Chocolate & Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:12:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 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.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/desserts/butterless-apple-crumble-recipe/

This post was originally published on March 29, 2011.

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Brussels Sprouts with Onions and Squash Seeds Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/brussels-sprouts-with-onions-and-squash-seeds-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/brussels-sprouts-with-onions-and-squash-seeds-recipe/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 10:03:36 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/uncategorized/brussels-sprouts-with-onions-and-squash-seeds-recipe/ I have a special fondness for the winter market. Oh, sure, I have to bundle up, wear a woolen cap […]

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Brussels sprouts

I have a special fondness for the winter market.

Oh, sure, I have to bundle up, wear a woolen cap and good gloves, and by the time I lock my bike to the street sign I’ve claimed as mine, few of my fingers are available for immediate use. But when I get to my favorite produce stall and the vendors greet me, their jolly smiles clearly say, “thanks for braving the cold!” and I always feel humble imagining what it must be like for them, who have loaded the truck long before dawn and will be standing on the drafty sidewalk for a few more hours.

And that is essentially what I was thinking on Saturday morning, waiting in line, tapping my feet, and politely declining the orange segment I was offered to sample — I find the taste of citrus repulsive when I’ve just brushed my teeth –, when I spotted the crate of brussels sprouts.

Pistachio green, tightly furled, and no larger than the big marbles French kids call calots, they fit the ideal profile perfectly. When you’re shopping for brussels sprouts, this is the kind you should look for: the smaller the better, firm, fresh-looking, and roughly all the same size so they’ll cook evenly.

Like most lovers of brussels sprouts, I am a late-blooming one. As a child, I was subjected to the vile boiled stuff on occasion, at school or at summer camp (as if I wasn’t miserable enough as it was), but when I started to cook, I quickly surmised that there was more to them than that.

And certainly, there is, provided they are cooked to your taste. The trick for me is twofold: 1- to sear or bake them so they’re cooked through and browned in places, but not at all mushy, and 2- to pair them with something sweet, something smoky, and/or something crunchy, to defuse any bitter tendency.

This recipe is a fine example of that trick: softened onions, smoked paprika, and toasted squash seeds help cast a flattering light on these much-defamed, miniature cabbages. We had them as a side to the cured filets of duck my butcher prepares and sells, and which are the most tender and flavorsome I’ve ever had.

Brussels Sprouts with Onions and Squash Seeds Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes

Serves 3 to 4.

Brussels Sprouts with Onions and Squash Seeds Recipe

Ingredients

  • 600 grams (1 1/3 pounds) brussels sprouts, small ones with leaves tightly closed
  • A good gurgle of olive oil
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) onions, peeled and minced
  • Salt
  • Spanish smoked paprika (I used the spicy kind), a.k.a. pimentón de la Vera (substitute ground chili pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons squash seeds, toasted (pistachios would also be good)

Instructions

  1. Rinse the Brussels sprouts and drain well. Using a sharp paring knife, trim the stem of each sprout if it doesn't look freshly cut, and cut into the stem to make an X-shaped indentation, without cutting all the way through: you still want each sprout to keep its mini-cabbage shape, but the indentation will help the tougher stem part cook faster, and seem more tender when you bite into it. (If the sprouts are very small, a single cut, rather than two crosswise cuts, will do.)
  2. Heat the oil in a wide skillet or a cocotte over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until they start to relax.
  3. Add the Brussels sprouts, salt, and smoked paprika, and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or so, until just tender; you'll have to taste one to check the doneness.
  4. Adjust the seasoning, remove the lid, turn the heat up, and cook a couple more minutes, until slightly browned.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with squash seeds, and serve immediately.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/brussels-sprouts-with-onions-and-squash-seeds-recipe/

This post was originally published on February 17, 2009.

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Yogurt Scones Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/yogurt-scones-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/yogurt-scones-recipe/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 08:40:35 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/uncategorized/yogurt-scones-recipe/ We had friends over for brunch on Sunday, and Maxence went out in the morning to the charcuterie shop, cheese […]

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Yogurt Scones

We had friends over for brunch on Sunday, and Maxence went out in the morning to the charcuterie shop, cheese shop, and bakery. He came back with a basketload of ready-to-eat goodies — bone-in ham and duck terrine and eggs in aspic and cheese and freshly baked bread — that we served with a simple green salad topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.

And for the sweet part of the brunch (there must be a sweet part to a brunch, otherwise it’s just lunch), I baked scones, using my favorite recipe, which is simple and quick, and calls for ingredients I always have on hand.

These scones are delicious plain, but you can add whichever flavoring you like:

  • spices, such as vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, roasted lemon zest powder, cardamom…
  • dried fruits, such as blueberries, cranberries, or raisins (if using larger fruits such as apricots or figs, dice finely)
  • nuts, finely chopped, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts…
  • citrus zest, freshly and finely grated
  • orange flower water, not too much for a subtle, non-soapy flavor
  • chopped or grated chocolate

I baked the scones earlier that morning, and put them back in the oven for a few minutes to reheat before serving, with butter and creamy honey.

Yogurt Scones

Yogurt Scones Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Makes 8 small scones

Yogurt Scones Recipe

Ingredients

  • 220 grams (1 2/3 cup) flour
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 55 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) plain yogurt (not fat-free)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk (not fat-free)
  • Your choice of flavoring (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons homemade vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground spice of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated citrus zest
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely diced dried fruits
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped nuts
  • 2 teaspoons orange flower water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped or grated chocolate

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. If you're using vanilla extract, spices, or citrus zest, add them in now.
  3. Dice the butter and blend it into the dry ingredients using a fork or pastry cutter, until no visible lump of butter remains.
  4. Blending
  5. Stir in the yogurt, 2 tablespoons milk, and any dried fruits, nuts, orange flower water, or chopped chocolate you want to use.
  6. Yogurt added
  7. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead gently just a few times to form a ball. Handle the dough as lightly as you can and avoid overmixing, or the scones will be tough.
  8. Ball of dough
  9. Pat the dough into a round, about 12 cm in width and 3 cm in thickness (about 5 inches in width and 1 inch in thickness). Brush the top with the remaining teaspoon milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  10. Patted
  11. Slice into 8 wedges with a knife or dough cutter.
  12. Divided
  13. Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet, giving them a little space to expand.
  14. On baking sheet
  15. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the scones are set and nicely golden.
  16. Serve warm, with an assortment of spreads, such as butter, clotted cream, jam, honey, nut butter, apple butter, maple syrup...
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/yogurt-scones-recipe/

Yogurt Scones

This post was originally published on February 10, 2004.

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The Bun and the Oven, Take 2 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/interlude/the-bun-and-the-oven-take-2/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/interlude/the-bun-and-the-oven-take-2/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:00:20 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7226 Maxence, Milan and I are happy and proud to announce the arrival of our second son / baby brother, Mika, […]

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Baby Hat

Maxence, Milan and I are happy and proud to announce the arrival of our second son / baby brother, Mika, born in Paris ten days ago. I feel immensely grateful that things went perfectly smoothly. Mika is a healthy and beautiful little boy and we are all doing well.

I will be taking a little time off to rest and enjoy this longest shortest time, and I look forward to coming back with new ideas and recipes in a few weeks. In the meantime, I will republish a few seasonal favorites for you to discover or re-discover, and I hope they will provide inspiration for your daily meals.

Be well, eat well, and see you soon!

The gorgeous decorated loaf sent by Poilâne.

The gorgeous decorated loaf sent by Poilâne.

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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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