Sunday, 25 November 2012

Interview with Erica Doukas, Cocoa Mademoiselle

I love reading other people's blogs, especially when its food related! One blog I love reading is Erica Doukas' Cocoa Mademoiselle, or otherwise known as Macarons by Erica. A Melbourne blogger, Erica solely dedicates her blog to her passion of macarons, sharing all her all her recipes, tips and experimental baking sessions! If you are keen baker, this is one blog to check out as some of the flavours Erica comes up with are really out there...think Tiramisu, marshmallow, baklava and even lamington macarons! They are definitely not the normal run of the mill macarons you would find at a patisserie and with detailed recipes complete with pictures, they are easily replicated at home. I interviewed Erica last week, this is what she had to say: 

So where did you learn the art of Macarons and how long have you been baking for? Do you bake anything else other than Macarons?
I started making macarons after a trip to Paris one year where my sister introduced me to Pierre Herme. I became addicted to his delicious creations, but when I returned home to Melbourne I couldn’t find anywhere that sold them. My only hope of being able to enjoy them at home was to learn how to make them. This was easier said than done – in the end, it was Pierre’s book, “Macaron” that my husband sourced on the internet (in French) that helped me master the macaron…needless to say, it took many months and many failed batches before I finally got the hang of it!
I love baking sweet things – not so keen on savoury baked goods. I love baking cakes, cookies and puddings too!

Erica's favourite: Pear Crumble Macarons














How long have you been blogging for and what made you decide to create a blog specifically around baking Macarons?
I started blogging in 2010. Initially it was just pictures and flavours, but I got so many requests for recipes that I decided to turn it into a macaron recipe blog instead. I can’t even remember why I started blogging in the first place…I think maybe a friend thought it would be a good idea?
 
Erica's Baklava Macarons

You feature so many different flavoured Macarons on your blog, what’s your all-time favourite?
I think the pear crumble macaron is my favourite so far, but it’s very hard to say! Baklava macarons are a close second…

What’s your number one top tip for all those buddying Macaron bakers out there? Is there a secret to creating a perfect Macaron?
Don’t rush!! There are many critical time points during the process – how long you mix the batter for, how long you allow them to rest for, how long you bake them for, how long you let them mature after sandwiching. If you cut any of these too short or extend them for too long, they can result in a dud batch of macarons. Having said that though, they usually taste good no matter what they look like!

What are your plans for your baking in the future?
At the moment it’s just a little fun on the side but we’ll see where the future takes us J
 
Lastly, where can we follow you and find your blog?
My blog is at www.macaronsbyerica.com and you can follow me on twitter at @MacaronsByErica

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Book Review: Celebrate by Pippa Middleton


Last night I read Celebrate, Pippa Middleton's new book on entertaining, cover to cover in one sitting after it arrived on pre-order from Amazon this week. Not sure why I had it on pre-order, I was under the misconception that it would be up there with Amy Atlas' book or even Tori Spelling's party book. Let me tell you, it wasn't the most difficult of reads, in fact all the content and ideas were beyond basic. You probably would have read all the bad press written about this book with rumours Pippa actually enlightens us all on how to make ice cubes and even boil and egg. Well the rumours are correct,  I can actually confirm she does give instruction on how to make ice!

The book explores the different seasons of the year and their correlating celebrations that go with them (a bit weird to read given we celebrate all the events she mentions in the opposite seasons, but anyway!). Some of the celebrations however I wouldn't classify as celebrations, nor even entertaining. Her chapter on camping left me somewhat puzzled as to how this could be categorised as an event you would cater and make crafts for? Not to mention I wouldn't have thought that Pippa Middleton has ever even camped in her life! Her tips in this section though are complete 'no brainers' like ensure you take shelf stable milk camping as fresh milk won't keep........well der! The funniest bit of this chapter though was the list of camp fire songs (complete with lyrics!) to sing on your next camping expedition......seriously?

But aside from the camping, she covers all the usual holidays, Halloween, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years and Easter, all which seem very basic, with her even telling you when to make the all important purchase of the Christmas presents in her Christmas planner (like you need to be told!). And of course there is the important note on freezing meals between Christmas and New Years as if all stores shut up shop for the week......come on! The chapter on Easter did share some good ideas though, however they weren't things I would probably ever refer to again.

She also covers 'celebrations' (and I use that word loosely) such as breakfast in bed, dinner parties, picnics and supper. But to me it read more like a housewives guide than an entertaining manual. Do you really need to be told to remember to put a jug of water on your dinner table when entertaining guests? I think not. But Pippa provides all the essentials needed for your celebrations such as  decorating ideas, suggested menus, crafts (which are a bit of a joke - the 'seaside jewelery' for a beach picnic made me wet myself a little) and even games! Each celebration, whether it be a casual Friday night supper with friends or formal Christmas lunch with family, comes complete with a set of games that you and your guests can participate in! Egg and spoon races, bobbing apples, tug of war......should I go on?! There are even suggested poetry recitals for a Scottish celebration! How very proper!

The section I was most interested in though was the kids parties, surely she would have something good to contribute here, but again.....epic fail. The ideas and concepts were old school and the tips were beyond basic. Given all the great kids party ideas out there I would have at least thought there would have been a cake pop or designer cupcake in there somewhere, but alas no. My husband kept reminding me as I was reading to remember that these are all British ideas on entertaining.........but to me they weren't even ideas, just housewife basics. But even then there were some ideas in there that no housewife would embrace. Sure we all have emergency stashes of party napkins and tealight candles, but I'm pretty sure no one I know has a 'party cupboard' for all those 'emergency parties' that you have to throw where you would need party hats, blowing bubbles, balloons, balloon weights and dress ups at the drop of a hat.

So given all that, how did I rate it? A dismal 2/10. Pippa, I'm sorry, but you are not the Amy Atlas of the U.K, nor will you ever be.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sweet Fare-Call : Cupcake Central

So I thought I might take a new angle with my blogs and perhaps start to give my reviews and recommendations of other sweet little delights available across Melbourne by sampling and reviewing the different 'sweet fares' around town. Yes I will take the bullet for you all and try all the sweet delights across cupcake shops, bakeries, patisseries and cake shops so that you need not waste your time (or your calories!).........hey it's good market research for me anyway! ;)

So first cab off the rank is Cupcake Central! With two locations in Melbourne, Hawthorn and the CBD, this cupcake bakery took their inspiration from the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York. Owner and founder, Sheryl Thai has grown the business from it's foundations as an on line store operating out of her home kitchen to managing two successful premises (yes there is hope for us yet!). My sister in fact got me on to Cupcake Central, always having a plate of their popular Baby Cakes at the ready when the family came over for afternoon tea. Which inspired me today when my girlfriend was invited over to visit to ditch the kitchen aid and just pop down the street to the CC hawthorn store and pick up a box of Baby Cakes. With so many delicious flavours to choose from, I opted for their yummy Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, Salted Caramel and Carrot Cake. And what can I say?.....they seriously are good (and this is coming from someone who knows their cupcakes!). Light, fluffy with just the right amount of butter cream, I can highly recommend them for all your last minute cupcake needs. More details about Cupcake Central can be found here.
 
If you do have a special occasion though and would like to order some customised cupcakes, please send us through an email at meko@mekocreations.com.au or visit our website.  Did you like what I did there.?....cheeky I know!
 
Ciao x

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Francesca's sweet little 1st Birthday!

Over the weekend we were lucky enough to style a dessert table for the very cute Francesca for her 1st birthday. I thought I would share with you some of the first pics of the event before I post them on Facebook and the website. But ensure you head over to our Facebook page to check out the rest.
 
The party had a customised theme where we were asked to create a pale pink themed party with just a hint of olive green. Of course I put the talented Minq+Mode on the job to custom design some very cute party printables to match the occasion.
 
The dessert table featured pink butter cream cupcakes, some white chocolate mud cake pops with pink crystals both created by Meko, and a sweet little selection of pink and white lollies for the guests to take home has party favours.
 
My favourite aspect of the table though was the big clear balloons I sourced that we managed to have blown with helium with a pink balloon inside.....very cool!
 
Enjoy the pics x
 
 
 

 
 
 
 


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Taking orders for Christmas gingerbread cookies now!


 
Well as mentioned in my last blog we are taking gingerbread cookie orders for Christmas this year. Orders are coming in quickly so make sure you order early to avoid missing out. Meko's Head Pastry Chef (who is coincidentally my hubby) will be a busy boy this Christmas, I can assure you! :)
 
These gift bags of 6 gingerbread make the perfect gift for your office colleagues, clients, family and friends. Order 6 of the same design or mix them up. Choose from the Christmas tree, snow flake, star or gingerbread man, all bagged and tagged for $13 plus postage. Email us at meko@mekocreations.com.au with your order and location and we will quote you the postage price (we only post within Australia). Or if you are in Melbourne you can pick up from Camberwell.
 
If you're looking for a special offer however, make sure you subscribe to the Meko Monthly newsletter for a great deal on your gingerbread cookies this Christmas. Make sure you sign up here!
 
Those in Melbourne can email us for too for any other Christmas requirements you may have.....perhaps a Christmas cake, some Chrissy cupcakes or even mince pies. Don't miss out......contact us now.
 
Ciao from MM x 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

We have a WINNER!!!

 
Well we have a winner of our 1st Birthday Giveaway Hamper and it goes to Karen Leehane of Victoria!!! 
 
Karen, this beautiful Christmas hamper is coming your way filled with goodies in it from Minq+Mode, Sambellina, Zen Moments and of course Meko Creations!
 
We've been busy baking for the hamper this week, creating some delicious mince pies and very cute gingerbread. We will in fact be taking orders for gingerbread this Christmas and you can email us at meko@mekocreations.com.au for further details or stay tuned to the blog or our facebook page for further updates on how to order in coming days.
 
So a big thanks to everyone who entered and subscribed to the blog for this giveaway. I hope you enjoy the blog updates. If you'd like more news from Meko Creations and like to receive exclusive offers, recipes and updates, why not subscribe to the Meko Monthly Newsletter here.
 
Ciao for now x

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