-milled buckwheat flour from Anson Mills or Cold Mountain or Pereg Foods (when I used Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat it all disintegrated in the hot water)

70 grams all-purpose flour

175 grams filtered or mineral water

Buckwheat starch or tapioca starch, for rolling the soba


Place your mixing bowl on a metric scale and tare to zero. Combine the flours, weighing the two flours as you add them. Mental MATH! It’s good for you! Add the water to the flour. Knead until a crumbly dough is formed: Work the flours and water together with your hands and then knead it in the bowl until it come together into a rough and slightly crumbly dough. If the dough feels dry or you can still see dry flour after a few minutes of kneading, then add water a tablespoon at a time until all the flour is integrated. Conversely, if the dough feels very wet and sticky, add all-purpose flour a tablespoon at a time until it becomes a workable dough.

Knead the dough on the counter until smooth: Turn the dough out onto the counter. Continue kneading until it holds together easily, does not crack while kneading, and becomes smooth. You should not need to add any more flour at this point. The dough will be very dense — and its color will make it look like a rock. Knead until it is a smooth stone.

Shape the dough into a disk. Cover with saran and let rest on the counter for 30-50 min.

Roll out the dough: Sprinkle the counter with a little starch and place the dough on top. Sprinkle the top of the dough and the rolling pin with starch. Begin rolling out the dough, working from the center of the dough outward in long, even strokes. Gently tap the edges of the dough with your rolling pin to shape them into straight lines as you roll, gradually shaping the dough into as close a rectangular shape as you can make it. Use more starch as needed to prevent sticking.

Continue rolling the dough into a rectangle longer than it is wide and 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch thick (as thin as possible!). Feed the dough into your pasta press, I like using the fettucine setting.  Keep the noodles  tossed with a little more starch to prevent sticking. Cook or freeze the soba within a few hours.

Cook the soba: Set a strainer in your sink. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes, and set this near the sink. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and drop in the soba. Cook for 60 seconds, then drain through the strainer in the sink. Rinse thoroughly under cool water, lifting and gently shaking the soba until the cooking film is rinsed away. Immediately dunk the soba in the bowl of ice water. Drain and serve.

I made the soba into a shrimp dish featured in the Sirtfood Diet book, spicy and delicious. Thanks to all the sponsors of this post–including Pereg Natural Foods! I’ll be make a lot of gluten-free dinners in the weeks to come, thank you!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Loose lips sink ships, I was told aboard the USS Gerald R Ford at its commissioning on Saturday. So awesome to see up close and in person!

It is likely also true that large hips sink ships, and so what better cookbook to have in your fat-fighting arsenal than the Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook, put out by the American Diabetes Association, authored by May Abraham Fridel. Chicken Tikka Masala is one of my favorite Indian food dishes, I always order it when I go to Indian restaurants. The book says it isn’t traditional Indian food, was made popular in Great Britain actually, but, hey, that’s my roots y’all. But this is a great cookbook for spicy foods that won’t raise your blood sugar precipitously.


Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from the Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook by May Abraham Fridel


¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 TB smoked paprika

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp cardamom

½ tsp white pepper

1 TB ginger garlic paste (1:1 fresh garlic and ginger in lemon juice)

Juice of one lemon

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp olive oil

Tikka Masala

2 TB olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1 TB ginger-garlic paste

1 TB smoked paprika

¼ tsp black pepper

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 TB heavy cream

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp honey

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp garam masala

Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes, place in large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients (except the oil) and add to chicken. Marinate the chicken in the fridge for 2 hours. Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet on medium-high and add chicken, sear for two minutes on each side. Set aside.

Then for the tikka masala, heat the 2 tb oil in a skillet on medium-high heat and add onions, saute until soft and caramelly. Then add ginger-garlic paste and saute for 2 minutes. Reduce head to medium, add paprika and black pepper and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, mix heavy cream and yogurt with honey, salt and garam masala. Add to tomatoes. Turn heat back up to bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Add chicken to pan and cook for 3 minutes or until chicken cooked. Serve on BROWN rice, or better yet, not on rice– on quinoa if you are diabetic.


This post is sponsored by the ADA. Thank you!

Pizzagna, the Holy Grail of Dinner

There has been an important development in the world. Pizza meets lasagna. And it is the BEST. No better way to celebrate our anniversary than to cook a homemade masterpiece like this. I highly recommend my adaptations, which is to substitute ricotta with cauliflower cream and to make your own lasagna noodles from scratch, super thin. Look at this pizza flower, this rose made of meat and cheese. This could have been our wedding cake.

Pizzagna—the Holy Grail of Dinner

Adapted from the Food Network

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, or andouille sausage, chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce

1 cup sliced pepperoni

8 (?however many you want) lasagna noodles—make your own! Recipe below**

3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

8 oz cauliflower cream* (substitute for ricotta, see recipe below)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten


*Cauliflower Cream—substitute 1:1 for ricotta, recipe adapted from Skinny Cooking

24 oz cauliflower (frozen is fine)

½ cup reserved cauliflower water

6 oz plain Greek yogurt

1 ½ tsp salt

Place cauliflower in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil for five minutes, then drain but keep about a cup of water reserved. Then blend all the ingredients in a food processor. You can store in the fridge for several weeks.

**Homemade Lasagna Noodles

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup semolina flour

2 eggs, 1 egg yolk

½ tsp salt

1 TB olive oil

1 TB water

Pile the two flours and salt into a mound on the counter into which you should create a crater for the eggs, oil, and water. Slowly blend them together on a clean counter, until you have a rubbery, smooth dough ball. Add extra water as needed. Crash dough on the counter a few times and wrap in saran and let rest for 30 min-1 hour. Then roll flat on counter, flat enough to put through a pasta press. I use the Kitchen-Aid attachments to roll flat sheets, and went to setting 6 for my noodles. Then cut into strips with a fancy edge cutter (looks like a mini-pizza roller that’s been crimped into waves).  Boil immediately for 2-3 minutes, or let dry and store for later use.

Now, for the pizzagna.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper and cook, scraping up the browned bits, until the vegetables soften, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage to the pot and cook, breaking up the meat, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush a 9-inch round springform pan with olive oil and line with foil, leaving an overhang. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until done; drain and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Combine 2 cups mozzarella, the cauliflower cream, parmesan and eggs in a bowl; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Wrap some lasagna noodles around the inside of the pan, overlapping slightly and trimming as needed. Cover the bottom of the pan with more noodles, overlapping slightly and letting them extend up the side of the pan. Spread 2 cups sauce in the pan and top with half of the cauliflower mixture; cover with a layer of noodles.

Repeat with 2 more cups sauce, the remaining cauliflower mixture and another layer of noodles, letting them extend up the side of the pan (you might not use all the noodles, do what feels right). Top with the remaining sauce, 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup pepperoni.

Bake until browned and bubbling, about 1 hour (tent with foil if the top is browning too quickly). Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour, then lift out of the pan using the foil. Remove the foil and slice.

Delicious. Stunning. A bouquet of pizza.

Lemon Lavender Macarons– Vive la France

For Bastille Day, I did a little jig on my front porch in gratitude to France for the Louisiana Purchase, and then I made macarons. There just is no better dessert, I’m convinced. The last time I made these with my lovely neighbor Denae, I ate my half of the batch with embarrassing haste. Oh, but how could I not? They melt like vacation. Sweet and brief.

Lemon Lavender Macarons

Adapted from Food Network

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup superfine almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup superfine sugar

4 drops purple food coloring (mix red and blue)

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (or 300 degrees F for convection). Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. Sift in the almond flour.

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high and gradually beat in the superfine sugar until the mixture is just stiff and shiny, 2 to 2 1/2 more minutes, adding the food coloring and extract during the last 15 seconds of mixing.

Fold the egg white mixture into the almond flour mixture using a rubber spatula, giving the bowl a quarter turn with each fold, until incorporated. Continue folding and turning, scraping down the bowl, until the batter is smooth and falls off the spatula in a thick ribbon, no more than 2 minutes (about 60 strokes).

Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Holding the bag perpendicular to and 1/2 inch above the prepared pans, pipe 11/4-inch rounds (30 to 35 per pan).

Firmly tap the baking sheets twice against the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the tops are no longer sticky to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the humidity.

Slip another baking sheet under one batch of macarons (a double baking sheet protects the cookies from the heat). Bake the macarons, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops of the cookies are shiny and rise 1/8 inch to form a “foot,” about 20 minutes. Transfer the top pan to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining two batches, using a double baking sheet for each. Sandwich the cookies with citrus curd or preserves.


Lemon Lavender Curd Filling

3 large egg yolks

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 TB lavender, dried

4 tbsps unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To make the filling:

In the top of a double boiler filled with 2 inches of simmering water, combine egg yolks, confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and zest. Cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Strain the curd into a bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until completely cold.

To assemble:

Match the macaron shells in pairs. Pipe a small round of lemon curd (about half a teaspoon) on the flat side of a macaron shell and sandwich together with a matching macaron shell. Repeat with the remaining macarons.