Tag Archives: Martha Stewart

France Celebrates Bastille Day – And So Can You!

Bastille DayJuly 14 is the annual National Day celebration in France. The date marks the one-year anniversary of the famous storming of the Bastille and the end of the French Revolution which changed France from a feudal nation governed by a monarchy to a republic. Admittedly, there were a few sketchy years when Napolean was in charge.

Many French make a distinction between July 14, 1789 and July 14, 1790. As with any political change, particularly one that resulted in bloodshed and loss of life, there were hard feelings on both sides.

In 1880, French Senate Chairman Henri Martin explained why he believed France should adopt July 14th as its National Day:

“Do not forget that behind this 14 July, where victory of the new era over the ancien régime was bought by fighting, do not forget that after the day of 14 July 1789, there was the day of 14 July 1790. … This [latter] day cannot be blamed for having shed a drop of blood, for having divided the country. It was the consecration of the unity of France. … If some of you might have scruples against the first 14 July, they certainly hold none against the second. Whatever difference which might part us, something hovers over them, it is the great images of national unity, which we all desire, for which we would all stand, willing to die if necessary.”

For most French people, these distinctions have ceased to matter. Instead, the day is about parades and parties. To help the French celebrate (after all, they did help us out a whole lot during our American Revolution), here are some ideas for a kid-friendly, French-inspired picnic.

Cheese platter – You don’t have to pick fancy, stinky cheeses in order to enjoy a cheese platter with your kids. Pick what you – and they – enjoy. Ideally, try to get a variety of different cheese textures for them to sample along with a lovely grape juice.

Salade Nicoise – She may not be French but Martha Stewart is “la dame” when it comes to an American version of the famous French salad. Here’s her recipe for salade nicoise. Definitely splurge on the bottle of white wine vinegar; it makes a lovely difference!

Crepes – I love crepes either with sugar or nutella. Here’s a basic crepe recipe from AllRecipes.com you can try.

Baguette sandwiches – Take the humble ham and cheese sandwich and put it into a delicious baguette and you’re halfway to France! This easy sandwich is super kid-friendly. For an authentic feel, add cornichons, tiny French pickles, to the sandwich with either mayonnaise or mustard.

For more articles from KidCulture about France and French food, check out these links:

Soup’s On! French Onion Soup

French Food Made Fun

French Cooking Class for Kids

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Cookies 25: Lebkuchen

I hope Santa Claus was kind to you and that you spend a wonderful day with family and friends.

It’s been a lot of fun learning about different cookies from around the world and surfing the many, many, MANY websites devoted to Christmas cookies and international foods. I’ve definitely discovered a few new favorites and I hope you have, too.

And I also hope that through these 25 days of cookies you had an opportunity to learn about the other people and cultures who share our same goals: peace on earth, goodwill towards all, and maybe, just maybe, a sweet treat to share with loved ones.

Since my family is (partly) from Germany, I’m glad to share this final recipe – Lebkuchen – from there.

This Lebkuchen recipe is from MarthaStewart.com.

Lebkuchen

Ingredients

Makes 17

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup blanched whole almonds (about 1 3/4 ounces), toasted, plus more untoasted for decorating
  • 1/3 cup blanched hazelnuts (1 1/2 ounces), toasted
  • 1/3 cup diced candied orange peel
  • 1/3 cup diced candied lemon peel
  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3 ounces almond paste, crumbled into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Pulse almonds and hazelnuts in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add candied peels and dates, and pulse until finely chopped. Add almond paste, and pulse to combine. Add jam, and pulse. Add eggs and brown sugar, and pulse. Add flour mixture, and pulse. Transfer dough to an airtight container, and refrigerate overnight (or up to 3 days).
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a 2-inch ice cream scoop ( 1/4 cup), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 3 inches apart. Place 3 almonds close together on top of each cookie. Bake until golden brown, about 14 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
  3. Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and milk, and brush over cooled cookies. Let stand until set. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Lebkuchen – Martha Stewart Recipes

 

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Cookies 23: Speculass

Speculass cookies, which are from the Netherlands, resemble the Springerle cookies from Germany we made way back on Cookie Day 4.

This speculass recipe is from Martha Stewart and it looks difficult and amazing. But then again, isn’t that what we’ve come to expect from Martha?

Speculass

Ingredients

Makes about 32 cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for surface

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, mace, white pepper, and cloves in a large bowl.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in half the flour mixture. Beat in water, then remaining flour mixture. Shape into 3 disks. Pat each to a 1-inch thickness, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Dust surface and springerle mold lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out dough to a 1/4- to 3/8-inch thickness (deeper molds will need thicker dough). Cut a piece of dough about the size of the mold. Press mold firmly into dough, flip over, and gently roll over dough with a rolling pin. Flip over, and press onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a knife, trim excess dough. Gently coax dough out of mold with fingertips and onto a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing cookies 1 inch apart, and placing same-size cookies on same sheet. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Speculaas Cookies – Martha Stewart Recipes

 

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Cookies 15: Macaroons

macaroonsThis famous French pastry actually originated in an Italian monastery where – it is believed – their shape was modeled on the monks’ belly buttons!

Macaroons came to France in the 16th century when Catherine de Medici married Henri II.

Try this royal – and religious – treat via Martha Stewart’s recipe.

Macaroons

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds

6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

To make the macaroons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until completely incorporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macaroons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.

Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macaroons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

To fill the macaroons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Variations: To make coffee-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops brown food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, blend 1/2 cup macaroon filling with 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon warm water for the filling. To make cassis-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops purple food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, use 1/3 cup good-quality cassis jam for the filling. To make pistachio-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops green food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, combine 1/2 cup macaroon filling with 1 tablespoon pistachio paste for the filling.

Macaroon Filling

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar. Set mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat mixture, whisking often, until it feels warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until mixture is stiff and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, and continue mixing until butter is thoroughly incorporated. The filling can be kept, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before stirring.
  3. Variations: To make hazelnut-honey filling: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of macaroon filling with 1/3 cup finely ground hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons good-quality honey.

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