I think the king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me.
~ William Shakespeare ~ Henry V IV.I.98 ~
The Romantic Lifestyle
Saturday, May 7th, 2011
Thursday, May 5th, 2011
I have recently found the most amazing and delicious recipe for Violet Macarons With Violet And Vanilla Buttercream on the Tartelette blog! I have written requesting permission to post a mouth watering photograph of the sweet darling little deserts as the author, Chef Helene Dujardin, requests. She is fine with reposting the recipe, along with a link which, I wanted to do immediately since we are right smack dab in the middle of fresh blooming violet season.
Here ‘t is and it is amazing! Go there to see the violet macaron photos. Helene is a pastry chef, photographer and food stylist and her pictures are beautiful! They inspire you to drop everything and spend the rest of your day making her deserts. Her entire award winning blog is a feast for the eyes as well as a great source for pastry recipes and tutorials.
She has many other great looking and sounding recipes. I am so glad to have found out about her. You will be too! She is coming out with a book soon. She also travels and does cooking workshops and lectures so she is a very busy lady! (I will post the photo as soon as I hear back from her.) I could not wait to post the recipe! I wanted to share it with you all as soon as possible! Enjoy!
Makes between 30 to 40 macarons
For the macarons shells:
90 gr egg whites (about 3)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
2 tablespoons crushed violet sugar or candied violet petals
For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like lava or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with the crushed sugar or violet petals. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.
Violet and Vanilla Buttercream:
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon violet sugar +1 tablespoon water (or 2 tablespoons violet liqueur)
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeded
Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Divided the buttercream in two portions.
For the violet buttercream: microwave the violet sugar and water for 30 to 45 seconds. Let cool completely before folding it into the buttercream. If using liqueur, just fold it in the buttercream.
For the vanilla buttercream: add the seeds from the vanilla bean to the buttercream and fold with a spatula until fully incorporated. If not using right away, refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 1 month.
Thursday, April 28th, 2011
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
Monday, April 25th, 2011
Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
Searching online for a sugared violet topped cupcake recipe this morning I came across this review of a bakery from Eat Family Styles which has me positively intrigued! Starting with:”a brief interlude of cupcake glorification: violet cupcakes at Broadway Market are lovely bites of heaven.” Look at the photo from their review of the Violet Bakery stall below! OMG!
Of course I read this and I wanted to go to heaven immediately! They make elderflower cupcakes, and rhubarb rose water cupcakes as well as violet. I honestly almost want to die and go to edible flower cupcake heaven! I am half way across the world from this place right now but it has me totally intrigued!
I would love to visit this bakery in London called, simply, Violet. These are all organic. No recipe, but loads of inspiration for doing it right! The names of their flavors alone are fulfilling! Such names as French Apricot, English Raspberry, English Strawberry, Elderflower, Rhubarb and Rose Water.
My yard is full, literally of blooming violets. They are growing in the grass as well as the flower beds which I love about them! I would rather have violets that release their delicate perfume underfoot when walked upon than grass any day! But I am Lady Violette de Courcy, lover of violets, and violets are my personal flower.
Having reminded you of that, I decided to look up making candied violets out of some of the flowers I have blooming in my yard. I am thinking about making some violet topped cupcakes for an upcoming birthday.
I know other people do not always find flowers growing in their grass as charming as I do! I love Queen Anne Daisies growing in grass as well. So I tried to buy grass seed that had them mixed in or the tiny pink and white daisy seeds that I could mix with grass seed and discovered that it s illegal to plant them in WA state where I live! They still pop up now and then in the grass in parks but people hate them so that they have banned them by law! This is crazy! Don’t you think? Outlawing beauty anywhere should be against the law!
I am thoroughly and fully inspired and I will continue my search for a recipe tomorrow! I’ll keep you posted.
Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
Thursday, April 14th, 2011
This is the first cardigan I have ever knitted using the top down circular knitting technique. I used scrap yarns in blues and purples left over from years of projects people in my family had knitted. Thus my name for it:Lady Violette’s Blue Violet Striped Cardigan! The yarns were in many different weights so I had to adjust the needle size to maintain the gauge throughout the project. Sometimes I knitted with one strand, sometimes 2 or 3 combined or held together, and I used sizes 6,7,and 8 US needles. There was a lot of guess work and re-knitting involved. Fortunately I’m pleased with the finished results.
The shape looks a bit odd on my mannequin, but it looks good on my body as I fill it out in the right places and I actually have shoulders and arms! Those are required to make the sweater look good. The arms look long in the photos but they actually fit me. I have measured and carefully worked to get the sleeves to be the correct length. Of course real human arms fill them out and pull them up to make them look the proper length and shape. And a lot better! Someday I hope to get a mannequin with arms! Meanwhile this will have to do.
I’m taking these photos by myself and don’t have equipment to photograph myself in the sweaters so the mannequin will have to do as my model until someone is here to photograph me modeling my sweaters.
It is better to take these photos than none! It has taken me forever to get around to photographing my finished knitting projects. I think that is because I am very concerned that I do a good job! I do not like seeing photos of knitted garments that do not do them justice.
I also would rather be knitting than photographing and posting photos of my knitting! Knitting is the most relaxing thing in the world. Photographing knits and writing about them is not as pleasant in my opinion. It requires discipline! However, now that I am blogging I want to get them up and I want to post them on the knitting website Ravelry.
I created this pattern myself as I went along. I kept notes, but I think it would be very hard to recreate the pattern and rewrite the instructions for someone else as I did many try-ons for fitting and adjustments as I knitted along. Also, having used many old yarns which no longer had their labels and are of mysterious identity even to me, I would find it hard to write the pattern and advise people on exactly what currently available yarns to use.
If you want to make something like this I suggest you find a plain sweater pattern that you like. Then dive in! Decide what you want to use for the ribbing and front bands, start there, and add yarns when and where it looks good to you to create the stripes as you work. That is how I did it!
I have also used self striping yarns such as Noro and Tonalita for other striped sweater projects. I love them because there are no ends to weave in or splice! And no gauge changes to calculate. You can safely knit them mindlessly going along and end up with excellent striping results. The yarn makers have dyed the yarn to make the stripes for you. If you want to make a striped sweater similar to this, with less work, I advise you to choose a Noro yarn in the color way of your choice and knit a plain cardy. You could use a solid color yarn of the same weight to make the ribbing and button bands if you chose to. Using a self-striping yarn for a sweater like this would be an intermediate level project. Using the varied yarns as I did is more challenging and I would rate it as an advanced level project.
I will post a brown striped cape/shawl soon to illustrate how one of the Noro Iro self striping yarn works up.