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Monday, January 31, 2011

Classic Madeleine

What a strange week it has been. Snow had her first visit with her new vet earlier this week and got a clean bill of health. I had my doctor's appointment as well and got a new prescription and a chance for more tests thanks to my deteriorating bones. I also learned that my friend Karin who feeds over a hundred homeless people each week with great home cooked meals is embroiled in a bureaucratic Catch-22.

It appears that Pima County has hired a chief "Food Sanitarian" for their staff. Her job is supposed to be to keep area restaurants in line with cleanliness standards (a much needed thing with some of the places that haven't received good grades in years but somehow remain open). However, this lady has decided that she doesn't have enough to do trying to clean up the habitual commercial offenders and has decided to go after charities and private citizens.

She recently sent letters to Karin and several charitable groups which provide such horrific things as home cooked meals, soup, or hot cocoa for the homeless telling them they had to stop giving them any food or, and this is the kicker, rent a commercial kitchen, pay her to inspect it, obtain a license to serve and sell food provided by her, buy a "food service truck" valued at over $50,000 also inspected by her, then obtain licenses from the city, county and state to serve food in public places, plus obtain a city permit each time they go out for an "event" as well as "event" insurance coverage. (Amazingly, it appears that bake sales, church suppers for parishioners, club functions and other such things are somehow exempt from these rules.)

In short, this bureaucrat has decided that the homeless eating out of trash cans is just fine on her watch but having caring and kind people making sure they get a balanced meal just like they would if they had a home is not. Her reply to inquiries is that she is "just looking out for the homeless."  It appears to me she's looking out for expanding her department and trying to create work for herself at a time of massive budget cuts by the government. Interestingly, just before the budget crisis this woman increased her staff significantly (almost by 100%) to deal with the commercial trade backlog.

Anyway, there has been quite a bit of outrage at the hypocrisy of a "Food Sanitarian" who wants to send people back to dumpster diving in the guise of "keeping them safe from contaminated food." It'll be interesting to see what happens. Karin is not backing down, nor are the other groups who are citing a humanitarian crisis.

So, that's been my week thus far. Yesterday, after such success with the Coconut Madeleine, I decided to try some classic Madeleine. These beautiful and buttery little shell shaped cakes turned out wonderfully (even if I let them go about a minute too long while chatting with a friend at the door). This remains my all time favorite French pastry treat and I was hard put to get the photo done before I devoured them! Michael even likes these despite his decided lack of sweet tooth - he polished off two after supper!

I used lemon peel instead of the classic orange peel as a flavoring in my Madeleine simply because I had more lemons on hand and love lemon flavor. Either will work just fine.

So, here are some classic Madeleines full of buttery sponge cake goodness!

Recipe: Classic Madeleine


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbs. grated orange peel (or lemon peel)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Butter and flour Madeleine pan thoroughly to prevent sticking and set aside.
  2. In bowl of mixer fitted with paddle attachment, sift together flour, sugar, orange peel and baking powder. Add egg whites and mix until smooth. Add melted butter and mix until smooth.
  3. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large tip with batter and pipe into Madeleine pan until each cup is about 2/3 full. Bake in 400° oven for about 18-20 minutes or just until Madeleines have puffed up just above the rim of the cups and bounce back when lightly touched. Turn out onto a parchment lined baking sheet to cool.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
Total time: 30 min
Number of servings (yield): 12
Meal type: dessert
Culinary tradition: French
Copyright © Buck Bannister and Sugar Pies.
Recipe by Buck Bannister.

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