Friday, December 31, 2010

Here's To The Year...

...and all things wonderful.

What an eventful 2010 this has been - 2 weeks of Kodaly certification training in early December, the World Choir Games in China and coming back with golds, Vietnam and the 1000 Years of Hanoi celebrations. A new place, a new kitchen, new responsibilities at work, new choirs. My grandfather's passing, renewal of friendships, cutting ties, forging new ones.

I'm home with my parents, just to see the end of the year out and to take a much-needed break for time-out and reflection. So much has happened. And in the year ahead, so much more -will- happen, of that I'm sure.

So, with all that in mind, I made madeleines.

I've never had a madeleine before, but when Shauna posted up her recipe for these honey-spiced gluten-free ones, I just -had- to try it.

Not being in my apartment has its minor disadvantages when it comes to baking. Finding a grater, for instance. The only one I could get hold of was an umpteen-year-old bright green plastic multi-use contraption that served as mandolin, juicer, and grater all in one go (though not at the same time, unless you have four hands.) Suffice to say my orange zest was...somewhat less zest and more mush, and I decided to use the rind of the whole orange to make up for that. I also didn't have my stand mixer with me, so I whipped the sugar and eggs by hand. It was a workout at least!

The batter was a bit sticky and a little stiffer than I thought it would turn out - then again, my eggs weren't as large as asked for, so maybe that was it.

The recipe also said it would make about a dozen large madeleines, so my pan size must have been slightly smaller as I got fifteen out of the batter.

(Yes, my parents' table is red formica-topped. It's a beautiful colour, but it's a bit of a photography challenge at night under flourescent lights.)

The batter had to sit in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight, so I put all the moulds in the fridge, nearly forgot to put plastic wrap over the surface, and let it stay till early this morning. That's also when I discovered that little 'bumps' under the madeleines are desirable, and that you're NOT supposed to cram and flatten the batter into the mould with the back of a plastic spoon, but it was way too late to do anything about it, and I could just hope for the best.

And would you believe, they baked up like a DREAM and came out of the mould as soon as they were tapped. All in all, I think they came out quite well!

They even had that little bump on the underside - it's not very prominent because when I put them out to cool, the rack flattened 'em. Ooops.

But they taste fantastic - light and spiced and just -beautiful-. Thank you Shauna. I'll definitely be making these again!

I also declared that I'd be cooking New Year's Eve Dinner for the family. The menu consisted of roast beef, parsnip and turnip mash, julienned brussel sprouts with apples and carrots with honey, lemon and thyme. I decided to use a combination of Nigel Slater's and Jamie Oliver's roast beef recipes, wing the mash, and adapt the brussel sprouts from how I'd always cooked 'em.

The vegetables came out beautifully!

The beef was a bit too rare for the family (my first time roasting beef, so my estimate of time, even by the recipe, are a bit off), so we sliced it and threw it into the microwave to nuke for a little, but all in all, it was flavourful and deliciously tender.

In the next few days there will be lemon-ginger bars, and perhaps some cookies even.

Here's to you, 2010 - it's been a hard, but good year in many ways. May 2011 bring even better things.

Happy New Year, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Your madeleines look lovely and a home-cooked meal for your family and dearest to your heart, oh what could be more joyous?

    I love Christmas and the Winter Solstice and New Year's Eve (and Day) for they allow us such precious time & space to count our blessings and restore our spirits for another brilliant year ahead. :)

    Happy New Year, dear!