Raw Buckwheat Crackers

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Raw Buckwheat Crackers

Raw Buckwheat Crackers

With the nicer weather taking us out of the house more — springtime in Paris is no time to stay indoors! — I become a more frequent practitioner of picnic meals.

These are meals for which we just plop a bunch of items on the table for each of us to compose our own plate: imagine crunchy crudité sticks, a simple green salad, buttery avocados, perhaps a jar of chicken rillettes or a can of sardines, some roasted nuts, a quick dip or spread, and any leftover bits and pieces from previous meals.

I love the loose structure, the joy and spontaneity of it, and I never tire of this format.

With this we may have some fresh baguette from the corner bakery, but lately I’ve been making these absolutely irresistible raw buckwheat crackers, leveraging the power of my high-power blender (more on that below!).

The process is very simple: you soak some buckwheat groats and almonds over night, then blitz them in the blender with a few spices. I use cumin and cacao but the formula is very flexible.

You get a fairly smooth paste that you spread on two baking sheets, and dehydrate in the oven or a dehydrator until you get crisp, rough-around-the-edges, high-flavor, raw buckwheat crackers that are up for anything.

I’ve enjoyed them dipped into my simple tahini sauce, to scoop up some hummus, or spread with cashew “cheese”. And when bell peppers come round again I’m sure they’ll be magical with romesco sauce.

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May 2016 Desktop Calendar

May 2016 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, with a food-related picture and a calendar of the current month.

The desktop calendar is available in two versions: a US-friendly version that features Sunday as the first day of the week, and a French version (shown above) that complies with international standards, featuring Monday as the first day of the week.

Our May 2016 desktop calendar is a photo of my beloved paleo granola, which I scoop into my bowl every morning using my just-as-beloved granola scoop from my woodworker friend at Earlywood. (If you ask him, he’ll say it’s a coffee scoop, but really, it’s perfect for granola.) What’s your breakfast of choice these days, and does it involve a gorgeous utensil?

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

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Best of April

Happiness is a bunch of tulips

The French have a saying that goes, “En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil,” which means that April is generally too early and too chilly to remove layers of clothing. It has certainly been true this year, though we have had beautifully sunny weather in Paris. I have been to the greenmarket a couple of times with my sons, and we picked out these beautiful, fresh tulips — one of my simplest recipes for happiness.

The sister saying to the above is, “En mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît !” (In May, do as you please) and I intend to do just that.

Good Eats From This Month

Best of April 2016

• The gorgeous weather has made it possible to have a few balcony lunches (bundled up) in the sun. What bliss! Pictured here is the veggie hotbox from Nous. Is it al fresco dining weather yet where you live?

• The famous ramen house Ippudo has recently opened its first French outpost, and their Akamaru special was the best bowl of ramen I’ve had this side of Tokyo. (See highlights from my trip to Japan.)

• They say you should eat the colors of the rainbow and I can’t think of a more delicious way to do so than this toss-it-yourself quinoa salad from vegan haven Le Potager de Charlotte. What’s your favorite way to eat the rainbow?

• How lucky am I that the first Éclair de Génie café has opened right in my neighborhood, on rue Lepic? It offers delicious éclairs galore, of course, but also these irresistibly flaky rolls of brioche feuilletée. Pictured here is the plain version, but they also come in apple, raspberry, or chocolate. Which one would you get first?

Check my map of Paris favorites and follow me on Instagram to see many more food shots throughout the month.

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5 Cool Links

  1. Would you recognize these staple foods if you came across them in their natural habitat? Yeah, me neither.
  2. Ever wondered what French students eat? (Interviews in colloquial French, if you feel like practising!)
  3. If you have trouble drinking as much water as you should, this one’s for you!
  4. I was so very excited to be a guest on the Food Blogger Pro podcast, which I listen to and love. The episode is up now if you want to listen to me discuss my blogging ups and downs, maintaining a bilingual blog, and embracing change.
  5. I walk past the Sacré-Coeur every day and love seeing these old photos of when it was built.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for many more links throughout the month.

Luxury Afternoon Tea in Paris + Exclusive Guidebook (A Giveaway)

Vegan Tea-Time at the Shangri-La

The Shangri-La is a chic hotel in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, a short walk from the Palais de Tokyo and the lovely Président Wilson greenmarket.

For some reason, it’s not the most talked-about of luxury hotels in Paris, yet I’ve been invited a couple of times to eat at their gastronomic restaurant, L’Abeille, and also at their more casual restaurant, La Bauhinia, and I’ve been sincerely impressed with the quality of the cuisine and the outstanding service.

The hotel team is also quite inventive with the events and special offers they create, and they recently issued an exclusive guidebook, highlighting 10 Parisian Walks for you to explore the city’s most charming neighborhoods and discover hidden gems. It’s a slim little book that you can slip right into your pocket as you go on your self-guided tour of Romantic Paris, Historic Paris, Kid-Friendly Paris, and seven more themed itineraries.

Chic Tea and Promenade

This guidebook is normally reserved for customers of the hotel, but! I was so enthusiastic about it I wanted to make it available to you, and asked if we could put together a giveaway. They said yes, and this is how I’m able to offer this generous prize to you.

If you win, you will be invited with the person of your choice to enjoy the Shangri-La’s Vegan Afternoon Tea under the bright glass ceiling of La Bauhinia. You’ll indulge in the amazing pâtisseries and mini-sandwiches created by talented pastry chef Michael Bartocetti, and leave with your very own copy of the Paris Promenade guidebook — in English or in French, as you prefer. (This is a 120€ value.)

Vegan Pastries at the Shangri-La

Vegan Pastries at the Shangri-La

To enter, please fill in the form below before Wednesday, May 4, midnight Paris time. I will draw a name randomly (if you’re curious this is the service I use), and announce the winner here the next day. Please note that you will have a year to benefit from this offer (or have a friend use it on your behalf). Good luck to you!

(If you don’t see a form, click here to enter.)

Submitting this form will also sign you up for the C&Z newsletter to receive my recipes, cool tips, and Paris inspiration FREE in your inbox. You are free to unsubscribe at any time.

Vegan Scone at the Shangri-La

Vegan Scone at the Shangri-La

Photo credit: Roméo Balancourt (guidebook photo) and Bernhard Winkelmann (tea time photos).

Easy Lacto-Fermented Pickles: Beets and Turnips

Easy Fermented Beets and Turnips

Are lacto-fermented pickles a part of your diet? They’re not? They should be*! And today is the day I convert you with this super easy, super approachable recipe.

There is a tiny Lebanese take-out in our neighborhood where Maxence and I like to get sandwiches on lazy weekend days. (For those of you who own a copy of The French Market Cookbook — you rock, btw! — it is the very place that’s featured in the pistachio, cardamom, and coffee dessert jars.)

I usually opt for the falafel sandwich (see my baked falafel recipe) or the chicken shawarma sandwich, and part of what makes both stellar is the liberal inclusion of crunchy turnip pickles, softly pink and delectably sour.

Some pickles are made by steeping the vegetables in vinegar, such as for this quick carrot and ginger pickle, but these particular pickles are lacto-fermented, and I started making them myself a few years ago.

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