Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My So-Called French Life

I am in a summer funk. Which I find a little quizzical- Summer being bright and warm and shiny and all. There has been a few days of gray skies and rain around here, but truthfully, I love rainy days.
Lately that eighties Bananara gem "cruel summer" has been playing in my head. "The city is crowded, my friends are away, and I'm on my own". Everyone seems to be away or going away to more exotic or cosmopolitan places. Eustacia is in Amsterdam/Paris, Marcene is summering in the Hamptons, even Hub is going to Las Vegas, my brother is in Puerto Rico, Shelz is on her way to Israel. And I'm here in my regular daily life- summer version. I want to be somewhere else, somewhere different. A city that doesn't speak english. A spot where the food tastes different. A location where the people dress differently and have different rules and customs. I want something other. Really, I want to go to a place where I'm other.

The only (and cheapest) way I can travel while still having to be here, is through books and cuisine. I finished reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a really excellent book translated from french. Through it I felt like I was living in a grand and fabulous apartment in a chic neighborhood in Paris. Which led to me baking a tray of madeleines and fantasizing about my alternate reality French life, where I'm called Manon. And whenever I nibble on a madeleine, I think of my Grandmere Lisette's wonderful little sponge cakes that I would wash down with a bowl of hot chocolat upon returning from school everyday. Grandmere's madeleines are flavored with fresh lemon juice and vanilla extract. My best friend Nathalie's maman added a a few drops of rosewater to her madeleines, to delicate and delicious results. I am thinking about incorporating a chocolat dimension to my madeleines with les petites chocolat chips. Zut alors! How super would that be? That way it would be like eating the madeleine and drinking the chocolat all at once! Quel Genial!

Grandmere Lisette's Madeleines (sans mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease madeleine tin well. Melt 6 tbsp. butter and put aside to cool a little. In a medium bowl sift together 1 1/4 c. all purpose flour and 1 tsp. baking powder. In a separate large bowl beat 2 eggs and 3/4 c. powdered sugar until thick and frothy and the mixture displays ribbons when beaters are lifted. Fold in juice of half a lemon and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Starting with the flour mixture, alternately fold in the flour and melted butter in four batches. Let batter sit for about 10-15 minutes. The mixture will be sticky and tacky, carefully spoon into the tin. Bake for about 15 mins. or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack. Bon Apetit!

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