Archive for August 27th, 2009

onion and honey

powdered sugar

Bad days come and go. Some seem to last forever. Yesterday was one of those days. Absolutely interminable. I was waiting. For a package that never arrived. Well, delivery was attempted, apparently. But the delivery guy never buzzed up to my apartment. And the delivery report said “The receiver was unavailable to sign on the 1st delivery attempt.” I was sitting by my phone. All day. I missed dance class. Waiting. I felt like I was trapped in my own home.

When I called my friend Noam (half of the Shakespeare on the Common picnic planning duo) in the evening, he told me about an Israeli phrase adopted from the Arabic proverb:  יום אסל ,יום בצל transliterated from Hebrew as yom asal, yom batsal (I believe the transliteration from Arabic is a bit closer to yawm asal, yawm bazal). It means “one day honey, one day onion.” While the phrase is applied is various different settings with nuanced meanings, in this context, Noam told me to just chalk up the day as an onion day, and turn the next day into a honey day.

So, with him on the phone, I uncorked a 10-year old Haut-Médoc that I had been saving for a special occasion, poured myself a glass, and decided to ride out the evening.


To start the honey flowing, along with some smooth sips of left bank Bordeaux, I contemplated baking a chocolate cake, but then remembered a more literal idea. A favorite petit goût, a little morsel of goodness, neither cookie nor cake — or possibly both — for which I have yet to find the perfect recipe, but that is often flavored with honey. I have the special pans (though I will soon be trading in my silicone for old-fashioned metal), and would be waiting at home once again for re-delivery the next day. And the batter for these little cookie cakes is best chilled overnight, all but guaranteeing that my wine-induced slumber would yield a honey-full tomorrow.

- 014

When I woke up this morning, my wine glass sat unwashed on the counter, the batter chilled in the fridge, the pan ready to be prepped and filled, and  after a quick pre-heat and about ten minutes in the oven, my sweet sweet breakfast was ready.

And the day just flowed from there.

Honey Madeleines

bowl of madeleines

I love madeleines with their little scallop shape and their big honey taste (and, of course, they’re French!). On a search for olive oil cakes, I recently came across this discussion and recipes for a Quartet of Olive Oil Sweets and tucked it away for the right time. I had found a similar recipe in the August 2009 Gourmet, but I can’t seem to link to it online, and it calls for 1.5 C of arbequina olive oil. Honestly, I just can’t part with this much of my prized liquid gold. So I adapted Mike Ahmadi‘s recipe for olive oil citrus madeleines by doubling the honey (um, yeah, wasn’t that the point?), cutting out the citrus (I know, that sort of kills the whole citrus madeleine thing), and using orange blossom water instead of vanilla, again doubling the quantity to pull out the sweetness. Compared to other madeleines that I’ve made, these were a bit cakey — I prefer them slightly more dense (more cookie-like?).

The only special equipment you need for madeleines is the molds to get the scallop shape. I have a single silicone tray that somehow manages to NOT be non-stick. I think it’s just time to invest in the old-school metal ones. I hear you can get some non-stick ones which might be the way I go. Sorry I can’t make any better recommendations here. I did some experimentation and the best strategy I came up with for getting the madeleines out of my mediocre silicone tray was to oil and lightly flour the molds.

NOTE: this recipe requires an overnight chilling. I warned you. Don’t come crying to me if you start making the recipe and get half-way through, wanting to put them in the oven and see the overnight chilling recommendation. You can probably get away with a few hours, but madeleines hold their shape best when the batter is cold. Ideally, you want them to get a little hump on their back. I have seen some recipes even suggest putting the molds in the freezer before and/or after filling with batter. I didn’t bother experimenting with this since I was using silicone.

Makes 2 dozen+ madeleines.

– 3 large eggs

– 1 pinch kosher salt

– 2 T honey – I used Granja San Francisco Blossom Honey from Spain (I bought mine at Fairway in NY, but it is also available at Cardullo’s in Cambridge, MA — see Resources page)

– 2/3 C granulated sugar

– 6 T olive oil (I used Unió brand, discussed here)

– 1 teaspoon orange blossom water

– 1 C  all-purpose flour

– 1 t baking powder

Beat eggs, salt, honey, and sugar with whisk attachment on mixer until very light and fluffy – the mixture approximately doubled in size.

With the mixer still running, slowly pour the olive oil into egg mixture; then add the orange blossom water.

Turn off the mixer and sift the flour and making powder into the batter, then gently mix in until just blended in.

Cover bowl and refrigerate the mixture overnight. (A few hours is probably OK.)

The next day, preheat oven to 400º F.

Oil and lightly flour madeleine molds and then fill ~ 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for a total of 9-10 minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees after the first 5 minutes. taking the madeleines out when the edges are golden brown. I personally prefer mine a little darker.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for approximately 5 minutes, then remove from the pans.

fresh from the oven

Clean the pans and repeat the process until you are out of batter.

I love eating the madeleines warm as is, but if you can wait and will serve them cooled, especially if they’ve stuck to your not-so-non-stick pan and you’re willing to share, give them a simple dusting of powdered sugar to cover up any less-than-pretty spots.

a simple dusting

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