Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Louse-y Day

My cliche-loving husband repeats himself a lot.  Let me repeat that.  He repeats himself a lot. Especially when it comes to cliches.  I've heard countless times his pronouncement that "no good deed goes unpunished."  Really, Henry?

I myself am not that jaded.  I am much more trusting, believing that it all works out in the end.  Every once in awhile though, this comes back to kick me in the you-know-what.  Like it did recently.

A friend (we'll call him Mike) who was moving, needed a place to stay for a couple of days until his new apartment was ready.  I offered up our terrace level (which is a nice way of saying "basement").  Since he was bringing his two childen (ages 19 months and 9 years) I figured there was plenty of room down there for all of them.  It has a lovely large bedroom, a nice bathroom, a television room, a pool table and lots of room for running around.  Besides, it meant I got to spend time with the kids, both of whom I like a lot (uh-oh, here comes that grandparent thing again).

They showed up on a Sunday afternoon, the day before what was going to be a crazy Monday for me.  I had a doctor's appointment in the morning, Atlanta Magazine was showing up in the afternoon (more about that later) and  friends were coming for dinner that night, meaning a lot of cooking had to happen.  No problem.  Superwoman Liz can do anything!

Until I got a call from Mike around 1pm to tell me his 9-year-old son had to leave school early BECAUSE THEY DISCOVERED HE HAD HEAD LICE!!!!! 

Now if you have kids, you've probably experienced this lovely event at some point in time.  I'll refrain from the graphic details but suffice it to say you have to pretty much tear your house apart and vacuum or launder everything the kid came in contact with.  Remember my telling you in the last post how I have tons and tons of decorative pillows piled on all the beds in this place?  That did not serve me well in this instance.

So I canceled dinner with our friends (Emily, Tristin and Charlene, I owe you one) and set upon the cleaning task at hand.  At the end of it, I decided I should reward myself with either a cocktail or chocolate.  Oh screw that.  I had both!

CHOCOLATE MADELEINES   (From Gale Gand's Chocolate and Vanilla)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons, softened for buttering the madeleine molds
3 eggs (I used extra-large)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup good cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed (I used Valhrona)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

(Note:  you will need a madeleine pan for this recipe.  If you don't have said pan, just suck it up and go out and buy one.  This is worth it).

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.  Brush the madeleine pan well with the 4 tablespoons of softened butter and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Cook until the butter turns golden brown, being careful not to let it burn.  Remove from heat, strain into a small bowl and set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs with both sugars until mixture is light and thickened, about 10 minutes, scraping down bowl occasionally.  Add the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and stir on low speed until just combined.  Add the vanilla and browned butter and mix until just blended.

Insert a large (1/2-inch) plain tip into a pastry bag and fill it with batter (alternatively, you can spoon it into a Zip-Loc bag and cut a small piece off one of the corners).  Pipe mounds of batter into the prepared pans to fill the molds, mounding the batter in the center of the molds but not filling to the edge. 

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the madeleines are firm and a little mound is puffed up in the middle.  Remove from oven and cool slightly, then remove madeleines to a baking rack to cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Yield:  2 dozen  (if you only have 1 madeleine pan, bake off one batch, then re-butter pan and bake second batch).

Alright, so now I have a few comments.....

Have you ever baked a dessert, sprinkled it with powdered sugar, only to find that in an hour or so, the sugar has totally dissolved and become invisible?  (Think lemon bars).  Here's the solution:  non-melting sugar.  You sprinkle it on and it lasts and lasts and lasts.  I buy mine from King Arthur.  Here's the link:

I don't know who created this stuff, but I am eternally grateful.  Once you use it, you will never look back!

Another note - as far as I am concerned, madeleines are like little miniature pound cakes.  That means they are good for dessert, an afternoon snack with a cup of tea (or a cocktail!) or a sneak-in-the-pantry late night splurge.  Your choice.

Oh, and take the time to brown the butter for this recipe.  It makes a big difference and gives it a much greater depth and layer of flavor.

And finally, here's a question.  Do you live in Atlanta?  Do you have pets?  If so, you need to know about Dr. Leslie Neely.  She is an amazing veterinarian who practices both eastern and western medicine and SHE COMES TO YOUR HOUSE.  For me, with five dogs, that is a godsend.  It's much more than the convenience, though.  She really gets it, she cares beyond belief and she inspires absolute trust that your pets are getting the best care possible.  Haha, even Elton John entrusts his pets to her!  Anyway, Atlanta Magazine decided to feature her in an article, so they followed her around for a day as she visited clients.  We were happy to be asked to participate.  In spite of the lice!


  1. Hey Liz!!!
    It's Jennifer (Charlene's client....the one who is making a baking blog). Just want to tell you again how excited I am about your blog and cannot WAIT to try so many of your recipes!
    The lime cornmeal cookies might be my fave from Star Provisions. I'm SO excited to make them!!!
    I posted a good sherbet recipe on my blog that you might like: peach and buttermilk sherbet. Think I got it from or
    Have you ever read Martha Stewart's daughter's blog? She's certainly her mother's daughter. She bakes and cooks ALL the time. It's fun to see what she posts. (Her column is on the left.)
    Have you ever been to Ecco? Gosh....I had the best desserts when I was there. One was chocolate toast. I think it was buttered sourdough with a bunch of melted chocolate and maybe some sea salt on top. I also had this wonderful chocolate chip, olive oil ice cream. Ugh....dying to go back.
    We should go out sometime to just EAT!! Let me know if you'd ever like a partner to go out and have a good meal or snack. :)

  2. Jennifer - let's talk. Can you email me? Thanks!

  3. those look and i bet taste wonderful, thanks for the recipe, anyway, i can still remember when my daughter got head lice, everybody was searched, all clothes and mattresses were washed and heated, and we made sure that she didnt have
    head lice