Cherry Madeleines and French Chicken in a Pot…and Easy Little Brown Bread

Listening to NPR and baking on Sunday mornings is one of my favorite hobbies…add French Press Coffee and a certain fella and you’ve got paradise

Church these days to me looks very similar to a spanish wood table, seats filled with close friends who tolerate my curiosities and nourish my culinary hankerings. The sense of requiring redemption, of acknowledging shortcomings, of honoring my doubts and ofreceiving the grace of breaking bread together.

Who wouldn’t want to worship this lovely, forgiving plushness of Easy Little Bread?

One  of the main reasons I loved this bread, is its rustic charm smacking of farm fresh ingredients. There is an earthy smell to the dough, a mixture of oats, whole wheat and spelt (although she used all purpose flour). Pocked full of holes, but also a bit chewy. My new trick is keeping eggs out for three days at a time, serving lettuce at room temperature and refusing to store butter in the fridge.

Who would deny a small sabbath celebration, supper style? Serving the meal towards the latter, more friendly hemisphere of the afternoon. Letting loose the best white wine in the world (from Wegeler’s Bernkasteler Docktor Vineyard) and offering a gorgeous spread of olives, cheese, fruit, nut and crackers.

I nabbed some very strong white German cheese at the Pfund’s Dairy store last weekend in Germany….wow, this sucker packs a punch! (not one any one really cared for)

Slowly unearthing the lovely lemon chicken in a pot…..

I used the recipe from Around My French Table. The peel from preserved lemons enhances the pungency of rosemary scattered over sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and practically seeps into the whole cloves of garlic (think…spread for the bread!). Placing a ring of bread dough around the lip of the clay pot creates a perfect seal so that not a drop of flavorful juice escapes.  DELISH!

Before dessert, I lead my guests in a blind tasting session of three different scotches.  Dublin spawned this e scotch and whiskey passion, and in the past year or so, I’ve dabbled in rolling the good stuff from the sides of my tongue into the bitter area of the back.  For me, the most pleasing part of the sipping sensation involves the heavy whiff you take in before sampling. I’ve never imbibed a whisky sour or whiskey and coke, as this Special K likes it “neat” or room temp, straight up. Clean and Simple is where it is at for this dirty and complicated soul.

But for tasting, you want to add a little h20 to the mix before sipping.  Why? the water opens up flavors and aromas. Then take a big whiff and swirl it around a bit, noting a few scents. After sniffing, toss back a good amount in your mouth, swirling it around before swallowing. Like all well tailored libations, whiskey creates a distinct after taste…something will linger….but what? We tasted 5 scotches, and I favored my baby right now, 12 year old Grouse Reserve. Layered, and sweet and sherry fruity but also potent and strong.

Finally, to table end the french chicken, I served up French Cherry Madelienes. Irrestistble in their airy, dense-ness, with subtle texture bordering on angel food cupcake. These little ladies caused quite a stir, and ended the sabbath with sweet redemption.

Cherry Madeleine Tea Cakes

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (6 ounce) bottle red cherries, drained,
   blotted dry and finely chopped (about 1/3 cup),

1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for brushing molds

Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together flour and baking powder into a large bowl.

Add sugar then whisk in eggs, milk, vanilla, almond extract, and remaining 1 3/4 sticks melted butter. Fold into flour mixture until just combined. Fold in cherries gently

Brush molds with melted butter. Spoon or pipe a rounded tablespoon of batter into each mold, filling it about two-thirds full.

With two pans per rack, bake switching position of pans top to bottom halfway through baking. It will be about 10 to 12 minutes total or until the edges are golden brown and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean

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