DIY Easter: Make Your Own Macarons

Categories: Ask an Expert

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Photo Courtesy Brickhouse PR
While it is supposed to be about the resurrection of Jesus, these days Easter is about spending time with friends and family, for most of us anyway.

It's about long drawn out boozy brunches while watching the little ones run around searching for Easter eggs -- hey, it keeps 'em busy and happy.

Sure, you have your holiday staples like ham, eggs, and lamb -- and mimosas, obviously, -- but when it comes to dessert, the vast majority of revelers leave it to someone else. (There's a reason pastry chefs are the most respected culinary practitioners in France, baking is hard.)

This year, why not try something different? Why not go fancy? How about macarons?

To help you show everyone else up at the potluck, we recruited the help of master patissier Patrick Leze, pastry chef/owner of his namesake bakery in Palm Beach; he gave us his recipe for his delectable and intricate macarons.

See Also: Patrick Lézé on Healthcare, Harley Davidsons, and French Dinner Parties

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Free Seminar: Are The Toxins in Your Home Keeping You From Losing Weight?

Categories: Ask an Expert

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g_yulong on Flickr
Need help navigating those grocery shelves? Learn to be a health-conscious consumer at today's free seminar in Palm Beach Gardens.
Are the toxins in your home keeping you from losing weight?

It's a question Angela Tompkins, founder of Quality Life and Wellness, will be addressing today during a free health seminar aimed at helping people discover how the toxins in their home could be affecting weightloss goals -- and future health.

See Also: Florida House GMO Labeling Bill Gaining Support by Senators

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Wyatt, the Kid Food Critic, Proposes a Utopian School Cafeteria Menu

Categories: Ask an Expert

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Wyatt Tastes Good
Wyatt, fighting for better children's menus everywhere
When most people reflect on their school cafeteria days, they remember hairnets, alphabet soup, and clique dynamics. Even though Florida's schools have recently been heralded for their lunchtime facelift, offering healthier meals than ever before, school cafeterias have never been anyone's ideal of tasty nourishment.

For the first day of school we spoke to our kid food expert, Wyatt, because he posts restaurant reviews on his self-published food blog, Wyatt Tastes Good, but also because he's 11 and is subjected to school cafeteria fare nine months of the year.

According to Wyatt, school cafeterias are a lot like children's menus at restaurants: small portions and no variety. Even though Wyatt's parents let him experience cuisine on the grown-ups side of the menu when he dines out for his blog, he doesn't have that luxury at school. So we had Wyatt design a school cafeteria menu he would actually enjoy eating.

See also:
- Broward's 11-Year-Old Food Blogger Says the Darndest Things (VIDEO)
- Wyatt The Kid Food Blogger Dines With Channel 10 Tonight, Sound Familiar?

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How to Make the Perfect Mojito: Dada Bartender Manny Alayeto Shows You How With Papa's Pilar Rum

Categories: Ask an Expert

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A ginger mojito made with Papa's Pilar rum at Dada in Delray Beach.
Move over, Sailor Jerry -- there's a new rum in town. Made right here in Florida, it's a new super-premium spirit inspired by Ernest Hemingway and developed in conjunction with his estate in Key West. The rum, which was released last month in South Florida markets, is currently available only in the Sunshine State.

To put it to the test, Clean Plate Charlie took Papa's Pilar to Dada in Delray Beach, where bartender Manny Alayeto is known for making some damn good mojitos.

See also:
-m South Florida's Best Mojito


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How To Bake Cupcakes Inside Your Easter Eggs

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Come Sunday morning, what's the first thing you'll be guaranteed to stuff your face with after an exhausting Easter basket hunt? Will it be fruit-flavored jelly beans, a block of rabbit-shaped chocolate or an entire box of florescent pink Peeps?

Guess again. Before you reach for that basket of sugar the Easter Bunny left you, chances are you'll probably be cracking open a semi-cold, dye-stained hard boiled egg. Stinky and unappealing as it may seem, we all know it's coming. But it doesn't have to be this way -- especially not if your eggs are filled with something a little more appetizing.

Say, something like vanilla cake? Stefani Pollack -- editor, photographer and official taste-tester for her blog dubbed the Cupcake Project -- shares with us her method and recipe for baking cupcakes inside egg shells for an extra-special holiday treat.

"You can bake any cupcake recipe in cleaned-out egg shells, and when you are ready to eat the cake, you just crack the egg and dig in," Pollack explains. "Ah-mazing!"

See also:
- South Florida Easter Brunch and Dinner Guide


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Brett Collins, Mixologist at Hullabaloo, Creates "Kitchen Cocktails"

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Hullabaloo mixologist Brett Collins uses topnotch ingredients to make his own "skinny" cocktails.
If you're in the mood for a well-handcrafted cocktail this evening, head to Hullabaloo in West Palm Beach. Unlike most bars, here you won't find a single bottle of simple syrup -- and we think that says something. At this new Italian-themed gastropub, it's all about doing things from scratch -- and that includes the bar's "kitchen cocktail" menu lineup.

These days, everyone has latched onto the handcrafted cocktail bandwagon, but the ingredients used will be what sets one fancy menu apart from another. Rather than default to the standard ingredients found behind most bars -- the same used for making well drinks at two-for-one happy hours -- Hullabaloo mixologist Brett Collins has assembled an arsenal of high-end spirits and liqueurs to make flavorful, intense drinks with no artificial ingredients.

"All mixologists are being creative, coming up with their own infusions and creating some pretty amazing stuff lately," said Collins. "But there's one thing most of them still have in common. They're sill using simple syrup."

See also:
- First Look: Hullabaloo Opens on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach

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How to Preserve Food: Jamming, Canning, Pickling, and "Fermentation Fun" -- Classes With Ms. Jessica

Categories: Ask an Expert
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Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs are great. Community and home gardens are even better. The feelings of accomplishment for limiting your carbon footprint through supporting local farms or growing your own crops are amazing. The only drawback: sometimes it's just way too much food.

That's where food preservation comes in. If you're looking to learn to can and preserve food--without contracting botulism--Master Preserver Jessica McLeary wants to help. She's teaching a series of classes at the Miramar Cultural Center.

See also:
- When Canning Goes Wrong
- Growing Green Communities
- The Urban Farmer in Pompano: Local Food in Broward County
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Spice Galore in Miami: Specialty Sugars, Rare Salts, and Custom Herbs

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All photos by Nicole Danna
Spice Galore owners Aimee Ortega and Vitoria Nodarse.
It's another quiet afternoon at Spice Galore -- until a new customer bursts through the back door nearly sprinting to a row of glass jars containing various spice blends. Her first words as she hurries across the small space: "I'm SO excited! I've been feeling like a crack head ever since I ran out."

A self-described addict, the fix she's craving isn't something you snort or smoke. The mystery substance this zealous customer is looking for isn't any sort of illegal drug -- but it can be hard to find if you don't know where to look. 

It's a rare blend of Middle Eastern herbs known as za'atar, a combination of dried sumac, sesame and thyme. The woman said her friend first discovered it at a specialty spice shop in Montreal, Quebec. When he brought some back and began cooking with it, she was instantly hooked. Naturally, both were delighted when they found a simliar shop in Miami that carried, among other things, za'atar.

Now they can't get enough of it, and the only place guaranteed to have it fresh is Spice Galore, Miami's first eco-friendly, semi-organic local purveyor of high-end salts, spices, sugars, loose leaf teas and various other rare or hard-to-find ingredients.
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Wine and Cheese Pairing Classes at Cheese Culture: "Like Sex in Your Mouth"

Categories: Ask an Expert
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Would you like some cheese with that wine?

It's difficult to find people who do not like wine. (Why would you want to?) And even harder to find someone who doesn't love cheese. (Well, besides vegans, of course.)

As much as the vast majority of the population enjoys eating cheese and drinking wine, most people have no idea how to really enjoy the flavors together. Never mind conduct a proper cheese and wine tasting. 

Well, Susan and Mitchell Phipps of Cheese Culture are here to help. Throughout the year, the shop holds multiple course on cheese and wine pairings. Clean Plate Charlie sat in on one of the courses.
See Also:
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The Best Apple Pie Recipe Ever: Pick 'Em Like Maine Pomologist John Bunker

Categories: Ask an Expert
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Nicole Danna
A fresh-picked New York Macintosh apple.
Nutting Bumpuses. Northern Spy. Newt Grindles. These are just a few of the unique names given to a variety of rare, heirloom apples found on John Bunker's Super Chilly Farm in Palermo, Maine.

Bunker, a self-appointed Maine preservation pomologist, has without a doubt the most knowledge of apples in North America. After all, he's spent the past 40 years studying the unique varieties of apple that grow on his 100-acre farm, about 200 heirloom types. They are apples you have (probably) never heard of, and the apples you (most likely) have never tasted. They grow in odd shapes and unusual sizes. And, sadly, they are apples that will never grow here in South Florida. Still, that doesn't mean you can't have a taste for yourself.

For tips on where to buy the best New England apples, and how to bake the best apple pie you've ever had, keep reading:


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