April 08, 2009

Macaroons and movies


I usually prepare recipes and posts on the weekend, but we didn't do much cooking around here this past weekend because we were attending movies at the Wisconsin Film Festival, and anything beyond utilitarian cooking just didn't fit into the schedule. The festival lasted from last Thursday through Sunday, and this year I got tickets for 6 films, which is about as many as I can stand to see in 4 days, considering that two of the days include a full day of work. My goal this year was to try to pick films that didn't leave me feeling depressed and hopeless, in other words, uplifting films. This can be hard with independent films, but not impossible. The first night we saw "Anvil: The Story of Anvil," which was about a Canadian heavy-metal band that has been trying to find mainstream success for 30 years. The band members are now in their 50s and still hoping to make it big. I loved this film — it was funny and touching, and left me hoping the band really does find stardom with their new album. And I didn't fall asleep even though it started at 9 p.m.



The next night we saw 2 films. The first at 5 and the second at 9:30. The first one was "In a Dream" which was about an outsider artist in South Philly who creates amazing mosaic walls. Actually, he covers entire buildings, inside and out, including the floors, with gorgeous mosaics. One of his sons, a film writer, made the documentary, and there's quite a bit of mental anguish, but the film ends on a positive note. I grew up in Philadelphia and was amazed that I didn't know about this artist. Next time I visit, I'm making a beeline for South St. The second film on Friday night was "A Wink and a Smile" about the burlesque scene in Seattle. It profiled the progress of a diverse group of women learning to perform burlesque for reasons of personal growth. I didn't come away with new insights or fondness for the genre, but at least the film met my goal of not being depressing. Sorry to say I dozed off briefly and missed what my husband claims was the best part.

On Saturday we saw two films and they were both fascinating, but my run of "not depressing" took a high speed nose dive. We saw "Silent Light" and "Treeless Mountain." Both films were photographically beautiful and mesmerizing, and both were so slow if they were any slower they would have stopped. This is more of a warning to those who prefer lots of action, than a criticism. For my husband and me, both films were riveting. (But make no mistake, they were slow.) The first had an astonishing ending that I'm still trying to understand, and the second ended with a glimmer (a small glimmer) of happiness, (maybe) but was pretty heartbreaking for most of the film.

On Sunday we saw "Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight." The documentary showcases Milton Glaser's rich life as an iconic graphic designer, illustrator and humanitarian. He's elegant and eloquent.

In spite of the busy schedule, I did have time to make a little something for those celebrating Passover - vegan macaroons. They are made mostly from carrots and coconut (seems to be a theme lately) and are made acceptable for Passover by subbing matzoh meal and coconut flour for the regular flours. The recipe is an adaption of "golden macaroons" from the "Country Life Cookbook." These are fairly delicate but become sturdier as they cool. You have to really like coconut to like these chewy cookies. (non-Passover and gluten-free versions below)



Vegan Passover macaroons (3 dozen small macaroons) based on a recipe from Country Life Cookbook
  • 1 packed cup finely grated carrots (2 medium to large carrots)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond (or vanilla) extract
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup matzoh meal (not whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a bowl, mix together well, the carrots, water, agave, oil, extract and salt.
  2. Add the coconut, matzoh meal, coconut flour. Mix well and let sit at least 10 minutes. After sitting, if the mixture seems too wet, add another tablespoon of coconut flour or matzoh meal.
  3. Form the mixture into walnut sized balls and shape with your fingers. (The original recipe says to drop from a spoon but I always find it easier to make the balls.)
  4. Bake at 325˚F on a lightly oiled baking sheet for about 30 minutes, or until nicely browned.
I usually grind the carrots in the food processor so they will be finely grated because my hand grater is too coarse.

By the way, these age really well. The coconut texture is very pronounced at first but as they age, the coconut softens and the cookies get very chewy. I left them out in the open (in the kitchen, of course) on the cooling rack, and they tasted even better and chewier 2 days later. So make a lot!

To make the non-Passover version use 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour for the matzoh meal, 1/4 cup garbanzo flour for the coconut flour and only 1/4 cup water.

To make gluten-free, use 1/4 cup rice flour for the wheat and 1/4 cup coconut flour. Use 1/2 cup water. Let sit at least 30 minutes before forming cookies.

10 comments:

  1. I'm laughing at the "if they were any slower, they'd stop" bit about the movies. better than sleepy time tea?

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  2. Not exactly. They were REALLY slow as in VERY slow- moving real time, but were strangely riveting. And sad. Not for everyone, maybe, but fine films. Silent Light was particularly haunting. Apparently the film about burlesque had the "sleepytime tea effect," at least on me!

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  3. Sounds like an interesting weekend! And thanks for the Passover friendly recipe...I am not a huge fan of coconut, but I have never made macaroons before, so I am tempted to give these a try...

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  4. What a great film festival! I just read an article in the paper about the Anvil movie last weekend (a good review)--the author seemed to think that the movie itself is what will bring these guys fame, finally.

    Love the idea of carrots in macaroons--and I DO love coconut that much!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Courtney, I've never been a huge fan of shredded coconut either, but I find these macaroons strangely addictive.

    Ricki, I LOVE the film festival and it's so hard to choose a reasonable number of films. I hope Anvil finds fame after all these years - whether from the film or the new CD. You should try to see the movie. Neither of us are heavy metal fans (though I did, a couple of years ago, attend a Cheap Trick/Alice Cooper concert with a friend's guest passes) but we both loved this film.

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  6. Carrots in macaroons, I love it! It seems like carrot heaven on blogs lately.

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  7. Coconut is the overwhelming flavor, so you don't notice the carrots, kind of like the carrots in carrot cake. But they contribute to the beautiful golden color, and probably make these healthier than most cookies!

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  8. Thanks for the recipe!!! Although thanks to you, I have a little stash of my own right now. I loved having you, and the food, at Passover this evening!

    And thanks for the movie descriptions, as I was sorry to miss the festival. Fortunately for us, we got to see a newly released Swedish film in Boston called "Everlasting Image," or something like that, and so we felt all Independent-film-y and not too left out!

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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete

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