Chocolate & Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com Sat, 28 Feb 2015 23:05:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 March 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/march-2015-desktop-calendar/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/march-2015-desktop-calendar/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 23:05:50 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7455 At the beginning of every month in 2015, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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March 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 March is a picture of this crisp and flavorful paleo granola in my beloved granola scoop from Earlywood, which is actually sold as a coffee scoop but is the perfect shape and size for granola.

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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How To Cut and Peel Hard Winter Squash http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tips-tricks/how-to-cut-and-peel-hard-winter-squash/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tips-tricks/how-to-cut-and-peel-hard-winter-squash/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 10:00:26 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7503 Winter squashes, with their wonderful range of shapes, colors, patterns and flavors, are definitely among the sweeter treats of the […]

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Sweet Dumpling Squash and Pattypan Squash.

Winter squashes, with their wonderful range of shapes, colors, patterns and flavors, are definitely among the sweeter treats of the cold months. But the sweetness comes at a price: first, you have to roll up your sleeves and find some way to cut and peel the lovely beasts without losing a finger to the process.

Indeed, while some — especially in the early season — boast a thin rind easily peeled with a vegetable peeler, or even one that’s edible (cue love letter to the Hokkaido squash, potimarron in French), most secure their tender flesh underneath a tough outer shell that challenges even the sharpest chef’s knife. The task is made trickier by the shape of the squash, which is rarely stable enough that you can hack at it safely. And even if you do manage to cut your way through, working your paring knife along the grooves and ridges of the rind can be awkward and time-consuming.

Fortunately, there is an easier way, which I’ve recently adopted: it consists in par-cooking the squash for a very short time in a pan of simmering water to just soften the rind: after this treatment, only the very outside of the squash is cooked, which means you remain free to do with it as you please, whether you want to boil it, roast it, braise it, or stir-fry it (take your pick).

Here’s how to proceed:

Pattypan squash taking a simmering bath in my 4-quart Staub cocotte.

Pattypan squash taking a bath in my 4-quart Staub cocotte.

1- Scrub the squash clean, and find a cooking vessel large enough to accommodate. The squash doesn’t need to be fully immersed (see step 3 1/2 below) but it needs to be a reasonable fit.

2- With the squash sitting inside the pot (just so you know how much water to use), fill it with fresh water. Remove the squash and bring the water to a simmer.

3- Lower the squash carefully into the water, and allow to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

3 1/2- If the squash wasn’t entirely immersed during step 3, flip it carefully in the water so the top part is now immersed. Allow to simmer for 2 to 3 more minutes.

4- Lift the squash carefully from the pot and drain; I use two large spoons as hand extensions of sorts to lift out the squash. Obviously you want to have a secure hold on it: if you were to drop the squash back in, you may burn yourself with the splashing water. I prefer this to draining the water out as I want to save the water (see step 6).

5- You will find the squash can now be effortlessly sliced or cubed, and the rind easily peeled, using a simple vegetable peeler and without wasting the flesh that’s right underneath the skin (where a lot of the good stuff lies).

6- Reuse the water to soften the rind on any other squashes you may have on hand (I generally do several in a row, freezing the excess as needed), and/or use to make soup or stock, cook other vegetables, grains and legumes, or at the very least, once cooled, water your plants.

Note: If you prefer, the par-cooking can also be done in a steamer for 5 minutes or so.

Join the conversation!

Have you ever been intimidated by hard-rind winter squash? Have you found or developed other techniques to deal with it while keeping all your limbs attached?

Pattypan squash, easily sliced in two after simmering (using my beloved chef's knife).

Pattypan squash, easily sliced in two after simmering (using my beloved chef’s knife).

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Light and Crisp Waffles Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/light-and-crisp-waffles-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/light-and-crisp-waffles-recipe/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:31:15 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7327 Every Sunday morning throughout my childhood, my father took my sister and me to the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a charming amusement […]

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Light and Crisp Waffles

Every Sunday morning throughout my childhood, my father took my sister and me to the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a charming amusement park for children with structures to climb, goats to feed, carousels and bumper cars. It was quite the SuperDad thing to do: my sister and I had a blast of course, and I imagine my mother treasured those hours of weekend tranquillity.

Between an Enchanted River boat ride (I will forever remember the unique smell of stagnant water and weeping willows) and a game of Whac-a-Mole (we called it boum-tap), we were allowed a treat at one of the park’s snack outlets.

And this is where I developed my taste for the kind of light waffles one finds at fun fairs in France: crisp on the outside, creamy soft on the inside, steaming hot in the cold winter morning air. All kinds of toppings were proffered — whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chestnut cream — but we favored the generous sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar that left the tips of our noses white.

I haven’t bought a waffle like this in years, though I have sometimes been tempted by the smell wafting from the stands on Paris’ Grands Boulevards, or the one propped up against the carousel where I take my own son now. But as I researched recipe ideas to use my spiffy waffle maker, I found this good-sounding formula on a blog written by food stylist and writer Isabelle Guerre.

Said recipe, along with the author’s helpful tips, has largely lived up to its promise. I’ve made it so many times since that I know it by heart, and it takes me barely ten minutes to whip up the batter. I enjoy making it when we have friends coming over in the afternoon: whatever the age, everyone loves a freshly made waffle, and gets wide-eyed like a child when the golden squares materialize from the iron.

(I’ll note that this kind of waffle batter is simply a thicker crêpe batter with leavening added, which means it can be cooked in the skillet to make pancake-ish crêpes if you have a child who, because he’s two and a half and opposition is his job, insists he wants a crêpe, not a waffle.)

Light and Crisp Waffles

Light and Crisp Waffles Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Serves 6.

Light and Crisp Waffles Recipe

Ingredients

  • 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces, about 2 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour (I use a French organic T65)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 75 grams (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 100 grams (7 tablespoons) melted butter, cooled (you can also use coconut oil, or a mix of the two)
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk (dairy or non-dairy)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. Make a well in center and add in the butter and eggs. Whisk to combine with part of the flour.
  3. Pour in the milk slowly and whisk continually to get a smooth batter (but a few lumps won't kill anyone). The batter will resemble pancake batter.
  4. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. (The batter will then keep for a day or two, but it gives best results after 1 hour.) Whisk again before using.
  5. Preheat the waffle iron (on mine, the ideal temp is 190°C or 375°F). Grease if necessary (mine is non-stick) and pour the batter in with a small ladle. Each waffle mold should be filled enough that the waffle will rise to the top, but not so much that the dough will overflow. It may take a couple of tries to get the amount just right for your waffle iron; make sure you remember what that is for subsequent batches.
  6. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the waffles are golden brown. To get a sense of how the cooking is going, watch the steam that escapes from the iron; it will lessen significantly when the waffles are almost ready. At that point, you can open the waffle iron carefully to check on the color of the waffles (if you open the waffle iron too early, you risk having your waffles split from the middle).
  7. Let stand for 2 minutes on a wire rack before serving with confectioner's sugar, maple syrup, whipped cream, chestnut cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate shavings, etc.

Notes

  • Recipe adapted from Isabelle Guerre's.
  • If you have leftover batter and don't feel like lugging out the waffle iron, you can cook the batter in a skillet to make pancakes.

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Light and Crisp Waffles

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Veggivore: French Cookbook Release (+ Giveaway!) http://chocolateandzucchini.com/books-cookbooks/veggivore-french-cookbook-release-giveaway/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/books-cookbooks/veggivore-french-cookbook-release-giveaway/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 15:06:17 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7360 I am delighted to announce that The French Market Cookbook, my book of French vegetarian recipes, is being released in […]

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Veggivore Cover

I am delighted to announce that The French Market Cookbook, my book of French vegetarian recipes, is being released in France today under the title Veggivore.

Just like the original French Market Cookbook, Veggivore is a collection of original, colorful recipes to cook with vegetables according to the seasons, with lots of tips and stay-with-you ideas to eat tasty and healthful dishes daily. I have translated and adapted the texts for my French readers so that it is similar in spirit, but slightly different in tone and content.

Veggivore is a beautiful hard-cover book with a refreshing layout and inspiring photographs. It is now available from French bookstores and on Amazon France, and it is scheduled for release in Canada on March 11 (Amazon Canada has it on pre-order). If you have a French-speaking friend you think would enjoy it, please consider letting him/her know, and maybe even surprise him/her with a copy! (And if you still don’t have your own copy of The French Market Cookbook, you can read more about it here.)

Win a copy of Veggivore !

To celebrate the release, I have three copies of this French book to give away. To participate, head over to the French version of this post and leave a comment (in French or in English) telling me about your greatest challenge when cooking with vegetables. You have until Wednesday, February 11 midnight (Paris time); I will then draw three entries randomly and announce the winners. Good luck!

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February 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/february-2015-desktop-calendar/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/february-2015-desktop-calendar/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 23:05:36 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7297 At the beginning of every month in 2015, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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February 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 February is a picture of the little jar of dried herbs that lives by my stove. It’s a mix I got in Corsica called herbes du maquis, but it is quite similar to herbes de Provence and is used in much the same way: you can apply it on meat and fish as a dry rub or marinade, fold it into bread or cracker dough, and use it to flavour grains, legumes, and vegetables.

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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Seaweed and Seed Crackers Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/appetizers/seaweed-and-seed-crackers-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/appetizers/seaweed-and-seed-crackers-recipe/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:41:03 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7304 The story of these crackers started quite serendipitously. I had prepared my trusty olive oil tart crust to make one […]

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Seaweed and Seed Crackers

The story of these crackers started quite serendipitously.

I had prepared my trusty olive oil tart crust to make one of my favorite dishes ever, the onion and cumin quiche featured in my first book. I was left with some scraps, which I usually bake in whatever shape they happen to come out in, to nibble on at a later date. But this time I decided to go one step further and stamp out crackers using an actual cookie cutter, and the first one I grabbed when I reached into my cavernous miscellany cabinet was a puzzle shape I’ve owned for years and years.

I had enough leftover dough to make, oh, about three, but they were such a hit with my two-and-a-half-year-old (crackers! puzzle-shaped! what’s not to like?) that I soon whipped up another batch of the dough just for this purpose. The crackers have been on heavy rotation at my house since then, pleasing toddlers and adults alike.

Over time I have fiddled with the recipe to boost the flavor (and nutrition), eventually settling on this favorite version, which includes mixed seeds (sesame, chia, and flax) and dried seaweed flakes (all of these are easily found at natural food stores).

These crackers are thin and delightfully crisp, with air pockets that form randomly and add to the thrill of them. We tend to snack on them as is, either to hold us over till the next meal or to accompany a pre-dinner drink, but naturally they’d do just as well with the dip or spread of your choice, such as these colorful and veg-heavy beet hummus or peacamole.

PS: Add more fuel to your cracker fire with these Zaatar pita chips, Cheese thins, and Chestnut and herb canistrelli.

Seaweed and Seed Crackers

Seaweed and Seed Crackers Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Makes about 3 dozen crackers.

Seaweed and Seed Crackers Recipe

Ingredients

  • 250 grams (8.8 ounces, see note) light whole wheat flour (French T80), or a 50/50 mix of all-purpose and whole wheat
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 2 tablespoons whole or ground chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
  • 3 tablespoons dried seaweed flakes (I use a three-color mix that contains dulse, nori and sea lettuce)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, salt, seeds, and seaweed in a medium mixing bowl. Add the oil and water, and mix them in with a fork or dough whisk until the dough comes together. Add a touch more water as needed.
  2. Seaweed and Seed Crackers
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  5. Divide the dough in two. Keep one refrigerated and place the other on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out fairly thinly -- 1 to 2 mm, about 1/16" -- adding a little more flour underneath and on the dough when it seems on the verge of sticking. Try to work in quick, assertive gestures to avoid overworking the dough.
  6. Using a cookie cutter, stamp out as many crackers as you can and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet as you go. Gather the dough scraps into a ball, roll it out again, and repeat. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
  7. Seaweed and Seed Crackers
  8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden to golden brown; chances are you'll have a bit of both due to slightly different thicknesses. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  9. The crackers keep for a week or two in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
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Seaweed and Seed Crackers

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Parents Who Cook: Laurie Colwin http://chocolateandzucchini.com/interviews/parents-who-cook/parents-who-cook-laurie-colwin/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/interviews/parents-who-cook/parents-who-cook-laurie-colwin/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:04:46 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7271 Have you read anything by Laurie Colwin? She was an American author based in New York City, who wrote novels […]

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Laurie Colwin celebrating her daughter Rosa's 4th birthday in 1988.

Have you read anything by Laurie Colwin?

She was an American author based in New York City, who wrote novels and also penned a column in Gourmet magazine for a few years, writing about her kitchen life in such a warm, witty, and approachable way that it was impossible then, and remains impossible now, for the reader not to develop a strong connection to her. These essays were published as two collections, Home Cooking: A Writer In The Kitchen and later More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns To The Kitchen, which have become cult reads for admirers of quality food writing, sharing shelf space with the work of M.F.K. Fisher, Edna Lewis or Alice B. Toklas.

Ms. Colwin died unexpectedly in 1992, at the unfair age of 48, and left a daughter, Rosa, who was only eight at the time. Rosa Jurjevics is now thirty and works as a writer, animator, and multimedia producer — she founded Big Creature Media a couple of years ago — and I had the opportunity to get in touch with her last fall, when Open Road released Colwin’s books as ebooks for the very first time, and offered the contact to promote this release.

I immediately jumped at the chance to feature Laurie Colwin, whose writing — both fiction and nonfiction — I greatly admire, as part of my Parents Who Cook series, in which I explore how children shape and inform a cook’s kitchen life. This is the first installment in which it is the child who speaks, and I am grateful to Rosa for sharing such touching and uplifting memories from her childhood. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Please consider downloading one of Laurie Colwin’s wonderful books from Open Media, and do share any of your own memories or tips about cooking with and for children!

clotilde

Can you tell us a few words about the kind of child you were, and the kind of mother your mother was — both in general and with regards to food?

Rosa Jurjevics

I was a headstrong kid and spoke my mind – asked or not. A teacher once wrote on a school report that I was the tallest in my class and that my mother had referred to me as her “Viking child.” I’m not sure if this was a nod to my Baltic heritage (though Latvians were not Vikings, to my knowledge) or simply to suggest that I was a bit brutish in manner and stature. I admit to being both of these things as a child!

My mother was a similarly opinionated person, and she seemed to like having an opinionated kid – even when we clashed over, say, what was and was not appropriate for my school lunch. Open dialogue was encouraged, but I was a handful (to say the least), and there were definitely many times that I wore my poor mother out with pestering, arguing, or throwing fits.

I adored my mother’s cooking. It would have been hard not to. She put so much care into it, so much thought, and really loved to do it. People flocked to her table, and were so happy to hang out in the kitchen as she cooked. She would constantly ask her dinner guests to taste things and give their honest opinions of them. She wasn’t a showy cook, or one who kept her methods to herself, but instead really delighted in sharing food, recipes, and conversation.

Still, there were times when it was hard to be the kid who ate the “weird food.” My mother had very strong opinions about things that were good and bad for kids and for people in general. Keeping perishables in plastic was bad. Making jam from scratch was good. She didn’t like to budge much on the subject of good and bad. Though a lot of my classmates and neighborhood chums learned that they loved gingerbread and salmon and asparagus at my house, I envied them their Oreos and American cheese slices and radioactively colored “juices” nonetheless.

There were times I wished that I could just be “normal” and get chocolate-laden granola bars in my lunchbox (a pink, formerly Barbie-themed plastic trunk with the doll decal scraped off and cat stickers in its place) instead of a kiwi fruit, or have Wonderbread on my sandwich instead of slices from a Bread Alone boule. Some battles I won (fruit roll-ups, the kind that involved peeling Little Mermaid characters from their centers) and others I lost (no store-bought cookies!), and so I continued to be the first-grader with the goat’s milk yogurt and smoked Gouda. Years later, an old friend told me how jealous she’d been of my lunch. “All I got was tuna fish,” she told me. “And maybe a yogurt. Your food was exciting!” And she was right.

Laurie Colwin and her then 2-year-old daughter Rosa in 1986.

Laurie Colwin and her then 2-year-old daughter Rosa in 1986.

clotilde

What did family meals look like when you were a young child (the good, the bad and the ugly)?

Rosa Jurjevics

The meal I remember best was our standing Friday night roast chicken dinner. This was my mother’s version of a secular Shabbat. No prayers, but long, tapered candles and conversation – about our days, what we were looking forward to over the weekend, or what I learned at school. Her roast chicken was just heavenly, dusted with paprika, then slow-cooked (and basted!) in a pan for hours. I remember her carving it at the table and how juicy the meat was. Just perfect!

I also recall her dinner parties, too, how she’d put out the filigreed silver if we were having fish or a tureen if we were having soup. I got to pick the tablecloth, which was usually an elaborate sheet meant for bedding but also happened to fit our farmhouse table for ten quite nicely. The dinner parties would stretch long into the night, and I’d be put to bed before they were over. My room was next to the dining room and was closed off by two slatted doors, so I would fall asleep to the gentle sound of the guests’ voices and laughter.

The only ugly I can remember was the one time she tried to make fish head soup. She realized her mistake, though, and none of us had to eat it!

clotilde

Do you think having a child changed the way your mother cooked, and if so, how?

Rosa Jurjevics

After I came along, I think my mother really got to fuss in a way she never had before – and I say that with love, and as a positive thing! Fussing over someone doesn’t just mean restricting their intake of commercially made peanut butter, for example, but also means that the fusser may cut up the fussee’s toast into “postage stamps” when they are sick (a family tradition).

My mother got to watch me eat all these delicious things for the first time, and gauge my reaction to what she had me try. I was over the moon for salmon, apparently, and lemons. Cornichon pickles disappeared if left in my line of sight for too long, and I went nuts for rhubarb (just as my father did and does). I ate meat, fish, bread, jam, Indian food, Chinese food, Ethiopian food, black bean soup, and that goat’s milk yogurt. My mother loved witnessing my ‘aha’ food moments, and said in one of the cookbooks (I can’t remember which) that she wished she could go back in time and discover certain foods all over again.

My mother also made friends with my friends and their parents via cooking, and often had my classmates and their parents over for dinner, some of whom loved to share their own culinary favorites. One mother of a friend of mine had grown up in Hong Kong, so we all spent many hours in Chinatown together, gobbling up dim sum and poking around in the shops there. I still love the smell of those stores that sell dried roots, leaves, and even animals for medicinal purposes. Tourists turn up their noses and walk out (I’ve seen it happen), but I go right for the most pungent isle. It reminds me of those good old days.

clotilde

Did your mother find ways to involve you in her cooking process, and if so, how? Do you think this came naturally to her, or did she make a conscious effort to include you in that part of her life?

Rosa Jurjevics

I was in the kitchen with her all the time. My mother and I spent a lot of time together, as she worked from home and she had to get me from school in the afternoon. I’d either watch her prepare food or get right in the thick of it. She taught me to knead bread, roll dough, cream cold butter with sugar, and blend wet and dry ingredients. If I got too squirrely or underfoot, she’d set me up with a miniature of her favorite bowl and a tiny bit of whatever she was making. I was then free to mess about as I pleased and not get in her way.

When I got a bit older, I was more helpful. I made the salad dressing, for instance, which had been my mother’s childhood job, and set the table. I buttered pans, got all the gingerbread batter out of the bowl with a spatula, and folded napkins. Truthfully, I liked all the cooking and baking tasks better than the rest!

clotilde

What are some of your fondest food-related memories growing up around your mother?

Rosa Jurjevics

Oh, so many! One is from the year we made a black cake for Christmas. That thing has to age for while, so we baked it weeks in advance, storing it in a tin in the pantry. My mother wanted to make royal icing, a process I don’t remember, but I watched, fascinated, as she put it together. We also handcrafted marzipan decorations to top it off, and I recall being very proud of our work when it was all done and on the table!

I will also never forget how my mother positioned herself when she was cooking. She was prone to wearing these oversized sweaters, ones with thick stitching, and so when she was mixing or chopping or kneading, she pushed the sleeves all the way up past her elbows. She was not a tall woman, standing at just five feet, one inch, and so she had to make the most of her force when she was dealing with stubborn dough or a dull knife or a big roast, and also worked without fancy gadgetry. No electric mixers, pulverizers, or anything of the sort for her! We had a blender, though, and a hand-crank eggbeater, and a hand-held mixer that my dad and I used to make egg whites for his famous pancakes. I don’t think my mother ever touched it, though. So she was pretty physical in the kitchen, mixing things in big bowls or chopping up vegetables for stews.

clotilde

What would you say are the most important lessons you learned from her about cooking and eating?

Rosa Jurjevics

Hmm. Well, I did learn to make a mean gingerbread, and have inherited her gadget-free method. I think the biggest thing I took away from our life together, though, was how unifying food can be. No matter who we are or where we’re from or where we’ve been or where we’re going, we all like a good meal. At the end of a long day, or year, or whathaveyou, food (along with kinship) can soothe us in a way that’s hard to describe. Hatchets can be temporarily buried, arguments laid to rest, over dinner. Feuding siblings can be silenced (at least for the moment) with a delicious soup, or a couples’ fight curtailed by the promise of homemade chicken Parmesan. It’s worth a try, at least.

clotilde

If you’d like to have kids some day, how do you think you’ll go about teaching them to be happy, adventurous eaters?

Rosa Jurjevics

If I am ever to acquire (not produce) children – which is a big ‘maybe’ in the grand scheme of things – I think I’d stick to my mother’s favorite philosophy: “you don’t have to like it, you just have to try it.” I think this opened a lot of my friends’ eyes to what it meant to be an adventurous eater when we were growing up.

So many parents were primed to say, “you have to eat everything on your plate,” and here was an adult who offered an unfamiliar food with no strings attached. My mother was giving us the agency to not like whatever we were being given, and not have to eat it if it wasn’t to our taste. And it really worked. I can’t think what my life would be like had I not had my first Brussels’s sprout, bite of poached egg, toasted cheese (aka Welsh Rarebit) sandwich, spoonful of black bean soup, or fried zucchini blossom. I certainly would have been the poorer for it.

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Black Sesame Sablés (Shortbread) Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/black-sesame-sables-shortbread-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/black-sesame-sables-shortbread-recipe/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 16:00:25 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6667 After last week’s events in Paris, it’s not so easy to break the silence here. Writing about news and politics […]

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Black Sesame Sablés

After last week’s events in Paris, it’s not so easy to break the silence here. Writing about news and politics isn’t what I do, and I suspect it’s not what brings you here either, yet I can’t not acknowledge what has happened.

In the wake of these senseless, horrifying acts, which only reinforce the great concerns I have about the world we’re building and the society I live in, I choose to see the silver lining: how French men and women came together in historic numbers in the immediate aftermath, and how much international support has poured in. I am too much of a realist to believe that this tremendous reaction will have any lasting effect on the underlying issues at play, but at least for these few days, (most of) the French get to walk and talk and cry as one, and we can never have too much of that.

Of course I found it impossible to write while all this was unfolding — it suddenly seemed absurd to care about the tiny things I normally care about — but as a friend kindly said to me, writing about food and culture and travel helps bring people of different horizons to understand and respect each other, and that is nothing to sneeze at.

In any case, I thought it fitting to start the year off on a note both dark and sweet with these black sesame sablés. It is a recipe I developed for ELLE à table, a French cooking magazine in which I write a bimonthly column, and sang the luscious, nutty glories of black sesame paste in the holiday issue. This seed butter, made from roasted and ground black sesame, is a dramatic, shiny black and I keep a jar of it in my fridge to slip into all sorts of sweet preparations, or simply spread it on my morning toast of sourdough.

These shortbread cookies have a rather arresting look, the distinctive, toasty flavor of black sesame with a hint of salt, and the delightful texture I look for in all my sablés, delicate and shatter-prone. I understand these qualities won’t do much toward world peace, but if you can share them and make someone’s day sweeter, it’s a step in the right direction.

PS: Black sesame panna cotta, Yves Camdeborde’s perfect sablés, and the galette des rois you have until the end of the month to make, perhaps with your own shortcut puff pastry.

Black Sesame Sablés

Black Sesame Sablés (Shortbread) Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Makes about 50 small cookies.

Black Sesame Sablés (Shortbread) Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100 grams (1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons) black sesame butter/paste (look for it in natural food stores and Japanese markets; substitute any other natural nut butter)
  • 100 grams (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 80 grams (6 tablespoons) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 150 grams (5 1/3 ounces, about 1 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose wheat flour
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces, about 3/4 cup) rice flour (see note)

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sesame paste and butter. Add the sugar and salt and mix well.
  2. Stir in the flour until completely absorbed, without overworking the dough.
  3. Gather the dough into a ball without kneading. Divide it into 4 pieces and roll each into a log, about 3 cm (1 1/4") in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (You can freeze one or several of the logs; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.)
  4. Black Sesame Sablé Dough
  5. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut each roll into round slices about 1 cm (1/3") thick. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet, giving them a little room to expand.
  7. Black Sesame Sablés (pre-baking)
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, until set but not browned. Let stand for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. The cookies will keep for a week in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes

The rice flour, in combination with the wheat flour, gives the cookies a particularly successful, crumbly texture. If unavailable, use all wheat flour.

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Black Sesame Shortbread

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Best of 2014 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/best-of/best-of-2014/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/best-of/best-of-2014/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 15:00:10 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7235 Happy New Year! I hope your 2015 is a year full of joy, exciting ventures, great conversations, rich relationships, enlightening […]

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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.

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

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January 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/january-2015-desktop-calendar/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/january-2015-desktop-calendar/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 23:05:03 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7187 Happy New Year! At the beginning of every month in 2015, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on […]

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January 2015 Desktop Calendar

Happy New Year!

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 January is a picture of my perfect madeleines, based on a fabulous recipe by Fabrice Le Bourdat, pastry chef at Blé Sucré.

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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