Chocolate & Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:26:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 July 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/july-2015-desktop-calendar-2/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/july-2015-desktop-calendar-2/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 22:05:24 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7730 At the beginning of every month, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, […]

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July 2015 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, with a food-related picture and a calendar of the current month.

The desktop calendar is available in two versions: a US-friendly version that features Sunday as the first day of the week, and a French version (shown above) that complies with international standards, featuring Monday as the first day of the week.

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

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

Here’s how it works:

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

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

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

4- Enjoy and see you next month!

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

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Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation!

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

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serves 4.

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry Recipe

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

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

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Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation!

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

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

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

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

American Sweet Potato

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Seves 4 to 5.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds Recipe

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

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

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Lemon Verbena

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

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

Happy pairings

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

Beverages

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

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

~ Make a liqueur.

Baking and desserts

~ Add it to a rhubarb tart.

~ Make sorbet or ice cream.

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

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

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

~ Add to strawberry jam.

~ Add to a strawberry or peach soup.

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

~ Chop finely and add to a fruit salad.

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

~ Include in the syrup when poaching pears or peaches.

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

Savory uses

~ Add to white fish fillets cooked en papillote.

~ Make lemon verbena vinegar.

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

~ Add it to a marinade for a ceviche.

~ Add it to the brine for pork chops.

~ Make lemon verbena pesto.

~ Blend the leaves into a vinaigrette.

Non-food use

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

Join the conversation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation!

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

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

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

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Makes 20 cookies.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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June 2015 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/june-2015-desktop-calendar/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/june-2015-desktop-calendar/#comments Sun, 31 May 2015 22:05:35 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7470 At the beginning of every month in 2015, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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June 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 June is a photo of my quick nori rolls with cucumber and avocado, one of my favorite lunchtime treats ever, and so easy to make!

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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Around the World in 30 Food Expressions http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/french-idioms/around-the-world-food-expressions/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/french-idioms/around-the-world-food-expressions/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 09:06:03 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7564 Whenever I host a giveaway, I strive to craft a question that will encourage creative and thoughtful responses: this is […]

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"Just blueberries", a Norwegian expression illustrated by Melina Josserand.

Whenever I host a giveaway, I strive to craft a question that will encourage creative and thoughtful responses: this is both so you’ll feel engaged in the conversation and, more selfishly, so I get to read through your entries and learn and smile and be inspired.

When my latest book Edible French came out last fall and I gave away copies, you were entered by submitting your favorite food-related expression in any language you liked.

I know you share my love of languages so I wasn’t surprised to see you come through with dozens of curious and delicious expressions. Since then I’ve been meaning to draw a short selection to highlight in a post, and this is it! Many thanks to all who contributed, and feel free to share more in the comments!

Poland: Letting someone in the raspberry bushes (Wpuścić kogoś w maliny) means that you knowingly set someone up for difficulties, getting lost and confused, losing their way, etc.

Korea: Someone is described as chicken skin (느끼해) when they’re super cheesy. The expression refers to super oily and greasy bland foods that make you feel gross.

Poland: Being served duck blood soup (Czarna polewka) means being rejected romantically. Duck blood soup was served by the parents of the young woman to the man whose proposal was being turned down.

Holland: Having an apple to peel with someone (Hij heeft een appeltje met hem te schillen) means having a bone to pick with someone, i.e. bringing a complaint against someone.

Germany: Having raisins in one’s head (Rosinen im Kopf haben) means having big ideas.

Germany: A freshly baked mom (Frisch gebackene mama) is used for a woman who’s just had a baby.

Spain: Being even in the soup (Estar hasta en la sopa) is said of someone who’s overly present, such as a celebrity appearing in every talk show.

Pakistan/India (Punjabi): You are like a blob of soft butter, a bowl of fresh cream and a crystal of sweet sugar (Makkhan de pedeo, malaai de duneo, mishri di dali) is a flirtatious expression for a pretty village belle.

"One day honey, one day onion"

“One day honey, one day onion”

Norway: Just blueberries (Bare blåbær) means something small, simple or not important.

Romania: As important as salt in the food (Esti important ca sarea in bucate).

Greece: In regard to craving, zucchini pie (περι ορεξεως κολοκυθοπιτα) means there is no accounting for taste.

China (Cantonese): A lump of rice refers to someone who’s lazy or inactive, not reacting to any situation. It tends to be used in the context of, “Don’t just sit there like a lump of rice!”

Hebrew and Arabic: One day honey, one day onion (Yom asal, yom basal) is a reminder that life is a succession of happy days and sad days.

Germany: Sugar comes last (Zucker kommt zuletzt) means saving the best for last.

Yiddish: Like chickpeas to the wall (Vi an arbes tsum vant) means that something doesn’t make any sense, or an argument doesn’t hold water.

Argentina: Your half orange (media naranja) is your soul mate.

Russia: You can’t ruin kasha with too much butter means you can’t have too much of a good thing.

Italy: Being like parsley (essere come il prezzemolo) refers to a person or thing that is present everywhere, or a person who constantly interjects him/herself, even when his or her input is not being sought.

India (Hindi): The monkey doesn’t appreciate the taste of ginger (Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad) means that it takes a certain kind of person to appreciate something. It is often said to get back at one’s critics.

New Zealand: Something has sucked the kumara means it is broken or not very good. Kumaras are a type of sweet potato.

Australia: She’ll be apples means everything will be alright.

Spain: It is the parrot’s chocolate (Es el chocolate del loro) means “That’s peanuts” when comparing a small amount of money against a must bigger one in a negotiation.

Canary Islands: When you don’t like something, your plate gets full of it (Cuando no te gusta algo, tu plato se llena de ella) is an illustration of Murphy’s law.

Holland: I can’t make chocolate from that (Daar kan ik geen chocola van maken) is used when something is illogical, or so incoherent, incomprehensible or strange that the information is useless.

"Freshly baked mom", a German  expression illustrated by Melina Josserand.

“Freshly baked mom”, a German expression illustrated by Melina Josserand.

Vietnam: You chop at the cutting board when you can’t hit the fish means misdirecting your anger: you can’t lash out at the person you really want to, so instead you take it out on the person (or thing) that can take your blows.

Italy: Having salami slices over one’s eyes (Aver le fette di salame sugli occhi) means wearing rose-colored glasses.

Ireland: Hunger is the best sauce (Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras) means that being hungry makes everything taste a lot better.

Spain: For a strong hunger, there is no stale bread (A buen hambre, no hay pan duro) means that we’re willing to overlook shortcomings when we’re in real need of something (this seems very similar to the Irish saying just above).

Italy: Either eat this soup or jump out of the window (O ti mangi questa minestra o ti butti dalla finestra) means “Take it or leave it.”

Holland: I cannot say “porridge” anymore (Ik kan geen pap meer zeggen) means you’ve eaten so much you cannot even speak anymore.

For more idiomatic fun, check out my latest book Edible French, this list of 25 Hindi expressions related to food, and these 40 idioms submitted by TED translators.

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

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Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation!

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

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

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

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

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

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

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar Recipe

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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Homemade Croutons

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation!

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

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

Homemade Croutons Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Homemade Croutons Recipe

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and have ready a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Cut the baguette into small cubes. (I start by cutting the bread in slices, then lay 3 or 4 slices flat on the cutting board and cut those into cubes.)
  3. Homemade Croutons
  4. In a medium bowl, put the cubed bread, salt, herbs, and garlic. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to combine. (This can be made ahead of time and kept for a few hours, covered and at room temperature, until you've heated up the oven for another use.)
  5. Homemade Croutons
  6. Spread the seasoned cubes on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, flipping the croutons halfway through, until nicely golden.
  7. Homemade Croutons
  8. Season with pepper and allow to cool completely. The croutons will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.
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Parents Who Cook: Emily Mazo-Rizzi http://chocolateandzucchini.com/interviews/parents-who-cook/parents-who-cook-emily-mazo-rizzi/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/interviews/parents-who-cook/parents-who-cook-emily-mazo-rizzi/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 09:00:49 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7658 Emily Mazo-Rizzi is an American who has been living in Paris since 1999, where she was initially working as an […]

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Emily and her daughter Olivia

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

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

clotilde

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

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

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

clotilde

Did having a child change the way you cook?

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

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

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

clotilde

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

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

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

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

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

Olivia making cinnamon cookies

Olivia making cinnamon cookies

clotilde

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

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

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

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

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

Olivia rolling out the dough for cinnamon cookies

Olivia rolling out the dough for cinnamon cookies

clotilde

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

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

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

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

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

Olivia manning the gas stove (!)

Olivia manning the gas stove (!)

clotilde

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

Emily Mazo-Rizzi

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

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

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

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

Olivia

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