Best of

Best of November

It's a new day

I can’t say that November has been a good month. Except that I am alive and well, and my family and friends are too, and what more is there to be thankful for? It is my most heartfelt wish for all of you who read this. I am also incredibly grateful that the many messages I received in which you expressed your concern and sent words of support. It has meant more to me than you can imagine.

One of the strangest things when such dramatic events happen, is that life does go on.

Even as we keep the victims and those who loved them in our thoughts, we continue to go out, to eat at restaurants, to play with our kids at the playground, to take the metro, to go to the movies, to have drinks with friends.

It is a leap of faith, that whole business of hoping that you won’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time, though you don’t deserve it more than anyone else living alongside you in the same city.

But surely it is the only possible response to terror: #jenaipaspeur#iamnotafraid.

And so, in the spirit of not letting the bad guys win, I give you some happy highlights from my November, and I wish a heart-warming day and a marvellous feast to those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving today.

Good eats

Best of November 2015

• I had a wonderful meal at Le Potager de Charlotte (Charlotte’s vegetable patch), a new vegan restaurant that opened on rue Condorcet in Paris’ 9th arrondissement. My eggplant with sunflower seed “bolognaise” was amazing, and it is wonderful to see a restaurant-style, vegan cuisine that’s delicate and sophisticated. Here’s the Snapchat story I made from the experience (more on that below!).

• I have been doing research for an article about the best croissants in Paris (such hardship) and Gontran Cherrier’s is high on my list.

• I had lunch at Le Tricycle, a micro-resto on rue de Paradis (10th arrondissement) that serves ital cuisine and makes excellent vegan hot dogs. Pictured above is the avocado dog and the vegetable mafé.

• I placed a group order with fellow chocoholics to lay my hands on organic Porcelain chocolate from Dutch bean-to-bar maker Original Beans, and with it I made an egg-free chocolate mousse leveraging the power of chickpea “juice”. You’ll hear more about this soon on Chocolate & Zucchini!

Follow me on Instagram for many more food shots and Paris recommendations throughout the month!

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Best of 2014

View of the Canche river at La Madelaine sous Montreuil

View of the Canche river at La Madelaine sous Montreuil

Happy New Year! I hope your 2015 is a year full of joy, exciting ventures, great conversations, rich relationships, enlightening experiences, and plenty of delicious meals. It certainly promises to be a full year for me, and I look forward to keeping you updated on my various projects.

As we bid 2014 adieu, I have great pleasure in recalling this excellent year through these few highlights:

Biggest changes on C&Z: A brand new design, in which I’m happy to say I continue to feel wonderfully at home, the return of the monthly desktop calendars, and the recent addition of a shop section.

Most enlightening read: The Third Plate, by my culinary hero Dan Barber (if you care about food, you have got to read this).

Favorite new appliance: My griddler and waffle plates, with which I’ve made weekly batches of croque-monsieur and all kinds of waffles, including these irresistible Belgian waffles.

Most popular food gift I’ve made: These chocolate bars studded with cinnamon granola (I use fresh cinnamon from Cinnamon Hill).

Favorite new breakfast items: Paleo granola with homemade yogurt and seasonal fruit, and healthy breakfast cookies.

Favorite resolution I’ve actually kept: Making the most of my cookbook collection.

Loveliest book publishing moment: Hosting a signing for my latest book, Edible French, in the company of my talented watercolorist friend Melina Josserand. (We wrote about our collaboration in The Cook’s Cook December Issue, page 39).

Most wonderful vacation: Renting a house in the Pyrénées ariégeoises with a few friends, and discovering the friendliest little neo-hippie enclave and the most gorgeous, unadulterated lanscapes.

Favorite Paris eats: simple, wowing plates at Cuisine, vibrant sandwiches at Le Look, kushiage at Peco Peco, big salads at Lockwood, fine dining at Porte 12, barbecued ribs at Flesh, and arepas at Bululu.

Blow-torched mackerel at Porte 12

Blow-torched mackerel at Porte 12

Most successful store-bought-to-homemade experiment: Vegan “cheesy” kale chips.

Most rewarding baking endeavor: Achieving madeleine perfection.

Favorite new quickie snacks: Easy nori rolls with cucumber and avocado and soy-roasted cashews.

Favorite travel tips: Fasting against jetlag and putting together a minimalist cooking kit.

Favorite new kitchen habit I’ve been trying to embrace: meal planning.

Favorite new way to eat my greens: This greens and walnut quiche.

Favorite do-ahead, weeknight treat: Oven-baked falafel.

Favorite new twist on a classic: Cherry clafoutis with chestnut flour.

Favorite new soup recipe: An ayurveda-approved lentil and butternut squash soup.

Favorite new baking trick: A simplified puff pastry, to make a caramelized apple tarte fine for instance.

Favorite new way to cook eggs: This kid-friendly one-egg omelet.

Favorite way to cook broccoli: charring it.

What about you?

What are some of the most memorable things you’ve seen, experienced, discovered, and tasted in 2014?

Vertical garden on rue d'Aboukir in Paris

Vertical garden on rue d’Aboukir in Paris

Best of 2013

Morning granola at In De Wulf

Morning granola at In De Wulf

I will remember 2013 as the year Chocolate & Zucchini celebrated its 10th anniversary, and as the year The French Market Cookbook was published (and so generously well received).

It is also the year I worked on a whole new version of the site — I cannot wait to unveil it! — and on a brand new book project, which I will tell you more about very soon (hint hint).

In 2013 I also got to visit not one, but two of my bestest and favoritest vacation destinations, Corsica and San Francisco, and this has felt like winning the lottery, twice.

But beyond these biggies, here are more of the everyday joys that have lit up my year:

Favorite new places to eat in Paris: Bones and Mary Celeste.

Favorite new utensils: my Earlywood spatulas, scrapers, and spreaders, my fabulous new chef’s knife, and my cinnamon grater.

Here are some of the everyday joys that have lit up my year.

Favorite new chocolates: bean-to-bar unconched chocolate by Nicolas Berger for Alain Ducasse, and Marou’s organic chocolate from Vietnam, especially the 70% from the Mekong delta.

Best breakfast: The entirely homemade breakfast served at In De Wulf the morning after (see picture above).

Favorite new cookbooks: Michelle Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo and Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It.

Most mileage on a single recipe: the Roasted Cauliflower à la Mary Celeste, which has become a weekly fixture at my table.

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Best of 2012

Happy New Year! Here’s to 2013 and the glorious meals, peals of laughter, new friends, and unforgettable adventures I hope it has in store for you.

Before we remove the protective film from this brand new year, I’d like to take a moment to look back on some of the best things 2012 brought. The two biggest, happiest events for me have been (1) the birth of my baby boy in the spring — Milan is now seven and a half months and he’s a ray of sunshine — and (2) wrapping up the manuscript for my upcoming vegetable cookbook, which will come out mid-2013 under the title The French Market Cookbook.

Here on Chocolate & Zucchini, after a little post-baby break, I was delighted to come back with two new series of Q&A posts: Draw Me A Fridge (in collaboration with my friend Alexia Colson-Duparchy) offers a sneak peek into our guests’ fridge habits, while Parents Who Cook asks parents about their kitchen life after they had children. I also picked up the Edible Idioms series where I’d left it, except now they’re illustrated by Mélina Baumert‘s wonderful watercolors.

Aside from these, here are some of the highlights of my year — and if you care to share your own, I’d love to hear about them!

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Best of 2011

Happy New Year! May your 2012 be a year of glowing health, simple pleasures, serene prospects, and dreams fulfilled.

2011 has been an eventful and wonderful year for me, full of exciting and gratifying projects in both my personal and professional lives. I got to travel around France (Deauville, Aix-en-Provence, the Basque country, Corsica) and beyond (Marrakech and Toronto), I was invited to be the host of an international food festival and the writer in residence at a chefs school, I worked on The Art of French Baking and on a new book of my own devoted to vegetables (to be released by Clarkson Potter next year), I did a two-week stint in the kitchen at my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Paris, I had my kitchen and living room remodeled, and I was admitted as a member of a famous French chocolate appreciation society, which had long been on my life list.

Beyond those big events, here are some specific highlights from my year, in no particular order. I’d love to hear about yours, so feel free to share in the comment section!

Most frequently made dish: Chicken in a bread crust, inspired by a dish demo’d by Saturne’s Sven Chartier at the Omnivore Food Festival.

Most frequently made dessert: Butterless apple crumble, a dairy-free version of the classic that is possibly even better for breakfast the next day.

Most elusive ingredient: Kale, a beautiful and nourishing green that is near-impossible to find in Paris, but which I filled up on while in Canada.

Most popular ingredient: Chestnut flour, which I brought back from Corsica and have been slipping into everything since.

Favorite new utensil: Bear claws, handmade in Canada, to toss salads.

Favorite homemade condiments: Dukkah, an Egyptian spice mix, and Celery salt, after a recipe by my friend Heidi.

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