Monday, November 8, 2010

Chickadees and Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines

Feeding Chickadees

 Do you ever think
This could be your last week?
Last day?
Last moment?
What do you dream?
Would you change anything?

What would be on your
day-to-day to-do list?
What would be on your
life's to-do list?

Which one will you do?

There's always
hair to wash
mundane things.

I want to
Splash in puddles
Get muddy
Dance in the rain
Do something I've never done.

And dream
Of what is
And what could be.


Life is transient,
always re-focusing
changing aperture.
But it's always about the light.
Capturing the right light.
Moving to find it.
Or sometimes patiently waiting for it to
change its angle
or find you.

waiting for

Chocolate Madeleines

Reflections on life and Madeleines somehow seem to go together. Maybe it's because when we think of Madeleines, we remember Marcel Proust’s autobiographical novel, Remembrance of Things Past, which begins with his mother serving him tea and "those short, plump little cakes called petits Madeleine’s, which look as though they had been molded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell."

As the narrator begins to eat his Madeleine, dipping it into the tea, he is overcome with memories and he becomes aware that the simple Madeleines bear “. . . in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”

However, as charming as that recollection is, according to Patricia Bunning Stevens:

“Madeleine’s had existed long before Proust’s boyhood. Numerous stories, none very convincing, attribute their invention to a host of different pastry cooks, each of whom supposedly named them for some particular young woman. Only three things are known for sure. One is that Madeleine is a French form of Magdalene (Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus, is mentioned in all four gospels). Another is that Madeleines are always associated with the little French town of Commercy, whose bakers were said to have once, long ago, paid a "very large sum" for the recipe and sold the little cakes packed in oval boxes as a specialty in the area. Finally, it is also known that nuns in eighteenth-century France frequently supported themselves and their schools by making and selling a particular sweet.

Commercy once had a convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, and the nuns, probably when all the convents and monasteries of France were abolished during the French Revolution, sold their recipe to the bakers for an amount that grew larger with each telling."
---Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, Patricia Bunning Stevens [Ohio University Press: Athens] 1998 (p. 178)
Whatever its origin, these delightful pastries have become a national treasure for the French and I was thrilled, in June of this year (2010), to experience eating an authentic Madeleine in Paris, France.

I also love making Madeleines myself and have experimented with various versions. They are not only fun to make and tasty, but they are also dainty to eat. Not nearly as messy as our ever popular cupcake.

This recipe is for Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines, from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

The photo of the Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines is taken against a backdrop that is actually a table runner of riddles; not exactly the Proust Questionnaire, but definitely a conversation starter!

Recipe for Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Dip
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Click here for the recipe and method.

This antique Madeleine pan was given to me this summer
by my mom and dad to mark half-a million visitors to my blog.
Thanks to everyone for stopping by!
It's been a great ride!
Live well!

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    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Foodies of the World Cookbook and a Giveaway

    And the winner is...
    Congratulations Jessica!

    It sounded like a cool idea when I was first approached last March (2010) by an Australian Publishing Company (The Slattery Media Group) about their plan to create an international cookbook from the food blog world. Here's a summary of the book:

    "Foodies of the World is a collection of profiles and recipes from the best blogs around the world. It compiles the greatest recipes, with the sweetest stories, from the best bloggers into one handy guidebook and recipe collection.

    As the blogs selected come from all over the world (India, France, USA, UK, Australia, Germany, Italy, Estonia and Turkey are represented so far), the recipes will cover a variety of cuisines and courses.

    The overall tone is one of community, and sharing your love of cooking with the world. Its quality, complete and beautifully real' design will inspire the reader to spend time in their own kitchen."

    It was intriguing – allowing the world of the blog to interact with the world of print while creating a cookbook that would feature recipes from different countries with links back to the featured blogs. So if you liked one of the recipes featured in the book, you could then go to that person’s blog and get more recipes.

    And here it is, a few months later, and the book is published already! When I agreed to be part of this project, I didn't know who else would be included in the book, so the other week when I received my copy, I eagerly looked inside to see the list of participants, many of whom I recognized and have admired. Here is a sampling of food bloggers:

    Partial List of Participants
    Haalo from Cook (Almost) Anything at Least Once
    Christine from Fig and Cherry
    Béa from La Tartine Gourmande
    Ilva from Lucullian Delights
    Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry
    Kelly from Sass & Veracity
    Sara from Sprouted Kitchen
    Jaden from Steamy Kitchen
    Meeta from What's for Lunch, Honey?

    So here is the book – just waiting for you to order that special Christmas gift – for someone on your list – or for yourself!

    To order your copy, simply click here. Cost is $40AUS plus shipping.

    I just happen to have one extra copy that I am delighted to offer as a giveaway.

    Giveaway starts Monday, November 1 Eastern Time and ends on Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time. One winner will be chosen using

    Include your email in your comment so that I can reach you. If your name is selected, and your email isn't included, I'll draw another name.

    1. Follow me on Twitter, then Tweet this giveaway. Make sure you come back here and comment to let me know you now follow (or already do) and that you tweeted. That counts as ONE, not one each. Just one.

    2. Sign up on the Google Friend Connect (see the widget in the left sidebar at the top of my home page). Then leave ANOTHER comment on this post.

    3. Subscribe to my RSS feed. Then leave ANOTHER comment.

    4. Post about this giveaway on your own site with a link to this post. Return. Comment. Rinse, repeat. You get the picture.


    The Slattery Media Group
    The primary publishing services of the Slattery Media Group are publishing consultancy, creative concepts, writing, editing, design, photography, web development, and digital communications. While the foundations were built around sport, SMG has expanded into a publisher of cookbooks, children's stories, and art, craft, music, finance and entertainment publications, with much more to be explored in the future.