Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Madeleines, Memes and Awards

The last few weeks saw me tagged with a couple of memes that I haven’t been able to fulfil due to the 3 lengthy vacation posts that I published, but as promised, today is THE day, but just in case you haven’t noticed that I already share my personal life quite freely with you, my advice to you is, don’t hold your breathe – I have nothing ‘juicy’ to expose. I have also been fortunate enough to received four awards but have been unable to down load them onto my sidebar for some strange reason. Anyway, first things first – Here’s a brief history of the ‘Madeleine’;

Madeleines have always been associated with the little French town of Commercy in the region of Lorraine. In the 18th century, the bakers of Commercy were said to have once, long ago, paid a very large sum for the recipe and sold the little cakes packed in oval boxes as a speciality in the area. Nuns in the 18th century France frequently supported themselves and their schools by making and selling a particular sweet. Commercy once had a convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. Historians think the nuns, probably when all the convents and monasteries of France were abolished during the French revolution, sold the recipe to the bakers.

In 1923, the Madeleine was made famous by Marcel Proust (1871-1922) in his autobiographical novel ‘A la recherch√© du temps perdu’, translated ‘Remembrance of things past’. This novel was left unfinished upon his death and his brothers published the book in 1923. In it he wrote:

“She sent for one of those squat plump little cakes called “petites madeleines” which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell... I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure invaded my senses…
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings in Combray when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane… and the whole of Combray and it’s surroundings, taking shape and solidity sprang into being, town and garden alike from my cup of tea.”

Proust’s reminisce of a happy memory associated with the madeleine is not unlike our own reminiscence that is almost always associated with food, after all, food is the basis of any one happy memory, well, for me anyway! Madeleines are traditionally made with eggs, butter, flour and sugar with the inclusion of the zest from the orange or the lemon, but in the recent years, other ingredients have been added to add interest to the flavour.

Makes about 30

100g salted butter
100g icing sugar
40g almond meal
40g plain flour
4 eggs
Zest of 1 large lemon
1tsp. vanilla bean paste
Caster sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Let it bubble briskly for about five minutes (you’ll hear it crackle a bit as it loses water.) When it’s a deep golden colour and smells nutty, turn of the heat and leave it to cool slightly. Strain the melted butter (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) – you want to leave the solids behind.
Grease the madeleine molds and dust with caster sugar. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sifted flour, almond meal and icing sugar and set aside. Put the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick. Fold in the lemon zest and vanilla, then sprinkle the flour mixture on top of the egg mixture and gently fold in. Now fold in the melted butter and stir only enough to bring everything together.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 3/4s full. I use a small milk jug filled with batter to keep things clean and manageable. Bake the madeleines for 12-14 minutes or until the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately on to racks to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Now, on to the Memes..

Big Boys Oven and Singairishgirl both tagged me with the ‘5 things’ meme, so here ‘tis…
5 things…
A. Found in my room
1. A Queen sized brown leather bed
2. Two nightstands on either side
3. Two table lamps, one on each night stand
4. Oil paintings on canvas
5. An Oil Burner

B. Found in my bag
1. A wallet
2. A tube of hand cream
3. A tube of Vaseline Lip Treatment
4. My mobile phone
5. My house and car keys

C. Found in my wallet
1. Cash
2. Drivers License
3. Bankcard
4. Loyalty Cards
5. A stack of receipts

D. I have always wanted to…
1. Be able to swim
2. Be slim
3. Be able to fit in nice clothing (Man! this is becoming depressing! Don’t anyone tag me with a meme ever again!)
4. Be able to eat whatever I want without putting on weight
5. Be able to sing well

E. I am currently into…
1. Blogging
2. Watching Korean and Hong Kong soaps
3. Home Decorating
4. Watching my daughters dance hip-hop (they are SO good, I want to learn how to youtube them. Can anyone teach me??)
5. Lounge and Korean music

And now, I have the pleasure of tagging the following bloggers with this meme;
(If you have been tagged with this meme before, you may choose to not take this on)

1. Daniel of Messy Pastor
2. Ming of Ming the Merciless
3. Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen
4. Anh of Food Lover's Journey
5. Sylvia of La Vida en Buenos Aires y afines...

Daniel of Messy Pastor tagged me with the ‘ 7 things most people don’t know about me’ meme, so here goes…

1. I don’t like crowded places – you’ll never find me at a sale
2. I can’t be under the afternoon sun for more than 15 minutes, I’d almost always have a headache
3. In my teens, I used to represent my school for singing competitions
4. I have terrifying stage frights – at a solo performance in Church with hundreds of eyes watching, my mind went totally
blank and I forgot the words to my song. (HORRORS!!) So, I made up some lyrics on the spot until the familiar chorus
5. That was the last time I sang solo on stage.
6. In 2000, I went on the Atkins Diet. I didn’t have rice, noodles or any carbohydrates for a year. I lost 15kgs and dropped
to a size 6. After a year of eating meat, sausages and bacon with very limited fruit and vegetables, I gave up.
7. In 2001, I decided to Love myself more

I’m tagging the following bloggers with this meme…

1. Jaden of Steamy Kitchen
2. Belinda of Bel’s Fish Bowl
3. Sunny of Big Boy’s Oven
4. Rafe of Rafe New York
5. Bee of Rasa Malaysia

I want to thank the following bloggers for giving me an award, I’m humbled and honoured.

1. Nora B of Life’s Smorgasbord for the Thoughtful Blogger Award. I have earlier passed on this award in a previous post.

2. Sylvia of La Vida en Buenos Aires y afines... for the Thinking Blogger Award. I pass this award on to the following bloggers:

Daniel of Messy Pastor, for helping me understand my faith better
Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, for being such a huge inspiration to me

3. Debra of Singairishgirl for the Creative Blogger Award. I pass this award on to the following bloggers:

Sylvia of La Vida en Buenos Aires y afines for her excellent food styling and photography
Bee of Rasa Malaysia for her fabulous recipe ideas

4. Debra of Singairishgirl (again!) for The Power of Schmooze Award. I pass this award on to the following bloggers:

Anh of Food Lover’s Journey for always being helpful and obliging
Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen for her beautiful personality that shines through her blog