Desserts, Musing

Orange Rosewater Madelines

“And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, 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 had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature.”
–Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

The Proustian madeleine may be a cliché to the literati, but there is no doubt about it: food evokes feeling. One bite of tea cake is all it takes to make the back of one’s jaw tingle. Flavors passing over my tongue can shoot me into another time, another country. Keep your eyes closed the next time you eat something you like and you’ll see.

It’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m going to talk about something I love: Food. Who’s surprised?

Food brings me joy. Making it. Serving it. Eating it. Food brings me discomfort. Buying it. Eating it.

For the past eight years my relationship with food has been dysfunctional. Compulsive. For the past eight years I haven’t eaten a meal without some form of guilt or rationalization. It bothers the people around me. It makes some people nervous, even irritates some of them.

“I know you’re sad, but you can’t have yogurt for every meal.”

“How could you possibly have room for more French fries?”

“Just have a bagel. What’s the problem with that?”

“You looked really thin the last time I saw you, but you looked healthier in that picture posted of you last week.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t talk so much about what you going to eat, just eat it or don’t.”

“Just go to the gym if you care so much about this.”

Every one of this things was said to me probably out of the goodness in people’s hearts, or out of confusion. But each comment stings in a way only those who also have a complicated relationship with food could possibly understand.

There have only been a few times where people have vocalized their worry about my relationship with food. Typically, it goes unnoticed, because my body doesn’t physically change all that much. If I eat a lot of meals with someone they probably notice the weird portioning and the food journal app on my phone. Or they’ll notice that I’m on my third bowl of pasta and headed to the kitchen to “clean up,” only to see I’m fishing out strands of spaghetti with my fingers, quickly, quietly.

I talk about food a lot, to be fair. It consumes most of my brain space, and therefore is a topic that controls a lot of the conversations I have. And if I’m around someone regularly, they can see that it might not only be recipes I’m concerned with. But it’s hard to talk about with someone who doesn’t share this experience. Someone who has a more logical (or rational, or dare I say healthy– even though I hate that word) relationship with food might be confused about why, if I’m so concerned, I can’t just implement a regular workout routine. Or why I can’t just say fuck it and eat what I want to eat. In fact, I do both of these things sometimes. More often than it would seem. But that doesn’t change the way I let these habits control me.

I spent a lot of time debating whether or not to post this. And I think a day focused around love is a good day to do so. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love working with food and recipes– professionally and personally.

Yet I don’t love what my brain has done to my relationship with food; it makes things tricky. I think sharing a meal with someone is is one of the most intimate activities. But there are complexities beyond my control at play here. It’s hard. I go through good spells and not-so-good ones.

But nothing ever makes me feel more than food. That “exquisite pleasure,” which causes nothing else to matter. I won’t ever let go of that.

Orange Rosewater Madelines (makes about 24 cookies)

1 or 2 madeline tins

3/4 cup +  1 tablespoon AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch sea salt (or orange salt)
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup cane sugar
1 tablespoon rose water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick)+ 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, pouring 2 tablespoons into a separate bowl. Stir orange zest into larger amount of butter, and cool to room temperature. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick and light in color, about 4 minutes. Quickly beat in rose water and vanilla extract. Sift half of the flour mixture into the egg mixture and fold until barely combined. Repeat with the other half of the flour mixture. Gently fold in the orange butter until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Brush a madeleine tin with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and dust lightly with flour.

When madeleines have chilled, quickly spoon batter into tins. Bake until cookies are golden brown and spring back to the touch, about 8-12 minutes. Let cookies cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then let cool completely on wire wracks.

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Drinks

157

Clementine Hot Chocolate (GF)

There’s a real-feel temperature of -9 today in Northampton, and it’s pretty much been like this for a while, which obviously means I have a strong(er than usual) craving for hot chocolate on a regular basis. In the summer months, that craving turns into chocolate ice cream, but for right now, I’m sticking with the cocoa. I’ve started making up different recipes, normal and dairy-free; with and without funky additional flavors, to try to find my favorite. The contenders started out rich and heavy: tahini, Nutella, peanut butter, almond butter, coconut cream. While each pot of these spread-based cocoas came out unbelievably decadent, I really couldn’t handle more than half a mug’s worth before having to take a rest. And coming back to room temperature chocolate is not the dream. So I thought, how about extracts? They kick coffee up a notch for sure. And indeed, peppermint hot chocolate was seasonally appropriate in December, and anise cocoa went really well with sugar cookies, but both fell a little flat in terms of a “Go To Recipe”, y’know? Then I started remembering a million years ago, when I used to find those amazing chocolate oranges in my house’s chocolate drawer- yes, we have one of those, no joke. (Also I had no idea these chocolates were still being made until I found that link and am now struggling not to order all of them). The best thing about chocolate oranges was that both flavors complimented each other perfectly, neither canceling out the other. So I think at that moment, I knew orange was the route to take. But of course, I only had clementines in the house at that point and just couldn’t bring myself go to the grocery store to buy one orange, so I figured what the hell; orange, clementine; potato, potahto, and such.

Sometimes, the kitchen gods smile and and give you a hot chocolate recipe that is satisfying enough for dessert, light enough for a mid-morning snack; completely chocolatey, but still exciting and different. Definitely a recipe I will make for years to come. So, with the snow blowing around here for snowpocalypse2015 -the first act of which (last Tuesday) seemed to be a bit of a hoax in Northampton, while today’s blizzard feels much more eerie– I can’t think of a better time to make another cup for myself, pray the power doesn’t go out, and share this recipe. Feel free to make it 100% vegan (or 100% not) according your personal preference!

Hot Chocolate (serves 4)

2 cups 2% milk
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
zest of one clementine (or orange)
4 tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
water

In a medium saucepan, heat both milks over medium heat. While milk is heating, whisk together all other ingredients in a small bowl. Add tablespoons of water one at time to chocolate mixture until smooth. Add chocolate to milk and heat!

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Drinks

142

Minty Orange Gimlet (V, GF)

As I walked to class on Monday night, I realized it was getting dark. Dark. At 7:30 at night. So if going to night class wasn’t depressing enough, it was actually getting kind of cold and windy. Not to mention people were rushing around campus looking stressed because they’d likely spent the weekend at the bar instead of the library finishing that paper due at midnight. School worries aside, and being completely honest, I love fall. It’s my favorite season. Sweaters, pumpkins, crunchy leaves, all that good crap. BUT in order to get there I have to endure the waves of sadness that manifest themselves in setting sun shadows of late September. Does it make sense that I love fall with a passion but can’t stand how the earth gets there? Absolutely not. But that’s the way it goes! And with these precious hours of post-7pm daylight dwindling, so is the time for big frosty cocktails leisurely being sipped in the sun. While I’m as big a fan of mulled cider as the next person, I just can’t shake my true fondness for fresh cocktails.

Spoilers, I did make this drink quite a while ago. On a lazy Sunday I peeled an orange listening to the sounds of grass being mowed through the open window. The syrup boiled and I picked mint from the herb planters in my backyard. As I rinsed the leaves off with the garden hose I heard my little next door neighbors attempts to woo passing cars with 25-cent cups of lemonade. I muddled mint and orange and added gin and then I drank that cocktail on my porch in warm July sun. And then I drank two more and then I fell asleep. Sounds just terrible, doesn’t it? And in case you were wondering, orange simple syrup is pretty much how I imagine rays of summer sunlight would taste if you melted them into a glass. Considering the temperature outside is currently 41 degrees, I could really use the reminder of the cocktail hour that once was. I bet you could too.

 

Gimlet (serves one)

1/2-1 shots orange simple syrup (see recipe below)

1 1/2 shots vodka (or gin)

1/2 shot lime juice

1/4 orange, sliced

mint leaves

seltzer

ice

Make the orange simple syrup and let it cool completely. In the bottom of a glass, muddle sliced orange and mint. In a cocktail shaker combine syrup, lime juice, vodka and ice. Shake well and pour into the glass with muddled orange and mint and fresh ice.

Orange Simple Syrup (from Bon Appetit)

1/2 c cane sugar

Zest from one orange (removed in large strips with vegetable peeler)

Add zest, sugar, and 1/2 c water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let cool; cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Strain syrup into a small jar or bowl. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, tightly covered, for several weeks.

 

 

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Sides

117

Orange Arugula Salad (with Shallot Vinaigrette)

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It’s beginning to look a lot like summer in Jersey! And with that comes picnics and other outdoor events (note: “events” often = dinner outside with my parents I am so #popular) Anyway, these aforementioned events often call for something green and healthy. Therefore I give you this salad! It’s is so simple, fresh, and delicious. The sweet oranges go perfectly with the peppery arugula and crunchy almonds. I may or may not have eaten the whole bowl of the pictured finished product. I dare you not to do the same.

 

Salad

2 bunches arugula, washed and torn

1/2 c. slivered almonds

1 large orange (or 3 clementines)

Slice the orange and add all ingredients to a large bowl.

 

Vinaigrette

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. dijon mustard

1 shallot, mined

2/3 c. olive oil

salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake well. Pour over salad and toss!

 

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