Tag Archives: butter

Julia Child’s Madeleine Biscuits

Who didn’t love the movie Julie & Julia? Wasn’t Meryl Streep just brilliant – and if anyone didn’t know who Julia Child was before the movie, they certainly did afterwards.

Madeleines are a cross between a spongecake and a biscuit and are huge in France – France’s answer to Milk Arrowroots I suppose. One day a friend calls me and says, like a woman possessed, “I HAVE to make madeleines”. I completely understood where she was coming from – every now and again I get in my head that there is something I just MUST make, come hell or high water, and regardless of what other tasks await. I become single minded about conquering a recipe (do not attempt to approach me or disturb me when I am in this state of mind). So off she went to buy madeleine pans, and set about making a batch. After telling me about their buttery deliciousness, and apologising that they had been eaten so quickly there were none left for me to try, she handed over her baking pans so I could make my own. It is fairly straightforward and the good thing is it uses pantry staples, you’ll just need to buy a lemon if you don’t happen to have a tree handy, or a father-in-law like mine who brings over a kilo or two at a time. I think rosewater or orange water flavour would also be nice. You’ll need two pans of 12. Makes 24.


2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
115g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
3 drops of lemon juice
Icing sugar, for dusting

For buttering pans
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, combined with 1 tablespoon flour

Making them
1. Combine flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and add three quarters of the eggs. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon to blend into a heavy cream – if very stiff, add a little bit of the remaining egg, one droplet at a time. Set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, the butter to a boil until it begins to brown very lightly (it should have a slightly nutty aroma). Pour into a bowl and stir over cold water until cool but still liquid.
3. Beat the remaining bit of egg into the batter and stir in the cool butter. Stir in the salt, vanilla, grated lemon zest, lemon juice.
4. Cover the batter, and set aside in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
5. Meanwhile, paint the Madeleine cups with a light coating of combined flour and melted butter. Put trays in the refrigerator.
6. Preheat the oven to 170° fan forced. Using a spoon and rubber spatula, drop a rounded tablespoonful of batter into each Madeleine cup. Resist the urge to spread the batter to fill the mold, it spreads as it cooks. Set pans on the middle rack and bake for about 12-15 minutes, you’ll see the edges turn a light golden brown. Turn onto a wire rack to cool, then dust with icing sugar

Madeleine baking pans

Madeleine baking pans

Roman Semolina Gnocchi

I’m not sure if these originated in Rome, but what distinguishes them from traditional gnocchi is that they do not contain potato, but semolina.  I usually serve this as a side dish – it is easy and really delicious.  It is vital that you get the seasoning right, otherwise it is bland.  You’ll see recipes with varying quantities of butter, cheese, or milk, but the core ingredients are always the same. I’ve also seen these served with a mushroom fricassee on top, or with a plain Napolitano tomato sauce.

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300g fine semolina
1 litre milk
100g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
3 egg yolks
100g grated Parmesan

Making it
1. In a pot on medium heat, place the milk, nutmeg, some ground pepper and pinch of salt. Bring it to the boil, reduce heat, then add the semolina in a stream, whisking constantly or it will get lumpy. It will thicken pretty much immediately. Continue to whisk for a few minutes them remove from heat.
2. After a couple of minutes, add about half the cheese and the butter and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon. At this point taste for seasoning, and add more salt if required. Add the egg yolks and stir thoroughly.
3. Line a baking tray with baking paper and smooth out the semolina in an even layer. Allow to cool.
4. Using a round cutter (4-5cm) cut into discs. Grease a baking dish with butter, layer the discs and top with remaining parmesan. If you are preparing this ahead, you can cover the dish with cling wrap and put it in the fridge at this point until ready to cook. Otherwise put it in a 200 degree oven for about 20 minutes till a little golden and serve.