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Archive for November 19th, 2010

After Tokyo, I headed off to Paris for 4 days. Life’s tough, right?

But I won’t share with you any pictures of Paris. Because I don’t have any of this culinary city. Crazy, no? Unfortunately I was swamped with work and by the time my meetings were over, I was too bone tired to really enjoy the city. A pity, but at least I know that I’ll be back again soon.

Before I left for my around-the-world-in-two-weeks adventure, a publisher sent me a new cookbook to review. To me! The cookbook is Paula Shoyer’s The Kosher Baker and it contains over 150 parve dessert recipes. It was dog-eared and covered in yellow stickies well  before I stepped on the airplane, and when I came home, I was inspired to try two recipes in as many weeks.

Not surprisingly, I prioritized a few of the more French recipes. First was a batch of madeleines. (The last batch I made was tainted by the silicone pan that I made them in, so a few months ago I bought a new pan.) Next up, almond tuiles. Before we get to the recipes and pictures, I want to share with you a little about the book and its author.

I spoke with Paula 2 weeks ago to learn about her inspiration for the book. Getting her on the phone took a fair bit of effort on both our parts, with her busy book signing and demonstration tour and my own crazy travel and work schedule. We finally caught up on a Thursday night as she was recovering from a cold and I was in a taxi en route to a 9 pm dinner after a long day in my New York office.

Paula lives just a few miles from where I grew up in Maryland and she has quite an affinity for French foods and pastries. While living in Geneva with her husband, she decided to go to culinary school in Paris on a lark and built up a reputation for her desserts in Switzerland and eventually the US. She opened a pastry school and has been teaching French (and other) pastries and desserts ever since.  She spent about 5 years creating and adapting from dairy the parve recipes in her own cookbook. She likens recipe development to science experiments and feels that  baking requires close attention to the details of recipes.

I asked Paula which recipe she turns to most often – and she referred me to “Everyone’s Favorite Chocolate Cake.” We bonded over the merits of an excellent chocolate cake that is so good it doesn’t require frosting. She also said that the scones often frequent her kitchen and table.

The book itself is conversational – it feels like Paula is cooking alongside you, with comments such as “if you use an electric mixer, be careful, the batter might splatter.” I liked the organization of book into three distinct sections based on preparation time (quick and elegant desserts, two-step desserts, and multiple-step desserts and breads) and a fourth section on Passover and low-sugar recipes. The index is complete with the added touch of some specialty ingredients, such as almond flour and orange blossom, being highlighted with recipes that feature them. The pictures are beautiful, but I could do with a few more. And scattered throughout the text are some black and white process pictures (my favorite is the one used to  demonstrate how to make  sablé galettes – essentially French shortbread). Again, I wish there were more.

On whole, I like the cookbook and have already found it a good resource.

So below are the recipes that I made the week I came home from Paris.

And I’m already bookmarking more recipes to try. I’ll soon be making sablé galettes and that chocolate cake.

Madeleines

Makes about 2+ dozen

Adapted from Paula Shoyer’s The Kosher Baker. I followed the recipe, except I missed one step (in the “mix one more time” section).  and used lemon extract instead of zest because I didn’t have any lemons around – and on day 2, the mads seemed a bit too dense. But straight out of the oven, they were fabulous (and that’s how I prefer to eat them anyway). Surprisingly, this recipe did not include a refrigeration step which is normally suggested to help get that little hump on the cakes. Finally and just so you’re prepared, this recipe does need a few bowls – so cleanup is a bit of a pain. But, hey, I really hate doing dishes.

- Spray oil and flour for dusting
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 C (1 stick) parve margarine (though butter would be better if you were making them dairy), melted
- 1 C flour
- 2/3 C sugar
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 t lemon zest from 1 lemon or 1/2 t lemon extract
- 1 T confectioners’ sugar

Prepare. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour the madeleine molds

Mix. Beat the eggs with a mixer on low for 1 minute. Add sugar slowly, in four batches, while continuing to beat on low. Add vanilla and lemon zest (er, extract) and now beat on high for 5 minutes. The batter becomes thick, creamy, and a light yellow.

Mix  again. In a different bowl, mix flour and melted margarine with a wooden spoon until it becomes a dry paste.

Mix one final time. Add  half the beaten egg/sugar mix to the flour/margarine mix and whisk. Put half this mixture back into the eggs and mix with a spatula. Add the other half of the mixture to the eggs and mix.

Bake. Fill each mold with a spoonful of batter and refrigerate the remainder. Bake for 12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool. Immediately remove the madeleines from the pan to cool on a wire rack.

Start all over again. Make sure to clean the molds out and then regrease/flour, fill, and bake the next batch.

*****

Almond Tuiles.

Makes about 2+ dozen.

Adapted from Paula Shoyer’s The Parve Baker. These delicate cookies taste great. I had a bit of difficulty shaping them over my rolling pin, so next time I’ll use something with a smaller diameter.

- 2 large egg whites (I froze the yolks for another time)
- 1/2 C sugar
- 2 1/2 T flour
- 2 T parve margarine (or, butter if you want to make dairy), melted
- 1 t orange zest from one orange
- 2/3 C slices almonds

Mix. Whisk together egg whites, sugar and flour. Add the melted margarine and continue to whisk. Add zest and keep whisking. Add almonds and mix gently with a spatula, taking care not to break the nuts.

Wait. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or ideally overnight.

Bake. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a cookie sheet with Silpat or parchment. Drop teaspoons of batter on the sheet, about 4 inches apart. Use a fork dipped in water to spread batter and separate the nut slices. You want the circles to be about 3 inches in diameter. Thinner is better. (Cookies, that is.) Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are brown and the center is golden .

Shape and cool. Remove from oven and let cookies cool for about 15 seconds (if you try to take them off too soon, they fall apart). Use a spatula to scape up each cookie and quickly place on a curved mold – I used a rolling pin – so cookies bend on the underside (i.e., bottoms are on the rolling pin) and the almonds are on the outside. Let cool.



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