Any trip to NYC is incomplete without a visit to Maman, the beloved French bakery with over 10 locations across the city. We could list a few reasons for this, but the most obvious is shown above — their nutty chocolate chip cookies (one of Oprah’s favorite things in 2017).
We chatted with Maman co-owner, Elisa Marshall to celebrate their new cookbook Maman: The Cookbook, All Day Recipes to Warm Your Heart. How could any of us resist buying this cozy cookbook?
The Chalkboard Mag: Elisa, what a great time for a new cookbook. Maman is so beloved, how are your cafes faring during this wild time?
Elisa Marshall: We are very fortunate that we are doing okay — thank you for asking! 75% of our business model is focused on to-go orders so, during closure, it was an easier shift for us unlike so many formal sit-down restaurants who had to completely reinvent themselves and their business model to stay afloat.
TCM: Tell us about the cookbook in 3 words:
EM: Delicious. Homemade. Beautiful
TCM: Favorite recipe(s) in the book?
EM: Maman’s Cookie Tiramisu — it was a recipe I made while pregnant to use up excess day old cookies we had and without raw eggs. It is super simple to make, uses leftover ingredients, offers that delicious creamy texture, and is better the next day (if you don’t finish it all in one go which rarely happens!)
TCM: Which recipe did you include by customer demand?
EM: Our Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookie (named one of Oprah’s favorite things) and what we are best known for. It’s been in demand for years, and it was a big internal debate as to whether we release the recipe or nix, but in the end, the customers won!
TCM: What are your three personal favorite cookbooks?
EM: I am a huge fan of The Yellow Table by Anna Watson Carl. I am always cooking from that book and there is not one recipe in there I am not obsessed with!
The Forest Feast — there are a few and I love all of them! I think I own two copies of each book and I am just in awe by the beauty of her books. This is the book that inspired me to do one myself!
My mom’s! Long before the computer, growing up, we made cookbook binders together, composed of clippings from magazines and packaging, handwritten recipes copied down from recorded VHS episodes of The Martha Stewart Show, and of course recipes scribbled down from family members on scrap pieces of paper! Many of these made it to the book’s photography too!
TCM: What is your favorite tip for cooking at home lately?
EM: Get creative! Most of our dinners tend to be ‘clean the fridge nights’ where we pull out whatever ingredients we have and get cooking. During the pandemic and lockdown we were doing most of our recipe testing, so Ben and I always had an abundance of ingredients. We made our evenings and dinner prep more fun having ‘Chopped’ challenges, where we would select a surprise ingredient for each other and we would have to make a dish using that ingredient, judged on creativity, use of ingredients and taste. Ben always won.
TCM: Baking is such a specific kind of cooking. What’s your best tip for amateur bakers?
EM: Get to know your oven! Check your oven temperature and buy a thermometer. We travel and bake a lot, and this has been the reason for many failed baking attempts. Hopping around from airbnb’s , old family home ovens and commercial ovens, I find they all vary and it’s important that you have an accurate temperature for what you are baking.
TCM: Any unexpected kitchen tools you might recommend for home/this cookbook?
EM: A pen! I am a firm believer in editing and making recipes you own.
That was always a big struggle for me while cooking, as I often make recipes from Pinterest or online blogs and there is never anywhere to mark down your modifications. We all have a variety of tastes and preferences so I wanted this to be a useable and functional cookbook where you could really make it your own. We have left the pages matte to make them easy to write in and added a ‘note’ section to each page. If you find the cake too sweet, add a touch less sugar next time, if the dressing didn’t have enough spice for your liking, up the curry. This is also a great place to write down substitutions as well and how you can really make each recipe your own for your family, like your maman used to do!
TCM: If you had to cook a full meal from the book what would it be?
EM: This is such a hard question! So, in my mind this would be a beautiful brunch celebration with a spread of delicious courses. I would start with the quinoa fruit salad (page 47), as I love the unique twist and crunch this adds, and serve it in beautiful blue and white mix-matched vintage tea cups and saucers. Following that I would bring to the table a large croissant pain perdu (page 34) and the cherry rosemary crumble (page 41) to serve in the baking dish, family style. As for dessert, it would be a beautiful three-tiered tower of caneles, (page 209) Chouquettes (page 210), and my Grandma Gracie’s shortbread cookies (page 154) .We would enjoy this all while sipping peach thyme bellinis (page 247)!