Chocolate & Zucchini Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:16:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Buckwheat Speculoos Cookies Recipe Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:00:45 +0000 If you keep an eye on my Favorites of the Month posts, which naturally I recommend you do, you may […]

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Buckwheat Speculoos Cookies

If you keep an eye on my Favorites of the Month posts, which naturally I recommend you do, you may remember me featuring some organic and gluten-free cookies made in Belgium by a small company named Generous: a friend had kindly refered them to me, and they had offered to send samples my way.

I was impressed by the delicate, sandy texture they managed to create for their sablés — not so easy with gluten-free baked goods — and I love that they chose to use buckwheat flour, and embrace its bold flavor.

The buckwheat notes work especially well in their speculoos, an emblematic spice cookie that is typically baked in the north of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and parts of Germany. But the popularity of the speculoos has vastly outgrown these borders, and it is hugely popular all over France now, where it is often slipped on the saucer of espresso cups in cafés and restaurants (and often much needed to make the acrid coffee palatable).

When I saw how quickly that sleeve of buckwheat speculoos was inhaled in my household, I was inspired to revisit my own speculoos recipe, substituting buckwheat flour for half of the wheat flour (and decreasing the amount of sugar a little bit while I was at it).

I also took this opportunity to use the special speculoos molds that friends of mine brought me back from Alsace some time ago: before speculoos became a year-round treat, they were traditionally made during the Advent and given seasonal shapes — in my case, a crane and a Saint-Nicholas figure — by pressing the dough into finely carved wooden molds.

Buckwheat Speculoos -- Dusted molds

I confess I was a little sceptical about these: how could the dough possibly take on such an intricate shape, unmold without tears, and bake without all the details getting fudged? But I was amazed to see that, with proper flouring and no leavening agent in the dough (which my recipe didn’t call for anyway) all three bases were covered effortlessly.

I was intent on using these pretty molds, especially as I thought it might amuse my two-year-old to nibble on an oiseau and a monsieur (it did), but once I’d convinced myself that it worked and that the cookies were pretty indeed, I reverted to the much quicker slice-and-bake method.

Luckily, these simpler-shaped cookies had just as much snap and flavor as their more ornate counterparts.

Speculoos are lovely with a cup of tea or coffee — dipping is allowed, and even encouraged — but they are also the perfect companions to a fruit salad, or a compote of stewed or roasted fruit. They are also the cookie crust component of choice for French bakers who want to make cheesecake — no graham crackers in supermarkets this side of the Atlantic — and they make a pretty spectacular ice cream, too.

Buckwheat Speculoos -- Molded, post-baking

Buckwheat Speculoos Cookies Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 42 minutes

Makes 100 speculoos.

Buckwheat Speculoos Cookies Recipe


  • 250 grams (1 1/4 cups) unrefined sugar with flavor, ideally beet sugar (French vergeoise or Belgian cassonade); I used 50 grams (1/4 cup) muscovado sugar and 200 grams (1 cup) of my standard blond unrefined sugar
  • 150 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 250 grams (8 3/4 ounces, about 2 scant cups; see note) all-purpose flour
  • 250 grams (8 3/4 ounces, about 2 scant cups; see note) buckwheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons speculoos spice mix (mine is from the wonderful Épicerie de Bruno and contains Ceylan cinnamon, aniseed, star anise, ginger, mace, coriander, and allspice) or pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. In the bowl of a mixer or working by hand, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg, and mix again.
  2. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Dough 1
  3. Add in the flours, spices, and salt (if you're using an open mixer such as a KitchenAid, fold them in with a spatula first so they don't go flying everywhere), and mix just until the dough comes together, without overmixing. If you find the dough is too dry to come together, add a little milk or water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it does.
  4. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Dough 2
    If you're making slice-and-bake speculoos:
  5. Turn the dough out on the counter and divide it in two. Roll each half of the dough into a log, then pat it on opposing sides so the section becomes rectangular. Each log should be about 20 cm (4 inches) in length, 5 cm (2 inches) in width, and 2.5 cm (1 inch) in height.
  6. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Logs
  7. Wrap separately in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  9. Slice the prepared logs into 3-mm (1/10-inch) slices, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet; they won't expand much in the baking.
  10. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Sliced log
  11. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the speculoos start to brown around the edges.
  12. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  13. If you're using speculoos molds:
  14. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  15. Sprinkle a little flour into each mold, and shake lightly to encourage the flour to enter every crevice of the pattern. Flip the mold over a bowl (so you can reuse the flour) and tap the back of the mold to remove excess flour.
  16. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Dusted molds
  17. Take a piece of the dough and press it into the mold, keeping the shape of the pattern in mind to make sure you pack the dough well into every part. Don't worry about it being pretty at this point; it won't be.
  18. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Filled molds
  19. Run a thin knife blade flat along the surface of the mold -- sharp edge toward the dough and away from you -- to slice off the excess dough. If your molds are not very deep, you may need to keep your hand gently pressed over the dough to prevent it from following along as the blade works its way through. If your molds have pointy details (such as the beak and wing tips of my stork), it works best if the knife pushes "into them" (i.e. from top of stork head toward tip of beak), rather than against them.
  20. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Scraped molds
  21. Invert the mold onto the prepared baking sheet, and tap it firmly against the sheet to dislodge the dough; if you've floured the molds properly, the dough will pop right out. If not, tap again, or nudge it out with the tip of the knife. If it still doesn't unmold, remove the dough and start over.
  22. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Molded, pre-baking
  23. Once you've filled the baking sheet, insert it into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the speculoos start to brown around the edges.
  24. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.


Measuring by volume yields notoriously unreliable results, especially with flour. For the amounts called for in this recipe, I strongly recommend you use a kitchen scale to measure.

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Buckwheat Speculoos

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Oven-Baked Falafel Recipe Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:09:01 +0000 I am a big fan of falafel, and every once in a while I get a craving for a good […]

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Oven-Baked Falafel

I am a big fan of falafel, and every once in a while I get a craving for a good falafel sandwich, either from our local Lebanese hole-in-the-wall, or from the ever-thronged l’As du Fallafel on rue des Rosiers.

Seduced by the idea of an easy, ready-made dinner item, I have on occasion bought falafel from the organic store, in little plastic trays of fifteen, and they were quite tasty. But they cost a small fortune — a little over 4€ ($5.5) for fifteen two-bite falafel — for something so cheap to produce, so I got it in my head to make my own instead.

I certainly don’t object to fried foods on principle, but I do avoid frying anything in my own (open) kitchen, as I balk at the inherent prospect of scrubbing the stove, and having my entire apartment smell of hot grease. So frying wasn’t an option, but baking in the oven was.

As it turns out, making falafel couldn’t be easier: you’ll soak dried chickpeas overnight, then grind them with some onion, garlic, spices, and parsley if you like. You’ll shape this crumbly mixture into balls or patties, and fry or bake, as prefered.

I was also delighted that this gave me the perfect opportunity to use the grinder attachment a friend gave me for my KitchenAid mixer a few years ago, and which had been sitting untouched in one of my kitchen cabinets since then. But if that’s not part of your kitchen arsenal, fret not: a mixer or blender will do just fine.

And a more rewarding kitchen venture you’ll seldom encounter: the baked falafel turned out crisp and flavorful, and when assembled into pita sandwiches with my simple tahini sauce and lots of crudités, they made for a wonderful treat of a weeknight dinner.

And for the cost-conscious among us, I got forty falafel balls out of this recipe, at an (all-organic) ingredient cost of roughly 2€ ($2.75), which makes them out to be about five times cheaper than the store-bought option. Check my homemade hummus recipe for more chickpea money-saving tips.

Join the conversation!

Are you a falafel aficionado too? Who makes your favorite? And do you fry things at home, or do you leave it to the pros to do the frying and related scrubbing?

Falafel sandwich at L'As du Fallafel.

Falafel sandwich (pretty light!) at L’As du Fallafel.

Oven-Baked Falafel Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 9 hours, 35 minutes

Makes about 40 falafel, serving 6.

Oven-Baked Falafel Recipe


  • 400 grams (2 cups) dried chickpeas
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose or chickpea flour (use chickpea flour to make this gluten-free)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to grease the baking sheet
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped (optional)
  • simple tahini sauce, for serving
  • pita bread, for serving
  • assorted crudités, such as grated carrots and chopped cabbage, for serving


  1. The day before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with fresh water by 5 cm (2 inches).
  2. The next day, rinse, drain well, and place in the bowl of a food processor or blender with the onion, garlic, flour, olive oil (see note), salt, and spices. Process in pulses, stirring regularly, until you get an even consistency. (If you have a meat grinder, that's even better: use the finest grinding plate to grind the chickpeas along with the onion and garlic, then mix in the flour, oil, salt, and spices by hand.) Fold in the parsley, if using. (Pictured below at right is my Danish dough whisk.)
  3. Oven-Baked Falafel
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until the next day.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and oil a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Shape the falafel mixture into balls the size of a large walnut, and place them on the sheet.
  7. Oven-Baked Falafel
  8. Insert into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the falafel halfway through, until golden.
  9. Serve with tahini sauce, crudités, and pita bread, assembling sandwiches if you like.


  • Once baked and cooled, the falafel can be frozen. After thawing, you can reheat them in the oven or in the skillet.
  • If you prefer to fry the falafel, omit the olive oil from the mixture.

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70 Things To Do With Fresh Spinach Thu, 03 Apr 2014 14:00:42 +0000 Fresh spinach is in season right now, and I got a huge bag of it from my favorite grower, so […]

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Fresh Spinach

Fresh spinach is in season right now, and I got a huge bag of it from my favorite grower, so I’ve been looking for great ways to use it. I naturally turned to Twitter and Facebook to hear about your favorite spinach dishes, and I thought I’d share the master list. Thank you all for your inspired suggestions!

Spinach pairings

- Spinach + garlic
- Spinach + cheese (especially fresh goat cheese, feta, ricotta)
- Spinach + sesame
- Spinach + eggs
- Spinach + cream
- Spinach + pasta
- Spinach + mushrooms
- Spinach + potatoes
- Spinach + nutmeg
- Spinach + lentils
- Spinach + raisins
- Spinach + bacon
- Spinach + fish
- Spinach + anchovies
- Spinach + rice
- Spinach + lemon

Sautéed spinach

- Sautéed in butter
- Wilted in a pan with slivers of garlic (lots of it).
- Simply sauté with olive oil, sliced garlic and lemon juice.
- Spinaci alla romana, with pine nuts, garlic, and sultanas
- Toss in a hot skillet with garlic, olive oil, salt. Cover, remove from heat, wilt 5 min. Leftovers can be mixed into fromage blanc.
- Chop up spinach, sauté in sesame oil, and serve with quinoa or rice, and tofu baked with miso or soy sauce.
- Stir-fry quickly with garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and a dash of soy sauce.
- Sautéed in a skillet with rice vinegar, a drizzle of sesame oil, toasted black sesame, and fresh ginger, Japanese-style.
- One-pot spinach and quinoa pilaf

Spinach in baked dishes

- Spinach quiche, with leeks and gruyère
- Spinach and potato quiche with feta cheese
- Spinach tart or pie, with fresh goat cheese or camembert
- In a phyllo pie with feta, à la spanakopita
- Torta pasqualina (Spinach and ricotta Easter pie)
- Spinach and ricotta lasagna
- Spinach pirojki
- Spinach börek

Spinach with eggs

- Spinach and feta omelette
- Spinach and mushroom omelette
- Spinach frittata
- In eggs florentine.
- In an egg bouillabaisse
- Sautéed in a little bit of olive oil with a fried egg.
- Spinach and egg crêpes with cheese
- Put puréed spinach into pancake dough. When heated in oil, it will give the whole thing a wonderful caramelized touch. It’s not pancakes with spinach, the combination of the two creates a whole new taste.

Spinach in soups

- In a spicy Asian-style noodle soup.
- Spinach and lentil soup with fresh sheep’s milk cheese.
- A soup of fried leeks, frozen peas, spinach and vegetable stock. Boil for a few minutes, blitz, then eat.
- In a coconut curry or bean soup.

Spinach in pasta and noodles

- In pasta with ricotta or mascarpone cheese
- With ricotta, to stuff lumaconis (snail shell pasta)
- Sautéed with tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, sliced black olives in olive oil, topped with feta in pasta.
- Spinach pesto with almonds, really good olive oil and lots of grated pecorino; best with homemade pasta.
- Turn it into a pesto with walnuts and pecorino; eat on fresh bread or pasta.
- Elbow macaroni with Comté cheese, spinach and nutmeg
- Fry with bacon and tomatoes to top pasta.
- As a vegetable for mie goreng (Indonesian fried noodles)

Spinach salads

- If it is really fresh, in a salad with beets and hard-boiled egg: mix the yolk with oil, vinegar and mustard for a creamy dressing.
- In a salad with tuna and roasted pumpkin seeds
- Mix with mandarin oranges, feta cheese, sunflower seeds and a Champagne vinaigrette.
- Wilted spinach salad: fry some streaky bacon, pour off most of the grease and deglaze with a bit of red wine vinegar. Pour the hot dressing over your spinach along with tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg, minced shallot and the crumbled bacon.
- Spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette
- In a salad with fresh mint and a Thai vinaigrette (made with fresh ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, and oil).
- Spinach, kale (or arugula), almond and date salad with a lemon dressing.
- Spinach salad with pumpkin roasted in maple syrup, creamy feta, walnuts and a nice vinaigrette.

Spinach in sandwiches and pizza

- In BLT’s
- In a sandwich with hummus
- Use on an egg breakfast sandwich.
- Spinach pizza with fresh garlic, bacon, and dollops of fresh sheep’s milk cheese
- In a Chicago-style stuffed pizza, with an insane amount of garlic

Spinach with meat or fish

- In a coulibiac.
- Grill salmon with olive oil; lay on top of spinach; eat it all up.
- Spinach with grilled sole, washed down with Belgian beer.
- Fish florentine
- In meatballs, with lemon zest
- With croûtons made from Poilâne bread, lardons from a farm-raised French pork, and a Roquefort cheese sauce.

Blanched or boiled spinach

- Spinach with feta and lemon
- Creamed spinach
- Japanese spinach with sesame dressing, or with a miso and sesame dressing
- Spinach namul

Indian-style spinach

- Spinach in a lentil curry
- Spinach rice with dhal
- Saag paneer with roasted butternut and homemade roti bread
- Chicken or prawn saag

Drinkable spinach

- In green juices and green smoothies: spinach, almond milk, banana and frozen blueberries is a favorite combo.
- Purée and freeze in ice cube trays to use for smoothies.

Any cool ideas of your own you want to add?

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April 2014 Desktop Calendar Mon, 31 Mar 2014 22:15:56 +0000 At the beginning of every month in 2014, I will be offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop […]

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April 2014 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2014, I will be 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 April is a picture of the springtime pot-au-feu I am gearing up to make now that the first spring vegetables are appearing on market stalls.

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

Here’s how it works:

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

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

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

4- Enjoy and see you next month!

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March Favorites Thu, 27 Mar 2014 15:00:13 +0000 A few of my favorite finds and reads for March: ~ A vegetarian’s alphabet. ~ Absolutely delicious gluten-free and organic […]

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Gluten-free and organic cookies by Belgian company Generous.

A few of my favorite finds and reads for March:

~ A vegetarian’s alphabet.

~ Absolutely delicious gluten-free and organic cookies from Belgium, with irresistible packaging as a bonus. I have a special weakness for Charlotte Chocolat and Céline Citron.

~ What can you eat for 10€ (that’s about $14) in Paris?

~ Networking is for everyone.

~ Taste testing for the best lemon tarts in Paris.

~ How is it that honey keeps forever?

~ Looking forward to Superbarquette, a street food festival at Paris’ Wanderlust April 11 to 13.

~ The 30-second habit with a lifelong impact.

~ Cannot wait for strawberry season to commence in earnest so I can make this meringue roulade.

~ Eating beef in Paris.

~ A guide to Paris’ best coffee shops.

~ A tour of British accents in a minute and a half.

Any favorites of your own to share this month?

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Cherry Clafoutis with Chestnut Flour Recipe Tue, 25 Mar 2014 14:00:21 +0000 I attended the Omnivore festival in Paris last week, a fabulous three-day event during which inspiring chefs climb up on […]

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Sour Cherry Clafoutis with Chestnut Flour

I attended the Omnivore festival in Paris last week, a fabulous three-day event during which inspiring chefs climb up on stage to demo dishes and talk about their cuisine, and the sentiment that was expressed by several of them mirrors my own: we are currently going through the toughest time of year for the produce-oriented cook.

It no longer feels like winter, and certainly we’ve had our share of cold-weather vegetables, but spring is not quite there, and the bounty it promises has yet to be delivered. We are stuck in this limbo of non-season, having to make do with what’s left of the winter months — which isn’t actually very much — as we dream of pea shoots and strawberries.

Fruit is especially hard. The apples and pears are all from storage, and the citrus is a wan version of itself — all pith and little flavor — so we’re mostly left with exotic or frozen fruit.

Recently, this state of affair has made me pine for cherry clafoutis, and more specifically this clafoutis, which I’ve had bookmarked for seven years, ever since it was first published. I planned to make it with frozen sour cherries, which can be easily procured from the all-frozen-foods grocery store the French love so.

It is a slightly unorthodox clafoutis, in that the egg whites are whipped to create a mouthfeel that is moist and fluffy, rather than the more classic, flan-like texture. It is delicious.

Instead of using regular wheat flour, I chose to make my clafoutis with the chestnut flour I brought back from Corsica. I intuited that it would go well with the flavor of the cherries, much like hazelnut flour flattered them in this loaf cake; I am happy to report my intuition was spot-on.

As for the cherry pits, it is up to you to keep them in or out: tradition leaves the cherries unpitted — supposedly this adds a hint of almond flavor — but having to maneuver the pits around your mouth can be a severe hindrance to your enjoyment, and certainly if you’re serving this to young children, the pits need to go. (The frozen sour cherries I used are already pitted, so that was that.)

Join the conversation!

Are you experiencing the same lull in seasons where you live? How do you deal with it? And do you ever make clafoutis ?

Cherry Clafoutis with Chestnut Flour

Cherry Clafoutis with Chestnut Flour Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serves 6.

Cherry Clafoutis with Chestnut Flour Recipe


  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 240 ml (1 cup) Greek-style yogurt or ricotta
  • 150 grams (3/4 cup) unrefined light blond sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
  • 70 grams (2/3 cup) almond flour
  • 85 grams (2/3 cup) chestnut flour (substitute the flour of your choice, including all-purpose wheat flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 500 grams (about 4 cups) cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted or unpitted


  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and grease a 30-cm (12-inch) pie pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks with the yogurt, sugar, and kirsch, if using. Add the almond and chestnut flours, and beat them in briefly, without overmixing.
  3. In another, thoroughly grease-free bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until they form soft peaks (I do this by hand, but an electric whisk makes it easier). Fold into the first mixture and pour into the pan. Arrange the cherries on top, pushing them down gently into the batter.
  4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until set and golden. Transfer to a rack to cool and serve, lightly warm or at room temperature. The leftovers are delicious, straight from the fridge, for breakfast the next day.


Adapted from a recipe by Mingou Mango.

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Cauliflower Salad à la Café Pinson Recipe Thu, 20 Mar 2014 14:00:51 +0000 Café Pinson is one of Paris’ most delicious lunch spots for vegetable lovers. Co-founded by Agathe Audouze and driven by […]

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Cauliflower Salad à la Café Pinson

Café Pinson is one of Paris’ most delicious lunch spots for vegetable lovers. Co-founded by Agathe Audouze and driven by her interest in naturopathy and personal history with food intolerances, it focuses on fresh, seasonal, and healthful foods, with no dairy ingredients and (mostly) no gluten, whole grains and unrefined sweeteners, and low-temperature cooking to preserve nutrients.

It doesn’t hurt that the interior design was created by Dorothée Meilichzon, who excels at putting together inviting and cozy spaces, with mismatched vintage-style furniture and whimsical details that seem right out of a Pinterest board.

So hungry are Parisians for that kind of food in a non-granola environment that it took about a week for the crowds to descend upon the original location in the upper Marais. This success led to the opening of a second Café Pinson, this one in the super hot Faubourg Poissonnière neighborhood, where a new exciting spot sprout up every minute and a half.

I was recently invited to have lunch there with Agathe Audouze herself to sample some of the menu offerings, and among them I was particularly taken with the romanesco salad. I’m sure you’ve seen that fractal cabbage, light-green to yellow in hue, and handled in cooking much like cauliflower. Here, it was served cold, dressed in a vegan mayonnaise that was tahini-based, as Agathe explained, and topped with a happy sprinkle of brown flax seeds.

It was tangy and rich, a most appealing way of eating Brassicaceae. I noted the idea in my head and promptly reproduced it, not with romanesco but with cauliflower, which I had on hand. It was just as lovely in a home context as at the café, and I am adding it to my cauliflower repertoire, along with my other love-it-to-death favorite, the Cauliflower à la Mary Celeste.

Join the conversation!

Do you make cauliflower salads? What’s your favorite way of dressing them? And have you ever tried romanesco?

Café Pinson
6 rue du forez, Paris 3ème // +33 (0)9 83 82 53 53 // map
58 rue du faubourg poissonnière, Paris 10ème // +33 (0)1 45 23 59 42 // map

The original romanesco salad at Café Pinson.

The original romanesco salad at Café Pinson.

Cauliflower Salad à la Café Pinson Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves 4.

Cauliflower Salad à la Café Pinson Recipe


  • 680 g (1 1/2 pounds) cauliflower or romanesco florets from one large or two small heads, separated into bite-size florets (about 8 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons brown flax seeds
  • For the vegan sesame mayonnaise:
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil


  1. Steam the cauliflower florets for 10 minutes, until just tender: you don't want them crunchy, but not mushy either. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Grind the flax seeds coarsely: you don't want them reduced to a powder, but you want to break the outer lining so they're digestible.
  3. Brown Flax Seed
  4. Prepare the vegan sesame mayonnaise: in a salad bowl, whisk together the tahini, salt, lemon juice, cumin, and 1 tablespoon water. Pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking all the while, to get a creamy, emulsified "mayonnaise".
  5. Vegan Sesame Mayonnaise
  6. Fold the cauliflower into the dressing. Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of flax seeds, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Parents Who Cook: Aria Beth Sloss Tue, 18 Mar 2014 15:00:27 +0000 Aria Beth Sloss is a writer, and the author of the novel Autobiography of Us, which has just come out […]

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Aria and Edith

Aria Beth Sloss is a writer, and the author of the novel Autobiography of Us, which has just come out in paperback.

She also happens to married to Dan Barber, a hero of mine and the iconic chef of Blue Hill in NYC, where they both live. I’ve been in touch with Aria ever since I published this fridge Q&A with Dan: I had mentioned her novel was about to be published, and she thanked me and offered to send me an advance copy, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Dan and Aria had a little girl last year, and of course, as part of my Parents Who Cook series, I had to ask how the household’s cooking life has changed since then. Aria shared her approach and tips with great generosity, and I hope you enjoy delving into it — and trying the two recipes she provided — as much as I did.


Can you tell us a few words about your daughter? Age, name, temperament?

Aria Beth Sloss

Edith turned one last month. As divine retribution for all the times I scoffed at parents who ascribed real, complex temperaments to their infants, Edith has been the person she is now since the day she was born — cheerful, opinionated, determined, and hilarious. I never dreamed someone so small could make me laugh so hard.


Did having a child change the way you cook?

Aria Beth Sloss

I’m embarrassed to answer this, because the change has less to do with the way I cook than the fact that I find myself cooking at all. I’ve always been a baker; my husband is a chef, so for many years, we had the perfect arrangement. Then we found ourselves with this new member of the household, who couldn’t, turns out, survive on cake and cookies.

When Edith started eating solids, around six months, we took what felt like a huge leap in faith by deciding to forgo purees (my heart was in my mouth for most of the first month’s meals) and give her modified versions (less salt, no windpipe-sized beans, etc) of what we ate instead. [Note from Clotilde: this is an approach often referred to as baby-led weaning.] Anxieties aside, it seems to have suited us all very well.

When my husband is home for dinner, he makes dishes very similar to those he made before our daughter was born — beautiful omelets, grain and roasted vegetable salads, tartines with a soft cheese, a lacing of vinegar, and a sprinkling of herbs — and we all eat them together.

On the nights he’s at the restaurant, I’ve developed a few fail-safe recipes: lentil soup (who knew babies like soup?), less aesthetically-pleasing but acceptable omelets, avocado mash on toast, baked sweet potato with miso butter [recipe below!], and a few simple pasta dishes like soba with toasted sesame oil and broccoli. Plus, I’ve started experimenting with sprouted wheat flour, which makes baked goods a lot more nutritious.

Aria and Edith in the kitchen at Blue Hill.

Aria and Edith in the kitchen at Blue Hill.


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

Aria Beth Sloss

One tip would be: “don’t marry a chef!” If you do, everyone you know will be too intimidated to bring you homemade meals, which is, of course, what every family with a newborn desperately needs.

A friend of mine with a one year-old brought over a package of store-bought mini-cinnamon rolls a few weeks after Edith was born. “You probably won’t eat these,” he said, “but they saved our lives.” He was right; we didn’t eat them, but I was so moved by the gesture I kept them on the counter for two weeks before throwing them away. Point being, if you can enlist friends and family members to pitch in — now is the time!

Otherwise, be kind to yourselves. I’m a big believer in the half-made meal. If you can manage to put a pot of beans to simmer on the stove for a few hours but can’t deal with cooking up a batch of rice, order some from the nearest Chinese take-out (this is when living in NYC is a godsend), chop up a little tomato, and sprinkle on some cilantro.

If you never finished the sandwiches from lunch because you were too busy _____ (insert time-sucking activity here — washing onesies, scrubbing out bottles, setting up the inexplicably complicated bouncy chair), cut them into nice, tea sandwich-sized rectangles and supplement with some quick sauteed spinach or bok choy.

We rarely eat meat in our house, which is probably advantageous when speed and simplicity are called for. You’re so exhausted with a newborn, but you need your wits about you; eating lightly, yet nutritiously, is the greatest gift you can give yourself.


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?

Aria Beth Sloss

As it is with most of parenting, I imagine, the key is thinking ahead. What you don’t want is to be faced with a slew of ingredients that require extensive prep work, which you will inevitably realize only at the exact moment your child begins to howl with hunger.

Baked sweet potatoes — the dense, white Japanese variety is our favorite — are fantastic and can be kept in the fridge a few days and reheated quickly, as can soups and stews.

The prep work can be fun for an older baby to watch — we’ve always kept Edith in the kitchen while we cook, and she’s generally very happy to sit on someone’s hip and watch the sauteeing and stirring. Cooking implements are great baby toys, too — pots and pans, spatulas, measuring cups.

When she was very little, I did a lot with her in a sling, where she seemed more than content to drift in and out of consciousness. In the meanwhile, I figured she was getting used to the sounds and smells of cooking.

In our case, we have the extra benefit of having a restaurant kitchen to take her to. She could watch the Blue Hill cooks for hours. Clanging pots, energetic young strangers whirling around and making bizarre hand motions, heaps of brightly colored vegetables and fruits. I have to drag her out.


Have you found ways to involve your daughter in the cooking process? If it’s too early to do that, how and when do you envision getting her involved?

Aria Beth Sloss

I think of kitchen involvement as a question of proximity: even if your child isn’t directly engaging in cooking, being close to the activity is probably enough to spark interest and lay the groundwork for at least a passing curiosity. I credit my own love of food to the many, many afternoons I spent sitting in my highchair while my mother chopped and pureed and sauteed.

All that activity is exciting to watch, and a smell or a taste makes it about ten thousand times more interesting than TV. At the restaurant, I figure she’s getting triple the exposure — dozens more people, ingredients, smells, sights, and the general whirl of energy a restaurant kitchen brings. I can’t wait to put her in a chef’s coat and get her in on the action.

Meanwhile, I try to have an ingredient on hand that she can snack on — a piece of avocado if I’m making avocado mash toasts, a stick of sweet potato if I’m making a little stew, some ripe pear that might end up as dessert. I taste everything while I’m cooking, so it only seems fair.


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

Aria Beth Sloss

I’ve been amazed by how gratifying it is to watch Edith eat. It speaks to something very basic about the nature of parenthood, I think, that there’s such pleasure to be had in watching your child happily consume something you’ve made.

To that end, I hope I can maintain what’s felt like a pretty easygoing approach to her dining habits. We made a decision early on to never a) push her into eating anything, or b) organize meals around her predilections, and I think that ranks pretty high on my list of ways to keep mealtime happy and enjoyable for everyone involved.

I also made the executive decision to let her feed herself from the very beginning, which I knew I believed in on an intellectual/pseudo-psychological level — why shouldn’t she feel from the start that eating is something she participates in actively rather than passively? — but which I figured might turn out to be a monumental disaster. But it’s been terrific! Messy, sure, but I found a few bibs that are really more like Hazmat suits — full-coverage, sleeves and all — and we just go for it. It might sound a little out there, but my husband and I both came away from these last six months feeling like the best thing we’d done for Edith’s eating was putting her in control of it.

We’ve also made a habit of trying to incorporate a wide range of ingredients and flavors in even the simplest dishes. I make a big batch of steel-cut oats every few days, for example, which will last through a couple of breakfasts for all of us. Reheating it, I add a splash of almond milk, a pinch of cinnamon, and a few gratings of fresh ginger. My husband’s restaurant makes a brand of savory yoghurts, and I add a spoonful of one of those — parsnip is the current favorite. Those are strong flavors, but she loves them.

I put a little curry and coconut milk in the lentil soup I give her [recipe below!], a pinch of paprika in the avocado mash, chopped-up parsley on a ricotta toast. Another example might be grains. I’ve traded in white flour for sprouted whole wheat for a few muffin recipes from this book, which she loves, and my husband brings home buckwheat and emmer, which we put in soups.

I tend to think kids are a lot more open-minded than we give them credit for. If we don’t represent the world of flavors that exist in the foods we make, how can we expect our kids to grasp how enormous and exciting that world is?


Aria’s Lentil Soup

I like to use the tiny black beluga lentils, but obviously any lentil will do. I use stock when we have it, and otherwise just well-salted water — roughly a 2:1 ration, liquid to lentil. Because I’m not crazy about onions, I quarter one yellow onion and cook it in the pot with the lentils, then remove when the lentils are tender. At the end of cooking, I add one of the following: a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of curry, or a small spoon of very good harissa, or a spoonful of coconut milk and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

Aria’s Miso Sweet Potatoes

Oven-roast Japanese sweet potatoes until tender. Peel and slice. For Edith, I cut them into rectangular batons, so she can hold onto them easily. In a small saute pan, swirl a pat of butter until it begins to foam, and add a spoonful of white (mild) miso. Stir gently until miso has dissolved, then quickly saute sweet potatoes in miso butter, turning until well coated.

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Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup Recipe Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:44:01 +0000 Last week my dear friend Florence tweeted a link to Nadya Andreeva’s ayurvedic blog Spinach and Yoga*, and her recipe […]

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Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

Last week my dear friend Florence tweeted a link to Nadya Andreeva’s ayurvedic blog Spinach and Yoga*, and her recipe for yellow lentil and squash soup caught my eye straight away.

I love a good soup of lentils, but I don’t think I’d ever thought to pair their meaty earthiness with the sweet, soft flesh of winter squash. This version was especially appealing for its use of fresh ginger and spices — cumin, coriander, turmeric — and I had just about everything I needed to make it.

What little I know about ayurvedic cuisine is that it’s strictly vegetarian, but I took the liberty of using the super fragrant fish stock I’d made the day before, using the bones and head of a roasted sea bream purchased at Terroirs d’Avenir’s sustainably-sourced fish stall on the increasingly foodie-friendly rue du Nil.

Another change I made to the original recipe was in fact inspired by the stock photo that illustrated it: the tell-tale milky sheen indicated the use of coconut milk, which the recipe itself didn’t include, yet I knew it would make the soup even tastier.

I also thought I’d be clever and use lentils of three different colors, green, pink, and yellow. In the end they all turned the same shade of green-brown, but I’m certain the variety of textures had a hand in making this the most wowing soup I’ve made in a while.

Join the conversation!

Have you ever dabbled at ayurvedic cooking? And what’s been your winner soup recipe this winter?

* Coincidentally, I see that Nadya Andreeva is just releasing a book this week, called Happy Belly.

Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours, 40 minutes

Serves 6.

Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • a 3-cm (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 900 grams (2 pounds) butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and diced into 1,5-cm (1/2") pieces (you can substitute another type of winter squash, such as red kuri, acorn, or delicata)
  • 320 grams (1 1/2 cups) lentils (any color you like or have on hand), soaked 8 hours or overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • 500 ml (2 cups) stock, preferably homemade (vegetable, chicken, or fish stock will all work)
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk
  • fresh mint, finely minced, or fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, for serving
  • chili sauce, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, and salt, and cook over medium heat until softened, stirring regularly.
  2. Stir in the ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fennel seeds, and cook for a minute, until fragrant.
  3. Add in the butternut squash and lentils, pour in the stock, and add in enough water to cover.
  4. Cover, bring to a simmer, and skim the froth that appears at the surface. Cook for 30 minutes, until the squash and lentils are cooked through.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Ladle into bowls, top with fresh herbs, and serve with chili sauce.


Adapted from a recipe by Nadya Andreeva.

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How To Make the Most of Your Cookbook Collection (An Eat Your Books Giveaway) Thu, 06 Mar 2014 16:28:06 +0000 I’m sure your cookbook shelves are just as heavily laden as mine, and if I were to ask you how […]

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Notice how English titles are printed in reverse direction from French titles. It's good for stretching your neck when browsing.

I’m sure your cookbook shelves are just as heavily laden as mine, and if I were to ask you how often you cook from them you might look away, embarrassed, and try to change the subject. Especially if your spouse, who regularly comments on the extent of your collection, is within earshot.

It’s not that you don’t want to cook from all these books; you do. It’s just that it’s impossible to remember what’s in them, and however well built their indexes (or indices), it would be pretty cumbersome to look up “Brussels sprouts” in every single one of them when you come home from the greenmarket on a chilly but sunny Saturday morning in March.

It does seem a shame to let so much knowledge and inspiration go untapped, and here are a few ways to avoid that:

  • Sticky-tab appealing recipes, and regularly leaf through your collection to refresh your memory.
  • In each of your cookbooks, list all the recipes you want to try, with page number, on a piece of paper. Place that custom-made index in the front of the book for quick reference. (This also serves as a good decision tool to see whether you should really keep that book.)
  • Take photos of (or scan, but that’s more time-consuming) recipes you want to try, and keep the image files, renamed with the recipe title, in a dedicated folder on your computer.
  • Keep a running list of dishes you most want to try on your computer or in a notebook, referencing the cookbooks they come from.
  • Pick a different cookbook every month or so, and challenge yourself to cook X number of recipes from it (make X realistic) before moving on to the next.
  • Use the Eat Your Books service.

Eat Your Books is a cookbook recipe database that lists over 125,000 cookbooks, plus food magazines and blogs (you’ll find an index of C&Z recipes in particular).

The service allows you to replicate your cookbook collection online, so you can run instant searches for recipes (by title, ingredients, occasion, food type, ethnicity, book title, author); bookmark the ones you want to try or have already cooked and enjoyed; generate shopping lists; and share reviews with other cooks.

You can give it a try with a limited-size bookshelf, and sign up for a monthly or yearly membership if you like it ($2.50/month or $25/year). But I have been in touch with Jane Kelly, one of the co-founders of Eat Your Books, for a few years now, and I asked if she would be willing to give away free memberships to C&Z readers. She said yes, and now I have five one-year memberships for you to win.

To participate

Leave a comment below telling me how you make the most of your cookbook collection: what’s your system? Do you even have a system? If not, what’s your greatest challenge?

You have until March 13, midnight Paris time (GMT+1) to enter. I will then draw five random comments, and each of their authors will win a one-year membership to Eat Your Books. There is no geographical restriction to enter; just make sure you enter your email address correctly so I can contact you if you win.

Contest results

Thank you all for participating, it’s been so interesting to hear about your different systems (or lack thereof!).

Using the Disqus-provided random comment picker, I have drawn five winners for this contest. Congratulations to all! You will receive an email shortly with instructions.

  • Megan, who wrote, “I don’t have it organized at all!”
  • marysueh, who wrote “I’ve adopted the ‘cook as many recipes as possible from a single cookbook’ approach, especially for food traditions far removed from my own. It helps me learn the spices, methods, and key ingredients for different cuisines. The appeal of a cookbook goes beyond the recipes themselves. Learning about the author, the history of another place and time, and understanding the foods of an unfamiliar culture is a great way to explore the world. I love the idea of Eat Your Books – so glad that you’re sponsoring this contest! :)”
  • KJB, who wrote, “I am a librarian by training and wish that I was using those skills to organize my cookbooks better. A form of classificaiton is better than nothing: the cookbooks are all filed in the kitchen, alphabetically by author. Except. Except for cookbooks on specific appliances, so the slow cooker cookbook is beside the slow cooker. Best I could do. And don’t get me started on the loose-leaf recipes.”
  • FoodNerd4Life, who wrote, “I’ve made it apart of my Birthday Bucket List, I am trying to cook a new recipes from 26 of my cookery books in my 26th year. Nearly there but still have quite a few to go through!”
  • souliere, who wrote, “Some cook books are goto for certain seasons. For example my New Orleans cookbooks are great around Mardi Gras. The most used books are on the kitchen counter, the dirtiest stained ones are the most popular. The rest have their own (slim) book case, that I visit when I am looking for a change. Something perhaps odd I do, when I travel I like to get a cook book for the area I was at, like New Orleans, Boston, Amana Colonies.”

Transparency note: Jane converted my trial membership to a complimentary lifetime membership back when I first joined, in 2010. We arranged this giveaway at my initiative, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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