Manger

Madeleines

It is impossible not to think of Marcel Proust’s Madeleine scene in his novel ‘In search of lost time’. How a delightful little cake can trigger such vivid childhood memories…

Madeleines are one of France’s most popular tea-time cakes, for all ages, ideal for dipping in a glass of milk or a cup of tea. Shaped like a shell, this little gem of a cake is always a special treat. There are various versions of this famous recipe, but for me, it has to have orange blossom, that is what I love most about madeleines. The smell is pure comfort and joy, reminding me of my children’s scent. Orange blossom is renowned for its purity and calming effects, especially mixed with honey. (That is why I added honey to the recipe).

No wonder Mr. Proust’s mind wandered off… it must have been the orange blossom!

Ingredients:

3 eggs
150 grs plain flour
125 grs butter or margarine (melted)
130 grs sugar
20 grs honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp orange blossom water
Madeleine cake molds (I have silicone ones)

With an electric whisk, cream the sugar, honey, salt and eggs together and fluffy. Sift flour and baking flour together, then gradually fold in the egg mixture and mix gently. Add the melted butter and lemon zest, stir lightly, and leave to rest 2 hours or overnight in the fridge. It is very important for the batter to be cold before baking – the thermal ‘shock’ is necessary for a good ‘bumpy’ round madeleines.

Pre-heat your oven 180 degrees celsius.

Butter and sprinkle your molds with flour. Add one good teaspoon of cold batter into the molds. Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on how big your molds are. When ready, use a round-edged knife to delicately lift each madeleines.

Gratin Dauphinois and Cigalines

I was queuing at our local butcher the other day, and overheard a woman standing next to me saying – ‘Oh, I want the same as last time because ‘Je me suis régalée’ – meaning she really ‘deliciously’ enjoyed… her cigalines. I had never heard of cigalines before, and I was so intrigued that I asked Michel the butcher what it was: ‘It’s a specialité! It’s the meat from the hip of a pork, marinated in olive oil and Provence herbs. It’s even more tender than a filet mignon!’. This was so tempting, mainly because of how the lady expressed her joy. So I bought a few pieces of ‘cigalines’ and decided to make a gratin Dauphinois (baked potatoes in cream) to accompany this discovery.

Gratin Dauphinois is a typical French dish of the Dauphiné region, consisting of sliced potatoes, milk, cream, butter, nutmeg and lots of garlic. This creamy potato ‘gratin’ is the ultimate French comfort food, filled with garlic flavors.

The combination was truly delicious. The pork meat was indeed incredibly tender, juicy and succulent. Cigalines might not be easy to find, so I would recommend asking your butcher for porc meat near the hip bone (in France we call it araignée meat), and marinade them overnight with olive oil and Provence herbs.

Ingredients: (for 6)

1.5 kg medium-sized potatoes (sliced finely 4 millimeters)
100 grs butter
900 ml milk
25 cl liquid cream
5 garlic cloves
dash of ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper

Cigalines:

900 grs pork meat (near the hip bone as it is more tender)
160 ml olive oil
2 tbsp Provence mixed herbs
2 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper

In a bowl, marinate the pork in the olive oil and herbs and leave in fridge overnight. When ready, heat a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and fry the cigalines. As they are quite fine, a couple of minutes on each sides should be good.

For the Gratin Dauphinois:

Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees celsius.

Rub a sliced garlic all over an oven-proof pan.

Peel and slice the potatoes (approx 3-4 mm slices) and garlic (thin slices). Do not rinse the sliced potatoes as you will need to keep the starch for a better binding. Heat the milk with salt, pepper, nutmeg and when it starts boiling, lower the heat and add the sliced potatoes and garlic – cook for 10 minutes, then pour mixture into the oven-proof pan. Pour the cream, and add slivers of butter all over. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Serve ‘cigalines’ pork filets and the gratin Dauphinois together. Enjoy!