Monday, November 24, 2008

madeleine, je t'aime!

some things in life are just worth the calories and these classic little shell shaped cakes from france are definitely one of them. ummm, let me restate that — this recipe definitely makes them worth it.

as we all know, not all recipes are created equally. having tried/tested quite a few versions over the years, this one (from baker florence edelmann), is really one of the best. madeleines can be of a very light and spongy (génoise) variety or a slightly heavier, almost poundcake type, one. these fit the latter description however there are purists who will say they should be of the former texture. that is up for debate.

as génoise recipes are fussy and can be difficult for the average baker, this is a good alternative. note that a génoise does not use baking powder but only the eggs itself as a leavener. this recipe includes a leavening agent in addition to the eggs. there are, however, many variations of madeleine recipes. you should also plan ahead for this recipe as you need to chill the dough overnight. trust me though, it's all well worth your effort .... after trying these, you won't say no to them — in fact, you won't be able to stop with just a single one.

these small cakes, best eaten the same day they are made, should be sweet, light and buttery (not to mention memorable). these ones are all that and more. the only drawback is that you must use a madeleine pan which come in two sizes: the regular size (large) and the mini (about the size of half your thumb). i recommend buying the standard sized pan. you may want to invest in a non-stick one. i have the regular kind which must be well buttered and floured (an essential step).

whichever type of pan you end up buying, fill them up with this cake batter and watch some really wonderful french pâtisserie come out of your oven :)

madeleines classiques

it is best to make the mixture the night before and let it chill in the refrigerator until the next day. you can, in a pinch, use it right away. the dough can also be kept until the day after, if not baking all the madeleines that same day.

makes ~ 24 +


2 eggs
3/4 c - 1 tbsp (150g) sugar
1 pkg (2 tsp) vanilla sugar
8 tbsp butter (1/2 c) = 125 g, at room temperature
1 c + 2 tbsp (150 g) AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 - 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)

1 tbsp dark processed cocoa (for 1/2 the dough; double it for all chocolate)


place the eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar in a medium sized bowl.

in another bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder together. set this aside.

divide the butter into 3 equal portions and set aside. make sure it is at room temperature before blending it in (see following).

with an electric beater, beat the eggs and sugars for about 4 to 5 minutes until it is pale yellow and very thick. this is very important (1 to 2 minutes of beating will not suffice); the idea is to have the sugar melt completely & incorporate enough air so as to form a very thick mixture.

once the eggs and sugar have been mixed, add the butter and flour in 3 separate additions, beating well each time.

after the butter and flour has been added, decide how you want to flavour the batter.

you can have it all vanilla (add the lemon zest, if wanted) or make a half batch of chocolate or all chocolate.

if making a chocolate batter, you'll need to sift the cocoa very well first into another bowl. either take half the batter (or all of it - double the amount of cocoa (2 tbsp) here) and blend it with the cocoa.

take note: the chocolate madeleines do not release as well as the plain vanilla so take extra care to flour your pan very well.

at this point, refrigerate the dough overnight or for several hours (overnight is best).

before baking, set your oven to 375 F (170C).

remove the cake batter from the refrigerator; it will have solidified. this is correct. well butter your madeleine pan(s) and flour them.

using a tablespoon, measure out enough batter for each and place it in the center of the madeleines.

you may need about 1 tbsp and 1/4 tbsp more for the chocolate batter. it seems to require a little more than the plain vanilla.

bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

remove and LET COOL COMPLETELY. with a butterknife, carefully pluck each madeleine out. the chocolate ones tend to be fussy so proceed carefully in extracting them.

enjoy with a nice espresso or cup of strong tea!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

recipe revisited — quick black bean soup

the following recipe is perhaps one of the tastiest, not to mention quickest and easiest, soups you'll ever make. i posted the recipe for it here, along with two others, quite some time ago but never posted any pictures to go with it. i was prompted to revisit the recipe when i saw it published yet again recently in our daily newspaper. the best part about the recipe is that it uses canned ingredients in order to make it a 'no fuss' recipe — all you need are cans of diced tomatoes, black beans and corn.

with winter well on its way - soups are probably on the minds of many people. this one is full of flavour and healthy, not to mention having almost no bad things (fat!) in it. it is also vegetarian and vegan. of course, you could always throw in some ground turkey at the beginning of the recipe to give it some more protein.

as a note to the recipe, the chili powder used in this recipe is the kind which is sold here in the supermarkets. in other words, it is on the milder side and is a mixture of cumin, coriander, paprika, red chilis, salt & pepper. it is more of a mexican / southwestern type of mixture and NOT an indian one. i add some red pepper flakes to make it a bit hotter but much depends on how hot your mixture is and how picant you like your food.

served with some fresh corn tortillas and guacamole, it makes for a nice and easy lunch or dinner.

quick black bean soup

makes 8 to 10 servings

recipe by anne lindsay


2 tsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 tsp mild chilli powder, or to taste
pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (or use whole tomatoes & pulse in food processor)
2 c vegetable [or chicken] stock or (2 tbsp stock powder + 2 c water)
1 19 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 1/2 c corn, canned, frozen or fresh
3 tbsp packed, coarsely chopped coriander

salt and sugar, to taste


in a large pot, heat oil over med. heat and cook onions chilli powder and red pepper flakes for 5 to 8 minutes.

add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and lower heat to med-low and cook, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes.

you can puree 2 cups and return it to soup if you want a thicker soup.

stir in the coriander. add salt and sugar to taste & serve.