Lemon Buttercream Macarons

Happy Tuesday, friends!

I’m writing this from my beautiful balcony, enjoying the sunshine and a persistent summer breeze. It’s 10 a.m on my day off, I have a homemade almond milk latte in hand and a whole day of fun ahead of me. This is bliss, y’all!

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For the longest time I told myself I liked the season of summer the least. I considered it kind of boring and pretty overrated. I mean it was the best as a kid (no school! endless slumber parties! pool days!), but as an adult it just felt sort of blah. Maybe it was because when you live in L.A every season feels like a minor variation of summer. It lost it’s allure. Or maybe I just hadn’t figured out how to summer as a grown-up. Y’all. That has changed.

I have been loooving this season again. Going on runs in the warm sun, laying out by the pool with several good books, grilling almost every day, gardening, scheduling slumber parties and lake house trips and baseball games and concerts at every opportunity. And of course, getting inspired by all the bright summer-y flavors!

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Yaaas, people. Give me all the citrus. I started off the fun with lemon buttercream macarons, the world’s most notoriously finicky cookie, and this was my first batch in two years (linking to that post so we can all laugh at my photo quality and post organization back then…oy). I know what you’re thinking. Does that mean I’m a wizard? Yes. Yes it does.

As far as I can tell, these are the perfect little treat for so many reasons. They’re decadent and light at the same time, so you won’t feel super guilty about enjoying a few. They’re sweet but also tart. They’re fun to bring into work and share with colleagues. They’ll wow at any dinner party. Enjoy one after an average dinner at home and feel a little elevated. I froze these and will be making more flavors over the course of the month so I can gift them to my mama when I see her in July, as a belated mother’s day present (her only request was “nothing matcha”, ha!).

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Lemon Buttercream Macarons

ingredients

1 cup + 1/2 lb powdered sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

lemon yellow food gel

1/2 cup butter

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

directions

sift 1 cup of powdered sugar and 3/4ths cup almond flour into a large bowl. whisk to combine, then set aside.

add the egg whites to a metal mixing bowl and start whisking on one of the lower settings (I start with a 4 on my Kitchenaid) until the egg whites start to look frothy. add half of the granulated sugar to the egg whites, then increase the speed to a medium (7 for me) until whites start to foam. add the remaining granulated sugar, then increase the speed to high (9 works well) and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.

remove the bowl containing the meringue from the stand mixer. add half of the dry ingredients directly into the bowl containing the meringue, then use a spatula to gently fold meringue around and over until the dry ingredients are well incorporated. add the remaining dry ingredients along with 2-3 drops of food coloring gel, and continue to fold the batter. avoid over-mixing by going slowly. the batter is ready when it falls off the spatula in ribbons, but isn’t runny.

transfer the batter to a piping bag with a large round tip. pipe small, uniform circles onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper by holding the piping bag at a 45 degree angle to sheet. make sure not to overcrowd the sheets.

once finished with piping the batter, take each cookie sheet and carefully but forcefully bang the bottom of each corner on the countertop, to help release air bubbles in the batter! let the cookies sit for 35 minutes. preheat the oven to 305 F while you wait.

bake the cookies on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes. remove from the oven but let the cookies cool completely before touching them.

while the cookies cool, make your lemon buttercream by creaming butter in a clean mixing bowl. add the lemon zest to the butter and mix to combine. then add the 1/2 lb of powdered sugar. finally mix in the lemon juice.

transfer buttercream to a new piping bag and pipe frosting on the underside of one cookie. sandwich with another cookie of roughly the same size. repeat over and over again. enjoy!

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Alright. Time to read by the pool, go to a yoga class, and grill myself some Thai chicken satay skewers for lunch. Summer, y’all!

Vietnamese Tofu Bahn Mi

Most of the time when you ask someone what their first job was, the answer is something like cashier or waitress. Maybe lifeguard. Mine was bike valet.

Yes, you read that right. It was right before college, for a company in New York City that advocated for methods of transportation other than driving cars. One of their projects was setting up valets at different events around the city to encourage people to bike more. I got the job because my older sister worked for the company, and my duties included taking people’s bikes, tagging them, watching them so they didn’t get stolen, and then returning them. That’s it. As you can imagine it was mostly a bunch of standing around and reminding myself I needed the petty cash. I did get some valuable experiences from it, though. For one, I got to hang out with my sister a lot that summer. I also got to hear a lot of free music around the city. Most importantly, I experienced my first ever tofu banh mi.

We were often provided dinner during events, and all the hippy vegetarians I was working with always chose to order these vegetarian banh mi’s from a nearby spot called Hanco’s. It was love at first bite. Even though I’m as carnivorous as it gets, I still prefer tofu in my banh mi over any other protein. Probably because it brings back the memories of summer nights spent listening to music in the park and my big sister walking me to the subway after my shift was over.

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The awesome news is it’s insanely easy to make this recipe at home. Simple and really quick. You pickle some vegetables, make the dressing, and fry the tofu. And don’t forget to pick up a french baguette from the local bakery (the freshest possible!) The whole process takes like 20 minutes.

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Vietnamese Tofu Bahn Mi

Ingredients

1 Tbs finely chopped fresh lemongrass (white bulb part only)
1 Tbs finely chopped garlic
2 tsp sriracha
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp sugar
pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs canola oil
1 lb extra-firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup grated daikon radish
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 french baguette
cilantro leaves for garnish
1 large jalapeño chile, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions

1. In a food processor, pulse the lemongrass, garlic, sriracha, lime juice, s&p, and 1 tsp of sugar until a paste forms. Add 2 tbsp of canola oil and blend well. Using 3 tbsp of this paste, brush onto the tofu slices until they’re completely coated.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, warm the rest of the canola oil. Fry the tofu until firm and golden on each side. Remove from heat and place on a plate lined with a paper towel, to soak up excess oil.

3. Mix remaining lemongrass paste with mayonnaise.

4. In a small bowl, combine daikon radish, carrot, rice vinegar, and 1 tsp of sugar. Toss to coat.

5. Portion out the baguette and then slice in half length-wise, leaving one side partially connected. Slather some sauce onto both sides of bread, add the veggies, and then pile on the tofu. Top with cilantro and jalapeno. Yum!

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