Tips & Tricks

Cooking with Young Children: 5 Lessons I’ve Learned

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Oh, hi! A quick heads-up: today, we’re going to be talking about kids in the kitchen! If this is of zero interest to you, I totally get it, and invite you to take a look at this springtime pot-au-feu, this fresh ginger cake, and these really fun food expressions in various languages. How does that sound? Okay then.

On to today’s topic! My eldest son is about to turn four, and for a little while now I’ve been wanting to post a few thoughts on what it’s like to share kitchen space with him. In short? It’s not easy. The good news? It can be done, but it’s good to keep a few guiding principles in mind. Here’s what I’ve learnt.

Photo credit: No Milk Today.

Photo credit: No Milk Today.

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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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10 Kitchen Resolutions for a Happy, Delicious 2016

10 Kitchen Resolutions

Happy new year! I’ve always loved the blank-slate feel of early January: while it’s a great time to reflect on everything you’re already doing right (you rock!), it’s also an invitation to form new and better habits to shape the year ahead and improve our lives.

So I offer you 10 kitchen resolutions, inspiring but approachable, to make you a better cook and eater this year. Please add yours in the comments below, or share on social media with the hashtag #cnzresolutions, and I will retweet and repost my favorites.

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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

Minimalist Kit for the Traveling Cook

Minimalist Kit for the Traveling Cook

I am going to be traveling these next few weeks, doing some simple cooking in a couple of rented kitchens, and I’ve had enough hair-pulling experiences with crappy, dull knives and flimsy plastic spatulas to be stashing a few key utensils in my luggage this time.

Because I am also traveling with a toddler and a baby who need their own minimalist traveling kit — including such essentials as toy diggers, special blankets, and stuffed monkeys — I really need to make my kit as trim as possible, and have elected to bring along:

~ My paring knife, freshly sharpened: rented kitchens are notoriously lacking in this regard, and since half of cooking is cutting, trimming, slicing, dicing, chopping, and paring, this qualifies as an absolute must-bring. I will be following this tip on how to wrap knives for traveling.

~ My vegetable peeler because, again, anything that’s supposed to be sharp is going to be dull in a rented house, and a dull vegetable peeler is worse than no vegetable peeler at all. Also, a good vegetable peeler allows you to cut vegetables into tagliatelle and papardelle to make all kinds of pretty summer salads such as this zucchini noodle salad.

~ A pair of locking tongs because it’s rare (especially in France) to find it in a home cook’s utensil drawer, yet I rely on it heavily for handling ingredients, for stovetop cooking, and for grilling. As a bonus, it doubles up as a toy for the toddler, who uses it to catch imaginary fish.

~ My Earlywood scraper made of bloodwood, sturdy and smooth with a thin and sharp edge, and a fantastic multipurpose tool that can be used for stirring, cutting, lifting, and scraping. I have written about Brad Bernhart’s handcrafted utensils before, and they’ve become cherished items in my kitchen that get used every single day (including his latest creation, the adorable coffee scoop, which I use daily to serve my paleo granola).

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