|1st place: Clementine French Macarons with Lime Cream Cheese Filling|
This past weekend, we hosted the first-ever Leelanau Iron Chef Potluck. A blogger friend of mine started the Iron Chef potluck while we lived in Chicago, and I loved it so much that I had to start it up here in Northern Michigan. I was a tad nervous that my Up North friends wouldn’t take to it like Michael and I had, but my fears were for nothing. My friends embraced the challenge of the assigned ingredient (citrus!) and brought a ton of creativity that I did not expect.
|2nd place: Pomegranate Blood Orange Granitas|
For Battle Citrus, everyone was asked to bring a dish (or drink) that incorporated citrus fruit and arrive around 6pm, with judging to begin around 7pm. Around 6:45, the kitchen started to get crowded in our little apartment. Tupperware was cracked open, griddles were heated, and pretty platters appeared. My friends brought their A-game. I chose citrus as the first-ever Leeelanau Iron Chef ingredient thinking it was approachable, in-season, and versatile. With three drink entries, two appetizers, four entrees, and three desserts, we couldn’t have planned for a better turnout as far as variety was concerned.
|3rd place: Grapefruit & Avocado Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing|
After a few chuckles directed my way about my geeky pre-made ballot forms and my voting spreadsheet, we all dug in to the food and the judging. In the spirit of Iron Chef America, each dish was judged out of 20 points: 10 for taste, 5 for creativity, and 5 for presentation.
1st Place: Clementine French Macarons with Lime Cream Cheese Filling (yours truly)
2nd Place: Pomegranate Blood Orange Granitas (Melissa)
3rd Place: Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing (Lisa)
My favorites? Definitely the granita and the salad, but I also loved the white bean and lemon bruschetta (Katy).
We all enjoyed the tasty grub (and drinks!) and even ended the evening with a healthy (if not DORKY) Connect 4 battle. You read that correctly – Michael’s big claim to fame is his Connect 4 prowess (which may or may not have been questioned by one, (or two?) individuals that night).
Clementine French Macarons with Lime Cream Cheese Filling
(slightly adapted from My Food Geek)
120 g egg whites, divided
35 g sugar
150 g finely ground almonds (or just buy almond flour)
150 g powdered sugar
1 hefty tablespoon of clementine zest
150 g sugar and 50 g water (for sugar syrup)
4 oz cream cheese
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/4 c powdered sugar (or to taste/consistency)
1) Process the ground almonds and powdered sugar in the work bowl of a food processor. (You can also just sift almond flour and powdered sugar together, which is what I did.)
2) In a stand mixer, whip 60 g egg whites to soft peaks and add 35 g of sugar.
3) In the meantime, in a saucepan on high heat bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 230 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
4) Slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip to medium-high speed until they are completely cooled and you have a shiny meringue (10-15 minutes).
5) Mix the remaining 60 g of egg whites and the sifted almond/sugar and the clementine zest. Then carefully fold it into the meringue.
6) Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the mixture and pipe it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make silver dollar-sized circles about 2 cm apart (you may find it useful to draw circles on the parchment with pencil before piping).
7) Let the piped macarons sit out at room temperature for about one hour.
Bake at 320 degrees for 12-15 minutes. The macarons are done when the top of a macaroni barely slides against the skirt when gently shaken.
9) For the filling: whip cream cheese, lime juice, lime zest, and powdered sugar together until smooth. Pipe onto 1/2 of cooled macarons and top with remaining macarons.
An update: my friend, who started this Iron Chef Potluck business, hosted a battle the same exact night that we had our first here. Their ingredient? Citrus!!! We should’ve had a cross-country battle via Skype! Read about the winners of Battle Citrus San Francisco here.