Chocolate & Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:45:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Lemon Ginger Tartlets http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cakes-tarts/lemon-ginger-tartlets/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cakes-tarts/lemon-ginger-tartlets/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:53:26 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6647 It’s been almost ten years since I was first in touch with Claire, the talented author of the pioneering natural […]

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Lemon Ginger Tartlet

It’s been almost ten years since I was first in touch with Claire, the talented author of the pioneering natural foods blog Clea Cuisine, and over time we’ve built a simple and sincere friendship that means a lot to me.

Clea is one of those rare persons who radiate with confidence and serenity, as if the turmoil of the outside world and its latest trends left them unfazed, so busy they are following their own path, guided by their own taste. These qualities have earned her a crowd of loyal and engaged readers whose food lives she has often changed, as one of the very first in France to write about agar agar, rice flour, and almond butter.

And so when she suggested a culinary exchange between our respective blogs, I accepted without a moment’s hesitation: the idea was for each of us to pick three recipes on the other’s blog, combine them vigorously in a shaker, and come up with a new recipe inspired by the mélange.

The opportunity to dive into one another’s archives was not the least of the associated perks, and I personally chose her Cream of carrot with white miso and ginger, her Chocolate and ginger pudding with agar agar, and her Ultimate lemon tart.

Initially, I decided to make a lemon tart flavored with ginger and white miso — you can read more about using white miso in desserts. But my preliminary tests did not convince me that white miso had its place in this recipe, so I shelved the idea and opted instead to make lemon ginger tartlets, which delighted all who had the chance to sample them.

The pairing of lemon and ginger no longer has to prove itself, and all I had to do was add finely grated fresh ginger to Clea’s lemon curd recipe. I share her taste for a very tangy lemon tart — i.e. not very sweet — and to me the formula below achieves the perfect balance. This vividly flavorful lemon ginger curd could also be prepared for its own sake, to spread on a pretty brioche, pimp your yogurt, garnish crêpes, or dip a spoon in (I won’t tell).

For the crust, I chose to follow the recipe for pâte sucrée that pastry chef Jacques Genin uses and shares in his little book Le Meilleur de la tarte au citron (The best of lemon tarts). It is very easy to make and lovely to handle, and it forms a delicate and crisp tart shell in perfect contrast to the unctuous curd.

And to see the idea that my own archives sparked for Claire, head over to her post (in French) on Pasta with almond-zucchini gremolata and roasted onions.

Join the conversation!

Do you know people like Clea who inspire you with their poise and taste? And how do you like your lemon tarts — tangy? sweet? with a layer of meringue on top?

Lemon Ginger Tartlets

Lemon Ginger Tartlets

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes

Makes six 10- to 12-cm (4- to 4 3/4-inch) tartlets.

Lemon Ginger Tartlets

Ingredients

    For the dough (pâte sucrée); makes double to amount so you can save half for another time:
  • 175 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) unrefined cane sugar
  • 60 grams (2/3 cup) almond flour (i.e. almond meal or ground almonds)
  • 2 large organic eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large organic egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 310 grams (2 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • For the filling:
  • 4 organic lemons
  • 30 grams (1 ounce) fresh ginger, peeled and very finely grated125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch, combined with 1 tablespoon water (this is called a slurry)
  • 3 large organic eggs

Instructions

    Step 1: Prepare the pâte sucrée (at least 3 1/2 hours before baking and 8 1/2 hours before serving)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, put the butter, sugar, and almond flour. Using a flexible spatula, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you get an even, sandy consistency.
  2. Beat in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour and salt, working them in just until no trace of flour remains. Don't overwork the dough.
  4. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead gently just a few times -- maybe 5 or 6 -- so the dough comes together into a ball.
  5. Divide in two; if you have a scale, each half should weigh 400 grams (14 ounces). Wrap one tightly in plastic and keep in the refrigerator or freezer for another time. Place the other half on a plate -- that's the one you're going to use for the tartlets -- cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the next day.
  6. Step 2: Line the tartlet molds (at least 1 hour before baking) and bake (at least 5 hours before serving)
  7. Divide the dough into six equal pieces; if you have a scale, each piece should weigh 65 grams (2 1/3 ounces).
  8. Have ready six tartlet molds, 10 to 12 cm (4 to 4 3/4 inches) in diameter, such as these. Grease them carefully with butter if they're not non-stick.
  9. Working with each piece of dough in turn (leave the unused ones in the fridge), roll it out into a thin round large enough to line one of your tarlet molds, keeping your work surface and your rolling pin lightly floured.
  10. Pâte sucrée 1
  11. Brush off the excess flour from both sides of the dough with a pastry brush, and fit snugly into a tartlet mold, letting the excess dough hang over the edges.
  12. Pâte sucrée 2
  13. Roll your pin firmly across the edges of the mold to cut off the excess dough (save these scraps to make cut-out cookies), and press the sides of the dough against the mold with your fingers to help them stay put. Return to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before baking.
  14. Pâte sucrée 3
  15. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) and bake the tartlets for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Don't underbake them: you want a good color so the crust is flavorful and holds up well to the filling. Transfer to a rack to cool completely while you make the curd.
  16. Step 3: Prepare the lemon curd and garnish the tartlets (at least 4 1/2 hours before serving)
  17. Grate the zest from 2 of the lemons into a medium saucepan, and juice all 4 of them. You should get about 150 ml (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) juice. Add to the pan with the ginger, sugar, and cornstarch slurry.
  18. Put the pan over low heat and heat the mixture, stirring regularly with a heatproof spatula, just until the sugar dissolves.
  19. Beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl, and whisk in the warmed lemon juice.
  20. Pour back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with the spatula in an 8-shaped motion to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan thoroughly. The curd is ready when it is thick enough that the spatula leaves a clear trace at the bottom of the pan.
  21. Lemon Ginger Curd
  22. Divide the curd among the six tartlet shells and even out the surface with the spatula.
  23. Place in the refrigerator to cool and set for at least 4 hours, and up to 8. Remove from the fridge 15 minutes before serving. These are best served on the day they are made, but if you have leftovers they will still be delicious the next day and the day after that.

Notes

  • If you don't have tartlet molds, use the same recipe to make a single tart, 25- to 28-cm (10- to 11-inch) in diameter.
  • This is a make-ahead recipe; start in the morning if you plan to serve the tartlets for dinner. If you plan to serve the tartlets for lunch, make the dough and line the tartlet molds the day before, then bake the tartlets, make the curd, and garnish in early morning.
  • The pâte sucrée can be used for any other kind of sweet tart garnished with fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc.
  • The lemon ginger curd can also be made independently and used to spread on toast or brioche, to garnish a cake roll, or to spread across the middle of a split yogurt cake.
  • To make the recipe nut-free, simply use this pâte sablée recipe instead of the above pâte sucrée.

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Edible French Comes Out Today! (+ A Giveaway) http://chocolateandzucchini.com/books-cookbooks/edible-french-release-giveaway/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/books-cookbooks/edible-french-release-giveaway/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:41:43 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6614 EDIBLE FRENCH, my new book of food-related French idioms, is released today. EDIBLE FRENCH explores fifty of the most evocative […]

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Edible French

EDIBLE FRENCH, my new book of food-related French idioms, is released today.

EDIBLE FRENCH explores fifty of the most evocative French expressions related to food with cultural notes, recipes, and whimsical watercolors by my talented friend Mélina Josserand.

It’s a project that has been brewing in my mind for years and years, and as a lover of both food and language, I am thrilled to be able to share it with you now.

I am also incredibly pleased with how the physical object turned out; the production team has done a wonderful job of it. It’s a book that feels very loveable, and the quality of the paper — thick, matte, with a bit of texture — really brings out the beauty of Melina’s watercolors, almost as if they were originals. I can tell that the people I show it to don’t really want to let go once they have it in their hands, and I hope you feel that way too.

I have set up a companion site for the book where you can view excerpts and listen to the expressions and example sentences featured in the book.

And if you plan to be in Paris in the coming weeks, I have two book events lined up on October 14 and November 29 (all details here).

EDIBLE FRENCH is now available in the US and Canada, in France, and in the UK.

See below for an animated sneak peek of the book, and details about the giveaway.

To celebrate the release, I have five copies to give away!

To enter, please share in the comments below your favorite food-related idiom in any language, explaining what it means and why you like it.

You have until Tuesday, October 14 (midnight Paris time) to enter. I will then draw five entries randomly and announce the winners here. My editor at Perigee Books has agreed to ship the books to any mailing address in the world, so you’re welcome to play regardless of your location; please make sure you enter your email address correctly so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

We Got Winners!

The giveaway is now closed, and the following five readers will each receive a copy of Edible French:

  • Christiana, who wrote, “My favourite is stick a fork in me! as it reminds me of the 90’s film Pump Up The Volume and how I pined for Christian Slater with such abandonment and teenage angst!”
  • Lota, who wrote, “I have two: one in English: a bun in the oven meaning pregnancy and a Polish idiom wpuścić kogoś w maliny which is translated literally as to let someone in the raspberry bushes which means that you knowingly set someone up for difficulties, getting lost and confused, losing their way etc.”
  • Michelle, who wrote, “I love cherry on top – it always sounds so happy!”
  • c n, who wrote, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! because when life gets rough, you got to get through it!”
  • Kara Johnson, who wrote, “As busy as popcorn in a skillet… I recently heard this for the first time and love the image of bouncing, popping corn it gives me. :)”

Congratulations to them, and thank you all for participating with such enthusiasm! I had a blast reading through this most colorful selection of expressions.

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October 2014 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/october-2014-desktop-calendar/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/october-2014-desktop-calendar/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:10:03 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6460 At the beginning of every month in 2014, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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October 2014 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2014, 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.

As a new feature this year, 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 October is a picture of my jar of granola, which I make a little bit differently each time, but always following this basic formula. And when it comes to granola, of which I cannot get enough, I have more than one recipe up my sleeve: see this raw buckwheat granola, this savory granola, this paleo granola, and these granola bars.

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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September Favorites http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/september-favorites-2/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/september-favorites-2/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:00:14 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6469 Some of my favorite finds and reads for this month: ~ Ever wanted to get a food-related tattoo? Here are […]

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Rooftop View of the Sacré-Coeur

Some of my favorite finds and reads for this month:

~ Ever wanted to get a food-related tattoo? Here are a few temporary ones you can test-drive.

~ A simple recipe for yogurt popsicles. I’ve been tempted to get some pop molds and this may push me over the edge.

~ Who makes the best pain au chocolat in Paris?

~ What kids’ school menus look like in Japan.

~ How to make chocolate chip cookies exactly how you like them.

~ The Eater site publishes its list of banned words.

~ You have until January 3 to go and see this Paris exhibition on the fascinating history of the spoon.

~ I love the tip at the bottom of this post on how to properly dip chocolate-coated shortbread.

~ Why you are better off refrigerating your tomatoes — in some cases.

~ How about a little photo tour of my neighborhood?

~ “Just so you know, food arrives when it’s ready.” This service trend has yet to arrive in Paris, and it’s one I hope doesn’t.

~ I should make temaki sushi more often.

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Soy Sauce Roasted Cashews Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/appetizers/soy-sauce-roasted-cashews-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/appetizers/soy-sauce-roasted-cashews-recipe/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 10:08:54 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6428 I love the bulk section at my local organic store. I love that it allows me to cut down on […]

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Soy Sauce Roasted Cashews

I love the bulk section at my local organic store.

I love that it allows me to cut down on the packaging, as I strive to bring back and reuse the same paper bags until they give out in exhaustion. I love that I pay less for the exact same products or ingredients, and I love that it gives me an opportunity to purchase sample-size amounts of new foods without committing to a whole package.

This is how I recently got ahold of some shoyu roasted cashews from Jean Hervé — an all-around fantastic brand for nut butters — that proved all kinds of good, crunchy and toasty and salty but not overly so.

I found myself reaching for small handfuls that soon turned into bigger ones while preparing dinner, and sprinkling them over my lunch salads as well, and soon enough my sample was gone.

Of course I could have just gone out and bought more — oh, how I love pulling down on those levers! too! — but when I compared the price of plain cashews with the soy sauce roasted ones, I calculated that they were charging 30% more for the soy sauce marinating and the roasting, which seemed like steps I could very well accomplish myself.

And it was indeed a most straightforward process: you simply pour soy sauce over the cashews, and let them soak it in overnight before roasting in the oven, where the cashews will crisp up as the soy sauce dries up and caramelizes.

These you can nibble on with a pre-dinner drink — I like to present them on the adorable mini cutting boards that Earlywood now makes — or snack on during the day (word of warning: very. hard. to stop.), or sprinkle over your salads, or package up and present as a low-effort but well-received edible gift.

Soy Sauce Roasted Cashews

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours

Makes 2 cups.

Soy Sauce Roasted Cashews

Ingredients

  • 300 grams (2 cups) unroasted, unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce (use gluten-free tamari if gluten is an issue)

Instructions

  1. In a medium container with a tight-fitting lid, combine the cashews and soy sauce. Stir well to coat.
  2. Close the container and let rest on the counter until the next day, shaking the container every once in a while so the cashews absorb the sauce evenly. The next day, the cashews should have soaked it all up.
  3. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).
  4. Arrange the cashews in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the cashews are golden brown.
  5. Let cool completely before serving. These cashews keep for a month in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
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Soy Roasted Cashew Nuts

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Charred Broccoli and Avocado Salad Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/charred-broccoli-and-avocado-salad-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/charred-broccoli-and-avocado-salad-recipe/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:50:15 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6343 Charred broccoli is fast becoming one of my go-to vegetable options, especially at lunchtime when I need something quick and low-effort. […]

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Charred Broccoli and Avocado Salad

Charred broccoli is fast becoming one of my go-to vegetable options, especially at lunchtime when I need something quick and low-effort.

My enthusiasm for it started as an offshoot from my beloved Roasted Cauliflower à la Mary Celeste, in which broccoli can be used with good results. But in truth, roasted broccoli isn’t an exact substitute for cauliflower: the tops of the florets become a bit drier and quite a bit crunchier when submitted to high heat, so roasted broccoli seems to call for a creamier treatment.

And what creamier companions than an herbed tahini dressing and a cubed avocado tossed in? Also: what tastier, more satisfying trio?

I usually eat half of this salad warm the day I make it, and try to contain my excitement until lunch the next day, when I can finally have the other half; it’s best to take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before eating.

The trick to this salad is to not be shy about roasting the broccoli: you’ll get the most vibrant flavor and most interesting texture contrast from broccoli that is frankly black at the tips.

The only damper on my charred broccoli enthusiasm these days is that is it harder than one would think to find glowingly fresh broccoli at the organic stores around me. You can tell broccoli is fresh when the heads are firm, with tight florets that take some effort to separate. Yet more often than not, a quick pat on the heads stocked in the produce bin reveals soft heads with distracted florets. I did learn recently that you can revive those heads by cutting a slice off the tip of the stem and putting it in a glass of water as in a vase, and I plan to try this next time, should my craving become too strong.

Join the conversation!

Do you share my love of roasted broccoli? What’s you favorite way to serve it?

Charred Broccoli and Avocado Salad

Charred Broccoli and Avocado Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serves 2. (Recipe can be doubled.)

Charred Broccoli and Avocado Salad Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 large head broccoli, about 750 grams (1 2/3 pounds)
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 2 good handfuls chopped fresh herbs: cilantro, chervil, chives, and flat-leaf parsley all good choices
  • 1 rounded tablespoon tahini (sesame paste, available from natural food stores and Middle-Eastern markets)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400° F).
  2. Cut the broccoli into even-sized florets. Peel off any tough part on the stem, cut it lengthwise into four long logs, and slice not too thinly.
  3. Put the broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and toss well to coat (it works best if you just use your hands). Insert into the oven and roast for 30 minutes, until charred at the edges.
  4. Charred broccoli
  5. While the broccoli is roasting, prepare the dressing. Put the herbs, tahini, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
  6. Sauce ingredients
  7. Stir with a fork to combine, and add a little fresh water, teaspoon by teaspoon, stirring all the while until you get a creamy but not too thick dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  8. Mixed sauce
  9. When the broccoli is cooked, transfer to the bowl, add the avocado, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning again.
  10. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve. This is great when freshly made, but it can also sit at room temperature for a little while, or get packed for lunch and refrigerated.
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Green Romesco Sauce Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/dips-spreads/green-romesco-sauce-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/dips-spreads/green-romesco-sauce-recipe/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 15:30:29 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6273 I recently tweeted about my recipe for muhammara, this sumptuous Middle-Eastern dip of roasted bell peppers and walnuts that I […]

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Green Romesco Sauce

I recently tweeted about my recipe for muhammara, this sumptuous Middle-Eastern dip of roasted bell peppers and walnuts that I wish more cooks knew about. This prompted Pami Hoggatt, of A Crust Eaten, to remark that it looked similar to Spanish romesco sauce.

I was very pleased that she did, for romesco sauce had somehow flown under my radar all this time and I was delighted to make its acquaintance: a Spanish specialty from Catalonia, salsa romesco can take on various guises, textures and flavorings, but it is most commonly a sauce of roasted peppers mixed together with nuts, olive oil, and vinegar. Different recipes will add different ingredients to that basic formula, but that’s the gist of it.

Pami pointed me to the recipe that she herself uses, and coincidentally, right around the same time The Kitchn ran a cute tiny video for what they appropriately call their “happy sauce”, which is in fact a romesco sauce.

I happened to have a collection of tiny bell peppers in various shades of yellow, green, and black-eye green sitting in my fridge, and it didn’t take long for me to enroll them into this wonderful green romesco sauce.

Small bell peppers

Like most people, presumably, I tend to prefer red bell peppers because they are sweeter, but I was pleased to make this sauce with green bell peppers as I think their subtle notes of bitterness form a beautiful alliance with the rounder flavors of the almonds.

And what are the possible uses for this gorgeous sauce? Well, you can use it as a dip or spread, naturally, but you can also plop a large spoonful onto a big bowl of greens and grains as TheKitchn suggests, you can serve it with fish or shellfish, and it will flatter any kind of cooked vegetable — I’m thinking broccoli, potatoes, or green beans.

Join the conversation!

Have you ever heard of, had, or made romesco sauce? And what color bell pepper do you generally go for?

Green Romesco Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Makes about 1/2 cup; double or triple as needed.

Green Romesco Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 medium green bell peppers, about 400 grams (14 ounces) total
  • 70 grams (1/2 cup) whole almonds, preferably roasted (substitute or mix 'n match other nuts, such as hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 good handful fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, preferably hot (I've also used ground chipotle pepper to good effect; add to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Roast the bell peppers, removing stem, skin, and seeds, and let them cool completely. You can also use jarred or frozen roasted bell peppers; I don't recommend canned as I find they taste like metal.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients. (You can also work in a regular bowl with a stick blender.) Process until completely smooth. Taste and adjust the flavor with a touch more salt, lemon juice, or paprika, as needed.
  3. Serve immediately, or transfer to an airtight container in the fridge and keep for up to 4 days.

Notes

The flavors develop overnight, so make this ahead if you can.

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Green Romesco Sauce

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Crème Caramel Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/desserts/creme-caramel-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/desserts/creme-caramel-recipe/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 14:54:36 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6213 Caramel custard was a mainstay of my mother’s dessert repertoire when I was growing up. We referred to it by […]

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Crème Caramel

Caramel custard was a mainstay of my mother’s dessert repertoire when I was growing up. We referred to it by its common French name crème renversée — flipped custard — because of the way you serve it, upside down: this way the layer of caramel that was spread across the bottom of the pan finds itself on top, and the delicious sauce can run down the sides and pool onto the serving plate.

I am so partial to my mother’s recipe that I never ever order crème caramel when dining out, because I know it will fall short. Her version isn’t overly sweet, and it has the simple flavors of childhood — milk, eggs, vanilla. The silken, slippery consistency feels fresh and clean, though my favorite part is actually the lightly nubby “skin” that develops at the surface of the custard, where it was exposed to the oven’s heat.

Since the ingredients list is so straightforward, use the best ones you can: now would be a fine time to use your neighbor’s backyard eggs, that farm-fresh milk you get from the greenmarket, and the fat, waxy vanilla bean you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

My mother makes crème caramel in a single pan — a repurposed charlotte mold if you must know — for the whole family to share, but I usually cook it in ramekins instead: individual containers look fancier when we have guests, and if it’s just us, they make it easier to handle servings and leftovers.

Crème Caramel

Crème Caramel Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 6 hours

Makes 6 servings.

Crème Caramel Recipe

Ingredients

    For the caramel:
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) white sugar (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • For the custard:
  • 650 ml (2 3/4 cups) milk (I use fresh lait demi-écrémé -- 2% milk -- but you can also use whole milk or non-dairy milk; I wouldn't recommend skim)
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar (you can use the unrefined sugar of your choice, just keep in mind that a darker sugar will make the custard a bit brown)
  • 1 fresh vanilla bean, split open and beans scraped, or 1 tablespoon homemade vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon store-bought natural vanilla extract
  • 4 large organic eggs

Instructions

  1. Have ready 6 ovenproof ramekins or cups, each about 160 ml (2/3 cup) in capacity.
  2. First, make the caramel. Combine the 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar and the water in a large saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and let the sugar melt without stirring, simply swirling the pan around from time to time so it caramelizes evenly.
  3. As it boils, the caramel will turn golden, then golden brown, and when it darkens to a deep amber, remove from the heat and immediately pour into the prepared ramekins, swirling around to coat the bottoms evenly.
  4. Place the ramekins on a deep rimmed baking sheet, or a baking dish large enough to accommodate them comfortably.
  5. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and bring water to a boil in the kettle.
  6. Make the custard. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, and vanilla, and bring to just under a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Let cool slightly.
  7. In a medium mixing bowl with a pouring spout, beat the eggs lightly. Set a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl, and pour in a quarter of the milk, then whisk to combine. Repeat with the remaining milk in three additions.
  8. Pour the custard into the prepared ramekins.
  9. Pour very hot water from the kettle into the rimmed baking sheet and around the ramekins to about half their height -- this will help conduct the heat evenly.
  10. Insert into the oven, lower the heat to 120°C (250°F) and cook for 30 minutes, until the custards are set but still jiggly, and the blade of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Turn off the oven and leave the ramekins in for another 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight before serving.
  12. To serve, run a knife carefully around the custard to loosen, place a small serving plate over the ramekin, and flip to unmold, shaking a bit as needed.

Notes

I use unrefined cane sugar in practically all my recipes, but it doesn't caramelize well due to the impurities, so I revert to regular white sugar when making caramel.

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Crème Caramel

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September 2014 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/september-2014-desktop-calendar/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/september-2014-desktop-calendar/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:01:56 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6181 At the beginning of every month in 2014, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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September 2014 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2014, 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.

As a new feature this year, 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 September is a picture of zucchini, and I probably don’t need to tell you how I feel about those. You can check out some of my favorite zucchini recipes, but this summer I’ve also been roasting them a lot when it wasn’t too hot out: cut the zucchini into big cubes, spread out on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle generously with good olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and roast at 200°C (400°F) for half an hour. With some chopped chipotle almonds and fresh herbs on top, it is simple yet very tasty.

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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August Favorites http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/august-favorites/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/august-favorites/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:58:48 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6155 Some of my favorite finds and reads for this month: ~ What’s new on the Paris restaurant scene this fall, […]

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The heirloom tomatoes I've been feasting on all month.

Some of my favorite finds and reads for this month:

~ What’s new on the Paris restaurant scene this fall, as told by Le Figaroscope, Le Fooding via Les Echos, and A Tabula (in French).

~ Ever wondered what a poaching egg might look like from underwater?

~ I discussed food blogging with Food & Wine editor Kristin Donnelly.

~ I am very tempted to make this peanut sauce for my late-summer noodle needs.

~ My friend Adam says you should never serve these ten foods at a dinner party. Which ones to you agree or disagree with?

~ Yes, it matters what kind of onion you use!

~ Party-leaving etiquette: do you say goodbye or leave quietly? (In French, leaving quietly is called filer à l’anglaise, making an English exit.)

~ Inspired by this great-sounding pairing: cucumbers with verbena and matcha green tea. Another one to add to my 58 Ways to Use Cucumbers.

~ Are these nut-hugging bear cookies too adorable to eat?

~ Fifteen chefs share what they’ve learned by cooking at the French Laundry.

~ The most common cooking mistakes (and how to avoid them).

~ A clever metro map to locate the best bars in Paris, and another for tea lovers.

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