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Saturday, December 29, 2012



If the appearance of this tart leaves you a bit intimidated, don't worry. This tart is so easy to make, and it is difficult to screw up. Come on, give it a try!

When I first saw the image of this tart in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook, I thought it looked delicious. There was no way my tart would look that good, but maybe it would taste alright. I jumped in with both feet and made the tart. And by golly, short of the industrial fluorescent lighting designed for a garage in our kitchen and an Iphone for a camera, I think it doesn't look half bad in comparison to the cookbook.

For a complete tutorial with even more pictures, click here.

The recipe for this wonderful tart was found in a Williams-Sonoma book entitled 'Simple Classics Cookbook' from Chuck Williams' personal recipes. Thank you, Chuck!

For the crust:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of cake flour (I used 'Soft-as-Silk' brand)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes, refrigerated
2 or 3 tablespoons of ice cold water

For the poaching bath:
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups of cold water

Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup of apricot preserves
1 cup walnut pieces
Whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

3 Bosc pears - ripe, but not too overripe, or too firm
(You may also use Comice pears)

This recipe was found in a wonderful cookbook for which I paid a mere quarter at a yard sale! There have been many yard sale signs that tempted me to keep driving, keep looking, surely I was getting close to the location. Usually, after driving five miles, you find yourself in the middle of Podunk, where someone threw an impromptu yard sale sign up and tossed clothes out on the grass. You know, one of those 'why bother' sales. The kind of sale where nothing is priced, which always makes me think the seller will determine the price of an item with a perceived idea of your income based on your appearance. Always dress like a slob for such occasions.

This yard sale was different. I actually drove. And drove. And kept driving. Mind you, this
was early in the morning, before a work day. When I finally arrived at the address that
even my GPS didn't recognize, it was well worth the drive. It was a massive sale, one of the finest
collections a bargain hunter could hope for. Or a hoarder's worst nightmare.

Immediately, I hurried to the book section (though at this point, my hurrying was due more to the fact that I should be on my way to work...) to find several large boxes full of books.
The seller said the books were one dollar each, but if I took a few, she would make me a deal.

I selected an armload of books and approached the makeshift checkout. Three women exchanged
glances as if they didn't know what to charge. "Two fifty." I calmly pulled out two dollars, trying to
quell my inner excitement, searching for a third dollar in the bottomless pit of a purse I
carry. Either I was taking too long, or the other customers felt sorry for me, as several
people offered the remaining fifty cents of my balance. Embarrassed, I said that I had more
money, but I was trying to find a dollar that did not have banana stickers all over it.

(Long story, maybe next time. Keep your eye out for a banana-related Instructable, perhaps?)

The books were loaded into the car, I drove off, and let out a squeal of delight. With the car
windows up. Not only did I make it to work on time, but I was filled with glee over my newfangled
treasures! Books are wonderful. But cookbooks are divine!

For this recipe, it would be quite handy to have a pan made especially for making tarts. This pan has tiny scallops along the edges, and a removable bottom, which makes removing the tart a breeze. Just don't forget about this tidbit when you're removing it from the oven. If you have a pizza paddle, here is your chance to put it to good use. Not absolutely necessary, but nice to have.

You can squish the juice from a lemon with your hands, but again, this is rather handy. You don't have to purchase anything fancy, either. As long as you manage to squeeze out enough lemon juice (make certain there are no seeds
in your juice) then Earth will continue to spin.

You might be able to find something around your home to utilize, but a rolling pin is pretty handy. They don't have to be expensive, either.

Yes, our grandmothers before us used their fingers, and nobody died, yeah, yeah. I'm a gadget girl, and these things are cool. Besides, a pastry blender isn't warm-blooded, and won't add oils and other questionable things to your dough.

Having the prep steps ready to go when you are is a big help.
It saves time later, and makes the process so much easier.

Measure one cup of walnuts and set aside. Chop to a finer
degree if you desire.

Cut the 1/2 cup of butter into slices and return to the refrigerator. To keep from overworking the dough for your tart crust later, I would suggest cutting the butter into smaller cubes than shown in my picture.

Prepare a glass of ice water. You will be using this water to prepare the tart crust, which you will need to keep nice and cold. Measure one and one half cups of sugar for the poaching bath, and set aside another one Tablespoon for the dough.

Measure one cup of all-purpose flour. Measure one half cup of cake flour.

Grab a salt shaker.

Grab a jar of apricot preserves. You can eyeball a quarter of a cup, no
need to measure. I do not advise using grape jelly. Don't even think about
it, not even in the name of thrifty.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine one cup of all-purpose flour,
1/2 cup cake flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
Whisk or stir until well blended. Remove the butter from the refrigerator that we diced up in step #3, and bring the ice water near your cooking area.

Using a pastry blender (or your fingers), cut the butter into the flour
mixture until it reaches a crumbly oatmeal-like texture. Don't overmix!
Switch to using a fork, and slowly add 2-3 Tablespoons of ice water to
the mix in order to cause the dough to stick together.

 Form a ball of the dough, flatten into a flat disc, and press between wax paper or other wrap that will allow you to roll the dough into a round sheet the size of your tart pan. If you do not have oversize waxed paper, you can easily lay two long sheets together at the edges, fold both pieces together in a small fold, then fold a few more times, and press the folds. Unfold the two pieces to form a large sheet. Now do this again, and you will have a top and bottom rolling sheet. Draw a circle a little larger than the size of your tart pan on the waxed paper to use as a rolling guide.

Remember to roll the dough large enough so there will be an edge to the crust. Roll it out to the correct size, don't try to stretch it out once it is in the pan. Hold your tart pan over the dough to check for accurate roll size.

Remove the top piece of waxed paper, and carefully place the dough (with another sheet of paper still stuck to the other side of the crust) into the tart pan. Carefully remove the second sheet of paper. Press the dough into the edges of the pan and ensure a nice, even spread. Once your dough is safely inside the pan, pop it back into the refrigerator.
Try to make the crust thickness as consistent as possible, but don't over-work the dough in doing so. My finger pressing marks are quite visible, but not for long.
Place a fresh lemon on a hard surface. Using the flat and palm of your hand, press down and roll the lemon back and forth. Don't squeeze it to death, just press firmly, as if giving a massage. A firm one.

Cut the lemon in half, then either squeeze it, or use a reamer to get as much juice out of the lemon as you can. It helps to do this over a strainer and into a bowl to keep out the seeds.

Set this lemon bath aside.

Select three Bosc pears for this tart, making certain they are not too under or over ripe. Give 'em a squeeze. They should not be squishy, nor hard.

Peel each pear, removing the stem. Cut each pear in half, then examine the insides of them. The seed spot will need to be cut out, and the little vein where the stem was, as well. You can use a knife or your fingernail, but you'll be able to feel the hard vein. Take this out, or your guests may be picking it out of their teeth.

The seed spot is easy to remove. Simply place the tip of a small knife at the top of the spot (which resembles a cute little Snowy Owl face to me) push the tip in at an angle, and draw around the seeds in a circle while cutting.

As you work, drop each pear half into the lemon juice bath we prepared in Step 6, and mix well.

In a large saucepan, place three cups of cold water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Make sure the pan is deep enough to dunk the pears into the sweet bath. This step is merely to soften the pears a bit, especially if they are very firm. The time required to bathe, or poach them, is determined by their texture. Adjust according to your pears.

Bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the
pear halves and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, turning the pears
once, until they are tender. You don't want them to be mushy. Poke them
with a fork, a knife, an ice pick, you get the idea.

Gently transfer the pears to a rack to allow them to drip and cool. Place a paper towel or other material beneath to catch the drips, or you will send out a mass invitation to sweet ants, which we will be discussing later. While the pears are cooling, let's roll out the dough. Next step, please?

As the pears have now cooled and dripped somewhat dry, your tart crust should be ready, it is time to assemble the tart. Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator. Spread most of the apricot preserves from step 3 into the bottom of the crust. Slicing each pear half into about a dozen slices, carefully slide the blade of a knife under the sliced pear half, keeping the slices all together. Set the pear half into the crust, with the small end of the pears facing the middle of the pan. Gently press with the knife or your fingers to spread the slices out nice and neat in a fanned-out pattern, extending from almost the edge of the tart to the center. Place another sliced half across from that one, and so forth, so each pear has a matching half on the other side of the pan. Adjust as necessary to ensure a nice, uniform spacing for the walnuts. Add the walnuts between the pear slices, spreading them neatly. Brush the remaining preserves on top of the pears. Don't fret if you accidentally used all the preserves in the crust. Not a big deal. Sprinkle the pears with cinnamon, or nutmeg to be festive if you desire.

Though the original recipe calls for baking this tart at 400° for over an hour, let's change the rules a bit. I say we reduce the temperature by at least twenty-five degrees or more. The first fifteen minutes at 400° left the edges of my first tart a bit darker than I preferred, even with one of those cheap crust protectors. Adjust to suit your tastes. For those wondering, in order to type that neat little degree symbol, hold down the ALT button on your keyboard while typing the number 4344. Cool, huh?) Turn on the oven light, or use a flashlight, anything, just to get a peek into the oven to see that beautiful golden tart! Be patient!

You may slice the tart as you please, but I found that by slicing to allow half walnuts and half pears on each slice, this recipe easily serves twelve modest portions. With a tiny dollop of whipped cream or ice cream, (or skip this step if you are being mindful of saturated fat), or a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon, you will have your guests eating out of your hands. Best to use saucers. Helpful hint - by the next day, the crust may not have that wonderful, flaky, delicate crispness about it. Simply place a slice into a toaster oven for just a few minutes, and it will crisp right back up.

By the way, if you are bringing this tart to a picnic where creepy crawly things like ants might find your treat, place the tart on a dish with a pedestal, or leg, such as a cake plate. Now place the cake plate onto a saucer or plate with water in it. The ants can't get to the plate unless they dive in and swim to the pedestal, which I have yet to ever witness. I hope you will enjoy this tart. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 24, 2012


The smell of these ingredients roasting in the oven is simply wonderful! Though I prefer a tomato-based salsa for dunking tortilla chips into, this particular salsa screams for scrambled eggs, burritos, tacos and so much more.

Thank you for the recipe, Ruth Reichl / Gourmet Today Cookbook. Recipe listed verbatim (with my two cents added for good measure)

2-3 Serrano chilies (I'm a chicken, and I used 3)
4 garlic cloves with peels intact
2 lbs. (about 12) fresh tomatillos
3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (remove all stems)
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
(I used one...two would have been serious overkill)
2 and 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt

Tomatillos have a papery husk which must be removed prior to eating. As you peel the husk off, you will notice the tomatillos have a stickiness about them. Believe it or not, a tiny bit of dish soap in a pan of warm water removes that stickiness. Remove the husks, rinse well, and you're good to go. You may remove the bud / stem knob now, or after broiling. It is not necessary to remove the peels of the tomatillos, only the stems and husks.

Preheat an oven broiler. On a large cookie sheet or baking pan lined with foil, place the four cloves of garlic, chilies and tomatillos. Broil 1 to 2 inches from the heat, turning on occasion with a long-handled utensil.

You may have to remove some of the more charred vegetables as they broil - which is a good thing. Allow all of the vegetables to broil, approximately 8 minutes.

If you haven't already done so, coarsely cut up the onion(s). No need to get fancy, they will be blended. Once removed from the oven, carefully peel the garlic and peppers, removing the stems and skins of the chilies. Squeeze out any germ, or growth that may have occurred in the center of the garlic. Sprouts are great, but not in your garlic. Place the roasted tomatillos, garlic, chilies and remaining ingredients (cilantro, onion, salt) in a blender or food processor. This particular salsa, in my opinion, is best pureed and used as a sauce, rather than left chunky as you would in preparing a salsa. 

 This recipe makes just enough for two wide-mouth pint jars, with a bit left over for sampling. Can be served cold, or even better, warmed up before serving with your choice of anything your heart desires. Keep in refrigerator.


One of the many things I have longed to bake at some point in my life - Madeleines. You need not lift your nose in the air, nor raise your pinkie finger whilst pronouncing them, but a lovely French treat such as this one deserves at least a lift of the tongue in pronunciation.

Pastries, tea cakes, cookies, just a few examples of the names given to this light and dainty treasure. Said to have originated in Northeastern France, this shell-shaped sponge cake has traveled far to become a favorite in many countries.

Come along, and I will show you how easy it is to create dainty pastries in little time with little more than a few ingredients and a Madeleine pan.

Step 1 - A specialty pan is necessary...

Madeleine pans come in a variety of materials including, but not limited to silicone, tin, tinned steel, aluminum, etc. Prices may vary, but my mini pan was $18.00. Now, before you balk and scoff, consider the last time you ate dinner in a restaurant. All that was left that meal is, well, sailing to sea by now, shall we say. If you had invested in a pan, you would still have the pan, and you would be making Madeleines by now, yes? So let us go shopping!

The pans are available from a number of manufacturing companies as well as countries. Gobel, Freshware, Chicago Metallic, Norpro, Kaiser, Freshware, Fox Run, Fat Daddios, Fantes,Williams-Sonoma, Silikomart, SCI/Scandicrafts, Inc. Wilton, Frieling, R & M, Martha Stewart, Lekue,Paderno World Cuisine, Ebay, Zenker, Matfer Bourgeat, Eurodib, Amazon, Flexipan, HIC Brands That Cook Essentials, DeBuyer Elastomoule, and so forth. Who did I miss?

Feel free to scour second hand stores, but I have yet to see a single pan in all of my adventures over the years. Don't forget to support your small town vendors, too! Check your area for kitchen or specialty shops. A quick phone call may lead to a short jaunt that could end up a wonderful way to spend a day. My sweet husband purchased the pans for me during a getaway weekend to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Thank you, Carol, of Tummy Ticklers Kitchen Shop.

Cavity counts vary as well. I've seen many, including 6, 9, 12, 16, 18, 20, 44, even a 100 count pan! One pan is wonderful. Two is a dream. Three is, well, just fabulous. Don't fret if you only have one pan. No problem. Simply cover and refrigerate the rest of the batter.

Step 2 - Gather your ingredients...

Powdered (confectioner's) sugar
Vanilla extract
Baking powder (not baking soda)
Brown Sugar

A list of the tools used, though some are not absolutely required:

Zesting tool (a cheese grater will work just fine)
At least one Madeleine pan, more if you have them
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
A mixing bowl
Mixing spoon or whisk

Step 3 - One recipe - of many to choose from!

The interesting thing about a Madeleine recipe is that there are more variations of the recipe than ways to pronounce the name of the 'cookie', if you will.

A basic (yet hardly boring) recipe typically includes flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, lemon, eggs, vanilla and butter in varied amounts depending on the size of your intended finished Madeleines. This Instructable is for miniature Madeleines as follows, with a recipe further below for the standard size.

Thank you, Dorie Greenspan and Rica Allanic for the recipes, which came from the first book in the first stack pictured on this step. Behold the power of the public library, for it can bring many wonderful things your way! Yard sales and flea markets are also great places to pick up great cookbooks, too!

MINIATURE MADELEINES - Rica Allanic / Dorie Greenspan

* 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
* pinch of salt
* 2 large eggs at room temperature
* 6 Tablespoons of white sugar
* 1 teaspoon of baking powder (NOT baking soda)
* 1 Tablespoon of packed light brown sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* grated zest of 1/2 fresh lemon
* 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) of unsalted, melted, cooled butter
* 1 teaspoon of honey
* confectioner's sugar for dusting after baking


* 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* pinch of salt
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 large eggs at room temperature
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 3/4 stick (6 Tablespoons) unsalted, melted, cooled butter
* confectioners sugar for dusting
The directions for Traditional Madeleines are a bit different, though the recipe is very similar.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together in a large bowl of a mixer. Add eggs, beating 2-3 minutes until the batter is pale and thick. Beat in the vanilla, then using a spatula instead of the mixer, fold in the flour, baking powder and salt mixture. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the batter and refrigerate at least three hours. You may refrigerate this batter for up to 2 days, but I always say fresher is better, so try to use it at least by the next day. Bake large Madeleines at 400 degrees F for 11 to 13 minutes.

Step 4 - A bit of batter prep...

A few things to get ready for making the batter, steps you will save later.

Using a cheese grater or zesting tool, scrape the rind from about half a lemon.

Crack the two eggs into a small bowl. You should always crack your eggs into a separate container than your mix in order to inspect the eggs before you possibly ruin an entire batch of ingredients. A bad egg, a yucky yolk. A broken bit of shell? Ahem. Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter, allow to cool a bit, just so it is not hot. Measure and set aside your dry ingredients such as the flour, salt and baking powder.

Step 5 - Batter up!

Having played softball when I was younger, the phrase 'Batter up!" reminds me of another saying, often yelled at the person up to bat. "Hey, batter, batter, batter, swing!" at the moment the crowd thought you should. I hated it, and would often hesitate to swing for that very reason. So we won the sportsmanship trophy. Bah. Explain that to a group of kids.

But back to the Madeleines.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and the salt. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the two eggs and both sugars until smooth. Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg and sugar mixture, then add the vanilla and lemon zest. Gently whisk in the butter, don't get carried away, you don't want to overbeat the batter. Now add in the honey. The batter will be thick, smooth and shiny. Refrigerate for at least half an hour, or see the next step for other options.

Step 6 - Chill the batter, clean the kitchen. Anxiously await morning...

One of the things I absolutely love about this recipe is that it is so easy. Because Madeleines are best consumed when fresh, you could simply make the batter, prep and fill the pans, cover with plastic wrap and toss into the refrigerator until the next morning. When that sudden 'company is coming' call comes in, preheat the oven, pop them in, and when company arrives, Voilà! Perfect with tea or coffee!

This gives you plenty of time to clean up any mess you might have made, clean the kitchen, and sit back knowing there is only easy left to do.

You can also simply cover the batter by laying a piece of plastic wrap over the batter, then refrigerate, but I didn't care for this method, as the batter naturally sticks to the plastic, and just seems a bit messy.

I prefer to load my cake decorator with the batter, (see step 8) then prop it in the refrigerator with the spout facing up so it doesn't leak. The next morning, squeeze batter the prepared pans and bake away.

Step 7 - Prep the pan(s)...

My greatest fear in making Madeleines was based on the number of times I'd read a recipe with someone mentioning the difficulty in removing the little boogers from the pan. The words 'pry, poke, push, pull and prod' did not seem to fit where a defenseless little cookie was concerned.

Ah, Ne vous inquiétez pas (do not worry), for I have perfected my own method, and can assure you, the cookies will fall out of the pan with ease.

Just before baking, use a lightweight plastic glove (rinse and recycle, please) to butter the pan. Dip your fingers into a small bowl with about a tablespoon of melted butter. Use your fingers and the plastic to move a small amount of butter around in each and every shell-shaped cavity. Yes, use plenty of butter, but do not leave a pool of it at the bottom section of the cavities.

While holding your well-buttered pan over a sink, or even better, outdoors - weather and nosy neighbor permitting, dust the pan with flour. This is easily accomplished by placing a small amount of flour in a squeeze-handled sifter, or if you have one with a crank handle, simply set the pan down on something clean so you will have both hands to sift with. Go ahead, sift away, thoroughly coating the pan. Once complete, hold the pan by the edges so as not smear butter all over your fingers, and dump out the excess. Tap the bottom of the pan if necessary to ensure there are no clumps of flour. And yes, I meant to type ensure and not insure. There is a difference.

Parfait! (perfect) Your pan is now ready for batter and baking. * NOTE * This is a very important note! While dusting the pans with flour is perfectly acceptable, my picky palate detected a blandness about this step. I highly encourage you to replace the flour with powdered sugar. The sugar blends with the butter in the mold crevices to give the Madeleines an ever-so-subtle crunch about them, but nothing one would call 'hard'. Delicious, delicious, delicious!

Step 8 - Fill the cavities...

For those who may happen to follow my blogs and Instructables, you know I'm big on pushing particular kitchen gadgets. No, I am not a paid spokesperson. ;-) Making yet another appearance is my handy-dandy pastry gun from step 9 of my Meatless Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms Instructable:

Please note, a spoon will suffice for filling the molds, I just like the ease of this gadget, which delivers a perfectly filled Madeleine cavity with a particular number of pumps on the pastry gun. You will have to experiment with your own gun, as I used five full pumps for each miniature cookie.

Don't get carried away, only about a teaspoon is necessary for the miniatures. If using large molds, fill almost to the top. * NOTE * Filling the large molds half full does not constitute a miniature Madeleine. Please use the appropriate amount of batter for your mold, no matter what size it is.

Step 9 - Bake for 8-10 minutes...

Step 10 - Release from the pan(s)...

You may often see a recipe that calls for 'rapping' the pan against the counter to remove the Madeleines. The first time I made them, I did precisely that, sending the little things sprawling everywhere, including the floor. If you have prepped your pans according to the directions in step 7, you should only need to do little more than gently tap the pan, if at all.

Silicone pans, while I have not yet used them, are said to provide better indentions and definition of the shell shapes due to the fact that butter and flouring are not required. Perhaps I'll give them a whirl, and if I do, I'll report back with an update. Please don't fret if your Madeleines do stick a bit. Once they are removed (try using a spoon if you must) don't worry about any blemishes. After all, you can always dust that side with the powdered sugar, and who is going to know. ;-)

Step 11 - Dust with powdered sugar (if desired)...

After the Madeleines have been removed from the oven and the pan, you may dust them with confectioner's sugar if so desired. Feel free to experiment with different methods. I like to put them back into the pan, then dust them. Try not to touch too much when placing them on your serving dish, so as not to mess up the pretty snowfall of sugar. The miniatures remind me of snow covered peach pits. Step 12 - Serve. Beam with pride. Blush with giddy glee!

Hubby was outside when these came out of the oven, which is a good thing, because I was dancing and singing and parading around the kitchen as though I'd just won the lottery. Little things in life make me so happy. Madeleines popping out of the pan in pristine condition, well, that is just such a moment. After playing around with different techniques and slight alterations to the recipe, I feel that I have found yet another treasure to share with family and friends, especially during the holidays. A quick note, though, Madeleines are not intended to be left over, or made in advance. They are a tiny cake best eaten soon after baking. If they are allowed to sit around, the texture is not as pleasing. Should a time lapse occur, one could always dip half of the cake into, say...chocolate! This would sidetrack the tongue, activate salivary glands, and before you know it, your brain doesn't even register that you might be eating (gasp!) leftover Madeleines.
Step 13 - Bon Appetit!

Not so long ago, after a busy day of shopping, my husband and I were heading home, when I happened to notice a restaurant named, of all things - La Madeleine. Oh my gosh, stop the car, go back, go back! Here I am completely enthralled with the idea of a Madeleine, and there, right before us, is a restaurant within reach. A quick call, and sure enough, the restaurant served the cookies! We arrived in time to purchase the last three lemon Madeleines. They were prettily packaged, and I skipped on my way out the door!

My lust for these little tea cakes has taken me to many a library, many magazines, many internet searches and even to the point of perusing restaurant menus.

I've found everything from Honey Madeleines to Orange, Fluff-Filled Chocolate, Earl Grey, Traditional, Lavender, Rosemary-Orange, Spiced, Lemon (Mini Madeleines Au Citron), Citrus, Lemon-Almond, Lime-Pecan, Orange-Chocolate, Orange Spice or Orange Walnut.

(Takes a deep breath and continues...)

Cherry (using maraschino cherry juice instead of orange liqueur when called for) or Berry (using raspberry flavored liqueur), Fresh Corn Madeleines, even Madeleines a la genoise - made from genoise cake batter!

While looking in the index of cookbooks, don't give up if you don't see Madeleines. Sometimes they are listed under tea, sometimes under cookies, even a quick glance under the heading of 'French' may yield results.


Sunday, December 23, 2012


Though this soup is chunky, don't let it fool you. It is indeed fit for a bowl. Hubby and I put everything on a bed of pasta, so don't be surprised to see even this chili poured over a bowl of it.

Not too spicy, not too sweet, not too hot, but a hearty, delicious chili you will not regret making. Be does make quite a batch!

Please feel free to amend the recipe as you choose. Add garlic. Add jalapenos. Add salt. It is entirely up to you.

Pardon the smoky image - the steam from the hot chili was difficult to blow out of the way while taking a photograph at the same time!

For a complete tutorial including plenty of photographs, CLICK HERE


1/4 cup olive oil (please don't use the cheap stuff)

1 pound inside bottom round stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 pounds of ground round of good quality.
(No need for the finest cut, but don't use the low percent hamburger)

1/2 pound of ground hot Italian sausage


1 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
2 cups yellow onion, diced


1/2 cup Burgundy red wine - What to do with the rest of the bottle? Hmmm.
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes (Del Monte "Mexican Recipe")
1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce


1 Tablespoon tomato powder or paste
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground Tellicherry black pepper
2 Tablespoons freshly ground cumin
2 Tablespoons hot chili powder
1 Tablespoon Aleppo pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground Turkish bay leaves
1 1/2 cups water

BEANS - Yes, I understand some of you are greatly opposed. If so, omit this ingredient.

1 (14 ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained


No doubt, you've looked over the ingredient list and asked yourself "What the heck
is an Aleppo pepper?" or "Where in the world am I going to find ground Tellicherry pepper?"

Fear not, I'm certain your recipe will be just fine using standard ingredients found in your
local grocery store, but...

I don't know these people personally, nor am I paid to promote their company, but I must
sing the praises of The Spice House. If you are not lucky enough to live near one of their
fabulous stores in Illinois or Wisconsin, the online shopping is a breeze, and actually a
fun process.

A recent illness found me in bed, bored, with an internet connection. Sure enough, I found
myself perusing cookbooks and recipes. I found a good recipe, ordered a few spices, and
proceeded with my life. Then I received an email from Instructables about a cookie contest.
Wandering around the site, I found the soup, stew and chili contest. Talk about perfect timing!

Don't worry if you have light brown, instead of dark brown sugar.
Dark brown just has a bit more molasses in it.

Don't panic if you have white onions instead of yellow.
No wine? No worry. Honestly, this recipe is very forgiving.

I prefer to make a recipe verbatim, then I can amend as desired.

This recipe posted as found in a wonderful little cookbook by Clay Erickson.

If you would like to purchase Clay's recipe book

No, I don't work for him, I don't know him, and wouldn't know him if
I passed him on the street. But he makes a mean cookbook!

Three small onions.
Three bell peppers, not too big, not too little. Yellow, red and green.
Prep ahead if you wish, but try not to dice the onions until the day
of cooking. The bell peppers can be diced up, covered and refrigerated.

The Del Monte Mexican Recipe stewed tomatoes were a bit of a booger to find.
I must have searched the tomato aisle for five minutes, was about to give up,
and then found them off to the side. Good grief, how many different
types of tomatoes are in the store?

Purchase your meat fresh, perhaps the day of, or the evening prior
to cooking your chili. If there is a meat shop in your area, this is a
better bet than the grocery store.

Don't panic. If you are one to stick to the ingredient list verbatim, you
may need a jump start on some of the products. I highly advise a visit
to The Spice House. Bravo!

Water. Enough said.
Olive oil. Use the good stuff.
Wine. A good burgundy is fine, but in a pinch you may use something else.
I tried not to laugh when a clerk at the liquor store suggested using "Merlah"
in her finest, la-tee-dah accent. Merlah. Must be French for Merlot.

Though some may prefer to add and shake spices in as they go, I have a love
of tiny dishes filled with things. Measuring your spices out ahead of time helps
to eliminate any forgotten ingredients.

Measure the following spices and such:

1 Tablespoon of tomato powder or paste
If using paste, I highly recommend Amore tomato paste

2 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground Tellicherry black pepper
2 Tablespoons of freshly ground cumin
2 Tablespoons of hot chili powder
1 Tablespoon of Aleppo pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground Turkish bay leaves

1 1/2 cups water

Cover, and set aside. Especially if you have fuzzy pets walking about.

Wash the green, yellow and red bell peppers.
Slice each pepper in half, leaving the stem intact.
The stem is now easily bent back, removing the
excess pithy part of the pepper we are not going to use.

Remove seeds, excess waste and such. Don't forget to
spread the seeds out on a paper towel to dry. Think of
the beautiful peppers you could grow in your garden!

Cut the ends off of each pepper, then flip it over. You can
now easily slide the blade of a knife along the inside to remove
any further pith. This also provides a nice, square section to work
with when dicing. Dice up all of the peppers and set aside, or place
into a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Slice each onion in half, having removed the papery husk.
Slice off the ends of each onion, and peel back the layers
to reveal the fresh onion. Slice each half into slices, then proceed
to dice. It is okay to cry. I do.

If your stew meat was purchased in large chunks, you may wish
to cut it into smaller pieces. I'll never forget, as a child, gnawing
on a large chunk of grisly meat. At the time, I didn't know better,
and we didn't have a dog. My jaws ached. That icky, stringy stuff
was in the middle of it. Horrid, horrid food experience. Don't do this
to your guests. Remove the junk. Buy the good stuff. Or use something
in place of the meat all together, a la vegetarian.

Sorry, Aunt Eva, but your cooking was terrible.

In a large pot, or a Dutch oven if you are lucky enough to own one...
heat the olive oil on medium heat and brown the stew meat on all sides.

Remove the stew meat and set aside. There is no need to clean
the pot, as you will continue to cook in it.

Remove any casings that may be present on the sausage. A typical
number of sausages per package is five. Three is a wee bit much for
the half pound this recipe calls for and two sausages is too few.
Or, you can go wild and just chunk the entire package in, which is likely a pound.
Your call.

Brown the sausage and ground beef together. Resist the urge to salt the meat.

When the hamburger and sausage is cooked, pour it into a strainer or colander
to drain. Remember to save some of the oil. Once the meat is drained, set it aside
with the stew meat.

After the meat has drained, reserve about two tablespoons of the oil, placing
it back into the pot. You might have to add a bit more of the oil, so don't toss it
out just yet.

Add the onions and bell peppers and saute on medium heat for about five minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the wine, cover and simmer until it is reduced. Don't panic. Your vegetables
will acquire the same color as your wine, but this is temporary. You know what to do
with the rest of the wine. After all, it was only a sample bottle...right?

Now that the wine has reduced in the peppers and onions,add back the hamburger and sausage. Add the stew meat, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce.
Add water.
Add the spices.
Stir well.

You thought it was a bit thick, didn't you.
You panicked, wondering what you did wrong. It seemed like paste, didn't it?
Come on, you can admit it.
You forgot the water.
I did.

Bring your chili to a boil, but slowly. Don't crank up the heat and then
jerk the control knob down. Slowly, surely.

Once it has  reached a mild boil, reduce the temperature to a low simmer.
Stir on occasion. Simmer for the next three hours.

This is such a great recipe in that it can be prepped ahead of time, then
combined the next day, and with a three-hour simmer period, gives you
plenty of time to shower, clean house, bake bread, whatever tickles your

If adding beans, pour them into a collander or strainer and
rinse with cool water. Drain, then gently mix them into the chili.

Allow the chili to cook (simmer) an additional 30 minutes.

Eat your chili plain.
Freeze some for another day.
Eat it with corn chips. Tortillas. Crackers. Cornbread. Macaroni noodles. A fork.

Unless you are simply ravished, I doubt you'll want to eat chili at
every meal until this is gone. Share it. Freeze it. Call your neighbors,
call your friends and family. Take a batch to work and share with

They will likely ask you to make it again, so be sure to keep the recipe handy.