Citrus compote with yogurt and granola

 
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I loved the winter retreat. We had our usual flock of sewing machines whirring away in the dining room, some crafting and knitting in front of several Avengers movies, wine and macarons by the fire. My next retreat will be early June and I already know I’m going to do the macarons again. Practice makes perfect. Especially when you need a mountain of them.

After my last retreat in the Fall, I was able to write up a quick post to document all the inspiration I had used for the meals I cooked. It was a great list and I’ve received wonderful feedback about the links. So I sat down to do the same for this retreat — but it turns out I decided to wing it and followed zero recipes that I can link you to for inspiration!

The ramen is assembled with fabulous ingredients from Mama Earth Organics, the macarons were a mishmash of blog posts I read (although you can find a post about that here), the breakfast tostadas are just eggs and salsa on a crispy fried tortilla (that I happened to buy pre-fried cuz nobody has time to perfectly fry a corn tortilla and clean up the mess), the dumplings and kimchi fried rice follow more of a method than a recipe, and the braised beef on polenta is my own dump-amazing-ingredients-in-the-pressure-cooker method that I have yet to make the same way twice. Even my cheesecake doesn’t really follow a recipe so much as a ratio of eggs to sugar to cream cheese.

Hold it!

Breakfast! I have a recipe for breakfast! Hurray. I can now change my blog post from “no recipes for you” to “Citrus compote with yogurt and granola”! I think I even have a picture or two.

 
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(Don’t you guys love it when I just sit at my computer and type and type away without a real plan for things? it’s the only way these posts happen. I make up my mind to just start typing.)

Sunday morning breakfast at my retreats are often a lighter, easier meal. I minimize the dishes required so I can focus on my guests before they pack up and leave. This citrus compote was made on Saturday night so the flavours had time to develop, and then I served it with my favourite granola (by Ste Anne’s Bakery) and some thick greek yogurt.

Here is the original recipe from kitchn.com.

In short: (because that’s what I do; I learn a recipe and then simplify to something I can remember)

  1. Supreme some beautiful citrus fruit

  2. Squeeze all the juice into a saucepan, add some honey, ginger, and a cardamom pod and simmer for a few minutes.

  3. Remove the ginger and cardamom pod and pour the juice over the citrus fruit and let sit in the fridge overnight. Enjoy over yogurt and granola.

It’s pretty. It’s delicious. And it’s so simple. Especially when you used mostly grapefruit, like I did, cuz they’re the easiest of the citrus fruit to supreme because they’ve got nice big segments.

 
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I’ve got two spots left in both my Summer Retreat and Fall Retreat. It’s a weekend full of food and nothing; you bring whatever you want to fill the nothing. Click here to check out the retreats and join meeee!!!

Ugly macarons are still delicious

 
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Updated on Feb 5th. Scroll to bottom to read about baking macarons without a resting period!

There are so many opinions out there on macarons, so many tips, warnings, shared stories. So what the heck, I’ll just add to it.

I love macarons. LOVE them. I had two for breakfast this morning. Lily asked me if I was “in a relationship with macarons” (that’s how she talks now). She sees the dreamy, closed-eyes look I have on my face when I eat them.

They’re not the most affordable dessert (at a whopping $3.30 each at Ladurée) so I made up my mind to learn how to make them. I want to serve them at my retreats and it’s just not very comforting to have a tiny tease of a dessert when you’ve treated yourself to a weekend away. You need a plateful of macarons to really feel happy.

I’ve read a whole bunch of recipes and blog posts. I’ve watched some videos. I’ve taken a quick lesson with the talented @emilychincakes. Everyone admits to macarons being finicky; everyone has little tricks that help make the perfect macaron.

See that space? That’s called a “hollow”. Still delicious.

See that space? That’s called a “hollow”. Still delicious.

That bottom half has no “feet”. Still delicious.

That bottom half has no “feet”. Still delicious.

I remember when I got into baking sourdough bread. The motto was “even ugly bread is delicious when toasted”. I’ve made macarons three times now (not including that time in France when Dustin had his “poofy hair”). I promise to update this post if I change my mind, but my conclusion is that ugly macarons are still delicious. That air pocket on the inside? meh. Doesn’t quite come off the parchment paper? meh. They’re ovals with a pointy top? meh. The “feet” are really small and didn’t even puff up on one side? meh. They’re overbaked and a little brown? Pack your knives and go! Just kidding. I overbaked almost every tray and somehow they’re still chewy and delicious.

 
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If you’re baking macarons to sell, then you are amazing and you better charge enough for all that time in the kitchen. If you’re baking macarons to eat for breakfast? Just get-er-done and know that at least two of them on at least one side will look good enough for a picture. They seem to always taste delicious anyway.

For the winter retreat, I’m hoping they come out beautiful. But if they don’t? I’ll tell everyone to make that really dreamy face with their eyes closed when they eat them. I’m positive they will taste perfect.

Macaron resources:

My tips for low-stress macarons:

  • I don’t age the egg whites.

  • I don’t bring my egg whites to room temperature

  • I used lemon juice because I couldn’t find my cream of tarter

  • I used parchment paper because I don’t own a silpat

  • An amazing buttercream fixes all mistakes

  • Make sure to rest your macarons after piping so they dry out a bit and form a shell. See below.

Update! I’ve tried baking a batch of macarons without a resting period. Conclusion: rest your macarons! Of the 12 that I baked immediately after piping, 5 of them cracked. That’s a 40% fail rate. Wait, not a fail. Just ugly. They were still delicious. So while 100% delicious, 40% ugly. The remaining trays were rested and baked with no cracks. Were they still funny shaped? Sure. But definitely photo worthy.

Bottom tray was baked without resting after piping. Top tray rested about 20 mins.

Bottom tray was baked without resting after piping. Top tray rested about 20 mins.

Full of cracks. Arguably ugly. Definitely delicious.

Full of cracks. Arguably ugly. Definitely delicious.



I'm the boss, so I cook what I want

 
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Last weekend’s retreat was wonderful.

They always are. (Maybe not retreat number 7… but I can laugh about that now.)

There were impressive projects being completed throughout the weekend: photobooks, bullet journals, fancy zippered pouches, tote bags, knitting projects, and episodes of Sherlock. I had my first spinner attend the retreat: a yarn spinner, not a DJ, although it didn’t stop us from making DJ scratching sounds every time she went to go spin. We’re hilarious like that.

While everyone else is working to #completeatretreat, I spend most of my time cooking meals. And I really love it. I just cook the food I like, and hope that the guests like it, too.

I don’t think I always did that. I struggled in my early retreats to balance what I wanted to cook, and what I thought guests would want to eat. If I dared to try something different, I was haunted by the giant plate of leftovers and further divided about what to do next time.

But I’m in a new chapter now. I’m the boss. I’m going to embrace that.

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I served some familiar meals, like the charcuterie and cheese platter on Friday night, but I also made a pearl couscous lunch with roasted tomatoes and olives, with discs of eggplant and a lemony kale salad. And I served a roasted rack of pork with lots of earthy fennel flavours and a salty, crispy crust that fell apart when I sliced it but then I just scooped it up and sprinkled it on everyone’s plate. It’s so nice to just cook what I want, and trust that the guests will love it, too.

 
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Most retreats are filled with recipes and inspiration from Ina Garten. Although she is my forever-chef-crush, this past retreat was inspired mostly by Deb Perelman’s recipes. She has such a wonderful Instagram feed that links to recipes old and new — but always in the right season. I imagine she is actually making all these things in her small NYC apartment in real time.

Registration for my 2019 retreats is open. I decided to offer 4 retreats this year. Why not. If there isn’t enough interest, then I’ll just cancel one, or merge them together. You guys don’t mind if I mess around and try new things, right? It’s so nice being the boss.

Come for the surroundings. Come because your project pile is neglected and growing. Or come for the really delicious food. You get to see how much love I put into the meals, eat everything, and then not have to wash a single dish. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

There is an early bird discount right now for $50 savings if you register before the end of the year.

As added incentive, I’m doing a draw to win my extra copy of the amazing Handmade Getaway book. It’s a limited edition hardcover copy! The book is fabulous, filled with project ideas, guides, tips, and planning details to host your own amazing handmade getaway. All early-bird registrations will be automatically entered into the draw.

Hope to see you soon. xo.