Chocolate & Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com Thu, 21 May 2015 15:23:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/candy-mignardises/caramelized-sesame-chocolate-bar-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/candy-mignardises/caramelized-sesame-chocolate-bar-recipe/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 09:00:15 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7624 Not long after my second son was born, I received a message from Audrey, a reader I’d been conversing with […]

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Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar

Not long after my second son was born, I received a message from Audrey, a reader I’d been conversing with via emails and comments, who wanted to recommend a recipe drawn from the French blog La Belle au blé dormant*. It was a recipe for dark chocolate bites garnished with squash seeds, sunflower seeds, and caramelized sesame, which both she and the blog’s author Nolwenn had found instrumental in surviving the first few weeks with a newborn.

I read through the recipe and at first the idea of my finding the time and brain bandwidth to make something like this seemed laughable, but it turns out my appetite for chocolate is strong enough to move mountains: I could not get that recipe out of my head, and within a few days I was indeed preparing a modified version for myself — one with just the sesame — accomplishing one small step at a time in between maternal duties.

On one morning, I toasted the sesame seeds. Later, I made the caramel, mixed in the sesame, and broke up that (tasty, tasty) sesame bark into small clusters. The next day, I dug out my digital probe thermometer and tempered the chocolate (yes, tempered the chocolate, that’s how ambitious I was), stirred in the caramelized sesame nuggets, and poured the mixture into a narrow loaf pan.

A couple of hours later, when the dust had settled and the chocolate had set, I unmolded the thick bar, had a taste, and my eyes rolled back into their sockets: this was insanely! good! The smooth bitterness of the dark chocolate** combined with the crunchy, nutty, caramelized sweetness of the sesame clusters made for a sublime combination, and already I knew that chocolate bar would not live to see the end of the week.

I have since made several more batches of that chocolate bliss, and even invested in two silicone molds such as these to make actual bars with breakable squares (the faint swirls in that picture indicate I failed to temper the chocolate properly that day; I’m still not a pro at it, and the baby was crying). Some of these bars went straight into my belly, others were given away as gifts — one of them to a new mother — and I am happy to say they made a gratifying impression on the recipients.

I’ll note that if you don’t have the time or inclination to make the actual bars, you should consider making just the caramelized sesame: it’s extremely easy and a wonderful treat in its own right.

Join the conversation!

Have you ever made your own chocolate bars? What recipe did you use and how did you like the results?

PS: Make this wonderful Cinnamon Granola Chocolate Slab or these easy Ginger and Almond Chocolate Clusters, and make sure you know How To Taste Chocolate!

* Allow me to explain the pun: La Belle au bois dormant (literally, “the beauty sleeping in the woods”) is French for Sleeping Beauty, and the author of this allergy-conscious blog has replaced bois (woods) by blé (wheat).

** I use Valrhona’s Manjari 64% couverture chocolate.

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Makes one 300-gram (2/3-pound) chocolate bar.

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar Recipe

Ingredients

  • 50 grams (1/3 cup) untoasted sesame seeds
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) white sugar (don't use unrefined cane sugar here as it doesn't caramelize well)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) high-quality bittersweet chocolate, preferably couverture chocolate, finely chopped (I use Valrhona's Manjari 64%)

Instructions

  1. Have ready a silicone loaf pan, a regular loaf pan lined neatly with parchment paper, or silicone chocolate bar molds. Have ready a silicone baking mat or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, toast the sesame seeds until nicely golden and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 teaspoons water and place over medium heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve and caramelize without stirring, just a gentle swirling of the pan from time to time, until it takes on an amber shade.
  4. Add in the sesame seeds and salt, stir quickly and thoroughly with a silicone spatula, and pour onto the prepared baking mat, spreading it as best you can.
  5. Allow to cool completely, then crush in a mortar or with a knife to form smallish clusters, like large chocolate chips.
  6. If you choose to temper your chocolate (recommended):
  7. Have ready a large bowl of ice water, and a food thermometer with a probe.
  8. Put the finely chopped chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl and place it over a pan of just-simmering water over low heat.
  9. Melt the chocolate slowly, stirring frequently to ensure even melting, until the chocolate reaches 50-55°C (122-131°F). Don't let it go over 55°C (131°F).
  10. Place the top bowl containing the chocolate over the bowl of ice water and, scraping the bottom of the bowl and stirring continuously, bring the chocolate down to 28-29°C (82-84°F).
  11. Return the bowl of chocolate over the pan of just-simmering water and, still stirring continuously, allow the chocolate to come up to 31-32°C (88-90°F). Don't go over that temperature or you'll have to start the tempering process from the start.
  12. If you prefer not to temper your chocolate:
  13. Melt the chocolate slowly in a double boiler, stirring frequently to ensure even melting, and remove from the heat as soon as it's entirely melted.
  14. To finish:
  15. Add the sesame clusters to the chocolate (tempered or simply melted), stir well, and pour into the prepared pan or old. Level the surface with a spatula, sprinkle with a good pinch more salt, and allow to set at cool room temperature for a few hours. Cut into bars or squares.
  16. Keep at cool room temperature in an airtight container.
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Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar

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Homemade Croûtons Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/homemade-croutons-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/homemade-croutons-recipe/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 08:42:53 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7542 I hesitate to write this for fear of sounding like I’m bragging, but when it comes to baguettes I am […]

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Homemade Croutons

I hesitate to write this for fear of sounding like I’m bragging, but when it comes to baguettes I am spoiled for choice: within a five-minute walk of my house there are four boulangeries that have won the Best Baguette in Paris award at some point (including one two-time winner!) and three or four more whose baguette skills are very much on par.

This means we never want for a crusty, pointy loaf to go with our soups and our cheese and our spreads, but it also means the temptation of buying a fresh one often leads us to neglect the end section of the previous one, which soon goes stale in its kitchen towel.

Throwing out bread is out of the question, and my go-to trick to upcycle these leftovers is to make croûtons. It takes just about five minutes to cube the baguette and toss it with olive oil, dried herbs, a bit of garlic, and a touch of salt; another ten to bake the croûtons to golden perfection. To save energy, I usually season the croûtons when I have time, then set them aside and wait until I’ve fired up the oven for another use to slip them in.

The resulting croûtons are a treat in and of themselves, but I also like to keep a container at the ready to add to my clean-the-fridge soups, my grated carrots and beets salads, and whatever else would seem to benefit from a crunchy finish.

Join the conversation!

Do you buy or make your own croûtons? What do you like to flavor them with, and use them in?

PS: My very own sourdough baguettes, plus other uses for day-old bread: chocolate almond bettelman, panzanella and gazpacho.

Homemade Croutons Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Homemade Croutons Recipe

Ingredients

  • 150 grams (1/3 pound) stale baguette (2-3 days old)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs, such as Herbes de Provence (thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano...)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and have ready a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Cut the baguette into small cubes. (I start by cutting the bread in slices, then lay 3 or 4 slices flat on the cutting board and cut those into cubes.)
  3. Homemade Croutons
  4. In a medium bowl, put the cubed bread, salt, herbs, and garlic. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to combine. (This can be made ahead of time and kept for a few hours, covered and at room temperature, until you've heated up the oven for another use.)
  5. Homemade Croutons
  6. Spread the seasoned cubes on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, flipping the croutons halfway through, until nicely golden.
  7. Homemade Croutons
  8. Season with pepper and allow to cool completely. The croutons will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/homemade-croutons-recipe/

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Parents Who Cook: Emily Mazo-Rizzi http://chocolateandzucchini.com/interviews/parents-who-cook/parents-who-cook-emily-mazo-rizzi/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/interviews/parents-who-cook/parents-who-cook-emily-mazo-rizzi/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 09:00:49 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7658 Emily Mazo-Rizzi is an American who has been living in Paris since 1999, where she was initially working as an […]

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Emily and her daughter Olivia

Emily Mazo-Rizzi is an American who has been living in Paris since 1999, where she was initially working as an Internet project manager. She then went back to the United States for a year to train as a Pilates instructor, and has been teaching Pilates in Paris since 2010. She is married to a Frenchman, Bruno, and food and cooking have always been a central part of their life together.

I have known Emily for ten years, ever since she first got in touch as a reader of Chocolate & Zucchini, and over this decade she has become my very own Pilates teacher and a cherished friend. Her (adorable) daughter Olivia was born a few months after my own son Milan, so we have shared many a parenting conversation, and I have been so inspired by her way of involving Olivia in the kitchen that I knew I had to have her as a guest of my Parents Who Cook series. She was kind enough to accept my invitation, and I hope you enjoy reading about her approach. Thank you Emily!

clotilde

Can you tell us a few words about your daughter? Her age, name, and temperament?

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

Olivia is two and a half as I write. She is easygoing, observant, calm, curious, sweet, loves to move and loves to laugh. She adores cooking with us. She’s hesitant about trying new foods and shy about meeting new people, but ends up trying and warming up.

clotilde

Did having a child change the way you cook?

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

Most definitely. In fact I think there is not a single aspect of my life that hasn’t changed since having a child! My husband Bruno and I used to spend well over an hour cooking dinner together each night. Our meals were not necessarily elaborate but we had two or three different things on our plates, or a starter and main course. Now we tend to have one-dish meals or one hot dish and one cold — usually some kind of a salad.

I am a Pilates instructor and work two evenings a week, so Bruno prepares meals on those evenings. The other nights I usually start preparing our meal while Olivia eats, then he takes over while I give her a bath. We haven’t gotten organized enough yet to eat early and together on weeknights, but that will be our goal for next fall.

clotilde

Do you remember what it was like to cook with a newborn? Any tips or saving grace for new parents going through that phase?

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

Part of my nesting in preparing for Olivia’s arrival was making tomato sauce. She was born in October so we had good tomatoes from our farmer at the greenmarket until then. Bruno would laugh at me because we’d buy one or two kilos of tomatoes a week, and I’d cook them up into sauce and freeze them. It reassured me to know that when our baby was born we’d at least have homemade tomato sauce to put on pasta or make some sautéed veggies more interesting. We also made and froze a lot of chicken broth for risottos, soups, sauces. I think preparing your own food in advance is a great way to be ready for the baby’s birth.

Then when the baby arrived there was more take-out than we’ve ever had before or since. Bruno proudly donned his role as hunter-gatherer and headed out into cold, usually rainy, and then snowy Paris to come back with simple things to prepare. We love our greens so there were always vegetables. We also tried to make extra so there would be leftovers for the next day.

In the US, friends and family bring food to new parents. I wish that were the case in Paris! I think if I have another child I will be more forward and tell our friends coming to meet the baby: “Please don’t bring us any more baby presents; please bring us dinner!” A few American friends did and we were so grateful.

Olivia making cinnamon cookies

Olivia making cinnamon cookies

clotilde

Over time, have you developed staple dishes or strategies that make it possible to prepare a meal and keep the kid happy at the same time?

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

We try to prepare Olivia’s food in advance; it started when she was a baby. On Sunday, we’d go to the greenmarket and use our fresh produce to concoct industrial quantities of apple sauce or other fruit compotes, puréed carrots, potatoes, zucchini, etc. Just like another parent featured in this column, Tamami Haga, we also freeze everything flat in zip-lock bags. We have a small freezer so it helps to save space. (Be sure to label and date everything!)

As Olivia has moved beyond purées, we’ve continued to prepare food for her in advance and freeze it. It’s amazing how many things freeze really well. She loves Clotilde’s roasted cauliflower minus the fish sauce; I just made a batch for her last night. Now that she’s older, we also try to make extra of what we have for dinner and she’ll eat it the next night. For her starch we have a wide variety of pasta, rice, and grains on hand. I also cook, purée and freeze potatoes and sweet potatoes. I add vegetables to everything, for example: mashed potatoes AND zucchini, mashed sweet potato AND Hokkaido squash, omelet with spinach or Swiss chard, etc.

Olivia was in her baby seat in the kitchen with us at a pretty young age, so she’s used to it. As she got older she would play with toys or draw while we cooked. I kept special toys in the kitchen just for the high chair. Now, she eats while we cook our meal and she helps cook her own.

Olivia rolling out the dough for cinnamon cookies

Olivia rolling out the dough for cinnamon cookies

clotilde

Have you found ways to involve your daughter in the cooking process?

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

Olivia began cooking with us just before she turned two. I started by having her make cookies with me on a Saturday morning when we didn’t have any time constraints. She helped me measure: scooping ingredients, pressing the buttons on the scale. Then she pressed the buttons on the food processor. She loves watching it go! Then cutting the cookies into shapes, placing them on the tray. At some point I “sacrificed” some dough and let her play with it. When our product was complete she gave an enthusiastic “Woooow!” and was delighted to taste!

Now we try to give her any task she can manage. Putting salt in the pot before we pour in the boiling water for pasta or a grain. Deveining spinach is a great sorting game; washing it is a lot of fun! She takes the frozen food out of bags and discovers the cold and wet feeling. She helps cut butter to put on her quinoa, bulgur, or other grain. We’re teaching her to pour carefully, stir, beat, and even cut. She enjoys brushing olive oil and vegetables to grill. Bruno has her put her hand on his when he cuts soft things like avocado or beet, and she knows to “puuuush”, she truly guides the movement. When I cut she says, “Watch your fingers, Mommy!” She takes things out of the fridge and puts them away upon request.

I think it works for us because she has come to understand that the kitchen is an important place for our family. We’ve taught her that cooking is a privilege and she knows that if she doesn’t follow instructions she loses the privilege. She has been very upset when that has happened, so it happens rarely.

Olivia manning the gas stove (!)

Olivia manning the gas stove (!)

clotilde

As someone who’s passionate about food, can you talk about the joys and challenges of feeding your child, and how you go about teaching her to be a happy, adventurous eater?

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

We were so incredibly excited for Olivia to try solid food, we thought she would open her mouth, taste, swallow and ask for more. We were sorely disappointed. Puréed carrots were at first some bizarre form of torture. This initial experience was indicative of the ups and downs of the whole process of teaching a child about food. As young children try foods for the first time, it’s important to stay calm and not feel offended when your child rejects the dish you just spent hours preparing. Freeze the leftovers and then try and try again! I can’t remember where I heard or read a pediatrician say a child has to try a food thirty times before determining that he or she really and truly does not like it!

Olivia is resistant to trying new things. We ask her to taste one bite, sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn’t, and then we don’t make her finish it if she doesn’t want to. We do know, however, that even though she resists trying, she usually ends up eating the thing and liking it.

We tend to be more strict at home about having her eat all or most of her meal before moving on to yogurt or fruit. When we’re out at restaurants or with friends, we offer her a bit of everything and don’t make a big deal if she doesn’t eat a well-rounded meal. Learning to choose your battles is another key to parenting in general, and to happy meals.

Like so many things children learn by example. We see mealtime as a fun, relaxing and pleasant time to eat delicious foods, try new foods and be together as a family. We feed her things we eat ourselves and always encourage her to taste. She wants to do what we do, she wants to eat what we eat. We even feed her things we don’t like — beets and sheep’s milk yogurt for example — and she loves them. Maybe we have to try them thirty times too!

Olivia

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May 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/uncategorized/may-2015-desktop-calendar-2/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/uncategorized/may-2015-desktop-calendar-2/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 22:05:07 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7468 At the beginning of every month in 2015, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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May 2015 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2015, 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 May is a photo of happy strawberries, grown in actual soil and picked ripe, which means they are as flavorsome and fragrant as they are fragile: this kind of strawberry is necessarily local and is best eaten within a day or two of purchase, but that’s rarely a problem at my house. If you’re seeking inspiration, check out these strawberry recipes.

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 Peanut Sauce Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/dips-spreads/easy-peanut-sauce-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/dips-spreads/easy-peanut-sauce-recipe/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 09:00:14 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6457 Nothing gets my culinary self as excited as finding a recipe that’s versatile, effortless, and uses ingredients I usually keep […]

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Easy Peanut Sauce

Nothing gets my culinary self as excited as finding a recipe that’s versatile, effortless, and uses ingredients I usually keep on hand at all times. And this peanut sauce, submitted to the Food52 site by Phoebe Lapine, is one such discovery.

It calls for all pantry items, among which I count the fresh ginger and garlic: I always have a chunk of the former in my fridge (where it keeps for weeks and weeks) and a head of the latter (preferably pink) on my counter. Only the lime juice requires a bit of foresight on my part, but it’s optional (it was a commenter’s suggestion, one I absolutely agree with) and lemon juice can also do in a pinch.

It is also the easiest thing to make: all you need is a small mixer or blender to whizz together the ingredients, thin the mixture with a little bit of water, and there you have it, a boldly flavorsome peanut sauce that you can:

  • Toss with some noodles, perhaps adding some minced scallions, grated carrots, and cilantro for color and vitamins,
  • Dollop onto a bowl of brown rice with some mushrooms and sweet potatoes,
  • Use as a dip for crudités (think sticks of carrot, cucumber, or kohlrabi, radishes of any color…),
  • Serve as a sauce alongside grilled skewers of (organic) chicken, (sustainable) fish, or (ethically sourced) shrimp,
  • Drizzle over a plate of steamed or roasted vegetables (think broccoli, green beans, bok choy, any kind of leafy green)…

And the best part is, you can make this sauce ahead of time — say, on the weekend — and keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, ready to roll whenever you need to put together a quickie meal or a satisfying snack.

Join the conversation!

Have I convinced you to adopt peanut sauce into your repertoire, if it isn’t in there already? And how are you most tempted to use it?

Easy Peanut Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes about 300 ml (1 1/4 cups).

Easy Peanut Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) all-natural, smooth peanut butter
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) soy sauce (use gluten-free tamari if needed)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey, rice syrup, or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili sauce, such as Tabasco or sriracha, to taste
  • 1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

Instructions

  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons water and process again until you get a creamy, coating consistency to match the intended use -- thicker to use as a dip, thinner to dress noodles.
  3. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. After refrigerating, the sauce will have thickened and you'll probably need to whisk in a touch more water to give it the consistency you want.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/dips-spreads/easy-peanut-sauce-recipe/

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Vegan Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/vegan-chocolate-banana-muffins-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/vegan-chocolate-banana-muffins-recipe/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 11:02:59 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7556 Experience has twice shown that I am not the kind of person who, when pregnant, cooks up big batches of […]

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Banana Chocolate Muffins

Experience has twice shown that I am not the kind of person who, when pregnant, cooks up big batches of soup and lasagna in advance of the birth to stash away in her freezer for times of sleep-deprived need.

For one thing, my freezer is Paris-kitchen-tiny and already packed with chicken carcasses for stock and chopped onions and stalks of lemongrass. But also, it would require more organizational skills than I seem to possess and I was scrambling to prepare our regular dinners as it was, so there wasn’t much time or energy left for post-birth meal planning.

However, it may tell you something about my priorities to know that Mika’s arrival didn’t catch me completely unprepared: I did have room in that shoebox-sized freezer for a half-dozen chocolate banana muffins that I was overjoyed to find when I returned from the maternité with an infant and a wolf’s appetite.

The recipe for these vegan muffins is based on this winning vegan coconut banana bread, which I modified to skip the grated coconut, add coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate, and bake in muffin form, with a sprinkle of unrefined sugar so the top part is extra extra desirable.

The texture of these muffins is astoundingly satisfying, moist and tender and chocolate-chunky, the flavors are big and bold, and they are pretty easy to put together, so they are an ideal baking project if you’re pressed for time and energy but mighty hungry.

Join the conversation!

Are you the sort of cook who would prepare well in advance of big events, such as a birth or a scheduled medical procedure? What sort of dish or treat would you make ahead then?

Banana Chocolate Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Makes 12 muffins.

Vegan Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe

Ingredients

  • 130 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 130 grams (1 cup) rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 150 grams (3/4 cup) unrefined cane sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
  • 150 grams (5 1/3 ounces) good-quality bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3 very ripe bananas, (about 350 grams or 3/4 pound without the skin), thawed if frozen
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons homemade vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and line a 12-muffin muffin tray with muffin liners (I use reusable silicone liners).
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt, 150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar, and chopped chocolate. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a second medium bowl, mash the bananas with the oils, extract, and vinegar until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ones until no trace of flour remains, without overmixing.
  5. Banana Chocolate Muffins
  6. Scoop into the muffin molds, and sprinkle the tops with the tablespoon sugar.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned and crusty. Let cool on a rack before serving.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/vegan-chocolate-banana-muffins-recipe/

Banana Chocolate Muffins

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Miso Glazed Flank Steak Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/meat-charcuterie/miso-glazed-flank-steak-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/meat-charcuterie/miso-glazed-flank-steak-recipe/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 14:00:33 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/uncategorized/miso-glazed-flank-steak-recipe/ I only ever buy meat from Mathieu, my butcher of choice at the organic greenmarket on Saturday mornings. I used […]

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Miso Glazed Flank Steak

I only ever buy meat from Mathieu, my butcher of choice at the organic greenmarket on Saturday mornings. I used to stop by every week and get enough for two meals or so, but the line is so long these days — word must have gotten out that his stuff is good — that I had to change my strategy: I go less frequently, buy a little more, and freeze the extra. (On the weeks that I don’t buy meat, I get eggs directly from Mathieu’s wife, Laure, who stands at the register, thus skipping the line. This is accepted practice and can be done without feeling wrathful gazes flare up your back.)

My favorite items to get are duck breasts, which I rub with spices and roast, pork tenderloin, boudins blancs, and andouillettes (chitterlings sausage), all of which freeze very well. And every once in a while, when I’m in the mood for red meat, I get slices of bavette (flank steak) or merlan (a lesser-known, tender cut from the inner thigh) to have for lunch when I get back from the market.

Because this is very flavorsome meat, I usually cook it in the simplest of ways, by just searing it in a grill pan. But the other day I decided to try something a little different and marinated the meat in a paste-like, miso-based marinade. It was so quickly assembled and yielded such savory results it may well become a Saturday lunch staple around here.

If you take a look at the ingredients’ list for the marinade, you’ll notice that I used fresh turmeric, found at the organic store. The skin was a little wrinkled, but it was the first time I’d seen any for sale, so I jumped at the opportunity anyway. As the young man who rung up my purchases remarked, the rhizomes look like cut fingers (he’s lucky it’s my kind of humor). They can be peeled, grated, and used much like ginger, and just like ginger, the fresh stuff has little to do with its dried and ground persona, which I’ve always thought tasted a bit musty. The one caveat is that fresh turmeric is a powerful tincture that will, if you’re not careful, stain your countertop, hands, sleeves, food processor, left cheek, and favorite napkin with highlighter yellow, near indelible blotches. Just thought you might like to know.

Fresh turmeric

Miso Glazed Flank Steak Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serves 2.

Miso Glazed Flank Steak Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon miso (a paste of fermented soy, barley and/or rice; pick one that's gluten-free as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (I use a low sodium tamari; pick one that's gluten-free as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • shichimi tōgarashi (or other type of ground chili pepper, with or without added spices), to taste
  • A small section of fresh turmeric or ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 slices flank steak (bavette in French), about 260 grams (9 ounces) total

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the miso, mirin, soy sauce, oil, tōgarashi, and turmeric to form a paste. Add the meat, stir and flip to coat well on all sides. Cover and leave to marinate at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time. (You could prepare this in advance and marinate the meat for a few hours; keep the bowl in the fridge then and take it out 20 minutes before cooking.)
  2. Place a lightly greased skillet or grill pan over high heat. When it is very hot, add the steaks to the pan and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes without disturbing. Flip the meat, brush it with what's left of the marinade (see note), and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on the other side. (Depending on the thickness of the steaks and the hotness of your stove, this will produce rare to medium-rare meat; adjust the cooking time to the desired doneness).
  3. Transfer the steaks to a plate or cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest for 2 to 3 minutes before serving. Serve with a salad of mâche, or slice into crosswise strips to eat with chopsticks over Japanese rice.

Notes

For food safety reasons, most recipes instruct that the marinade in which meat has been marinating be cooked, but this is meat so fresh I would feel comfortable eating it raw, and very little marinade is left in the bowl, so I don't feel it's necessary to cook it off. If you prefer to be on the super-safe side, skip the brushing step.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/meat-charcuterie/miso-glazed-flank-steak-recipe/

Miso Glazed Flank Steak

This post was originally published on March 25, 2009.

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April 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/april-2015-desktop-calendar/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/april-2015-desktop-calendar/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 22:05:36 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7461 At the beginning of every month in 2015, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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April 2015 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2015, 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 April is a photo of the gorgeous jumbo walnuts I bought in the Périgord last summer, which gave me an opportunity to learn how to open walnuts without a nutcracker (and prompted you to offer all kinds of alternative tips in the comments).

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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March Favorites http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/march-favorites-3/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/march-favorites-3/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:00:39 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7636 A few reads and finds from the past month: ~ Not sure what to do with goat cheese? My suggestions […]

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Goat Cheese

A few reads and finds from the past month:

~ Not sure what to do with goat cheese? My suggestions in FRANCE Magazine.

~ Learn more about my kitchen staples and habits with this Kitchen Encounter in The Guardian.

~ Where to find the world’s best éclairs.

~ My 10 perfect food experiences to have in Paris.

~ Food bloggers name their most anticipated new cookbook. Find out what mine is!

~ 57 tips to be a better cook.

~ What Ira Glass’s work routine looks like.

~ I want to make these cornbread waffles.

~ My top 10 foods to try in Paris.

~ Tempted to make this apple, lime and chia smoothies.

~ These funky chocolates illustrate Japanese words for texture, from poki-poki to zaku-zaku.

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Butterless Apple Crumble Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/desserts/butterless-apple-crumble-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/desserts/butterless-apple-crumble-recipe/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 11:15:00 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/uncategorized/butterless-apple-crumble-recipe/ It’s only recently that I’ve realized that the crumble topping of a fruit crumble doesn’t have to be made with […]

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Butterless Apple Crumble

It’s only recently that I’ve realized that the crumble topping of a fruit crumble doesn’t have to be made with butter to be crisp and delicious.

Did you know? Am I the last person to find out?

The epiphany came from my intensive granola-making activities: after all, isn’t granola a second cousin to the crumble topping? And if I make granola with oil, not butter, why not try that in a crumble?

And so, for the past few months — since the beginning of this year’s apple season, really — I have gone butterless with all of my apple crumbles. (And I’ve made quite a few.)

There are several benefits. First, the crumble topping is considerably faster to mix: measure the ingredients, combine in a bowl, stir with a fork, and that’s it, you’re done. No dicing of butter, and no rubbing either. It takes five minutes tops, including the time to put all the ingredients and utensils back where they belong and wipe down the counter if you’ve spilled a little flour, which no recipe prep time in the world accounts for.

Second, I find that the absence of butter shifts the balance of flavor so that the (good unrefined) sugars that you use, the spices, and of course the apples themselves, sing through with a more subtle complexity.

And third, those who avoid dairy for whatever reason will be grateful for an apple crumble they can eat, especially one that can stand proudly on its own, without the crutch of crème fraîche or ice cream that seems to be automatically tacked on.

One more note about my apple crumbles of late: I like to half-peel the apples in alternating strips. Not because I’m half-lazy, though maybe I am, but because I like the rustic touch of finding a few pieces of apple skin in my crumble, and half-peeled apples deliver just the right amount. I also pick a mix of apple varieties — like I do for my apple tarts — to get as vivacious an apple taste as possible.

I hope you’ll give it a try. But for the die-hard butter lovers out there who simply must have it in their apple desserts, I recommend this rather outstanding brown butter spiced crisp.

Butterless Apple Crumble Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Serves 8.

Butterless Apple Crumble Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces, about 3/4 cup) flour (I use spelt flour)
  • 100 grams (1 cup) rolled grains of your choice (oat, spelt, wheat, rye, quinoa, rice, barley... or a mix thereof)
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) rapadura sugar
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar (you can use the combination of unrefined sugars that you prefer, or just one)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use fresh cinnamon from Cinnamon Hill)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mango powder (at Indian markets ; substitute the spice of your choice)
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) oil (I use a bottled blend of four organic oils)
  • 1.5 kilos organic apples (3 1/3 pounds, about 8 medium), preferably a mix of varieties, some that keep their shape when cooked, some that don't

Instructions

  1. Make the crumble topping up to a day in advance: in a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients from flour to oil, and stir well with a fork to combine, making sure all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the oil. If making in advance, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge.
  2. On the day of serving, preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Peel the apples in alternating vertical stripes so that you retain some, but not all of the peel. Quarter and core the apples, then cut into smallish chunks.
  3. Arrange the apple chunks over the bottom of a baking dish (the one I generally use is a 25-cm or 10" square) and sprinkle evenly with the topping.
  4. Insert in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until the apples are tender and the topping golden brown, checking regularly to make sure it doesn't darken too much (if it does, cover loosely with a piece of parchment paper).
  5. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. You can bake the crumble a few hours in advance, and reheat slightly before serving: if the oven was in use for the main course, I'll just put the crumble in the cooling oven while we eat. The leftovers are fantastic straight out of the fridge the next day.
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This post was originally published on March 29, 2011.

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