Bitchin Camero From Miami with Love Thu, 18 Apr 2013 16:06:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Guava & Cream Cheese Macarons Thu, 18 Apr 2013 16:06:39 +0000 mel Guava & Cream Cheese Macarons

If you’re going to make macarons for the first time, you go to the master. And the master of almost all things food is inarguably Thomas Keller. Another Thomas I know – my very own husband – gave me the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for Valentine’s Day because nothing says love in our house more than cookies, cakes, pies and tarts. (Though I would argue that this present is as much for him as it is for me. He’s the sweet tooth around here.)

As I was saying. This was my first time making macarons. And I’m not going to lie – I was pretty much convinced they would be a disaster. Especially after reading the recipe and seeing that egg whites were listed in GRAMS. However, rest assured that this recipe is not as complicated as it seems. Not to say that it’s as easy as throwing some cookie dough together, but if you’re looking for a special (and beautiful) treat, these are definitely doable as long as you have a mixer.

Guava & Cream Cheese Macarons

I based these off of Keller’s Raspberry macaron recipe and subbed Cream Cheese icing for the French Buttercream and guava jam for raspberries because if you’re from Miami, you always pair cream cheese with guava. It’s a magical combination. See here and here. The macarons were so much better than I was expecting. Crispy, crackling crust with a sweet and chewy interior. Keller recommends wrapping them individually and freezing them for a couple of days, which allows for the flavors to develop. I can attest that these were quite magical out of the freezer. My only complaint is that they are fairly large, especially for a macaron. I would make them 1-inch in diameter next time and reduce the baking time by 2 minutes or so. But they are almost perfect just the way they are.

Guava and Cream Cheese Macarons – Adapted from the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook by Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel

For the Macarons

Almond flour/meal
1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 tablespoons

Powder sugar
1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons

Egg whites
1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons (Bitchin’ Camero:it’s about 2 egg whites from large eggs)
1/4 cup +  2 tablespoons (Bitchin’ Camero:about 2.5 egg whites from large eggs)

Granulated sugar, plus a pinch for the egg whites
1 cup + 3 tablespoons

2/3 cup

Chefmaster Liqua-Gel Rose Pink food coloring (Bitchin’ Camero: I used a few drops of McCormick red food coloring)
3 – 4 drops

You will need a Thermapen or another candy thermometer, a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip, and a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch plain tip. Baking in a convention oven is preferable; the tops of the macarons baked in a standard oven often develop small speckles, which can affect the texture (though not the flavor)


Because the cookies will be sandwiched, it is important that they be as close in size as possible. Even if you are proficient with a pastry bag, we suggest making a template, as we do. Use a compass or a cookie cutter as a guide and dark marking pen, such as fine-tip Sharpie.

1. Lay a sheet of parchment paper. Trace 4 evenly spaced 2 1/4-inch circles along the top long edge, leaving 1 inch of space between them. Trace 3 circles below them, spacing them between the first circles. Continue with another row of 4, followed by another row of 3. Turn the parchment paper over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray the underside with nonstick spray to keep it from blowing up while cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet pan and piece of parchment paper.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (convection) or 400°F (standard).

3. Place the almond flour in a food processor and pulse to grind it as fine as possible. (Bitchin’ Camero: I skipped this step because I am lazy.)

4. Sift the almond flour (Bitchin’ Camero: I skipped this step because I am lazy.) and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Mound the almond flour mixture, then make a 4-inch well in the center, leaving a layer of the flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams | 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons egg whites and combine with a spatula, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside.

5. Place the remaining 90 grams/1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams | 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and the water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203°F/110°C.

6. Letting the syrup continue to cook, add the pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248°F/12o°C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

7. When the syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed, and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk; the meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm to the touch, the meringue should have cooled; if not, continue to whip until it is cool.

8. Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time ( you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the “ribbon” slowly moves. The mixture shouldn’t be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn’t be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be slightly stiff than too loose. Add 3-4 drops of food coloring into the finished meringue mixture and mix well.

9. Transfer the mixture to the  pastry bag with the 1/2-inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough of the mixture to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to the spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the pastry bag. If using a convection oven, bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the tops and shiny and crisp. If using a standard oven, place the sheet pan in the oven immediately lower the oven temperature to 325°F, and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. If using a standard oven, preheat it to 350°F again.

10. Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles on the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.


Cream Cheese Frosting for the filling

(makes about 3 cups)

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Add the butter and mix until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar, then add the vanilla. Scrape down the sides and beat for 30 seconds on high speed.


3/4 cup guava jam or jelly

1. Transfer the frosting to the pastry bag with the 3/4-inch tip.

2. Remove the macarons from the parchment paper, turn half of them over. Starting in the center, pipe the frosting around the edge on one upside-down macaron, making a ring around the edge. Add a dollop of guava jam in the center. Top with a second macaron and press gently to spread the frosting to the edges. Repeat with the remaining macarons and filling.

The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks.. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before serving. They can be served the day they are made or stores in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. (Bitchin’ Camero: They can also be eaten directly from the freezer and are plenty good that way!)

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Crema de Vie (Cuban Eggnog) Fri, 21 Dec 2012 19:11:51 +0000 mel Crema de Vie - Cuban Eggnog

I love Christmas. (Especially now that I can just Amazon presents right to my doorstep.) I love our traditions, and how we have merged old ones with new ones. How my Cuban family has introduced my husband’s Midwestern family to roast pork, black beans and yucca. How instead of leftover Pan con Lechón (pork sandwiches) on Christmas day, we have beef tenderloin and potatoes and caesar salad. And red velvet cake, and cookies, and more cookies.

But most of all, I love when the dishes are all done and everyone is full of food, we all sit around the table and sip something good. It’s usually port, but on Christmas we celebrate with something a little more special – Crema de Vie. Crema de Vie is simply Cuban Eggnog. But unlike the weird yellow stuff you buy at the grocery store, it’s thick, super-sweet and reminds me of stealing clandestine sips when I was a little girl. A perfect end to a holiday meal.

It starts with a simple syrup infused with lemon peel, a cinnamon stick and a vanilla bean. Once cool, it’s blended with egg yolk, condensed milk, vanilla extract and (of course) rum. It’s strained a couple of times to make it silky smooth and then chilled. It has subtle caramel and vanilla flavors that couple perfectly with the warming rum. One of my favorite Christmas traditions.

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Squash & Apple Soup Fri, 30 Nov 2012 16:46:26 +0000 mel Squash & Apple Soup with Bacon & Beets

Of course the month I vow to start posting again is the month my site is hacked so badly that it’s down for a week. On the very bright side, I finally took some time to refresh the site design and logo. And by took the time, I mean that I lost most of my old files and had no other choice than to start fresh. Which suits me just fine. A fresh site for for a fresh resolution.

Which brings us to this very lovely Squash & Apple Soup with Bacon and Beets. I actually made it for Thanksgiving without testing it out first. How’s that for ballsy? Luckily, it was just perfect. Of course, I did adapt it slightly – using a dash of chili oil for kick, subbing shallots for the onion and creme fraiche for the sour cream.

This soup makes the most beautiful appetizer. Slightly sweet and savory, but balanced by the acidity of the creme fraiche and the spice of the chili oil. The bacon and beets add earthiness and just the right amount of textural contrast. I loved this soup on Thanksgiving and I loved it with my leftovers. A very versatile dish that will work just as well on a holiday table or a Sunday supper in your sweatpants.

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Garam Masala Pumpkin Bread Mon, 22 Oct 2012 17:29:22 +0000 mel

I’ve been neglecting this blog for almost a whole year. I have no excuses, no interesting stories about sabbaticals and traveling abroad, no real reasons why I’ve been so quiet. It’s a simple reason, really. I was busy. Just trying to figure out the ins and outs of life with a baby, a fulltime job and a 2-hour commute. Cooking has taken a back seat, and the blog was left behind. But no more. I’m committing to cooking and posting again. Starting now.

I know I say this every year, but I’ll say it again – Fall is my absolute favorite time of year to cook. I love all of the colorful harvest ingredients. The squashes and apples and pears. The welcome coolness in the air. Footballs on Saturdays and Postseason baseball. Oktoberfest beers.

This recipe has been sitting in my drafts folder since last year. It’s a simple pumpkin bread, but I’ve used Garam Masala instead of the typical “pumpkin pie spice”. The result is a slightly more exotic bread that is just as moist and addictive as its traditional cousin. It also makes an excellent office Halloween treat.

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Butternut Squash & Mushroom Chicken Pot Pie Tue, 11 Oct 2011 14:05:32 +0000 mel Butternut Squash & Mushroom Chicken Pot Pie

Fall is my favorite season. The temperatures begin to cool off, holidays inch tantalizingly closer and new ingredients fill the stores. Winter squashes, apples, pears, sweet potatoes. Comfort food. The best kind of food.

This weekend it was storming out. Granted we’re in Miami so it was more like a Tropical Storm, but it just seemed like the perfect day for a casserole. So I made a big pot pie, but instead of using traditional carrots and celery, I sauteed the chicken with bacon, lots of portabello and crimini mushrooms and onions. Then I swapped the heavy bechamel for a smoked paprika-spiked butternut squash puree.

The mushrooms and the butternut squash melded into the most delicious gravy and the buttermilk biscuit top was just the thing to mop it all up. Not as heavy as your typical pot pie, but just as substantial and delicious. A new fall favorite around here!

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Thai-style Chicken Salad Tue, 30 Aug 2011 18:23:57 +0000 mel Thai-style Chicken Salad

Oh, hello there readers! I have been swept away by an adorable baby and I’m determined to spend every last second of my maternity leave cuddling and playing with my little girl. So that means cooking has become less of a priority and I’ve neglected my poor blog. But a girl’s gotta eat and food should always be delicious. For me, this now means having something ready to go in the fridge. Like this Thai-style chicken salad. Good Lord, this stuff is good!

First, you marinate the chicken in a little lemongrass, then throw onto your grill (or grill pan if you live in a condo like we do). Let cool, then mix with shallots, cucumbers, shredded cabbage, mayo, fish sauce, sriracha (rooster sauce) and cilantro. It’s got a subtle char flavor from the grill, crunch from the veggies and that spicy mayo combination that just makes it perfect for a warm and crusty roll.

I recommend making it next time you’ve got leftover grilled chicken – you can skip the lemongrass marinade if you can’t find it or if you’ve got leftovers. I seriously can’t wait to make another big batch of it soon since the first batch disappeared in one day. What can I say? We like to eat around here…

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Tomato Carrot Soup with Bacon Croutons Tue, 02 Aug 2011 12:08:06 +0000 mel Tomato Carrot Soup with Bacon Croutons

Diet food. Two words that make me shudder. I’ve always thought it better to take an extra walk or run an extra mile rather than give up the things I love to eat. I guess it’s good that I don’t like junk food, but a life without full-fat cheese and pasta is no life at all. Even so, I find myself heavier than I’d like 6 weeks after pregnancy. I guess a pint or two of Ben & Jerry’s a week for 9 months will do that to you. So, it’s time to buckle down and diet. For me, that means more vegetables and more workouts, but no less flavor.

Tomato Carrot Soup with Bacon Croutons

This soup is packed with good-for-you stuff and lots of taste. Bacon on a diet? I say yes! A little bacon goes a long and delicious way. It’s an easy soup – carrots, diced tomatoes, onions and garlic. Some spicy smoked paprika and saffron give it loads of flavor, and everything is brightened with lemon juice. Torn bread toasted in bacon fat makes some nice bacon croutons that add just the right amount of crunch and interest. With diet food like this, I should be skinny in no time! That is, if I can stay away from the Ben & Jerry’s…

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Greek-Style Stuffed Zucchini Wed, 20 Jul 2011 18:07:29 +0000 mel Greek-Style Stuffed Zucchini

This is my annual and obligatory post about how to use up all your extra summer zucchini. Last year it was Green Curry Zucchini & Spinach Soup, the year before it was Lighter Summer Squash Red Curry with Basil. This year I took a break from curry and decided I was in the mood for stuffed zucchini. Usually, I’ll just do a beef and tomato stuffing with mozzarella and Parmesan on top. It’s classic and simple, but I didn’t have everything I needed. What I had was lots of Greek-style stuff. Black olives, baby spinach and feta. So why not try that instead?

Greek-Style Stuffed Zucchini

The result is a dish that might not be super pretty, but it is pretty delicious. I used ground pork instead of ground beef and browned it with onions and garlic. I added diced tomatoes, black olives, baby spinach, feta and a pinch of oregano to make the stuffing. Some panko breadcrumbs on sprinkled on top finish it off.

The stuffing was so good – porky and a little briny from the olives and feta, but still light enough from all the vegetables. I couldn’t keep myself from sampling it straight from the pan. I liked it so much that I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the plain old beef and tomatoes stuffing. This is a very happy way to use all that extra zucchini!

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Creamed Summer Corn (and a new addition!) Wed, 13 Jul 2011 14:50:06 +0000 mel Hi everyone! As you probably guessed, I’ve been a bit busy with our new addition. Olivia Camero Ainslie made her debut on Saturday, June 18th at 10:29 PM. She was 6 lbs 5 oz., 19 inches long and cute as a button! Here she is at 2 weeks old (cue the awwwww). Thank you all for your well-wishes!


Although I’ve miraculously been finding the time to cook, our meals have been nothing to blog about. Mostly sandwiches, stir-frys and my standard pasta with sausage and kale. But I finally found time to make something easy and still delicious enough to share. Summer means corn and I was looking for a side dish that was luscious, but not too heavy. (I’ve got some Ben & Jerry’s baby weight to shed!)

Creamed Summer Corn

This creamed corn is much lighter than the traditional version, and oh my was it good! The corn was sweet and summery and a little creamy. Cherry tomatoes, lime zest and fresh basil add just the right amount of brightness. It was a most perfect summer side dish and made our otherwise boring lunch (sandwich, of course) something special.

Now that things have settled into more of a pattern, I’m looking forward to blogging at least once a week. Wish me luck!

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Pesto Power Salad Tue, 07 Jun 2011 17:24:30 +0000 mel Pesto Power Salad

Sometimes you crave Mac & Cheese. The good, homemade kind made with bechamel and extra sharp cheddar and topped with buttery breadcrumbs. That’s what I had this weekend. It was delicious and comforting and heavy. (See Epicurious for the recipe.) Other times, you actually want something a little healthier. Something that doesn’t make you want to curl up on the couch in a food coma for 2 hours. Especially if it’s a weekday lunch and you’ve got at least 5 more hours of work to do.

For me, a grain salad is the best kind of lunch. You can make a big batch at the beginning of the week, it doesn’t wilt and it just tastes better the longer it marinades. I like to call this kind of salad Power Salad. It all starts with your favorite grain – anything from quinoa to farro. The key to good grains is toasting them in a dry skillet until they’re just starting to turn golden and become fragrant. Toasting gives them a deeper, nuttier flavor.

Once you’ve cooked your grains, toss them with beans, sturdy vegetables and an herby vinaigrette. This time I used edamame beans and a lemony pesto made with almonds. Mix everything together, refrigerate and you’ve got lunch for the week. Lunch that will make you feel great and not put you in a food coma. I like to save good food comas for the weekend when you can really enjoy them.

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