Yes, I Can Do Other Tricks!
When writing is your second (or third, fourth, etc, ad infinitum) career carving out a few hours is difficult. Often, by the time everything has settled down, I’m too tired or too frustrated or too caffeine deprived and close to bedtime, to be super motivated. Most nights I can get myself going and, once I do, I usually go until I wake up from sleep typing the third or fourth time.
Read: writing time is precious and I often feel I have to grab every last second.
Though miraculous and wonderful and fun, writing is all difficult and painful and sometimes even tedious. For many of us writing is our hideaway from the world; where, however, do we hide… er… evade… or retreat when writing has us pulling out hair in fistfuls and cursing the day we learned to form conscious thought?
I cook and bake.
I discovered A La Mere de Famille: Recipes From the Beloved Parisiane Confectioner at the library last week; a book containing recipes from an eponymous a French bakery extant since 1761 and I decided to pull a Julie and Julia. I’m going to give every recipe in here a try, though I’m not setting a time limit because the last thing I need in my life are more deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise.
Stick with me because there are bound to be some spectacular failures and I promise just as many pics of unidentifiable pieces of smoking carbon as I do pretty cookies.
This week, a simple classic: madeleines
I did have to throw down for a madeleine pan because if they don’t have the shell shape, they aren’t madeleines, which would totally defeat the purpose of making, well… madeleines. I found a very reasonably priced pan made by Chicago Metallic at In the Kitchen, our local purveyor of speciality cooking tools (it’s a couple bucks cheaper on Amazon, but shop local etc. Also, I had time that day and Amazon is only almost instantly gratifying. Damn you, FAA, I want my drone deliveries!).
Every baker needs a trusty assistant, so I got one of those as well. Lucky for me, she works for product.
I did make a few changes to the recipe because I didn’t have any vanilla sugar (always a dangerous proposition when one is working with a new recipe; hey, Z-Dog and I like to live on the edge). I had actually considered buying some during a Penzey’s stop two doors down from In the Kitchen, but it’s super expensive and I opted out in favor of lavender, which isn’t the easiest to find in culinary form, and powdered lemon peels; I love the taste of zest but I hate the texture (bad experience with an El Al fruit cake years ago) so I was excited to get the taste without the ick. Lavender is delicious but if you add too much, it tastes like, in the words of my culinarily knowledgable friend Steph, old lady perfume. I thought some acid might cut the potential cloying aftertaste, so I shook in a tad of the lemon peel and added some strawberry balsamic vinegar from Olive and Marlowe (everything I’ve acquired from them is worth selling your mother for) I picked up at the Bloomfield Saturday Market. I also decided to use olive oil cooking spray on the pan rather than butter — I’ve had better luck with intact release.
Because classics are classics but fucking around is always fun.
The first batch was a little uneven because I overfilled the molds:
I did better with the second batch, though the size is a little variable because I used too much batter in the first batch and had to redivide and reconquer for attempt #2:
And they taste good, which is the most important thing, obviously.
Our Tardis cookie jar is now full.
A grand experiment.
HUNGRY for more? 🙂 I have a couple Cuban cookbooks on hold at the library. I’ll mix it up for additional opportunity of spectacular failure.