Ginger: The root of a tropical plant, it is generally available in Grey and White; the Grey has a more powerful smell. The freshest ginger is available in the early months of each year. Ground ginger is more pungent than fresh, and should thus not be used as a substitute.
Gingerbread: Ginger was probably first introduced to European baking by the Crusaders, and used as a flavor and a preservative in cakes, pies and breads. It was traditional to bake gingerbread in shapes of people or elegant objects, and decorated. Gingerbread recipes vary widely, and can be a soft or steamy cake, or a thin hard cookie, depending on the ingredients of tradition. The cakes were usually served in squared.
Cookie Cutters: The sizes given for the cookie cutters are approximate. If they get slightly off kilter, it's relatively easy to gently bend them back into the desired shape and size. All cutters have a turned upper edge, making it more comfortable to press your hand against the cutter. If you cover your sheet of dough with cutters of the same height, you can even use a rolling pin to help you press down on the cutters all at once.
Caring for your cutters: In most cases, you won't even need to wash your cutters; just brush off the flour. If you feel the need to wash them, do so by hand with hot, soapy water, rinse, and dry them thoroughly (very important). Store your cutters in a dry place. Lightly coat them with vegetable (or mineral) oil when storing them for long periods of time.
Madeleine: A light, delicate cookie, the madeleine is eaten all by itself, or with coffee or tea. Don't hesitate to dip. The traditional bakers' molds are made of steel, protected by a heavy coating of tin (or a nonstick finish), and rimmed for strength and durability. The use of non-stick finishes and silicone base materials helps to make unmolding and clean-up easier.