January 24, 2010

Mediterranean Diet

No, I'm not starting the Mediterranean diet, but the dinner I served tonight is probably the closest I'll ever come to following it. This meal was also simple to prepare, which is something else I usually shun.

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

First, I made a Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup recipe from Cook's Illustrated. (It looks like that recipe is now behind a pay wall. Email me if you want the recipe.) The formerly secret ingredient in this soup recipe is white bread. You add three slices of white bread, torn into pieces, to the tomatoes and seasonings, then puree all of it. I used my immersion blender, which is so much more wonderful than going through the steps of partitioning batches of boiling hot liquid, pouring them into a blender, blending, pouring that into another bowl, and then repeating the steps with subsequent batches. The white bread gives the soup thickness and a creamy texture, so you don't have to add cream. I drizzled white truffle oil and sprinkled chopped chives on top of each serving. White truffles are among the most expensive foods in the world, so I got a bargain on truffle oil that I didn't have to take out a loan for, right? How disappointed was I to find out that my truffle oil was only synthetically flavored olive oil. It tastes great, but still!

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Alongside the soup, we had green salad, and baked brie with orange flower honey and roasted pecans.

Baked Brie with Honey and Pecans

And for dessert, lemon madeleines, a traditional French sponge cake, baked in small, shell-shaped molds. I distinctly remember Auntie telling me the correct way to pronounce madeleine in French; I'm just not certain of what that correct pronunciation was. I think it is mad-uh-LANE, not mad-uh-LEN. Auntie, help? I tried to find the correct pronunciation online and only found conflicting answers as in this video of Martha Stewart and Gale Gand making chocolate madeleines. Martha says mad-uh-LEN; Gale says mad-uh-LANE. I tend to trust Gale, because Martha is too, too smarmy, and you know, Gale validated my instincts.


I don't understand why madeleines have a reputation for being difficult to make. The method isn't that strange or elaborate, and as long as you butter the pans sufficiently, the cookies slide right out of the shell-shaped molds. I made dozens of these cookies over the weekend and they turned out beautifully. I used the America's Test Kitchen recipe for Citrus Madeleines. There are lots of possible variations: almond madeleines, Gale's chocolate madeleines, David Lebovitz's Lemon Glazed, mini-madeleines, etc. I used a miniature mold pan and a lemon glaze. I served the madeleines with fresh fruit which made for a tasty, light dessert.

Madeleine Pan

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