Noemi’s Madalenas

This was one of those wonderfully relaxing sunny “Spanish mornings” when we just sat and talked, drinking our coffee, munching on Noemi’s Madalenas, and sunning our pale legs outside on her patio. It was the first time I’d been to Noemi’s house which surprised me in its modern decor and the beautifully organized bookshelves with great literary quotes on each shelf edge. I was also surprised by the “ham holder” which, according to Noemi, “every Spanish family has.”  This morning Noemi shared her grandmother’s recipe.  To me, sharing a family recipe is like sharing a treasure.  This was no exception.


Madelenas and Piggie Toes
20070427_5906This morning was a Spanish morning and one I especially looked forward to knowing I’d learn a new recipe.  I arrived just a few minutes early*, walked into her kitchen, and was surprised and intrigued to see a swine leg propped up ever so elegantly in front of her window. I think my shock surprised her as much as the piggie toes surprised me. “Everyone in Spain has a ham holder,” she tells me. These lovely porky gams are hung for months to cure and then can be kept in one’s kitchen for up to a year. She said the flavor is destroyed if it’s pre-sliced, so if you want some ham, you just slide out the little drawer from the bottom of the “ham holder,” pull out one of three knives stored there, and slice away bits of ham from under the layer of salty fat that protects it. Our friends, Maria and Joana, arrived and they all had a chuckle at the funny American who’d never seen a ham propped up in some one’s kitchen this way. I took photos when she’d moved it and they told me about the markets in Spain where the ceiling is covered with hundreds of hanging portions of curing meat. When I go to Spain, I’ll definitely have to go there for photos – and a little taste too, of course!
The Madalenas are delicious and very light – a wonderful summer treat. The key is whisking the eggs until they almost double in size.Here’s her grandmother’s recipe which is now her own as well.

Noemi’s Madalenas

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 degrees F.
  • Mix the zest of 1 1/2 lemons with 4 eggs and whisk in a blender until the color is a lighter in hue and it has almost doubled in quantity.
  • Add 1 cup oil (she used one of her tall drinking glasses filled about half way – it looked like about one of our 1 cup measuring cups) and blend well (she used her electric whisk)
  • Add 250 grams (9 ounces) sugar, 200 grams (7 ounces) all-purpose flour, and 20 grams (1 ounce) magic powder or baking powder and mix well.
  • Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with the batter.
  • Sprinkle with a pinch of granulated sugar and bake for 15 minutes. They should be yellow in color on top and not brown.


*I was early.  Thanks to my bluntly honest Spanish friend, I have now learned that according to Spanish culture, it is rude to be early.  This might explain why Spanish are almost always late.  She explained, “The hostess is almost always running late.  If you are early or even on time, then you are disrupting her while she’s making last minute preparations.  It’s better to be a few minutes late to give her time to have everything ready.”


About Tiffany

I'm eclectic. Sometimes that's a good thing because I can do bits of everything. Sometimes it's aggravating because I get distracted by so many amazing things. Mostly, I love photography and family, travel and writing, cooking, reading, art, and coffee. Sundays are church days to regroup and refocus. God's in charge here.

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