Ingredients & Fine Foods

Seasonal Produce Calendar

Seasonal Produce Calendar

Shopping seasonally is the very first step to cook flavorful, healthy meals for your family and your friends, and save money doing so. But since pretty much everything is available year-round these days (hello carbon footprint!), it can be hard to know what’s really in season and what you should be looking for when you shop.

I’ve put together this handy guide to seasonal produce to tell you what fruits and vegetables are in season when, but also how long they will stay fresh, so you can minimize waste. With this information in mind you can compose a smart selection of produce on your weekly market run, with a few fragile items to eat within a couple of days, with sturdier ones that will last until the end of the week or longer.

To download your FREE seasonal produce calendar, fill in the form below!














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Paris Chocolate Shops: Do’s and Don’ts of Buying French Chocolate

Henri Le Roux: Filled chocolates

You can’t spend time in Paris and overlook the chocolate side of the experience; I won’t let you!

The French have elevated the chocolate craft to an art form, and although there are spectacularly talented artisans all around the country, it is in Paris that you’ll find the highest concentration. This means it is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to some of the most delicate, most intensely flavorful chocolates in the world… and buy a few gifts for others, too, if you’re feeling generous.

I must warn you there are lots of sub-average chocolate shops as well, so you have to know what to look for. And the good places are typically set up to look like luxurious jewelry boutiques, so the shopping experience can be a little intimidating. But I’m here to help! Here is my guide to artisanal chocolate in Paris.

You’ll find my Top 5 Paris chocolate shops at the bottom of this post, along with a few helpful phrases. The photos illustrating this post were taken by my intern extraordinaire Anne Elder; our thanks to the Henri Le Roux team for letting us shoot at their rue des Martyrs shop.

Chocolate bars from Henri Le Roux

Chocolate bars from Henri Le Roux

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Sweet Potatoes: 40 Irresistible Ways to Use Them

Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potato is an incredibly versatile tuber, but I tend to prepare them in the same two or three quick and easy ways most of the time, so I decided to seek new ideas. I wasn’t disappointed: there seems to be no end to the inspired recipes one can dream up to use sweet potatoes and enjoy their irresistibly sweet taste and superfood status (more details here), and I collected my forty favorites to share with you below, organized by cooking method.

My sweet potato of choice is the orange one, which is vibrantly flavorful and loaded with nutrients (especially beta-carotene and vitamin A). It’s not easy to find Europe-grown ones at this point, but you can find imported ones in an increasing number of supermarkets, organic or not. Sweet potatoes grown in the United States tend to keep longer (at cool room temperature, never in the fridge!) and their flesh is moister.

You’ll find all the recipes I linked to below gathered on this Pinterest board for easy browsing.

Winning pairings

~ Sweet potato + Bacon
~ Sweet potato + Leafy greens, especially kale and spinach, and salad greens, especially arugula and mâche
~ Sweet potato + Beans, especially black beans
~ Sweet potato + Chickpeas
~ Sweet potato + Lentils
~ Sweet potato + Maple syrup
~ Sweet potato + Chicken
~ Sweet potato + Pork
~ Sweet potato + Miso
~ Sweet potato + Butter
~ Sweet potato + Tahini
~ Sweet potato + Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds
~ Sweet potato + Potato
~ Sweet potato + Sage
~ Sweet potato + Olives
~ Sweet potato + Anchovies
~ Sweet potato + Herbs, especially cilantro and chives
~ Sweet potato + Citrus, especially lemon and lime
~ Sweet potato + Avocado
~ Sweet potato + Carrot
~ Sweet potato + Quinoa
~ Sweet potato + Feta cheese
~ Sweet potato + Broccoli and cauliflower

Steaming and boiling

Steaming is the best way to retain all the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes. Cut into 2- to 3-cm (1-inch) cubes, they will need about 10 minutes of steaming. Sweet potatoes also do well boiled and puréed in the cooking liquid for a soup.

~ Make patties with the steamed and mashed sweet potatoes and an egg as the binder, possibly mixing them half and half with regular potatoes, and cook in the skillet or the oven. Add feta cheese to the mix.

~ Pair with lentils for this Thai-inspired sweet potato soup.

~ Pair with chickpeas to make sweet potato falafel.

~ Use it in an easy vegetable curry.

~ Turn it into a sweet potato hummus.

~ Use it to make a gluten-free pizza crust.

~ Make sweet potato and kale balls.

~ Add to your burritos, quesadillas and tacos.

~ Roll into sweet potato tots.

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A Better Way to Slice Zucchini

How to Slice Zucchini

Have you ever noticed how cutting the same vegetable in different ways has a significant effect on the flavor and overall eating experience?

I’ve written about grated carrots in this regard, and have recently adopted a new way of slicing zucchini that I wanted to share with you.

It all started with a plate of fish I had at Le Bal Café, one of my favorite lunch spots in Paris. This delicious dish came with thickish slices of zucchini, cut at a steep angle and roasted. I was instantly taken with this shape, which I thought was quite attractive, and very successful in terms of texture.

I played around with the idea in my own kitchen, and ended up with a slightly different technique, in which you work your way down the zucchini from side to side, as shown on this animated image:

How to Slice Zucchini

The slices are just as steeply angled, but have one skinless edge to them. Not only does it look lovely in the plate, but it makes for a great textural balance in every bite, from the firm, skin-side rim to the soft flesh in the middle.

It works particularly well if you’re going to roast the zucchini — my cooking method of choice these days, with a healthy glug of olive oil and a good coating of garam masala –, and it is quite fun to do, too, especially if your knife is well-sharpened.

So if you’re stuck in a rut with your same old zucchini half-moons, I hope you give it a try!

Join the conversation!

Do you share my interest in knife technique, and how different cutting styles produce different results? Do you have a favorite vegetable-slicing trick to share?

How to Slice Zucchini

Coconut Butter Recipes: 20+ Divine Ways To Use Coconut Butter

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood.

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood.

If you’re a coconut butter virgin, you are in for a life-changing discovery… and I apologize in advance if you develop an addiction to the stuff, as many of us have.

Coconut butter — not to be mistaken with coconut oil — is made from the dried meat of the coconut, which is finely ground until it releases its oil. This turns it into a lusciously creamy substance, with a slightly grainy texture that is most pleasant, and a subtly sweet, irresistible coconut flavor. Just like coconut oil, it is set at moderate room temperature, entirely solid when left in the fridge, and soft when heated*, or during a heatwave.

I first discovered coconut butter from Dastony, thanks to my friend Rebecca who introduced me to their amazing product line. Theirs is organic, raw, and stone-ground, but I am unable to get it in France, so I have been buying “coconut manna” from Nutiva instead. You’ll also find coconut butter sold under the name of coconut spread, creamed coconut, or coconut cream concentrate; in all cases, favor organic and make sure it is made from 100% coconut.

The Best Coconut Butter Recipes

I confess my favorite way to enjoy it is by the spoonful — a single spoonful at a time, for it is quite rich — possibly paired with a banana as a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon, but there are plenty of other uses, and I have compiled a tempting list of coconut butter recipes for your and my convenience.

Here are 20+ delicious things you can do with coconut butter; you will also find them on the coconut butter bliss Pinterest board I’ve created.

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood.

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood.

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