Chocolate & Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:48:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Raspberry Bûche de Noël Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cakes-tarts/raspberry-buche-de-noel/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cakes-tarts/raspberry-buche-de-noel/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:08:16 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7197 Holiday meals are just around the corner, and if you’re still unsure what to make for dessert, I’m just one […]

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Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Holiday meals are just around the corner, and if you’re still unsure what to make for dessert, I’m just one step ahead of you: we will be having Christmas lunch at Maxence’s mother’s, I’ve offered to bring dessert, and I’ve only made up my mind yesterday, when I did a trial run to make sure the recipe would work as I imagined it would.

The classic French dessert to serve at Christmas is the bûche de Noël (yule log), which people typically buy ready-made. Depending on the fanciness of the pastry shop, it is either A- loaded with buttercream, pretty kitschy, and entirely too sweet*, or B- a refined and elaborate affair that costs about twice the price of the rest of the meal, and requires you to wait in line among other stressed-out customers openly freaking out over the unchecked items on their to-do list.

I’m all for simple and peaceful during the holidays, so my plan instead is to bring this easy homemade bûche, rolled up with vanilla cream (a quick mix of yogurt and mascarpone cheese) and studded with raspberries. It is a moist and super refreshing dessert, light on the tongue and bright on the palate, moderately sweet and interspersed with the tangy, perfect notes of the berries. Just the kind of dessert I wish for at the end of a rich meal.

Two of the guests at our lunch don’t eat chocolate (I know!), but if that wasn’t the case I would likely have added dark chocolate shavings to the filling and some cacao powder dusted on top. I also considered adding chopped hazelnuts or toasted coconut to the cream, but decided to keep the flavors simple (sensing a pattern here?) and stick to the vanilla and raspberry pairing.

Raspberries aren’t exactly in season this time of year (unless of course you live in the Southern hemisphere) but I buy them frozen and can live with this exception to my season-abiding cooking habits. For a more winter-friendly filling, you could replace the raspberries with poached and diced pears, and add some toasted walnuts or crumbled bits of candied chestnut for flavor and color.

As far as decorations go, again I’m going for simplicity, but you can place small paper stars on top the cake to act as stencils when you dust on the confectioner’s sugar, you can drizzle the top in a zig-zag pattern with melted chocolate or caramel sauce, or you can place little marzipan trees across the top.

Join the conversation!

Will you be doing any cooking or baking for holiday meals this year? What are your plans? And have you ever made, or wanted to make, a Bûche de Noël?

PS: An equally holiday-friendly raspberry dacquoise, some holiday gift suggestions, and my ginger and almond chocolate clusters.

* And not necessarily made in-house: more and more pastry shops just buy frozen, factory-made bûches and pass them off as their own. If a neighborhood pastry shop seems to be selling lots of different sizes and designs, it is worth asking whether they are homemade. You can view a France 5 documentary on that subject (in French) for another few days: Noël, une bûche à tout prix !

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours

Serves 6 to 8.

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Ingredients

    For the syrup:
  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum or rosewater
  • For the cake base:
  • 4 large organic eggs, separated
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces, about 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • For the filling:
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) plain Greek-style yogurt or fromage blanc
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 20 grams (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 1 fresh pod vanilla (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 230 grams (8 ounces) raspberries, fresh in season, frozen otherwise (no need to thaw)

Instructions

    Prepare the syrup.
  1. Put 60 ml (1/4 cup) water and the 30 grams (2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) sugar in a small saucepan and heat just enough for the sugar to dissolve. Set aside to cool and add the rum.
  2. Prepare the cake base.
  3. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Have ready a metal jelly roll pan (sides greased and bottom lined with parchment paper) or a silicon jelly roll pan (no need to grease or line), about 28 by 38 cm (10 by 15 inches).
  4. Run a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) under running water and wring it thoroughly so it is just moist.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar until pale and fluffy.
  6. Sugar + yolks
  7. Fold in the flour, mixing just until incorporated.
  8. Sugar + yolks + flour
  9. In a separate, perfectly clean bowl, and using a perfectly clean whisk, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks.
  10. Beaten egg whites
  11. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen. Fold in another third, working gently with a spatula to lift the mixture and keep it from deflating. Repeat with the remaining third.
  12. Batter
  13. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the surface with a spatula.
  14. In mold
  15. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden. Don't overbake or it will be hard to roll.
  16. Cooked base
  17. Top the cake with the moist kitchen towel, place a baking sheet or tray over it, and flip the whole thing. Unmold the cake carefully, removing the parchment paper if present.
  18. Unmolded
  19. Brush the cake with the syrup, and roll it up with the kitchen towel; this will initiate the proper shape to make the final rolling easier. Let cool completely, seam side down.
  20. Rolled
    Fill and roll the bûche.
  21. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mascarpone, 20 grams (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) sugar, and vanilla.
  22. Yogurt + mascarpone
  23. Unroll the cake carefully and spread it with the yogurt mixture (in the photo I didn't spread the filling up to the edges, but that's not necessary.) Arrange the raspberries on top.
  24. Filled
  25. Roll the cake back up as tightly and evenly as you can, using the kitchen towel for support (but not rolling it up this time).
  26. Transfer cautiously to a dish or platter, seam side down, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 8.
  27. Rolled
    Serve the bûche.
  28. Using a serrated bread knife, slice off both ends of the roll to get clean edges. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve.
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Warming Pink Lentil Soup Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/soups/warming-pink-lentil-soup-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/soups/warming-pink-lentil-soup-recipe/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 15:30:28 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6694 The days are getting shorter, the air is getting chillier, and our collective noses are getting snifflier. It’s time for […]

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Pink Lentil Soup

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting chillier, and our collective noses are getting snifflier. It’s time for a warming bowl of wholesome, immune-boosting ingredients, and this pink lentil soup is precisely that.

It is drawn from an early review copy of Sarah Britton’s upcoming book My New Roots, which won’t come out until spring, but this particular recipe is one that’s actually available on her beautiful blog of the same name.

The entire book is a treasure trove of inspiration and I’ve tagged many recipes to try, but this one was first in line: it is incredibly quick to put together, with hardly any prep work at all, and mostly pantry ingredients you likely have on hand as we speak.

The result is a remarkably satisfying, lightly chunky soup that hits all the right spots — the sweetness of the lentils, the earthiness of the cumin, the acidity of the lemon, the umami of the tomatoes, the fiery kick of the ginger and chili pepper — and I can already see it becoming a staple of my wintry repertoire.

Join the conversation!

What’s your favorite warming, soothing dish to prepare when you need to keep the cold, and the sniffles, out?

PS: A winter vegetable curry, my favorite gift ideas for the holiday, and chocolate walnut cookies.

Pink Lentil Soup

Warming Pink Lentil Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4.

Warming Pink Lentil Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, finely grated (I use a Microplane grater)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper or other ground chili pepper
  • 400 grams (14 ounces) jarred whole tomatoes (see note) or 5 large fresh ones, chopped, if in season
  • 200 grams (1 cup) pink lentils (also called red lentils), rinsed and preferably soaked overnight
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 1 liter (4 cups) stock, homemade if possible
  • A few sprigs fresh parsley or cilantro
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until softened. Add the ginger, cumin, and chili pepper, stir, and cook for a couple minutes more, until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes, and crush them with your spatula once them landed in the pot. Add the lentils, stock, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir well. Cut four slices from the middle of the lemon and add them in. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
  3. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  4. Divide among bowls, top with a sprig or two of fresh herbs, sprinkle with black pepper, and serve.

Notes

  • I buy my preserved tomatoes jarred, not canned, because most cans have an inner lining that contains BPA, and the acidity of tomatoes make them prime candidates for those compounds to leach. Starting from January 1, 2015, BPA will be banned from all food containers in France, but we know little about the new materials that will be used.
  • If you can make the soup a day ahead, or manage to have leftovers, you'll find it tastes even better the next day.
  • Recipe minimally adapted from Sarah Britton's My New Roots.

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Cinnamon Granola Chocolate Bars Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/candy-mignardises/cinnamon-granola-chocolate-bars-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/candy-mignardises/cinnamon-granola-chocolate-bars-recipe/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 15:00:03 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7095 I have been dreaming about something like this for a long time, inspired both by the nut-studded chocolate bars one […]

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Cinnamon Granola Chocolate Bars

I have been dreaming about something like this for a long time, inspired both by the nut-studded chocolate bars one finds at good chocolate shops in Paris — such as the one that’s on our desktop calendar for this month — and by the tradition of chocolat au couteau, or knife-cut chocolate, a generous slab of chocolate that is broken into smaller chunks for sale by the weight.

I find the concept of rough-cut chocolate curiously enticing, and have often snacked on a handful of granola with a side square of dark chocolate. Somehow the two ideas merged into this chocolate bar, whose surface is covered with a nicely toasted, nutty granola spiked with a healthy amount of sea salt and some freshly grated cinnamon.

And not just any cinnamon: I recently received a sample of the new cinnamon harvest from my partner Cinnamon Hill, a small British company I love that imports top-quality cinnamon sticks grown in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and every time I use their stuff in my cooking and my baking, I am reminded of the stark difference freshness makes — it’s just not the same spice at all.

I was so smitten with the cinnamon sticks and the gorgeous wooden grater they initially sent me that I bought the cinnamon lover’s pack for my mother for Christmas last year. And now they’ve created a lower-price, injection-molded version of that grater, based on the original design, with an identical grater blade, and also manufactured in the UK (not China!), which makes it an even more affordable gift option for the baker who has everything.

Cinnamon Graters from Cinnamon Hill

Cinnamon Graters from Cinnamon Hill

These cinnamon granola chocolate bars are the perfect recipe to dip your toes in the homemade chocolate pool if you’ve been wanting to try it this holiday season, giving you a great but low-risk opportunity to temper chocolate. Tempering chocolate means bringing it to three different temperature levels (high, low, medium) to control the crystallization of the cacao butter, and it translates to a chocolate that is glossy when set (as opposed to matte with white marbling), and breaks off with a clean, satisfying snap.

This is a process all chocolatiers apply to their chocolate and it may sound a little intimidating at first, but it is a lot less fiddly than it sounds and the result is plenty worth the effort. It does require a digital thermometer with a probe, so if you don’t have one or it just sounds like too much of a project, I’ve included instructions to skip that step.

My plan for my inaugural batch of granola chocolate bar is to just nibble my way through it, bit by bit and chunk by chunk, but I ambition to make more, package it up, and give it away as an edible gift. I can also imagine how charming it will be to bring this on a small platter when I have guests over for coffee during the holidays, with a few chunks broken off and a parmesan knife for chocolate enthusiasts to help themselves to more.

PS: How to taste chocolate, my favorite Christmas cookies, and easy candied nuts.

This post is brought to you by Cinnamon Hill. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that support Chocolate & Zucchini.

Cinnamon Granola Chocolate Bars

Cinnamon Granola Chocolate Bars

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Cinnamon Granola Chocolate Bars

Ingredients

    For the granola:
  • 180 grams (2 cups) rolled grains of your choice (such as oats, spelt, quinoa, etc. choose gluten-free grains as needed)
  • 120 grams (1 cup) whole almonds and hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 3 tablespoons honey or rice syrup
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (I used Cinnamon Hill's Saigon cinnamon)
  • For the chocolate base:
  • 400 grams (14 ounces) high-quality bittersweet couverture chocolate (available from baking supply stores), at least 60% cacao, finely chopped (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

    First, make the granola:
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and grease a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the rolled grains, nuts, coconut oil, honey, and cinnamon, and stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Spread out on the baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until toasted and lightly browned, stirring well every 10 minutes. Let cool completely, and measure 120 grams (1 cup) of the granola. (You can keep the rest for topping yogurt and snacking.)
  4. Line a 20-by-20-cm (8-by-8-inch) square pan with parchment paper as neatly as possible, and use clothes pins or chip clips to keep it in place.
  5. Lined pan
    If you choose to temper your chocolate (recommended):
  6. Have ready a large bowl of ice water, and a food thermometer with a probe.
  7. Put the finely chopped chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl and place it over a pan of just-simmering water over low heat.
  8. 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).
  9. 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).
  10. Melted Chocolate
  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. Immediately pour the chocolate into the prepared pan.
  13. If you prefer not to temper your chocolate:
  14. 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. Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan.
  15. Assemble the chocolate bars:
  16. Sprinkle the surface of the chocolate evenly with the salt first, and follow with the 120 grams (1 cup) granola you've set aside. Use the tip of a rubber spatula to push the granola topping gently down into the chocolate, to make sure it's securely embedded.
  17. Allow the chocolate to set at cool room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  18. Lift the parchment paper from the pan, loosen it gently from the sides of the chocolate, and break the chocolate into chunks, with your (clean, dry, and cool) fingers or a parmesan knife.
  19. The chocolate will keep for several weeks in an airtight container at cool room temperature.

Notes

I prefer dark chocolate over any other kind, but you can use milk chocolate here if you prefer. The target tempering temperatures to use then are 45-48°C (113-118°F) for the initial melting, 26-27°C (79-81°F) for the cooling phase, and 29-30°C (85-86°F) for the final working temperature.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/candy-mignardises/cinnamon-granola-chocolate-bars-recipe/

Cinnamon Granola Chocolate Bars

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December 2014 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/december-2014-desktop-calendar/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/december-2014-desktop-calendar/#comments Sun, 30 Nov 2014 23:05:09 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7022 At the beginning of every month in 2014, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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December 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 December is a picture of a candied pistachio chocolate bar from Alain Ducasse’s bean-to-bar chocolate factory in Paris.

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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November Favorites http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/november-favorites-2/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/november-favorites-2/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:19:11 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7011 First of all, a reminder: if you’re in Paris this Saturday, November 29, I’ll be signing books at WHSmith from […]

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Nasturtiums

First of all, a reminder: if you’re in Paris this Saturday, November 29, I’ll be signing books at WHSmith from 4 till 5:30pm with my friend and illustrator Mélina Josserand and a platter of chocolate fleur de sel cookies. Please come and say hi!

A few reads and finds from the past month:

~ I was a guest on Radio Canada to talk (in French) about Edible French.

~ Have you ever wondered whether you could continue to cook if you ever went blind? Here’s how my friend Dave does it.

~ Bored with the pairing of beets and goat cheese? Here are five inspired ideas to break out of that rut.

~ A visual guide to determine the freshness of an egg.

~ What does a recipe editor do, anyway?

~ When and why it became socially acceptable for upper-class Parisians to smile.

~ A tempting maple syrup tart from Clamato’s executive chef.

~ Why does food stick to your knife?

~ To make bread, watch the dough, not the recipe.

What about you, any article or link that has stuck with you this month?

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Five Baking Lessons from Huckleberry’s Zoe Nathan http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tips-tricks/five-baking-lessons-from-huckleberrys-zoe-nathan/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tips-tricks/five-baking-lessons-from-huckleberrys-zoe-nathan/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:27:16 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=7000 Huckleberry is a bakery and café in Santa Monica that is run by baker Zoe Nathan and her husband Josh […]

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Fresh Blueberry Brioche (photography by Matt Armendariz)

Huckleberry is a bakery and café in Santa Monica that is run by baker Zoe Nathan and her husband Josh Loeb. Although I’ve never had a chance to visit myself, I understand it’s a wildly popular place that has successfully disproven the nay-sayers who told Zoe Nathan that, “nobody eats bread and pastries anymore,” least of all in LA.

Earlier in the fall Zoe Nathan released her first book, published by Chronicle Books and also called Huckleberry, and after hearing her on the Good Food podcast I was very curious to see it.

It did not disappoint: it is a gorgeous book, with a sunny polka-dotted pattern printed on the edges of the pages that makes you want to place it backwards on your bookshelf, and Matt Armendariz’s delectable photography. Although the book was co-written by Zoe Nathan, her husband, and their long-time associate Laurel Almerinda, they have chosen Zoe Nathan’s voice to guide the reader through the book, in a day in the life format that starts at 3:30am (oy!) with “Muffins” and ends at 10am with “Coffee and other beverages”.

Nathan’s is an opinionated voice, too, one that does not mince words — considering the tone of Gabrielle Hamilton’s new Prune cookbook, could this be a trend? — and is pretty honest about the hard work and emotional roller coaster involved in running a successful bakery.

I’ve particularly enjoyed the general baking advice that she shares at the front of the book, and thought I’d share the five baking lessons that have stuck with me the most.

1. Color is flavor

Most bakers, myself included, are so afraid of burning things they usually take their baked goods out of the oven before they have reached the apex of their flavor.

It’s perfectly understandable — who wants charred cake? — but the fact is, a tart crust is much crispier and tastier if it is allowed get to the brown side of golden; a crumble or cobbler (Nathan’s example) needs plenty of time for the fruit to completely collapse and soften; a naturally leavened baguette or sourdough loaf expresses its full complexity when it is darker than we think.

Zoe Nathan says we should “treat [color] as another ingredient to be measured” and encourages us to “flirt with disaster” and push the baking time just a little more than completely comfortable. And in truth, there is often a lot more time than we think between underbaked, just right, and overbaked.

Black and Blue Oat Bars (photography by Matt Armendariz)

Black and Blue Oat Bars (photography by Matt Armendariz)

2. Use all your sense, and your intuition

Baking has a reputation of being an exact science, contrary to cooking, which is (supposedly) more open to interpretation and improvisation. Yet no recipe writer can predict how moist or ripe your fruit is, how your oven operates, and what the weather’s like where you live, and this is why a well-written recipe is one that gives you not just baking or resting times but sensory clues as well.

This means you should involve (and trust) your senses of touch, sight, smell, and your intuition to gauge whether this or that preparation needs a longer rising time, more kneading, more time in the oven, a hotter oven, etc. I personally feel this is very empowering, too: look, you’re learning how to fish!

3. Double the salt

Zoe Nathan recommends doubling the amount of salt that is called for in any baking recipe (not hers, presumably): she finds most bakers are too shy with salt, when it is in fact a key ingredient that enhances and reveals flavors like no other. I fully agree with her stance, but naturally you have to take the advice with a grain of salt (ha ha) and use your judgment: you woudn’t want to double the amount of salt in a recipe developed by someone who’s already on that same salty boat.

Brown Rice Quinoa Pancakes (photography by Matt Armendariz)

Brown Rice Quinoa Pancakes (photography by Matt Armendariz)

4. Brush off excess flour

Whenever you’re rolling out dough — such as for cookies, a tart of a pie — you’re going to use a fair amount of flour to dust your work surface and your rolling pin. What few recipes note, however, is that 1- you should use only as much as you need to maintain a good balance of ingredients in the dough, and 2- you’re supposed to brush off the excess flour before using: it’s not going to magically disappear, and that extra flour is just going to sit there awkwardly, tasting of raw flour.

Like Zoe Nathan, I keep a dry pastry brush around for just that purpose — and have another, silicone brush that I keep for wet uses, such as eggwash, oil, butter, etc.

5. Measure the night before

Every pro will tell you that mise en place is the foundation of their craft, and it’s easy to imagine that when your day starts at 3:30am, your baking will gain in efficiency and precision if you’ve prepped and measured your ingredients the day before, and if you want to be reaaaaally well-prepared, as Zoe Nathan notes, set out the tools and utensils you’ll need also.

In a home setting, even if your schedule is a bit less extreme, which I hope it is, fresh-baked breakfast treats will indeed be a smoother achievement if you heed that advice. And as a parent to a young child, I have found that no weekend baking will happen at all if I don’t divide it into ingredient prepping/measuring one day, and actual baking the next.

Bonus tip! The stealth check

This one is not so much a lesson as a fun, and potentially life-saving trick for frazzled bakers. If you’re unsure about a cake you’ve baked — maybe you got confused about ingredient amounts or think you may have forgotten to add an ingredient altogether — you can just rip a small piece out from the bottom of the cake as you unmold it. Let it cool, taste it, and you’ll know where you stand: if it is, after all, fine, no one will be the wiser about that missing piece.

PS: My favorite stone-ground chocolate and how to roast and skin hazelnuts.

~~~

Transparency note: I received a review copy of Huckleberry with no obligation to write about it, and cleared the necessary permissions to use Matt Armendariz’s photography in this post. All words and opinions are my own.

Cherry Tomato Goat Cheese Cobbler (photography by Matt Armendariz)

Cherry Tomato Goat Cheese Cobbler (photography by Matt Armendariz)

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“Cheesy” Kale Chips Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/cheesy-kale-chips-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/cheesy-kale-chips-recipe/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:56:46 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6846 I’ve recently set out on a mission to prune my cookbook collection, and it has felt wonderful. It is not […]

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Cheesy Kale Chips

I’ve recently set out on a mission to prune my cookbook collection, and it has felt wonderful.

It is not a quick process, but it’s a fairly straightforward one: every weekend I pick one book, two at the most, to go through carefully, leafing through its every page and marking the recipes that call to me. For some I’ve already done the work years ago when I first acquired the book, and I have been surprised to see that few of the recipes I had tagged then still do anything for me now.

Often times it’s a type of recipe for which I’ve since found My One (say, my granola recipe or my chicken stock formula), and it feels great to sit back and cherish those without thinking I need to try every one else’s version. Other times it’s recipes that simply fail to spark the excitement of the cook I have become — and I have trouble even remembering what moved me to tag them in the first place.

Once I’ve marked the recipes I’m interested in, I decide if there are enough to warrant holding on to the entire book, or if I can just scan the corresponding pages and pass the book on to someone else. In the process I also take into account the non-recipe value of the book, of course: if it can serve as a reference book in my cooking and in my work, if it is particularly well written, or if I have an emotional draw to it (we’re allowed those, right?). And if I decide the book can stay, I create a quick index card to list the recipes I’ve tagged and the page number, and slip it inside for future reference.

Choosing RawGena Hemshaw’s Choosing Raw is among the ones that recently made the cut, and with no hesitation: it’s the first cookbook by the author of the same-name blog, and in it she shares her take on a vegan and (mostly) raw lifestyle. I admire Gena’s writing on her blog — she strikes a rare balance between informative, inspiring, and approachable — and her book is just as enjoyable, as she provides the reader with the thorough information and delicious building blocks essential to plant-based eating.

Among the recipes I enthusiastically tagged was the one for cheesy kale chips. I’ve made oven-roasted kale chips before, simply dressed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, but this was my chance to reproduce the more substantial “cheesy” chips I’ve bought (and scarfed down) at natural foods stores in the US and in the UK, which typically call upon cashew “cheese”.

It turned out to be one of the easiest and most rewarding recipes I’ve made in a while: you simply tear curly kale into bite-size pieces, dress them in a no-cook sauce whizzed in the food processor, and let the oven (or dehydrator) do the rest of the work. Soon enough the kale and sauce relinquish all their moisture, leaving you with crisp pieces of kale generously crusted with an ultra flavorful, cheesy cashew coating.

Join the conversation!

Do you like to make kale chips? What’s your favorite flavoring or technique then? And how do you manage (or attempt to manage) your cookbook shelf?

PS: How to make the most of your cookbook collection, Cucumber and avocado quick nori rolls also inspired by Gena, and 50 Things to do with kale.

Cheesy Vegan Kale Chips Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Cheesy Vegan Kale Chips Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of curly kale, about 700 grams (1 1/2 lb)
  • 130 grams (1 cup) unroasted and unsalted cashews, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, about 150 g (1/3 lb), seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste (shiro miso, available from Japanese markets and natural foods stores)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 20 grams (1/3 cup) nutritional yeast

Instructions

  1. Wash the kale carefully and spin it dry in a salad spinner. Cut off the spines (keep for soup) and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces, discarding any stringy bit that gets in the way. This should yield 400 grams (14 ounces) leaves. Spread out on a clean and dry dishtowel, and leave out to dry for 1 hour.
  2. Kale
  3. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the soaked cashews, lemon juice, bell pepper, miso paste, salt, and nutritional yeast, and process until thoroughly puréed, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Cheese and pepper sauce
  5. Put the kale leaves in a mixing bowl and pour the sauce over them.
  6. Kale + sauce
  7. Stir the sauce into the kale until thoroughly combined; you could use a spatula, but in fact your (clean) hands will work better.
  8. Kale + sauce 2
    If using a regular oven:
  9. Line one or two baking sheets (depending on their size) with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat, and arrange the pieces of kale in a single layer, leaving them a little space to breathe and making sure the leaves are all unfurled, with no thick glop of sauce on them, which would take longer to dehydrate.
  10. Kale on baking sheet
  11. Preheat the oven to 75°C (165°F) and dehydrate for 2 1/2 hours, or until completely dry and crispy, switching the baking sheets every half-hour or so, and flipping the chips halfway through.
  12. If using a dehydrator:
  13. Arrange the pieces of kale on two dehydrator trays lined with nonstick sheets, and dehydrate at 46°C (115°F) for about 8 hours, flipping the chips halfway through.
  14. The texture of the chips is best on the day they're made, but they'll keep well for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

Notes

This recipe is adapted from Genna Hamshaw's Choosing Raw.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/cheesy-kale-chips-recipe/

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Vegan Quiche Filling Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/vegan-quiche-filling-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/vegan-quiche-filling-recipe/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:27:32 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6696 A few weeks ago, I had a special guest over for dinner: my American pen friend Amy, whose family hosted […]

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Vegan Quiche Filling

A few weeks ago, I had a special guest over for dinner: my American pen friend Amy, whose family hosted me in their Michigan home the summer I turned fifteen.

This was a life-defining trip for me: it was my first time in the US, a.k.a. the coolest country in the world in the eyes of this French teen, and Amy’s parents made it count in a way I’ll forever be grateful for, taking us on roadtrips in their minivan (with a television and VCR inside!) to Canada and to New York City (New York City!), and generally making sure I had a grand time.

Everything was a source of gleeful amazement to me, from the size of the backyard to the whole-house air-conditioning, from the gigantic malls to the extra frilly decorations in every girl’s room I visited, from the frozen waffles I was allowed to have every morning (every morning!) with bottled chocolate syrup to my first PB&J (which I did not “get” at the time), from the powerful smell of popcorn in movie theaters to the different kinds of fast food (burgers! tacos! pizzas!) Amy’s father picked up on his way home from work most nights.

Amy and I got along famously, but we lost touch as teenagers will — and probably did even more easily in that pre-Internet era. In recent years I searched for her on Facebook every once in a while, but turned up empty. Eventually it is she who wrote in, letting me know she’d soon be traveling through Europe and stopping for a few days in Paris. Would I be up for a little reunion?

The least I could do was invite her to dinner and she said yes, noting that she was now a vegan. I wanted to make her something homey and French, something I would serve to any of my old girlfriends, and decided on a quiche filled with greens, in the style of this greens and walnut quiche.

Obviously the egg-milk-and-cream filling would not do, so I looked for a vegan alternative and was intrigued by this idea of a filling based on chickpea flour, thickened to a custardy consistency on the stove, and flavored with spices and nutritional yeast, the go-to vegan ingredient when a cheesy note is needed.

The filling was very easy to prepare — I made it and my olive oil tart crust the day before — and it garnished the quiche in the most satisfying way. Nobody would mistake it for the classic egg-and-cream custard of course, but it hit all the right notes: creamy but pleasantly set, richly flavorful on its own but subtle enough to let the other ingredients shine.

Join the conversation!

Have you kept in touch with your foreign exchange friends, and what would you serve if you had them over for dinner now? Have you ever made a vegan quiche, and what type of filling did you use?

Vegan Quiche Filling Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

For one 30-cm (12-inch) quiche.

Vegan Quiche Filling Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100 grams (1 cup) chickpea flour (available from natural foods stores and Indian markets, also labeled as gram flour or besan)
  • 15 grams (1/4 cup) nutritional yeast (available from natural foods stores)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt, nutmeg, and turmeric. Add the mustard and whisk in 240 ml (1 cup) fresh water.
  2. Vegan Quiche Filling Mix
  3. Pour 360 ml (1 1/2 cups) fresh water in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the chickpea mixture and bring back to a simmer.
  4. Vegan Quiche Filling Cooking
  5. Cook over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  6. Vegan Quiche Filling Cooked
  7. The quiche filling is now ready to use, but you can also pour it into a container and refrigerate until the next day. It will thicken and separate, but that's okay: simply whisk it back into shape.
  8. To use, combine it with the other quiche ingredients and pour into a blind-baked quiche shell, such as my olive oil tart crust, parbaked for 10 minutes at 180°C (360°F).
  9. Green Quiche (pre-baking)
  10. Bake at 180°C (360°F) for 25 minutes, then brush the top with olive oil (this gives a nice sheen to the otherwise matte finish of the filling) and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Serve hot or just slightly warm.
  11. Green Quiche (baked)

Notes

Adapted from The Gourmet Vegan.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/vegan-quiche-filling-recipe/

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Belgian Waffles (Liège-Style) Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/belgian-waffles-liege-style-recipe/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/belgian-waffles-liege-style-recipe/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:09:27 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6699 I spent my childhood eating Liège waffles we bought at the grocery store. Those thick and cake-like grids studded with […]

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Liège-Style Belgian Waffles

I spent my childhood eating Liège waffles we bought at the grocery store. Those thick and cake-like grids studded with sugar crystals seemed to me infinitely superior to the thin waffles stuffed with vanilla cream that my sister prefered and I ignored disdainfully.

I hadn’t eaten such waffles since my teenaged days — I stopped buying supermarket pastries years ago — but they made a major comeback into my life earlier this year, when a tiny Comptoir Belge opened a stone’s throw from my house, at 58 rue des Martyrs.

This stand offers Belgian waffles in the style of Liège, cooked fresh while you watch and sending seductive, buttery wafts right up to the little carousel on Place Lino Ventura, a powerful marketing ploy indeed. And the first time I tried them, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

A far cry from its distant plastic-wrapped and palm-oiled grocery store cousin, the artisanal and freshly cooked Liège waffle is a study in contrast between the thinly crisp shell, the tender and brioche-y insides, and the thick sugar cristals that melt and caramelize in the waffle iron.

And since I recently received from Cuisinart (see note at the bottom of this post) a fabulous griddler with waffle plates, it wasn’t long until I tackled this monument of Belgian gastronomy.

In my research I found dozens of recipes, with such widely varying proportions my head spun, and my solution was, as it always is, to draw up a spreadsheet comparing the different ingredient amounts in proportion to the flour weight (you can take the cook out of the engineer, etc.). This led me to formulate a recipe that would be best suited to my taste, i.e. less sweet and less butter-heavy than average, while still retaining 100% of its deliciousness.

The resulting waffles are an absolute delight, the recipe is easy, and the dough freezes perfectly well, allowing you to invite your sister over for an impromptu snack one afternoon and, with hardly a finger lifted, have her discover in turn how a Belgian waffle really should be eaten: still warm, caramelized, chewy, irresistible.

Transparency note : The griddler and waffle plates were sent to me to review by Cuisinart France through their PR agency. I will note that this was actually the model I had set my heart on and was about to get as a birthday gift from my parents when I had the opportunity to receive it for free. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Liège-Style Belgian Waffles

Liège-Style Belgian Waffles Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Makes 15 waffles.

Liège-Style Belgian Waffles Recipe

Ingredients

  • 200 ml (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) lukewarm milk (you shouldn't feel a temperature difference when you dip your finger in)
  • 12 grams (1 scant tablespoon) active dry yeast (I use the SAF brand)
  • 500 grams (1.1 pounds) all-purpose flour (about 3 3/4 cups, but I strongly recommend you use a scale to measure this amount)
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use fresh cinnamon from Cinnamon Hill)
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar (I used Belgian cassonnade, the traditional unrefined beet sugar)
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 150 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 190 grams (1 1/4 cups) Belgian pearl sugar (available online from the Waffle Pantry)
  • Cooking oil, for greasing the waffle iron

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine the milk and yeast and let stand for 15 minutes, until the surface is foamy. (If that doesn't happen, your yeast is probably too old; start again with a freshly purchased packet.)
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (see below about making the dough entirely by hand), combine by hand the flour, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Add in the milk mixture and the eggs, and stir by hand again (I detach the dough hook and use that) to moisten most of the flour so it won't fly off everywhere when you turn the mixer on.
  3. Turn the mixer on and knead at low speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
  4. Waffle Dough 1
  5. Add in the butter.
  6. Waffle Dough 2
  7. Knead for another 2 minutes, until the butter is fully incorporated. The dough will be quite sticky.
  8. Waffle Dough 3
  9. (The kneading can also be done by hand. It's more of a workout, obviously, and the part when you have to work in the softened butter can be a bit messy. The key is to not lose hope -- the dough will eventually absorb the butter -- and take heart in the fact that you'll have the softest hands afterward.)
  10. Cover the bowl tightly with a kitchen towel and leave to rise at warm room temperature, away from drafts, until doubled in size. The exact time needed will vary depending on the temperature in your kitchen, but it should take about 2 hours.
  11. Waffle Dough 4
  12. Fold the pearl sugar into the dough -- this will deflate it and that's okay -- so it's evenly distributed.
  13. Waffle Dough 5
  14. Divide the dough into 15 pieces, each about 75 grams (2 2/3 ounces), and shape them (roughly) into balls. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before cooking. (See note below on refrigerating or freezing the dough for later.)
  15. Preheat your waffle iron to medium-high; on my own griddler, the ideal temperature is 190°C (375°F).
  16. Brush the waffle plates with oil (this is unnecessary if they're non-stick) and place one ball of dough in the center of each waffle segment.
  17. Waffle Iron 1
  18. Close the waffle iron and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.
  19. Waffle Iron 2
  20. Lift the waffles from the iron (I use wooden tongs) and let cool 5 to 10 minutes on a rack before eating.

Notes

You can set aside some or all of the balls of dough to cook later: right after dividing the dough, arrange on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to a day. Remove from the fridge 15 minutes before cooking.

You can also arrange the extra pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or until hard, then collect the pieces into an airtight freezer bag. Thaw at room temperature for 3 hours before cooking.

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October Favorites http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/october-favorites-3/ http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/october-favorites-3/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:55:06 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6869 A few of my favorite links and finds for the past month: ~ EDIBLE FRENCH was featured in the New […]

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An apple tree in the garden of La Grenouillère, where we escaped one sunny fall weekend.

A few of my favorite links and finds for the past month:

~ EDIBLE FRENCH was featured in the New York Times T Magazine.

~ I was also invited to talk about EDIBLE FRENCH on one of my favorite radio shows, Even Kleiman’s Good Food on KCRW.

~ A new photography book explores chefs’ favorite tools and what they mean to them.

~ Cooking smells as pheromones for the home.

~ What breakfast looks like if you’re growing up in Tokyo, Istanbul, or Reykjavik.

~ 25 Hindi expressions related to food.

~ If you’ve enjoyed my Parents Who Cook interview series, here are more words of wisdom collected by Leah Koenig.

~ An inside look at Trader Joe’s and its business practices.

~ Emily Blincoe’s color-coded food photography.

~ Mark Bittman on feeding children and creating a home where cooking is the norm.

~ Does it really make a difference if you use room-temperature eggs in your baking?

~ Who says French isn’t easy? Here’s a quick flowchart to decide whether you should use “tu” or “vous”.

~ Some of the biggest mistakes you may be making when baking cookies.

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