Chocolate & Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com Fri, 31 Jul 2015 22:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 August 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/august-2015-desktop-calendar-2/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/august-2015-desktop-calendar-2/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 22:02:25 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7735 At the beginning of every month, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, […]

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August 2015 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 calendar for June is a photo of the gorgeous tomatoes my producer bestows upon us all summer, to our absolute glee. I make tons of tomato salads with them, and here are some of my favorite tomato recipes, to which I’ll add the wonderful tomato panade (a chunky bread-thickened summer soup) featured in The French Market Cookbook.

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

Here’s how it works:

1- Click on the following links to get the US version (weeks begin on Sunday) or to get the French version (weeks begin on Monday); each of these links will open a new window (or tab) displaying the wallpaper, in the appropriate format for your screen size.

2- Right-click (or ctrl-click for some Mac users) on the image, and choose the option that says, “Set as Desktop Background”, “Use as Desktop Picture,” or something to that effect (exact wording will depend on the browser you use).

3- If the image does not fit your desktop background neatly, you may have to go to your preference panel (on a Mac: System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop; on Windows: Control Panel > Display > Desktop) and choose “Fit to screen” as the display mode of your background image.

4- Enjoy and see you next month!

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July Favorites http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/july-favorites-3/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/july-favorites-3/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:00:53 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7883 A few reads and finds from the past month: ~ I wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal on […]

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Zucchini Blossoms

A few reads and finds from the past month:

~ I wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal on How to Get the Most Out of Your Local Farmers’ Market, with recipes and photos (guest-starring my then four-month-old).

~ I was a guest on Public Sénat’s television show La Politique c’est net to discuss food blogs and social media. You can watch the video (in French).

~ 10 best spots for ice cream in Paris.

~ I am having fun with these French/English language puzzles — great to while away a train ride this summer!

~ How to have a better lunch at your desk.

~ Happy news: Ippudo is finally coming to Paris! We’ll see if they use the same sesame mills I fell in love with at their NYC location.

~ How to double the antioxydants in your salad greens.

~ 10 French pastry chefs to follow on Instagram.

~ Inspired to make these rhubarb squares, this vegan curry with sweet potato noodles, this grilled chicken shawarma, and this szechuan eggplant. For more recipe inspiration, follow me on Pinterest!

~ How to pack for two weeks in a carry-on (I wish someone would do a “traveling with kids” version!).

What about you: any great read or link to share?

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Minimalist Kit for the Traveling Cook http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tools-utensils/minimalist-kit-for-the-traveling-cook/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tools-utensils/minimalist-kit-for-the-traveling-cook/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 13:00:13 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6035 I am going to be traveling these next few weeks, doing some simple cooking in a couple of rented kitchens, […]

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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).

~ My pepper grinder, replenished with black peppercorns, because good-quality, freshly ground pepper, transforms the simplest dishes, which is exactly what I plan to cook while I’m away.

~ A small supply of unrefined grey sea salt, because ordinary supermarkets only carry stripped-to-nothingness salt I hate to cook with.

~ Extra virgin olive oil, in a small container I saved from a tasting sample I once received, and simply refill every time I need it. In the house we’ll be renting with friends for a whole week it will make sense to buy a whole bottle of olive oil, but for those one- and two-night stays, I don’t want to lug around a whole bottle, yet good olive oil is all you need to dress a few crudités from the local market. Plus, with the above salt and pepper, you have the simplest, most delectable snack at your fingertips.

~ My current favorite pocket knife (pictured below), a vintage Crosman Blades from 1981 I fell hard for at Native Delicatessen, a new micro-shop and art gallery that’s otherwise devoted to indigenous foods and cultures. This one will stay in my purse most of the time (I’ll have motive enough to make that legal) but it can also come to the rescue if two of us need a sharp blade in the kitchen at the same time.

My 1981 Crosman Blades Pocket Knife

My 1981 Crosman Blades Pocket Knife

And here’s what I considered bringing, but decided against because of space/weight limitations:

~ My beloved chef’s knife, which makes vegetable and herb prepping such a cinch. But the one I own is too heavy and also too dear to me to travel this time, so I will make do with my pairing knife for my slicing and chopping needs.

~ My mandoline slicer, which I use daily at home, especially during the summer. But I figure a minimalist kit can’t have utensils with redundant functions, and since this can’t do anything my knife can’t, I opted not to bring it. (But with a heavy heart.) (Can you tell I’m still on the fence about this one?)

~ A cutting board, because I know the kind of tiny, warped, scratched plastic junk we are likely to find, but the kind of spacious, hard wood board I like to use is much too heavy to be a realistic inclusion in this kit.

~ A measuring jug marked with weight measurements for different ingredients (flour, sugar, etc.) to bake without a scale, but the two I own — both coming from my late grandmother’s kitchen — are glass, so they’re out. I’ll just wing it with ordinary drinking glasses.

~ A silicone baking mat and/or silicone muffin cups to do some basic baking, but the rented house is likely to offer at least one cake or loaf pan, so we’ll do fine with that.

Join the conversation!

Do you bring utensils and ingredients with you when you travel? What does your minimalist kit contain? And what about your dream, weight-is-no-object kit?

More tips!

A few summers ago I ran a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation and asked each of my guests, among many other fun things, what ingredients and utensils they liked to bring with them when they traveled. Check the series to see their inspiring answers.

Note: The tools above are pictured on a literary kitchen towel by artist Stéphanie Radenac, a gift from my longtime blog friend Pierre Pozzi, who is himself a talented paper and cardboard artist.

A version of this post was first published on August 6, 2014.

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Fire-and-Forget Pork Carnitas Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/dairy-free/fire-and-forget-pork-carnitas-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/dairy-free/fire-and-forget-pork-carnitas-recipe/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 10:28:04 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7794 When Maxence and I moved back to Paris after living in California, one of the things we missed most sorely […]

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Pork Carnitas

When Maxence and I moved back to Paris after living in California, one of the things we missed most sorely was Mexican food. Sure, there were a couple of Mexican restaurants in the city, but there was something a little dusty and unexciting about them. They lacked the freshness, simplicity, and fun that we’d come to expect from our favorite taquerias back in the States.

Fast forward a few years, and we were positively thrilled to see Mexican food in general, and tacos in particular, become the new “it” cuisine among hip Parisians, with new spots popping up on the map at a rapid pace (though not as ridiculously so as burger places).

Not all of them got it right, but we happily tried as many as we could — up until the recent opening of a new El Nopal location in our neighborhood, just off Place Pigalle, when we declared ourselves content. It’s a tiny, corridor-like shack where the team is friendly (and actually Mexican; the owner is from Monterrey), everything is super fresh, and we find ourselves going practically every week, tasting our way through their different taco fillings — asada, carnitas, deshebrada, tinga, cochinita… the list goes on.

Believe it or not, this has not sated our hunger for Mexican food, and I’ve taken to making my own carnitas so we can have taco nights at home every once in a while. It’s one of those incredibly simple, incredibly rewarding recipes that have you braise the meat for hours with no human intervention, until you have exceedingly tender meat that pulls apart into gloriously moist shreds and caramelized bits. (For a detailed discussion on the ins and outs of making carnitas, read this food lab piece.)

I’ve occasionally made my own corn tortillas (I actually own a tortilla press, that’s how committed I am) but for a quicker preparation, pliable lettuce leaves from a crisp head work beautifully. Place a few simple toppings on the table — finely diced onion, chopped cilantro, avocado slices, lime wedges — and you’re in business.

The recipe uses a whole pork shoulder, which you should get from a good butcher so it’s not pumped with antibiotics, and it makes quite a bit, but carnitas freeze well, so you can stash away any extra meat for a super easy dinner you’ll be grateful for sometime down the road.

Join the conversation!

Are you a fan of Mexican cuisine? Do you have a local taqueria you love? What’s your favorite Mexican recipe to make at home?

Pork Carnitas

Fire-and-Forget Pork Carnitas Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Serves 6.

Fire-and-Forget Pork Carnitas Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder, about 2 kilos (4 1/3 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) sliced bacon
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 organic orange (optional)
  • For serving:
  • Corn tortillas and/or lettuce leaves
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Finely diced yellow or red onion
  • Sliced avocado
  • Lime
  • Red or green salsa or just Tabasco

Instructions

  1. Rub the meat with the cumin, oregano, chili pepper, and salt, and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  2. Line the bottom of a Dutch oven with the sliced bacon. Place the pork shoulder on top, along with the garlic and bay leaves. If using the orange, squeeze its juice over the meat, cut the peel into four pieces and add to the pot.
  3. Cover and place the Dutch oven in the oven. Set the temperature to 120°C (250°F) and let the meat cook for 6 to 8 hours, basting it every hour or so, until fork tender and nicely bronzed.
  4. Remove the orange peels and bay leaves from the pot, and shred the meat using two forks. Discard the bone.
  5. Serve with corn tortillas and/or lettuce leaves to wrap into tacos, with a sprinkle of cilantro and onion, slices of avocado, a squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of salsa.
  6. On the first day I serve it straight from the pot, but on subsequent days I like to spread the leftovers on a baking sheet and place for 6 to 8 minutes under the broiler of the oven to reheat and crisp up.

Notes

Any extra can be frozen.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/dairy-free/fire-and-forget-pork-carnitas-recipe/

Pork Carnitas

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Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/basics/homemade-coconut-milk-yogurt-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/basics/homemade-coconut-milk-yogurt-recipe/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 08:50:55 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7829 On a quick trip to London a year and a half ago, I spent an embarrassing number of hours exploring […]

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Coconut Milk Yogurt

On a quick trip to London a year and a half ago, I spent an embarrassing number of hours exploring the aisles of the Kensington Whole Foods, stocking up on amazing British bean-to-bar chocolate and the paleo granola that inspired my own.

In the dairy aisle I noticed with great curiosity that they sold coconut milk yogurt, and bought a small tub to have at breakfast the next morning — you know how I feel about hotel breakfasts. One spoonful and I was smitten: it had the smooth texture and lovely tang of dairy yogurt, but it was wonderfully aromatic, with that one-of-a-kind, subtle sweetness that coconut milk brings. You had to taste it to believe it.

It was also fairly pricy (£2 for 125 g, that’s 2.80€ or 3$ for a half-cup, i.e. £16, 22.50€ or $25 for a liter/quart) and unavailable in France. So I resigned myself to see it as a once-in-a-blue-moon indulgence.

Until just a few of weeks ago, when I chanced upon this tutorial and saw the light: you can make your own coconut yogurt at home! From regular canned coconut milk! Available at the store!

The process is just as easy as making ordinary yogurt from cow’s or goat’s milk, which I do weekly: you simply combine the coconut milk with yogurt ferment or a probiotic supplement, and leave it to incubate at a steady, moderate temperature (around 40°C or 105°F) until the coconut milk is cultured, which takes 24 hours for the level of tang I like.

And I’ve been loving my homemade coconut milk yogurt. It’s a treat in and of itself, but I love it with a sliced-up banana and some granola, or dotted with berries, and I think it would make an excellent base for frozen yogurt. The yogurt tends to separate slightly, with a thin layer of set coconut oil at the top, but I actually enjoy that fudgy line (it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!) just like the creamy one I get when I use non-homogenized cow’s milk.

From a price perspective, my coconut yogurt works out to about 14€ (£10 or $15.50) per litre/quart, which remains more expensive than making yogurt from animal milk, but is notably cheaper than store-bought coconut yogurt.

If you don’t have a yogurt maker, you can use the light inside your oven to generate the required heat (as outlined in the recipe below), but getting a yogurt maker is a small investment I promise you won’t regret. There is no need for anything fancy: I have a super basic model that doesn’t cost very much, and does the job perfectly. The one I own is equivalent to this model in the US, but if you live elsewhere, here are my criteria for choosing a yogurt maker:

  • Glass jars: the cocktail of plastic and heat is an ugly one, and because you’ll be reusing the jars again and again, you want them to be inert and heat-resistant, i.e. made out of glass.
  • No automatic shut-off: many models turn themselves off automatically after a few hours (6 to 8, depending on the model) because they consider that the yogurt is done after that time. However, you may like your yogurt tangier (incubated longer), or you may want to make 24-hour yogurt if you have trouble with lactose, or you may want to make coconut yogurt, which takes 24 hours also. I understand the convenience of the automatic shut-off, but I prefer to set an alarm for myself and keep control of the incubation duration. Conveniently, these manual models are also cheaper!
  • The possibility of getting extra jars: you definitely want a double load of jars right from the start, so you can begin a new batch of yogurt before you’ve eaten (and cleaned) your way through the previous one. Also, breakage happens (ahem).
  • There are single-container models that allow you to make the yogurt in bulk rather than in individual jars, but for my own use I find it much more convenient to have the yogurt pre-portioned and ready to grab in the fridge.

The coconut milk I use for these yogurt is one I buy at the organic store (the Organi brand) which costs 2.49€ per can, is 15% fat, and has no BPA in the inside lining (I’ve checked with the manufacturer). As for the ferment, I’ve successfully used this yogurt starter as well as this probiotic supplement, which has 7 billion probiotics (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Lactococcus, and Streptococcus strains) in each dose.

Join the conversation!

Do you make your own yogurt? What’s your prefered method? Have you ever tried it with non-dairy milk?

Coconut Milk Yogurt

Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 24 hours

Total Time: 24 hours

Makes 1 liter (4 cups).

Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 liter (4 cups) canned organic full-fat coconut milk, from 2 1/2 400-ml (13 1/2-oz) cans (make sure the lining is BPA-free)
  • 1 sachet yogurt ferment or probiotics (I use this one, which has 7 billion probiotics in each dose) OR 120 ml (1/2 cup) yogurt saved from the previous batch (see note)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk about 120 ml (1/2 cup) of the coconut milk with the ferment. Pour in the remaining coconut milk, whisking as you go.
  2. If using a yogurt maker:
  3. Divide the coconut milk mixture among the jars of the yogurt maker.
  4. Switch it on and leave to incubate for 24 hours (if your yogurt maker has an automatic shut-off feature, you'll have to turn it back on).
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature without disturbing, then place in the fridge.
  6. If you don't have a yogurt maker:
  7. Pour the coconut milk mixture into glass jars with heatproof lids, and close the jars.
  8. Place in the oven, close to the oven light (ideally with a 60-watt bulb). Turn the oven light on, and leave the yogurt in with the light on for 24 hours. The temperature inside the oven should remain in the 38-43°C (100-110°F) temperature range; use an oven thermometer to make sure.
  9. Allow to cool to room temperature without disturbing, then place in the fridge.

Notes

You can use a small amount of yogurt from the previous batch as a starter for a fresh batch and repeat this cycle a few times, until you find the new batch is more acidic and doesn't set quite as well as you'd like. Use a fresh dose of ferment or probiotics for your next batch then.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/basics/homemade-coconut-milk-yogurt-recipe/

Coconut Milk Yogurt

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July 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/july-2015-desktop-calendar-2/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/july-2015-desktop-calendar-2/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 22:05:24 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7730 At the beginning of every month, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, […]

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July 2015 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 calendar for June is a photo of this delightful cherry clafoutis made with chestnut flour. And if you’re looking for more recipes to make the most of the fleeting cherry season, I can also recommend this cherry hazelnut loaf cake and the cherry and rose compote featured in The French Market Cookbook.

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

Here’s how it works:

1- Click on the following links to get the US version (weeks begin on Sunday) or to get the French version (weeks begin on Monday); each of these links will open a new window (or tab) displaying the wallpaper, in the appropriate format for your screen size.

2- Right-click (or ctrl-click for some Mac users) on the image, and choose the option that says, “Set as Desktop Background”, “Use as Desktop Picture,” or something to that effect (exact wording will depend on the browser you use).

3- If the image does not fit your desktop background neatly, you may have to go to your preference panel (on a Mac: System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop; on Windows: Control Panel > Display > Desktop) and choose “Fit to screen” as the display mode of your background image.

4- Enjoy and see you next month!

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Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/fish-shellfish/easy-tomato-and-coconut-fish-curry-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/fish-shellfish/easy-tomato-and-coconut-fish-curry-recipe/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 11:27:59 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7786 This is one of those recipes I’m super excited to have added to my repertoire: it’s very (very) easy, it […]

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Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

This is one of those recipes I’m super excited to have added to my repertoire: it’s very (very) easy, it can be whipped up from 100% pantry ingredients, and once it’s on the table it tastes and feels like a much more sophisticated dish, the kind that makes you sigh with pride and content and say, “We eat pretty well around here, don’t we?”

It started out as the 20-minute fish curry in Meera Sodha’s excellent book, Made in India, Cooked in Britain, which I own in its British edition and have used multiple times with great success. Her original recipe is for an Indian-style curry without the coconut milk, but after several iterations in my kitchen it has taken on Southeast Asian flavors (lemongrass, basil or cilantro, lime juice) that make it a little bit Thai as well.

I apologize to purists of either cuisine in advance, but the result is a fine curry, richly favorful and clean-tasting, that does really well on its own or served over rice. My current preference goes to this sticky rice, which I throw into the rice cooker Maxence talked me into buying despite my reluctance (rice cooks just fine in a regular pan on the stove! we don’t need a specialized appliance!), and I now love and cherish (perfect rice! every time! no need to watch or time or anything!).

Since settling on this wonderful fish curry formula, I now make sure I keep on hand a can of coconut milk, a jar of whole peeled tomatoes, and fish fillets in the freezer at all times (the spices, onions, and fresh ginger I always have around), and I throw the curry together almost on a weekly basis. Although I’ve only made it for our family meals so far, it is without a doubt a company-worthy dish, one you could even pull off for a weeknight dinner party, possibly followed by this vanilla-roasted pineapple.

Join the conversation!

What’s the most recent addition to your roster of easy, weeknight-friendly recipes? We all need more of those so please share!

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serves 4.

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 400 grams (14 ounces) tomatoes, either fresh and coarsely chopped, or drained from a jar of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 200 ml (6 3/4 ounces) full-fat coconut milk (= half of a standard can)
  • 1 small fresh chili pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Optional vegetables: green peas, sugar peas, sliced chard greens or spinach leaves
  • 600 grams (1 1/3 pounds) fillets of mild-flavored, sustainable white fish of your choice
  • Fresh Thai basil, thinly sliced, or cilantro leaves
  • Lime juice, for serving
  • Thai or basmati rice, cooked, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, coriander, mustard, cumin, and salt, and stir to combine. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes and, if they are from a jar, crush them into chunks with your spoon or spatula. (I use these Earlywood flat spatulas in most of my cooking, and they are especially handy here.)
  3. Add the coconut milk and chili pepper, if using, stir, and bring to a simmer. If you wish to include some of the optional vegetables listed, add them now. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and the optional vegetables are al dente.
  4. Dice the fish into 2- to 4-cm (3/4- to 1 1/2-inch) pieces, depending on how firm the flesh of that fish is: if it's a fish that tends to flake easily when cooked, it's best to keep it in larger pieces so it won't fall apart in the sauce too much.
  5. Add the fish to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.
  6. Top with herbs and a squeeze of lime juice, and serve immediately, over rice if desired.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/fish-shellfish/easy-tomato-and-coconut-fish-curry-recipe/

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

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Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/grilled-sweet-potatoes-with-black-olives-and-almonds-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/grilled-sweet-potatoes-with-black-olives-and-almonds-recipe/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 09:02:54 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7752 When I was growing up, sweet potatoes never ever appeared on the menu: they don’t belong to the classic trove […]

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Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

When I was growing up, sweet potatoes never ever appeared on the menu: they don’t belong to the classic trove of French vegetables, and I don’t think I had a taste until I moved to the US in my early twenties. But I quickly grew to love and crave them as if they had been a part of my food landscape all of my life: the sweet flesh and versatility of these tubers makes them a delicious alternative to other starch options, especially regular white potatoes, and I indulge on a regular basis.

It doesn’t hurt that orange sweet potatoes (there are also white, less recommended varieties) have been touted a superfood for their exceptional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, due to their super high content of beta-carotene and vitamin A, among other vitamins and minerals. They are also said to have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, despite a medium glycemic index.

Steaming is the best way to retain the entirety of their nutritional qualities, but they do beautifully when you boil, roast or grill them as well. You can serve them mashed, turn them into fabulously creamy soups, add them cubed to grain dishes and meal-size salads to make them extra satisfying, or purée them for use in cakes as a sweetener.

They are included in the “clean fifteen” list* but I usually buy organic ones, making sure they are nice and firm with no bruises. They are increasingly easy to find in supermarkets, organic or not, and I have found that sweet potatoes from the US have a moister flesh and keep longer. I store them in a paper bag at cool room temperature (never in the fridge!) and when I cook them I leave the skin on, both for nutrition and to help the pieces keep their shape if that’s needed for a particular dish.

I am always surprised to see sweet potatoes often paired with sweet ingredients in North America (maple syrup! sweet spices! brown sugar! marshmallows!) as I much prefer to balance their natural sweetness with contrasting flavors: tangy, sour, acidic, savory, umami… And because their flesh becomes quite tender when cooked, I usually take care to add an element of crunch to the recipe I use them in.

One of my quickest and easiest tricks to serve sweet potatoes is to boil or roast them — either whole or in cubes — and top them with my simple tahini sauce and lots of freshly snipped herbs, or Aria Beth Sloss’s miso butter topping.

But in warmer months, when I have access to a barbecue — or just my trusty griddler — I like to cut the sweet potatoes into long wedges, par-steam them, brush them with a mix of oil and lemon juice, and grill them. I love the mix between lightly crisp outer skin and the creamy soft insides.

On top of the wedges I sprinkle a lovely — and very quick to throw together — chopped condiment of black olives, toasted almonds, shallot, cilantro, and lemon zest, that brings a remarkable zing to the whole dish. This I’m happy to feature as the centerpiece of the meal, along with a green salad, or to serve as a side with roast chicken, duck magret, or grilled pork.

Join the conversation!

Are you a sweet potato fan? What’s your favorite way to serve them?

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

* The clean fifteen is a list of the least contaminated conventional produce; the dirty dozen lists the most contaminated.

This post is sponsored by the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute; visit their website for more information and recipes to use the delicious sweet potato! All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the organizations who support Chocolate & Zucchini.

American Sweet Potato

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Seves 4 to 5.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds Recipe

Ingredients

  • 900 grams (2 pounds) small sweet potatoes, not peeled
  • 35 grams (1/4 cup) almonds, toasted and roughly chopped (I use these if I have them on hand)
  • 40 grams (1/4 cup) black olives (in bulk from a deli or from a jar), about 15, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (about 1 small shallot)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
  • The zest of 1/2 lemon or lime, finely sliced (I use this zester to get fine strips)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil fit for grilling
  • Fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into long wedges of even thickness; I make four wedges from the slim ones and six from the thicker ones.
  2. Steam the sweet potato wedges for 8 to 10 minutes, until just tender when tested with the tip of a knife. (This can be done the day before; let cool, arrange in layers in an airtight container, and refrigerate.)
  3. In a bowl, combine the almonds, olives, shallot, cilantro, lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Add the olive oil and stir to combine. (This can be done the day before, but don't add the cilantro until the last moment to preserve its freshness. Cover and refrigerate.)
  4. Heat up the grill or an indoor griddler to medium-high heat (I set my griddler to 220° or 430°F, its maximum setting).
  5. In a bowl, combine the lemon juice and cooking oil, and use this to brush the cut sides of the sweet potato wedges. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. Place on the grill, one cut side down, for 3 to 5 minutes, until you get nice grill marks. Flip the wedges to the other cut side and grill until you get the grill marks you want.
  7. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with the black olive and almond condiment, and serve, hot or at room temperature.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/grilled-sweet-potatoes-with-black-olives-and-almonds-recipe/

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

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35 Ways to Use Lemon Verbena http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ingredients-fine-foods/35-ways-to-use-lemon-verbena/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ingredients-fine-foods/35-ways-to-use-lemon-verbena/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 09:00:36 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=5886 Starting in mid-spring, the guy I get most of my produce from brings in long stalks of verveine citronnelle, bushy […]

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Lemon Verbena

Starting in mid-spring, the guy I get most of my produce from brings in long stalks of verveine citronnelle, bushy with feather-shaped leaves, faintly sticky and powerfully fragrant. Rub one with your thumb and it will knock you over with a floral and citrusy scent that does bear resemblance to lemongrass, as the French name points out (citronnelle means lemongrass).

The most natural thing to do with the leaves is to infuse them for herbal tea, to be served hot of chilled, but I was looking for more ideas so I turned to you — via Twitter et Facebook — and the Internet for suggestions. Here’s a compendium below; I hope you find it inspiring if you come across that lovely herb yourself!

Happy pairings

Lemon verbena + Peach
Lemon verbena + Apricot
Lemon verbena + Raspberry
Lemon verbena + Strawberry
Lemon verbena + Rhubarb
Lemon verbena + Pear
Lemon verbena + Citrus (especially grapefruit)
Lemon verbena + Yogurt
Lemon verbena + Ginger
Lemon verbena + Fish
Lemon verbena + Chicken
Lemon verbena + Pork

Beverages

~ Make herbal tea, hot or iced, with lemon verbena on its own or mixed with other herbs, such as mint or sage.

~ Prepare a simple syrup for cocktails, non-alcoholic spritzers, iced tea, or lemonade.

~ Make a liqueur.

Baking and desserts

~ Add it to a rhubarb tart.

~ Make sorbet or ice cream.

~ Infuse it in the cream for panna cotta and other custard-style desserts, such as crème brûlée, and pots de crème.

~ Infuse it in the whipped cream for peaches and cream.

~ Make a simple syrup to moisten a sponge cake or a rum baba, drizzle onto crêpes and yogurt, or dunk in some ladyfingers for a strawberry charlotte or tiramisu.

~ Add to strawberry jam.

~ Add to a strawberry or peach soup.

~ Make lemon verbena sugar (whizz fresh leaves with sugar in a blender) and use to make simple butter cookies.

~ Chop finely and add to a fruit salad.

~ Infuse it in ganache for filled chocolates or macarons (advanced!).

~ Include in the syrup when poaching pears or peaches.

~ Make a lemon verbena jelly with gelatin or agar agar.

Savory uses

~ Add to white fish fillets cooked en papillote.

~ Make lemon verbena vinegar.

~ Insert a handful in the steamer when steaming chicken breasts.

~ Add it to a marinade for a ceviche.

~ Add it to the brine for pork chops.

~ Make lemon verbena pesto.

~ Blend the leaves into a vinaigrette.

Non-food use

~ Use it to scent a DIY glass and surface cleaner !

Join the conversation!

Have you ever encountered lemon verbena? How do you like to use it? All additional suggestions are welcome!

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/vegan-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/vegan-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 11:29:10 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7339 I suffer from the curse of the restless baker: however much I like a recipe I’ve borrowed or created in […]

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

I suffer from the curse of the restless baker: however much I like a recipe I’ve borrowed or created in the past, I am wildly tempted to venture a little further, tweak it some more, or walk another path entirely, just to see what will happen.

This makes every opportunity to bake an adventure, and although I sometimes kick myself for not simply going for the tried and true — I do have to live with the occasional disappointment — most of the time it’s a chance to learn something new, expand my repertoire, and of course, share a novel recipe with you.

And I am particularly excited to bring you this one, born out of a craving for chocolate chip cookies. I could have gone for this ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe, which I’ve made again and again to sighs and swoons from all involved, but I wanted to try something different this time and make a vegan chocolate chip cookie instead.

With almond butter as the fat, some ground chia seeds, a mix of rice and wheat flours, and unrefined sugar, I like to think these are a little better for you than the conventional cookie (or at least they’ll bring some ingredient variety to your overall diet) yet they are just as satisfying. Crisp on the outside with a moist and tender heart, they’re big on the chocolate flavor — I threw in some cacao nibs as well — and moderately sweet, just the way I like them.

So this one is definitely going into the cookie rotation. I’ll try not to mess with it further, though I can’t promise I won’t try different nut butters (peanut would be great in there too) or a handful of chopped nuts, maybe pecans or hazelnuts.

One final note: as always with anything chocolate, the devil is in the brand you choose: going out of your way to buy a high-quality bittersweet chocolate will pay dividends beyond what you can imagine. I myself like to use Valrhona’s Manjari 64% couverture chocolate, which I get by the kilo (two-pound) bag at G. Detou in Paris, but is also available online.

Join the conversation!

Are you a compulsive tinkerer as well, or do you enjoy making your classics again and again? And what is your favorite chocolate for baking?

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

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

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Makes 20 cookies.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) all-natural almond butter (you could do half almond half peanut)
  • 150 grams (3/4 cup) unrefined sugar (I used half coconut sugar and half rapadura)
  • 130 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams (3/4 cup) rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 180 grams (6 1/3 ounces) quality bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) cacao nibs

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the almond butter and sugar until well combined. Stir in 80 ml (1/3 cup) water. Set aside.
  2. In a second bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chia seeds, chocolate, and cacao nibs.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no trace of flour remains.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  6. Scoop out balls of the dough, about the size of a ping pong ball and weighing 40 grams (1 1/2 ounces), flatten them into pucks, and arrange on the prepared cookie sheet.
  7. Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, until set. Allow to rest for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  9. The cookies are particularly tasty on the day they're baked, but they'll keep for a few days in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/vegan-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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