Chez Madeleine

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Goodbye Apples, Hello Asparagus


Today is the first official day of Spring. I'm ready for it. But I'm not ready to say goodbye to apples and comfort food. Braised meats and risottos are giving way to arugula salads with berries and pansies. Winter hang outs give way to giant patios and misters.

Its Festival time. Dogwood. Inman Park. Summerfest. Time to adorn your walls and spend your salary on framing.

As a last hurrah, I'm sharing this recipe for apple crostada that I made for the Oscars. Its the most simple, divine, rustic thing I know. Before the apples disappear (although they never do now due to cross-continental flights), make this crostada. You will be in heaven.

The recipe has a pastry component, but Pillsbury works just fine, and I don't think that anyone can tell the difference.

Apple Crostada
1.5 lbs of McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples
1/4 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick) diced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Unwrap the pastry onto a lightly floured surface; transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

for the filling, peel, and quarter the apples. Cut each quarter into 3 chunks (this is crucial-the chunks contribute to the rustic-ness of the tart). Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks, leaving a 1.5 inch border.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the apples, pleating and pinching it to make a circle.

bake the crostada for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Let the tart cool for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack.

Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine


I invented a cocktail for the Oscars. It got its inspiration from the Apple Crostada I was making from the Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook. The crust is stuffed with apples tossed with orange zest. I had an entire juicy Florida orange left over once I had stripped it of its essence, so I decided to juice it.

But what does one do with a few shots of fresh O.J.?

As the glowing stars made their way down the red carpet, I decided that the best way to pay homage to them was through a cocktail.

So, I shook in my martini shaker: Pomegranate juice, tonic, Ketel One vodka, ice, and this tiny shot of O.J.

Gregor said it tasted like "nothing". how could that be? But I thought it was a refreshing, pink, chilly, fun, inventive cocktail.

Check out the amazing meal I made too:
Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola sauce (let me know in the comments if you want the recipe for the sauce-it was incredible and so easy)
Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and parsley
Roasted Cherry tomatoes with basil


And here's the apple crostada. served with Ben & jerry's. yum


Pressure Cooker


Its been over a month since I've been here. Gone through my familiar routine of downloading, and then uploading both my photos and my thoughts onto the computer and the page. I hope I haven't lost anyone. I wouldn't be surprised if I had. Every day you've been loyally navigating your favorites, browsing the top headlines, sniffing the latest gossip on msn, visiting your favorite blogs, and mine has been disappointing you.

Thank you for telling me you've missed me.

Lately, I have been in a pressure cooker. Too much crap to do and not enough time. Nerves fried. No creative inspiration.

I don't have a lot of time to post (its not like the pressure just magically went away today, it was just that I missed connecting with you), but I wanted to tell you about one really divine dessert that I made for my sister and my friends when Christianne was in town a few weeks ago.

The recipe is from Atlanta Cooks At Home---a cookbook featuring Atlanta chefs (think Scott Peacock, Kevin Rathbun and Ricardo Ullio) and their fave recipes for at home entertaining. This one was just so simple and so divine that I think that you should make it for your friends and family this weekend!

A Pot de Creme was oftentimes the dessert included in the prix fixe meals that Amaree and I used to have in Paris. It would be even cuter if you had some espresso cups or small mugs to bake these in. Virginia Willis is a great Southern chef who often teaches at Cooks Warehouse--she uses delightfully french touches

(this marks the first time I'm posting a recipe here):

Mocha Pots de Creme
serves 6
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
5 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee
5 large egg yolks
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt
approximately 4-6 c. of boiling water to create a bain marie (water bath)

Undeinably creamy and indulgent, these are the French version of pudding cups. Pots de creme are named such because of the traditionally litted ceramic pots in which these custards are baked.

Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. heat oven to 325. Place six- 6 oz pots de creme or ramekins in a medium roasting pan and set aside. Begin boiling water for a bain marie.

In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, chocolate, and espresso powder over medium heat. Bring almost to a simmer adn remove from heat. Set aside, stirring occassionally until chocolate is almost completely melted.

In a 1-quart measuring cup, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. While whisking, add a little of the hot milk mixture to temper. Add the remaining mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in the vanilla and salt.

Pour approx. 1/2 c. of the egg mixture into each ramekin. Cover each of the ramekins tightly with alumninum foil to prevent a skin from forming. fill pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides. This is the bain marie. Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Bake until the custards are set in the center. 35-40 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. remove the pots from the water and place on a wire rack to cool, about 30 minutes; transfer to fridge to cool completetly, preferably overnight.

To serve, top with whipped cream.

If you make it, please post in the comments and let us know. And I promise you will love this recipe!