The single most challenging (infuriating) aspect of life in Lebanon is the internet connectivity. I was unable to post on Christmas day because, well, the internet was down.
Here are some of the reasons I have heard in the last two months, when calling the “technical support” office of the provider.
“The Russians are pulling all of the internet” (What am I supposed to do, place a call to Poutine?)
“You spend time on Youtube, right?” (It was just one interview of Freddie Mercury from 1976)
“Madam, your are uploading and downloading to the max, how many computers and mobile phones in the household? Please only use one at a time!” (Two computers and two phones)
“If you are on Skype, I cannot help you”(I do have to call my friends in the US and cannot afford using the landline rates!!)
“Please, unplug everything, count 10 seconds and reconnect; everything will be back to normal, Inshallah!” (I do just that, 5 times a day!)
“It is that thunder we had yesterday, it fried the router” (this is true, I checked and saw a black spot)
“The weather is just real bad, and you know the cables are under the sea” (I pray for good weather when I am online, or at least no thunder and no lightning!)
The internet speed in Lebanon is apparently worse than in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yep. Interestingly, the Lebanese are social media champs, especially on Instagram and Facebook.
All of this to say,
Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy Holidays~2015 is almost over, can you believe it?
I am posting an easy recipe for meringue mushrooms. I love the idea of making these for several reasons:
- They can be prepared in advance (up to two weeks ahead)
- They can be adapted to one’s taste, such as with cocoa, or without, colored or plain, mixed with ground nuts (such as toasted almonds, a delight!).
- They can be a hostess gift.
- They are fat-free and gluten-free.
- They can be consumed as cookies, used to decorate a cake or a yule log, to dip into a mousse or with ice-cream or a sundae; in short, the possibilities are endless.
This quantity will make at least 50 small ones.
It is a streamlined recipe from Flo Braker (she adds cocoa powder to the meringue, I prefer to sprinkle it at the end)
50 (small) servings
2/3 cup egg whites (5 eggs, large size), room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder (optional)
pinch cream of tartar ( I did not use it, hard to find here)
1. Preheat the oven to 225F (or 200F). I prefer the lower heat, and to keep them in longer till super dry and crisp. Line 2 or 3 sheets with parchment paper. Place a decorating bag with a round tip (big or small, your call) in a tall glass nearby. Beat the whites till frothy and add the granulated sugar slowly, till the whites are firm and shiny. At that point add the powdered sugar sifting it as you fold it in with a rubber spatula. When the meringue has absorbed the sugar, gently transfer a good chunk of it in the decorating bag and start piping the mushroom tops on the paper, using a circular motion. Once all is done, and to flatten the tip that inevitably forms, use a wet teaspoon and gently flatten the tops. Sprinkle cocoa powder with a sifter if you like and insert the sheets in the oven without further ado. Now pipe the stems: The best technique is to hold the bag vertically as if you are shaping a small column. If that proved too hard, just pipe short sticks either with the same tip or a smaller one. Don't sweat it, mushrooms are not perfect in nature. I just dug a few in the garden after a good rain and they were odd shaped but delicious.
2. Bake for 45 minutes or longer until the mushrooms are totally crisp and dry.
3. To shape them into mushrooms, there are several options: One is to make royal icing, but it hardens and is not pleasant to eat. Another option is to interrupt the baking halfway, flip the tops on the paper and dab them with a bit of meringue then stick the stems on the tops and bake them a while longer. That's the best option, but it is tricky. Finally, the easiest is to use some cake frosting, or honey or melted chocolate chips or ganache to glue the mushroom caps and stems.
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