Its finally cold outside. Winter waited till the last minute to hit us with actual winter weather and frankly its a little late in my book. Now its going to seem like its just dragging on. But heres the thing, madeleines make it all better. A cup of tea and a madeleine and you almost don’t mind that the ground hog saw his shadow…………..
Orange Cardamom Madeleines (from Martha of course)
for the batter:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 tbsp. good-quality honey
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1. Brush molds of a madeleine pan with butter. Make batter: Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, stir in honey and vanilla. Let cool 10 minutes.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt in a bowl. Stir together sugar and eggs in a bowl. Gently fold in flour mixture until combined. Add butter mixture and fold until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat over to 325 degrees F with rack in center. Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each mold halfway. Tap pan on work surface to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 7-8 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Unmold cookies onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
for the glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 tbsp strained fresh orange juice
4. Stir together sugar and orange zest and juice in a bowl until glaze is smooth, thick and opaque. Using a small pastry brush, coat ridged side of each cookie with glaze (or I just dipped the ridged side into the glaze). Let set 15 minutes. Cookies can be stored in a single layer in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days. As if they last that long……….
note from me to you: this recipe is a tiny bit skimpy on cookie size. I like my madeleines a bit on the fatter side. I didn’t have enough batter to make 2 dozen when all is said and done. If you have kids, go ahead and double this recipe and figure you’ll get 2-3 less cookies per dozen if you put a touch more batter in the pan.
On Black Friday we decided to skip the nightmare of shopping or running errands and spent the day with good friends. We ended up at Storm King, the sculpture park in New Windsor, NY that is about an hour north of the city. The weather was warm and the day was perfect. Storm King is the dream museum visit, it’s both filled with (mostly) great sculpture and kids can run and be free and you don’t have a security guard giving you the flat eye. It’s hard to take young kids to see art, especially sculpture. While I don’t think they were aware that they were climbing on an Alexander Calder it was certainly magical at the very least.
Work by Alexander Calder
Exploring the rolling hills of Maya Lin (my personal favorite installation).
Andy Goldsworthy’s curving stone wall.
We finished our visit with a trip into Cornwall and had lunch at Prima Pizza, perhaps the most kid friendly pizza place ever. The kids had their own table and we sat at the counter, a win/win situation for all. Then we kept the groove going and went to the movies just a few minutes away (Fandango Regal Cinemas, Fishkill NY). If you time it right, you won’t have to wait.
Storm King is closed for the season but reopens on April 3, 2013. However, if you become a member, they have one weekend a month throughout the year when members only can go. The landscaping is so lovely it works in all seasons. I would imagine it would be beautiful on a snowy day with a thermos of hot cocoa.
I’ve seen these around quite a bit and had them in restaurants here and there but never actually cooked any myself. Upon buying them at the farmers market a few weeks ago, I did a little research so I could understand the nature of the beast. First of all, they are not artichokes but a tuber and member of the sunflower family. Easy to grow and quite invasive if not contained, these are going in my lazy gals garden next spring. Although they seem so english to me, they are actually a native of North America. I consulted “Tender”- Nigel Slaters gorgeous cookbook on vegetables and gardening to see what the english had to say about it all. He suggests them raw in a salad, steamed and in a salad of bacon and parsley and theres a soup as well as many other takes on this mysterious food. Here’s just a simple start to your introduction to the otherwise known as “sunchoke”.
Washed and scrubbed. I roasted mine with the skins on. There’s no right or wrong way here, I just happen to think they are prettier with the contrast of the brown skin and it gives it a little bit of extra flavor (like a potato skin).
I split these in half and trimmed of any knobby bits that seemed unsavory. Try to keep them uniform sizes so they roast evenly.
I tossed these in a little lemon juice to keep their color then with olive oil and a little thyme because that’s what I had on hand. Nigel suggests parsley, lemon, hazelnuts and almonds (tossed in a warm salad of baby spinach-yum!).
I roasted these at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes till they got a bit crispy almost like a roasted potato then sprinkled with maldon’s flaky sea salt and a few cracks of pepper.
I love the holidays and I love all the hoopla surrounding them but on the actual day I like to have a little free time to hang with my family as well, not just cook. So I’ve been trying to be uber prepared this year so I can have plenty of downtime. This of course means you’ve got to do a little bit here and there before the cook off begins. So here’s a few things I’ve been trying to get out of the way so I can be free as a bird………
1. Wash and prep your veggies. Depending upon how far in advance you are of the day, you can at least scrub them and if its the night before you can do a bit of chopping for say your stuffing etc.
2. Start setting aside your pieces of stale bread now. You can make a nice menagerie of types (whole wheat, sour dough and just plain white) and get them cube or torn and ready to be stuffed.
3. Make your pie dough and freeze it. This cuts a lot of time off and your pie dough will be nicely chilled already so you don’t have to put it in the fridge for 2 hours after you make it. I use a recipe from “Baking With Julia” and it yields either 4 pie crusts or 2 pies with tops.
4. Polish your serving pieces (or your silverware if you are super fancy). Clearly I haven’t gotten to these! But as you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Wondering if I just do it with toothpaste (in lieu of toxic polish) if Imogen can get into this task? Keep you posted on that one.
5. Iron your table linens. This happens about twice a year if I’m lucky. :)
Ok so I was one of the lucky ones who was not really affected personally by Sandy. We are in a flood zone but somehow we were fortunate enough that it didn’t flood in our neck of Brooklyn. I like to think that we are a fairly “Macgyver-esque” household and could pull from our daily arsenal of stuff to get through the lack of heat and power. But I got to thinking we could indeed be more prepared, especially if this kind of storm is going to be our new norm. So I’ve put together a few items that could be rather handy and some others that are nice to look at (you can’t put everything in storage in NYC) but useful as well. These are in no particular order and if you click on the image of the item you are interested in, it will take you to the link for easy access. Some of these might even make a handy guy (or gal) a nice stocking stuffer.
Ancient industries candle holder/galvanized box (comes with 10 white 6” candles inside). At $30.00 it gives you both storage and light.
Nature Power Solar Power Pack and Light (has a USB port to charge phones, cameras and mp3 players) and 2 portable LED lights. And just to say, its on sale for $79.99 right now!
This little enamel bucket is good for everyday use (great for composting) but also for saving tap water in case your water supply is tainted. What I like about this one is that it’s covered so you can keep it fresh. It’s 32,00 Euros, don’t ask me why I can’t find these in the US. All the good looking enamelware seems to come from Europe.
Eton Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with flashlight, solar power and cell phone charger for $32.99. It comes in other colors as well. This one is in “Breaking Bad” green!
The Premier Firewood Company will deliver to you in NY or CT (which if you live in the city like I do, is a rare and awesome find). Half face cord runs you about $185- delivered and stacked. Useful for some Little House on the Prairie style cooking as well……get out your spider pot!
Again drying your verbena is a last minute salvage from the garden if you haven’t already been trimming off small stems throughout the season. I like to watch them get big and bushy so I leave it till the end of the summer (or in this case fall!). Last weekend I trimmed back my verbena plants in the city garden and laid them out to dry.
Simply spread the washed (and dried) sprigs on a tray and turn a few times over the next 2 or 3 days. After they dry put them in an air tight container. To make the tea, place a handful of leaves or sprigs in a teapot, pour in boiling water and let steep for 3 minutes. It can be served hot or cold.
We’ve been growing sorrel in our garden for about 4 years now. I planted it on a whim and it never went away. It can be hard to find in the market but its at the farmers market now. It’s frost hardy and and I often find it growing in the garden in winter surrounded by a light snow. With all this chilly weather coming our way and our brief snow fall, I wanted to take advantage of the lemony goodness before it was too late. Below is a recipe from the very talented Sally Schneider who inspired me in so many ways. This is from “The Art of Low Calorie Cooking”, her first book and many of the recipes have become old standards for me.
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (ok, I put some fat back in here, Sally uses 1 tsp)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 large baking potato
3.5 cups homemade chicken stock
1/8 tsp nutmeg (I used freshly grated, it smells so good and has more flavor)
1 1/4 tsp sugar
1 lb sorrel coarsely chopped (stems removed)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp sour cream
In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the butter and onion. Cover and cook over low heat until the onion is soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the potato, stock, sugar and nutmeg.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potato is soft, about 10 minutes.
In a food processor or blender, puree the soup in 2 batches, adding half the sorrel with each batch. Return the soup to the saucepan and whisk in heavy cream, salt and pepper.
Heat the soup over low heat until hot (do not let boil).
Swirl a dollop sour cream into each bowl just before serving.
(Sally mixes a bit of tomato paste into the sour cream and also serves with chopped chervil and fresh chives)