Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A day of presence, connection & French madeleines







I have known Chloe for eleven years, since the day she was born. She is someone for whom I feel such love and affection, a lovely bond that brightens my thoughts, and my days when she’s in them.
Such a fun and lovely day we had a few months ago, when we had a long overdue cooking day together.

We had a definite plan to make homemade butter (super easy by the way, see here how. I make mine with raw cream, but you can use regular heavy cream too. Something children can make to contribute to a Thanksgiving dinner, for example!), a perfect opportunity for her to show me her dance moves.

For Chloe has a bold, dancing spirit.
























































When deciding what else we would make that would be delicious and new, we put our minds together. Being French-American, Chloe loves Madeleines, those puffy, spongy little French cakes so scrumptious when dipped in milk or tea. And since it was the season, we made them strawberry Madeleines.

So we mixed, and shook, and baked. We watched cream turn solid. We scraped and smelled vanilla beans. We watched dough puff up, turn golden, and even a little too dark.  We drained, and rinsed, and squeezed the butter. And then we styled and photographed the Madeleines. Chloe was inspired, she observed, rearranged, and made beautiful images (the styling of the top picture is her creation!) For Chloe has a creative, studious spirit.

And then of course, Madeleines were eaten, savored in fact. Shared.

A "Madeleine de Proust" moment in the making...






























































I wanted to share this day here, because I got to work in the kitchen with someone I really admire. I am inspired by Chloe’s courage, willingness and trust in the face of fear, and her motivation and her joyous spark in the face of life.  She is someone beautiful inside and out, whom I profoundly believe in; someone I look forward to watching grow and flourish, as I have already for the past eleven years.

In those busy, 21st century lives we lead, of divided attention and too much rushing, I realize more than ever the need to be more present, to model a mindful life for my son, and to always take the time to nurture connection (I loved this video on the topic, by the way)

There are many things we can do together with those we love, our children, our parents, our friends, as a way of experiencing that bond, of being engaged and present together. Whether it’s gardening, traveling, eating, walking, painting, foraging, or in this case, cooking together. If you have a chance to seek and find ways to connect and be present with your children in this way, no matter how young, you will not regret it. It is infinitely worthwhile.

Also always worthwhile is to express what we love about those we love. I am thankful to have done just that here. Thank you, Chloe :-)
























































French Madeleines



Makes 20-24 little individual cakes

Prep time: 15 minutes (+ 30 min resting time)
Cook time: 6-8 minutes per batch

Age for babies: 10-12 months, in small quantity


You do need a special Madeleine pan for this. This one is good and affordable.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter
Pinch of salt
Seeds from one vanilla bean
Zest of one lemon
8-10 strawberries (cut up), or a handful of chocolate chips

First, place the empty madeleine pan in the freezer (The key to that lovely puff of the madeleine is thermic shock, so don't skip this step!)

Melt the butter in a small pan (or in microwave).

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Make a well in the middle of the flour, and place the eggs, then mix.

Add the melted butter, the zest and scrape the vanilla bean seeds. Mix, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven at 450° F.

Grease the madeleine pan. Stir the strawberry pieces or chocolate chips into the dough. (Since this is two batches, place the remaining dough back in the fridge).

Fill each shell about 3/4 of the way, and place in the oven for 6-8 minutes. Watch them carefully, as they're quick to burn (as you see in my pictures, an extra minute chatting with Chloe, and the edges got a little darker than we would have wanted!) As soon as they're golden and they've puffed up, take them out and remove from the pan, let them rest on a kitchen towel or a baking sheet.

These quantities will make about two batches, so if you have one pan, don't forget to stick it back in the freezer before making the second batch.

(Note you can make the dough 1 or 2 days ahead if need be, bake them the day you want to enjoy them! Once made, they'll stay fresh 1-2 days).








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