Sarah Tenaglia has an exquisite palate whether she is cooking or baking. Now she has set her expertise to beverages, both alcoholic and non in a lovely little book that is packed with full-color pictures, classic drinks and plenty of new ideas. Check out her Fifty-Fifty Punch (it’s like a Creamsicle in liquid form) and the special Citrus-Glazed Madeleines that she made just for us at Bakepedia. We discussed how her book Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinkscame about.
Dédé Wilson: Sarah, thank you for chatting with me. Let’s talk about big batch drinks! How did the book come about?
Sarah Tenaglia: Jeanne (Ed Note: Jeanne Kelley is her co-author) and I were approach by Laurie Buckle (a fellow former Bon Appetit alum) who was working for on packaging books and she had the idea for the theme…Jeanne and I both love making cocktails, so we said sure! We did the book and it was 5 of us: Jeanne, me, Laurie and a stylist and photographer…we grouped them by season and the book covers it all – hot, cold, non-alcoholic, drinks for big groups but smaller get-togethers too. There is something for everyone. We didn’t want to exclude a get-together of 4 or a large party…there are fresh tasting agua frescas, sangrias, muddled drinks but we wanted to do things differently, so there are little twists throughout. There are classics but some very new flavor combos, too. And some are in punch bowls while others are in pitchers or smaller, individual portions. But they are all perfect for entertaining. They are all special.
Were there any surprises for you?
Yes! As we went along we realized how easy it was to make a tweak here and there…it isn’t like when you are baking and have to commit to a recipe and you don’t know until you are done. With these we could taste as we went along. Tinkering was easy, quick and fun…
Wow those testing days must have been, um, spirited!
I would take just little tastes starting at 9am when we began working or I would have been loopy within an hour!
Are there any that you absolutely love?
My favorite is the Kumquat Tangerine Smash…I am a huge kumquat fan and this also has the kick from jalapeno and the herbal flavors from cilantro. It’s a complex drink but the balance just works, the acidity, the sugar, the herbal, the spice…I also love the spa water with vodka. It has mint and is light and refreshing. I put little yellow Post-Its on the pages of the drinks I love and make again and again and there are Post-Its on almost every page! The most fun we had was with the ice molds!
Oh, I am so glad you brought those up. I love them! I love how the fruits and flowers are just bursting forth…
I did a lot of research on ice molds…most people spend a lot of time talking about how to make sure the ice remains clear but none of the techniques yielded consistent results for me. And then when I thought about it, we all have different water and our freezers are different temperatures and there were too many variables to worry about. I decided to just take a different approach…and also many people have fussy approaches to make thin layers of ice with fruit or flowers, or whatever it is you are freezing, and building up layers slowly bit by bit so that the item remains submerged and really, we liked the look of the fruits bursting through! And it is so much easier! Don’t worry about it. There is no need to make those painstaking layers and spending hours freezing each one before you proceed to the next. And you can use anything as a mold – you can pick the canister.
I am so glad you did this; your approach is so textural and visual…
Yes and with the pieces above the surface of the water it gives the molds more dimension.
Let’s talk glassware…how did you go about picking and choosing drinking vessels?
I’m not a stickler…if the drink looks pretty in it, use it! The only time you have to really think about dimensions with these drinks is if one is particularly viscous. Like with the Pina Colada you do want a wider mouthed glass, but most of the recipes will work in most anything…beverages that are topped with champagne are always nice in a flute, but it isn’t necessary. This gives you the freedom to use what you have…I had a lot to choose from, Jeanne did too and so did our and prop stylist; we were loosey goosey about it. You will find glassware to use in your own cabinet.
Talk to me about the Madeleine with the double hit of citrus…
You can just do the powdered sugar lemon juice glaze, but the syrup comes from the lemon cakes of long ago when you would brush a syrup on top to add flavor and moisture. These madeleines have an orange syrup and then a lemon glaze. They are buttery and tender and are truly the moistest madeleines – but you can do them with just one of the citrus additions.
Can you elaborate on how much to fill the pan’s indentations? How do you tell if there is enough batter? I ask this because it seems as though so there is so little standardization with madeleine pans.
Great question. This batter mounds, as it is thick, so I would start with a rounded tablespoon and you should see the tip and the bottom of the scallop…those parts of the pan will not have any batter at first. As they bake they fill out the entire scallop in a nice, rounded way.
What about pan prep? I have often had issues with madeleines sticking.
I like using the melted butter and the flour to coat thoroughly. I never have any issues this way. I suppose it is easier to use spray, but I can detect a flavor with the spray…
Oh, I can too!
And madeleines have a delicate flavor. You can’t go wrong with the melted butter approach.
Do you like silicone madeleine pans?
You know I have an old set of tin madeleine pans that I bought in France and I love them. I have the silicone and I have never used them!
I don’t always like silicone pans because they retard browning and caramelization, but popping the madeleines out is so easy.
I think if you use the melted butter you will have success…I have never had one that stuck to the point where I couldn’t get it out pretty much intact. Occasionally there will be one or two that you have to help. I just use the tip of a knife and kind of pop them out of the pan. It’s not like a layer cake where you can lose big hunks and go through all sorts of shenanigans to put it back together. These are such a little cookie (or cake)…maybe out of every 30 madeleines there is one that is a bit stubborn.
What’s your take on the madeleine hump? So many classic French chefs say it is a “must”.
I think that’s so funny. I mean, what a funny thing to worry about! 90% of the time I get a hump…and sometimes I don’t…the cookie tastes delicious with or without the hump! I haven’t noticed one being superior to the other. One time I had an entire tray go flat on me. I hadn’t let the batter sit…or maybe I used too much butter, but they were still delicious.
Let’s talk a little bit about the drink we are featuring of yours, the Fifty-Fifty.
The Peppermint Stick and the Fifty-Fifty are both great for kids, but believe me, we adults really loved them during testing, too! And when the weather gets cool again, you must try the Aztec Chocolate Punch…hot chocolate with a little ancho and allspice…
We are just climbing out of the winter here! I think I can wait (laughs). I’m looking forward to the summery ones and the pretty ice molds.