Tuesday, January 17, 2012



The turn in the weather
Will keep us together
So I can honestly say
That as far as I'm concerned,
It's a lovely day and everything's OK.
- Irving Berlin

Whoosh! The wintry cold weather sweeps in, a Siberian caress, an Arctic clutch, a frosty kiss across my skin sending shivers racing through my body. Sun, glorious sun arises bright and early showing off the shimmering glaze of ice atop the building facing our own. Weeks of dim, gray misery melt away and the stunning light and the sharp, crisp cold invigorate, energize and excite this Florida girl in love with winter.

Scurrying back home from the market yesterday morning in positively glacial temperatures, we came to the conclusion that the best place to thoroughly enjoy this marvelous weather was indoors, huddled together, cooking, baking, sipping steamy mugs of coffee and working. Our old, rambling apartment is quite as chilly inside as out and tapping on a keyboard, no gloves feasible, is only a few notches warmer which of course means plenty of meet-ups in the coziness of the kitchen. The last of the Galette des Rois was joyously snatched up and eaten standing, leaning over the platter, divided between my happy menfolk, and it would soon be time to bake again. Our market basket yielded a bounty of goodness, a pristine white cauliflower cupped in curls of gentle, soft green meant to be transformed into an old-fashioned gratin, the snowy flowerets bathed in creamy béchamel and dusted with cheese; peppery endive, so innocent in their pale beauty, so cool and calm, all innocence harboring their devilish bite, to be wrapped in thick, rosy slices of herb-flecked ham and blanketed in yet more cheesy béchamel – oooh do you see the decadence this cold weather is luring us into? Thick, pale, glistening veal chops the color of pink champagne, paired with a tumble of plump milky champignons still heady with the dark, moist earth clinging to their stumps; and apples, red and green, the colors of Christmas, crisp and sweet-tart, the perfect apples for serving silky smooth, drenched in butter, meltingly sautéed, atop those chops à la normande.

And oranges. But more about that in a bit.

Yes, we tripped home with a basket overflowing, a cornucopia of delicious, wintry nourishment. White on white, the theme of this effervescent month of January. And lucky am I that husband is content and at home in the kitchen, maybe even more so than I, and happy he is to stand over the stove and twiddle and play and concoct one rich, luxurious, delicious, comforting dish after another. As we say chez nous, it keeps him off the streets… Which leaves me free to bake.

So many bewail the icy month of January, the month after the glory, the upheaval, the bustle and joy of the December holidays. January is the calm after the storm, and don’t we feel just a bit let down? We finally slow down, catch our breath and glance up and notice the now bare trees, trees naked and brown once the gaudy, flashy, gaily-colored lights and shiny baubles have been taken down and returned to their secret hideaways to slumber away the rest of the year. We see the leaden skies and feel the chill and damp that seeps down to our very bones. January is the month we tighten our belt, count the calories, undo the damage done during the festivities and get back to work. Yawn….nothing ever seems to happen in this long, dreary, cold month of January. We tend towards lethargy; listless and sluggish, we bundle up in layer upon layer to battle the drop in temperature and drag ourselves from task to task, no pleasure in the thought of the long month of January lying ahead of us until February arrives and the anticipation of St. Valentine’s Day begins to brighten our outlook. Yes, the grumbling and grousing, the kvetching and complaining about the month of January rings loud and clear across the blogosphere.

Well, I beg to differ. I love the month of January. We coast from Hannukah and Christmas filled with food and presents through the Champagne celebrations of the New Year all the way through this glorious month straight towards my birthday! I love the nearly unbearable cold and the Florida girl in me begs and prays for snow each and every year. The temperature drops, the sky takes on that mysterious misty-gray hue that presages the coming of snowy days and nights and husband glides through the month gleefully dropping hints, jokingly teasing me about the arrival of the big day and using it to get me to do his bidding. Yes, after the money spent on holiday gifts, there is precious little left for a fancy birthday do, but there is always something special, something to please.

The Ice Queen may reign with her frozen heart, cruel and harsh, yet there is something so regal about this frosty, shivery month cloaked in a mist of silver and mystery. I refuse to jump on the bandwagon of bad-mouthing the first month of the year. The cold actually adds vibrancy to our activity and we push forward with our work and our plans. Clem is designing his first house, Simon is happily ensconced in his Milanese life, the art, the opera, the office, JP pulls together the plans for a brilliant project idea, and I, as we all know by now, write and write and write. You see, unlike the rest of Europe, we neither ski nor snowboard; we don’t skate or dogsled; we have never once been ice fishing and although once a very long time ago we dreamed of taking the kids and heading north for a week in Lapland and yet another time we thought of going all Hurtigruten and taking a romantic winter cruise along the coast of Norway, but we did neither. Instead we hunker down and prepare for the long, hard slog through January, February and even March from our home in Nantes; we watch poor Marty grow despairingly bald as he does every winter; we continue to and make plans and we simply enjoy each other’s company.

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.
- Robert Frost

And, ah, the oranges. Now where do they fit in? As December and January roll around, as winter settles in I begin to crave citrus. Maybe it is the blast of vitamin C, maybe it is the refreshing juice and the bite of a tart clementine or a satisfyingly bitter tang of a grapefruit that helps me battle the cold, but I actually think it is nostalgia. Growing up a stone’s throw from the Indian River, citrus capital of the world (as far as I am concerned), our every winter, whether chilly or mild, was filled with citrus: large brown paper bags carefully saved from trips to the supermarket were filled with quantities of grapefruit white and pink, tangerines and navals and eaten like popcorn. Winter just wasn’t winter without our citrus fruit collected straight from the orchards just over the bridge. So now, the arrival of winter comes hand-in-hand with a craving, a need for juicy oranges, tart grapefruits and bags upon bags of clementines.

And for some odd reason, I have been pairing orange and chocolate, that ideal marriage, over and over again and we cannot get enough: from Nigella’s Chocolate Orange Cake to dense, gooey Orange and Chocolate Brownies, from a swirl of bitter orange marmalade in heavenly bittersweet chocolate ganache to fill my chocolate macarons to a glorious Grand Marnier Bundt drenched under a glaze of Chocolate Ganache, orange and chocolate have become a signature pairing, a duet creating beautiful music. And when my darling friend Lora the Cake Duchess declared the month of January #citruslove month, well, I really couldn’t resist, now could I? And Madeleines it was! I made one bowl of Orange Grand Marnier Madeleine batter and one of Chocolate Grand Marnier batter and combined the two to create these fabulous marbled Madeleines: light and delicate while being incredibly moist, tender and flavorful. What a way to face the month of January.

Looking to hone your food writing or photography skills or just needing to kickstart your creativity? Feeling the blogging blues and desiring inspiration? Wanting to bridge the road between blogger and professional? Looking for an intimate, hands-on, practical workshop rather than a huge, traditional conference? If you missed our exciting, successful From Plate to Page workshop in beautiful Tuscany then you won't want to miss the next! Registrations are now open for From Plate to Page in spectacular Somerset UK in Spring 2012! Check out the program, the accommodations and reviews of P2P Tuscany and P2P Weimar... and then sign up before all the spaces are filled! I'll be there offering writing instruction, critique and ideas.

And my latest article on Huffington Post Food is up.... Eating and the Law in France: What's in the News.

Adapted from recipes in Madeleines et Financiers by Thomas Feller

Combined, make 24 x 3” large Madeleines + 40 x 1 ½” mini Madeleines.

Makes 12 large + 20 mini or 30 mini Madeleines

2 large eggs
10 Tbs (140 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + more for the molds
½ cup + 2 Tbs + 2 tsps (140 g) granulated sugar
½ an orange, preferably untreated or organic
2 Tbs Grand Marnier
a pinch of salt
scant ¾ cup (100 g) flour

Clean and dry the half an orange; finely grate the zest and squeeze the juice. Separate the eggs, placing the whites with a few grains of salt in a very clean bowl, preferably plastic or metal. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, the orange zest and juice, the Grand Marnier and a pinch of salt until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour and beat in just until combined and smooth.

Using very clean beaters, whip the whites until firm (but not stiff) peaks hold when the beaters are lifted. Fold the whipped whites into the Madeleine batter until completely blended in and no more white is visible. The batter should be thick and completely smooth.

Set aside.

Makes 12 large + 20 mini or 30 mini madeleines

2 large eggs
10 Tbs (140 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + more for the molds
½ cup + 2 Tbs + 2 tsps (140 g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2 Tbs Grand Marnier *
scant ¾ cup (100 g) flour
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
a pinch of salt

* if making the chocolate Madeleines on their own, the Grand Marnier can be replaced with 2 or 3 tablespoons prepared coffee or espresso or 2 tablespoons of another liqueur such as Amaretto, Limoncello or Kahlua.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites with a few grains of salt in a very clean bowl, preferably plastic or metal. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, the vanilla, the Grand Marnier and a pinch of salt until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour and the cocoa powder and beat in just until combined and smooth.

Using very clean beaters, whip the whites until firm (but not stiff) peaks hold when the beaters are lifted. Fold the whipped whites into the Madeleine batter until completely blended in and no more white is visible. The batter should be thick and completely smooth.

Prepare the Madeleines:

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Lightly butter the indentations in your Madeleine molds/tins.

Prepare the two batters. Spoon equal parts batter – or one or the other – into the indentations not coming up higher than the edges of the indentations. You can marble the two batters by cutting a sharp knife through the two colors.

Place in the preheated oven and bake: about 10 minutes for the mini Madeleines and 15 or 20 for the large Madeleines. Remove the tins from the oven when the center of each Madeleine is set and puffed (slightly – with this recipe don’t expect huge, classic humps in the center) and the edges are golden. Allow the Madeleines to cool for a minute or two in the tins on cooling racks before popping them out, one by one, using the point of a sharp knife and a gentle hand.

Repeat with cooled tins and the rest of the batter.


Spicie Foodie said...

What a beautiful post. I would love to warm up with your perfect Madeleines. Thanks for sharing :)

acraftytraveler.com said...

So lovely! I also want some of those tasty looking Madeleines! I've never even had a Madeleine before, how unfortunate!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A lovely post! For me January (February and March too) is sexless, grey and quite boring month, especially weather-wise (although I must say that we've had quite a lot of sun lately)... Your Madeleines are just wonderful and good for the soul!



Ivy said...

Saw these on facebook the other day and was drooling. I've bought madeleine molds two years ago and have not made them yet. I think I have to put them in my prioroty list of things I want to try:)

Soni said...

Lovely post!The Madeleines look absolutely gorgeous!Have to make these soon :)

Rolling Pin Claire said...

I'm with you on the Orange and Chocolate combination - you can never get enough of them. Love the post!

beti said...

marbled madeleines are such a great idea, the grand marnier sounds great on them

Maureen said...

What beautiful madeleines! I've made something similar in the past but they never looked this good!

areid15@yahoo.com.au said...

I adore Grand Marnier so when I read about the combination with chocolate in these madeleines it really made my day. Where did you find that gorgeous madeleine pan?

Nancy Baggett said...

No lovelier combination that chocolate and orange--except perhaps chocolate and raspberry... maybe chocolate and cardamom... I can almost smell those madeleines through the screen!

I don't care for January at all, but always feel that if we make it till the end of it, we'll be fine till the next winter comes around.

Happy New Year!

Cake Duchess said...

January is our coldest month of the year and I really enjoy the temperature drops. Madeleines are perfect with a cup of hot tea. Lovely for #citruslove month. merci for the mention;)xx

Robin O.| what-about-the-food said...

Glorious orange and chocolate to tease away the frosty chill. Comfort with a good coffee and afternoon has suddenly lightened in delight.

Thank you for your lovely Madeleines!

Sanjeeta kk said...

Oranges and chocolate..ideal marriage of flavors! Madeleine look so light and porous, perfect with a hot cuppa.

WiseMóna said...

I remember the first time trying a Terry's chocolate orange (dark) thinkiing it could not taste good...not liking chocolate aside....I was pleasantly surprised! I think Grand Marnier is one of those liqueurs that works well in so many ways. Cocktails, savoury sauces, and baked goods. Your Madeleine's sound delicious Jamie and I like a bit of winter too xx

Lisa said...

I've never made madelines before because I never buy the damn pan lol Yours will make me buy that pan come hell and high water (love the marbelization). Orange and chocolate - we're on a brain wave..my next post is just that, albeit not madelines. Beautiful photos!

Jan said...

I may be one of those people who whine about winter in January ;) but the citrus is definitely one of the perks of the season! These madeleines sound divine!

David @ Frenchie and the Yankee said...

This looks really good.
I like the combination of all those flavors.
I never make madeleines. I don't know why. I should really start. You had me at Grand Marnier. :)

A Spoonful of Yumm said...

they totally have the pick me up look...yumm ! i'll take all ;-)

Helene Dsouza said...

I am glad my jan is not icy. brrr

I miss Madeleines. I hadnt had any in ages and u r torturing me with your perfect looking Grand Marnier Madeleines!

My mum used to know a poem about these treats. I have to ask her again.

Thanks for sharing Jamie

Jenn said...

aww these are so pretty!!! I really need to find some madeleine forms...

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

As I look at snow coming down and sit here with a bit of a chill at my neck, I could be in your apartment with you. In my mind.

I have a Madelaine form but have never made them. Maybe because the flavor has never been all that tempting...this changes everything!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Your madeleines are perfectly beautiful, Jamie. I can't wait to try your recipe but first I have to buy a new pan. They stuck so badly in my old one that I finally threw it out. Can't wait to bake these for my mom. They are one of her favorite sweets.

tasteofbeirut said...

I bet Proust would go gaga with these! Love the color and the shape of these beauties! Makes me want to make some real soon!

Rambling Tart said...

I love January too! It is hopeful and peaceful and quiet and reflective. Beautiful Madeleines. It doesn't feel at all January-ish here in Australia, but fall isn't too far away and then I shall bask in chilly evenings as I bite into lovely nibbles like this. :-)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

They're beautiful and I love the chocolate stripe across them! I am not one for Winter but I have to say baking in Winter is one of my favourite things because it seems only fitting that one turn the oven on then! :)

Liren said...

Just gorgeous, and I agree, especially after reading your post, that January is to be embraced. Especially if I had a dish of these beautiful Madeleines. My son loves these delicate cookies, and I know he would love these!

Natasha Price said...

These are gorgeous, I love the marbled swirl. We have bought a madeleine pan a while ago and still haven't made any :)

Carolyn Jung said...

I adore the interplay of chocolate and orange. These cookies would warm the soul on any wintery day.

Lora said...

I can't decide which is more elegant Jamie - your words or your creations. I loved this post and those gorgeous madeleines. Am inspired now to give January some love.

MeatmeattheGrill said...

I simply adore choclate and orange. I'm going to try make these real soon. Smacking lips now. Yum!

lisa is cooking said...

These would make such a perfect treat warm from the oven on a chilly day! I almost feel like I'm missing out on winter. Everyone else is talking about the cold, and we're having a warm January. Maybe our winter will arrive next month!

jen laceda said...

Oh, you make winter sound so good...but being from Canada...land of harsh winters and frostbite...January and February are months for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I need my sunlight!!! LOL!!! Can't wait for Spring to come...! In the meantime, I shall eat more madeleines!

Baking Addict said...

These look amazing! I love the marbled madeleine. Thanks for joining up to #citruslove

Meeta K. Wolff said...

The temperatures have sunk so low here and reading this post has warmed me up to the heart. Love Madeleines especially these with orange and Grand Marnier.


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