Chocolate & Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:01:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 September 2014 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/september-2014-desktop-calendar/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=september-2014-desktop-calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/september-2014-desktop-calendar/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:01:56 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6181 At the beginning of every month in 2014, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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September 2014 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2014, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, with a food-related picture and a calendar of the current month.

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

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

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

Here’s how it works:

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

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

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

4- Enjoy and see you next month!

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

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

Some of my favorite finds and reads for this month:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Green Bean and Nectarine Salad with Spicy Gomasio Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/green-bean-and-nectarine-salad-with-spicy-gomasio-recipe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=green-bean-and-nectarine-salad-with-spicy-gomasio-recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/green-bean-and-nectarine-salad-with-spicy-gomasio-recipe/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:28:42 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6139 I grew up eating haricots verts steamed to army green softness and served warm, with a bit of butter and […]

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Green Bean and Nectarine Salad

I grew up eating haricots verts steamed to army green softness and served warm, with a bit of butter and freshly chopped parsley, usually as a side to roast chicken for Sunday lunch. After coming home from the greenmarket — with or without me tagging along — my mother would call across the apartment, “Il y a des haricots verts à éplucher !” (There are green beans to trim!)

My father, my sister and I would then pop out of our respective bedrooms and office to gather on the floor around the coffee table where a tray awaited, with a big pile of untrimmed beans and a colander to collect them once trimmed. It was understood that us kids could be excused from this if we had a big test to study for, but we seldom used that Get Out of Jail Free card, welcoming instead the opportunity to take a break and chat as our fingers busied themselves.

Looking back, I realize we could have cut down the workload in half by trimming the only end that actually needs trimming — that would be the stem end, the wispy tail is in fact harmless — but trimming both ends allowed us to thoroughly de-string the beans along each side, which counts for something.

In my own kitchen I mostly find myself eating green beans cold, in zesty salads such as this one. Green beans pair beautifully with summer fruit (“What grows together goes together”), and I love them topped with finely diced cantaloupe (it’s been such a fabulous year for French melons!) or thinly sliced peaches and nectarines, which I’ve come to like best white.

My salad had a “green” element and a “sweet” element, and to create a more complete balance of flavor with “nutty” and “savory” notes, I decided to throw together a batch of homemade gomasio — a Japanese condiment of toasted sesame ground with sea salt — to which I added ground chipotle pepper for an extra kick. It is very easy to make at home and incomparably more flavorful than anything you can buy at the store.

Spicy Gomasio

I made this salad with the stash of green beans I had put away in the freezer earlier this summer, when my vegetable basket had seemed too bountiful for us to handle in a week. Fresh green beans freeze easily and well, and if it looks like you won’t eat them very soon after purchasing, they’re better off in the freezer than going limp and yellow in the fridge. Just trim, rinse, dry thoroughly in a kitchen towel, and throw in the freezer in an airtight bag or container. They can then be cooked just like you would fresh ones — steamed or boiled or sautéed, as you prefer — with no thawing necessary.

The gomasio recipe below makes much more than you’ll need for this salad, but you’ll find yourself casting it in endless roles: you can use it pretty much anywhere you would use regular salt, and if you need to keep your sodium consumption low, it can help you boost the flavor of dishes without adding too much salt. I myself love it over a simple bowl of steamed short-grain rice and in onigiri, but also on soft-boiled eggs, in tomato salads, to dip fresh radishes in, sprinkled on any type of steamed greens, and on sliced apples.

Join the conversation!

What’s your favorite way to eat green beans? Have you every tasted gomasio, or even made your own? What do you like to use it on?

Green Bean and Nectarine Salad with Spicy Gomasio Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 23 minutes

Serves 3 to 4.

Green Bean and Nectarine Salad with Spicy Gomasio Recipe

Ingredients

  • 450 grams (1 pound) slim green beans, fresh or frozen, trimmed; use French-style haricots verts if possible, but longer or thicker beans can be subsituted, sliced into shorter sections as needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 medium ripe nectarines, about 140 grams (5 ounces) each, cut into slices
  • Homemade Spicy Gomasio (see recipe below) or store-bought gomasio, to taste

Instructions

  1. Set up a steamer and steam the beans until the shade of al dente you like. I like them tender rather than squishy-firm, and it takes 8 minutes for slim haricots verts.
  2. Plunge in an ice bath immediately -- a simple salad bowl in which you've emptied an ice cube tray and poured cold water -- to preserve the consistency you've set your heart on, and prevents overcooking which would make the nice green color fade.
  3. Green beans in ice bath
  4. Drain as soon as the beans are cold; if you leave them in too long, I find they become too waterlogged. Spread out on a kitchen towel to dry thoroughly.
  5. In a serving bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Add the beans, sprinkle generously with gomasio (though not the full recipe!), and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Fold the nectarine slices in gently, and serve.
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Green Bean and Nectarine Salad

Spicy Gomasio Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes about 1/3 cup.

Spicy Gomasio Recipe

Ingredients

  • 50 grams (1/3 cup) raw (untoasted) whole (unhulled) sesame seeds (see note)
  • 5 grams (2 teaspoons) ground chili pepper (I used freshly ground chipotle)
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Put the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toast until the seeds begin to dance and become fragrant, shaking the pan regularly for even toasting.
  2. Gomasio ingredients
  3. Transfer the still-warm sesame to a mortar, add the chili pepper and salt, and grind with the pestle until you get a medium-ground texture: it should come together into a powder, but you should still make out some sesame seeds.
  4. Spicy Gomasio
  5. Alternatively, you can use an electric spice grinder using short pulses to avoid overheating, but then you should let the sesame cool completely before grinding, and make sure to stop before the mixture is completely ground.
  6. Transfer to a jar, close the lid, and use within a month.

Notes

Sesame seeds go rancid easily, so double-check that the ones you use still taste fresh; best to buy them a small amount at a time from a store with a good turnover.

You could use pre-toasted sesame, but 1- I find store-bought toasted sesame is never as vibrant as freshly toasted, and 2- the sesame seeds warmed from the skillet are easier to grind in the mortar.

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Green Bean and Nectarine Salad

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How To Open a Walnut Without a Nutcraker http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tools-utensils/how-to-open-a-walnut-without-a-nutcraker/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-open-a-walnut-without-a-nutcraker http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tools-utensils/how-to-open-a-walnut-without-a-nutcraker/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:40:40 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6097 This summer, Maxence and I took a little more time off than we usually do, and the three and a […]

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Périgord Walnuts

This summer, Maxence and I took a little more time off than we usually do, and the three and a half weeks (three! and a half! weeks!) we afforded ourselves allowed us to embark on a mini-Tour de France to visit with friends and family: from Franche-Comté to the Vosges in the East of the country, then all sails South toward the Périgord, the Pyrenees, Toulouse, and finally Provence.

We ate like kings, as can be expected, and our luggage got heavier and heavier at every stop as we loaded up with various local treats.

The Périgord walnut wasn’t the least of them: about halfway through our trip, we happened upon La Maison de la noix, a shop entirely devoted to the brainy nut. In addition to all the walnut spreads and jams and terrines and cakes one could dream of, I loved that they sold four varieties of walnuts that you could sample — using their cool low-tech nutcracker — and compare.

Most people think of the walnut as being a single thing — a walnut is a walnut is a walnut — but examining and tasting just these four side by side showed how wrong that is, as each displayed a different size and shape, and a different flavor profile, too. The one we liked best was the Lara, a jumbo walnut with a sweet, delicate flavor and very little bitterness. We filled up a big bag and went on our merry way, excited to share them with our friends at the mountain house we were renting together on the Ariège side of the Pyrenees.

But, as you might remember from my minimalist cooking kit, a nutcracker wasn’t part of my traveling arsenal, and the house kitchen — which was otherwise much better endowed than I’d feared — didn’t have one either.

When I shared my dismay with my friend Marie-Laure, she replied, “Oh, but you can just use any old knife!” and proceeded to show me how, with a deft twist of the blade and very little force, she could tame the toughest walnut.

Slip the tip of a knife at the seam

This trick, which reminds me of the classic oyster-shucking technique but is much less likely to lead you to the emergency room, kept us happy for the rest of our vacation, as we ate our way through two kilograms of Lara walnuts. I thought you might find it useful, too, so here goes:

Step 1: Take the walnut in your non-dominant hand, and hold it horizontally, so that the divide between the two halves is like the walnut’s Equator, and the fibrous, plus-shaped seam is facing you.

Walnut seam

Step 2: Pick up an ordinary but non-flimsy knife, and insert the tip of the blade horizontally into the seam (take extra care of course not to rip into your own hand; keep the sharp edge away from you and use the counter for support if that feels more comfortable).

Slip the tip of a knife at the seam

Step 3: Hold the walnut tightly and twist the knife like a key in a lock to pry the walnut open.

Cracked walnut

Step 4: Pluck out the walnut meat, breaking the shell halves further with your fingers as needed.

Extract the meat

If some of the walnut meat proves hard to dislodge, use the tip of the knife to tear off the bark-like, middle wall inside the shell: this will free the walnut meat. (Below is a walnut half with the middle wall removed.)

Walnut half

Will you give it a try? Before we part, I can’t resist sharing a photo of my vintage nutcracker, which I am now home and reunited with.

My vintage "Le Cascoc" nutcracker

My vintage “Le Cascoc” nutcracker

Join the conversation!

Have you ever used this technique? Any other tricks to share on how to make do when the appropriate utensil isn’t available?

How to Open Walnuts Without a Nutcracker

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Minimalist Kit for the Traveling Cook http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tools-utensils/minimalist-kit-for-the-traveling-cook/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=minimalist-kit-for-the-traveling-cook http://chocolateandzucchini.com/tools-utensils/minimalist-kit-for-the-traveling-cook/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:00:13 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6035 I am going to be traveling this month, doing some simple cooking in a couple of rented kitchens, and I’ve […]

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Minimalist Kit for the Traveling Cook

I am going to be traveling this month, doing some simple cooking in a couple of rented kitchens, and I’ve had enough hair-pulling experiences with crappy, dull knives and flimsy plastic spatulas to be stashing a few key utensils in my luggage this time.

Because I am also traveling with a toddler who needs his own minimalist traveling kit — including such essentials as a firetruck and a stuffed donkey — I really need to make my kit as trim as possible, and have elected to bring along:

~ My paring knife, freshly sharpened: rented kitchens are notoriously lacking in this regard, and since half of cooking is cutting, trimming, slicing, dicing, chopping, and paring, this qualifies as an absolute must-bring. I will be following this tip on how to wrap knives for traveling.

~ My vegetable peeler because, again, anything that’s supposed to be sharp is going to be dull in a rented house, and a dull vegetable peeler is worse than no vegetable peeler at all. Also, a good vegetable peeler allows you to cut vegetables into tagliatelle and papardelle to make all kinds of pretty summer salads such as this zucchini noodle salad.

~ A pair of locking tongs because it’s rare (especially in France) to find it in a home cook’s utensil drawer, yet I rely on it heavily for handling ingredients, for stovetop cooking, and for grilling. As a bonus, it doubles up as a toy for the toddler, who uses it to catch imaginary fish.

~ My Earlywood scraper made of bloodwood, sturdy and smooth with a thin and sharp edge, and a fantastic multipurpose tool that can be used for stirring, cutting, lifting, and scraping. I have written about Brad Bernhart’s handcrafted utensils before, and they’ve become cherished items in my kitchen that get used every single day (including his latest creation, the adorable coffee scoop, which I use daily to serve my paleo granola).

~ My pepper grinder, replenished with black peppercorns, because good-quality, freshly ground pepper, transforms the simplest dishes, which is exactly what I plan to cook while I’m away.

~ A small supply of unrefined grey sea salt, because ordinary supermarkets only carry stripped-to-nothingness salt I hate to cook with.

~ Extra virgin olive oil, in a small container I saved from a tasting sample I once received, and simply refill every time I need it. In the house we’ll be renting with friends for a whole week it will make sense to buy a whole bottle of olive oil, but for those one- and two-night stays, I don’t want to lug around a whole bottle, yet good olive oil is all you need to dress a few crudités from the local market. Plus, with the above salt and pepper, you have the simplest, most delectable snack at your fingertips.

~ My current favorite pocket knife (pictured below), a vintage Crosman Blades from 1981 I fell hard for at Native Delicatessen, a new micro-shop and art gallery that’s otherwise devoted to indigenous foods and cultures. This one will stay in my purse most of the time (I’ll have motive enough to make that legal) but it can also come to the rescue if two of us need a sharp blade in the kitchen at the same time.

My 1981 Crosman Blades Pocket Knife

My 1981 Crosman Blades Pocket Knife

And here’s what I considered bringing, but decided against because of space/weight limitations:

~ My beloved chef’s knife, which makes vegetable and herb prepping such a cinch. But the one I own is too heavy and also too dear to me to travel this time, so I will make do with my pairing knife for my slicing and chopping needs.

~ My mandoline slicer, which I use daily at home, especially during the summer. But I figure a minimalist kit can’t have utensils with redundant functions, and since this can’t do anything my knife can’t, I opted not to bring it. (But with a heavy heart.) (Can you tell I’m still on the fence about this one?)

~ A cutting board, because I know the kind of tiny, warped, scratched plastic junk we are likely to find, but the kind of spacious, hard wood board I like to use is much too heavy to be a realistic inclusion in this kit.

~ A measuring jug marked with weight measurements for different ingredients (flour, sugar, etc.) to bake without a scale, but the two I own — both coming from my late grandmother’s kitchen — are glass, so they’re out. I’ll just wing it with ordinary drinking glasses.

~ A silicone baking mat and/or silicone muffin cups to do some basic baking, but the rented house is likely to offer at least one cake or loaf pan, so we’ll do fine with that.

Join the conversation!

Do you bring utensils and ingredients with you when you travel? What does your minimalist kit contain? And what about your dream, weight-is-no-object kit?

More tips!

A few summers ago I ran a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation and asked each of my guests, among many other fun things, what ingredients and utensils they liked to bring with them when they traveled. Check the series to see their inspiring answers.

Note: The tools above are pictured on a literary kitchen towel by artist Stéphanie Radenac, a gift from my longtime blog friend Pierre Pozzi, who is himself a talented paper and cardboard artist.

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August 2014 Desktop Calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/august-2014-desktop-calendar/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=august-2014-desktop-calendar http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/desktop-calendar/august-2014-desktop-calendar/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:30:53 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6006 At the beginning of every month in 2014, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of […]

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August 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 August is a picture of this marvelously quenching, easy, no-cook gazpacho that I recommend you make with the ripest and most beautiful tomatoes you will find this month.

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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July Favorites http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/july-favorites-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=july-favorites-2 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/links/july-favorites-2/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:00:18 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=6020 Some of my favorite finds and reads for this month: ~ Food quotes, illustrated. ~ Change your life one password […]

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Artichoke rosettes with olive oil, as served at L'Arpège and shared on Alain Passard's twitter feed.

Some of my favorite finds and reads for this month:

~ Food quotes, illustrated.

~ Change your life one password at a time.

~ An artist from Nantes, in the West of France, is stenciling the names of wild plants growing on sidewalks.

~ How Andrew Hyde hosted 138 dinner parties in one year — such an inspiring perspective.

~ My interview on Gourmandize US.

~ About Alain Passard’s Twitter account and how his assistants shoot the gorgeous pictures for it (in French).

~ Planning to eat your way around Paris this month? Check out this list of what’s open and what’s not.

~ The 2014 edition of the sustainable seafood guide for French food professionals has been released. (The poster is a good cheat sheet.)

~ A delectable look at Goodnight Moon.

~ Nine questions you should ask yourself to unclutter your recipe collection. Plus: how to make the most of your cookbooks.

What about you, any memorable link to share this month?

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58 Ways to Use Cucumbers http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ingredients-fine-foods/58-ways-to-use-cucumbers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=58-ways-to-use-cucumbers http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ingredients-fine-foods/58-ways-to-use-cucumbers/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:30:07 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=5884 The summertime often means a glut of cucumbers, or at least it does for me and my weekly vegetable basket. […]

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Cucumber

The summertime often means a glut of cucumbers, or at least it does for me and my weekly vegetable basket. If you are in the same cucumber boat and in a bit of a rut with them, I have compiled this list of recipes and ideas for you and me to draw from.

As always with these lists, I am grateful to my inspired readers on Twitter and Facebook who contributed their own favorites!

Choose smaller cucumbers, smooth and evenly colored, that feel firm throughout — when they get older, they go soft at the tips so that’s a good thing to check. I find that the varieties I get from my grower or from the organic store don’t have a hint of bitterness, so I always keep the peel on, but that’s up to you — peeling in alternate stripes is a pretty compromise.

And if the varieties you have access to are indeed bitter, some people recommend cutting off the stem end of the cucumber and rubbing the cut surfaces together vigorously until a slimy froth comes out: wipe it away and, supposedly, all bitterness is gone.

Cucumber pairings

- Cucumber + tomato
- Cucumber + feta cheese
- Cucumber + red onion
- Cucumber + vinegar
- Cucumber + herbs (esp. mint, dill, basil, chervil, chives, cilantro)
- Cucumber + garlic
- Cucumber + sesame
- Cucumber + seaweed
- Cucumber + yogurt or cream
- Cucumber + avocado
- Cucumber + fish and shellfish (esp. crab, tuna, and anchovies)

Cucumber salads

- Bite-size cucumbers and tomatoes with red onion and feta, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.
- With baby spinach, strawberries, and cubed feta coated with Herbes de Provence.
- Panzanella (Italian bread salad).
- Peel and dice cucumbers about 2 cm (1/2 inch), add diced tomato, avocado and slivered red onion. Serve with fresh greens and a light dressing.
- Greek salad.
- Salade niçoise (though some say that’s out of the question).
- Tzaziki.
- Cucumbers and sour cream, the Polish version of tzatziki.
- Sweet and sour cucumbers with fresh dill.
- Thinly sliced with a lemony vinaigrette, sprinkled with poppy or sesame seeds.
- Thinly shaved slices of cucumber and red radish, with vinegar mixed with half a teaspoon of brown sugar and fresh red chilies.
- Toss with still-warm roasted fennel and a dressing made with mashed roasted garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and plenty of parsley.
- Ottolenghi’s cucumber salad with smashed garlic and ginger, or the one with chili, sugar, rapeseed oil and poppy seeds.
- Crab and cucumber salad.
- With lime and Tajin, Mexican-style.

Asian-style cucumber salads

- Thinly sliced or match-stick-sliced cucumbers with seaweed flakes, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and toasted sesame (pictured below).
- Chopped cucumbers tossed with shredded shiso leaves, pitted and chopped umeboshi (sour plums), and a dressing made with soy sauce and juice of a citrus like yuzu.
- Malay cucumber and pineapple salad, with vinegar, sugar, and chilies.
- Use a vegetable peeler to slice the cucumber into long ribbons, then toss lightly with a simple dressing of rice vinegar and neutral-flavored oil (3 to 1 or so), salt and pepper, and a dash of red pepper or garlic to give it a little kick. Prettier than the usual half-moons, and a great side for peppery or Asian-influenced grilled meats or fish.
- Spicy thai cucumber salad.
- Oi-sobagi, or spicy stuffed cucumber kimchi.
- Raita.
- Lebanese Fattoush salad

Cucumber Salad with Sesame and Seaweed

Cucumber Salad with Sesame and Seaweed

Cucumber appetizers

- Use cucumber slices as a bread substitute for appetizer spreads.
- Cut large slices and stuff with goat cheese and basil or any other yummy food.
- Cut into sticks and serve with Anchoïade (French anchovy dip).

Cucumber pickles

- Asian pickles.
- Lacto-fermented dilly cucumbers.
- Bread and butter pickles.
- Salted cucumbers.

Cucumber sandwiches

- Add to any sandwich for crunch and freshness.
- Cucumber sandwiches on sandwich bread with cream cheese.
- Cucumber and avocado quick nori rolls.

Cucumber

Cucumber soups

- Cold yogurt and cucumber soup with a healthy dose of garlic and dill, and maybe a bit of green onion, blended till smooth.
- Gazpacho, esp. with hot peppers.
- Chilled cucumber and avocado soup with mango salsa.

Cucumbers served warm

- Baked cucumbers.
- Add to a stir-fry or stew.
- Dredge slices in cornmeal and fry.

Cucumber drinks and frozen treats

- Add a few slices to your iced water glass or jug.
- Muddle with basil, add gin and tonic.
- Sangria with white wine, cucumbers, mint, and green grapes.
- Make popsicles with lime juice and chili.
- Cucumber sorbet.

Non-food uses for cucumbers

- Apply slices on puffy or tired eyes.
- Make cucumber facial masks.
- Use as shoe polish, WD-40 replacement, defogger, or pest control.

58 Ways To Use Cucumbers

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Perfect Madeleines Recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/perfect-madeleines-recipe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=perfect-madeleines-recipe http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/perfect-madeleines-recipe/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:30:13 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=5895 Madeleines have long eluded me. I have spent a good portion of my baking life collecting various recipes and giving […]

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Perfect Madeleines

Madeleines have long eluded me.

I have spent a good portion of my baking life collecting various recipes and giving the promising ones a try every now and then, but my efforts were only ever rewarded with ho-hum results, pale and dense little pucks that stuck to the mold like nobody’s business and flatly refused to form a bump.

Granted, if my temperament as a baker was to latch on to such challenges and tweak and tweak tirelessly until I unlocked the secrets of this or that pastry, I would probably have solved this one some time ago. But the way I deal with baking hurdles is more along the lines of “try, fail, forget about it and move on; try again, fail again, move on again, etc.”

This time, the nudge to try again came from my two-year-old, who developed his own brand of madeleine obsession, one that is more centered on the eating of said madeleines. We were going through packs from the organic store at a rapid clip, and at 3.50€ ($4.80) for ten, I thought I might as well bake them myself.

I decided to put my fate in the hands of Fabrice Le Bourdat, owner and pastry chef of Paris pâtisserie Blé Sucré, using the recipe for his signature madeleines — plump, golden, fist-sized, and lemon-glazed — as shared on video for the Fooding website*.

It’s a beautifully straightforward recipe that is easily (and best) made by hand — I first made the mistake of using my stand mixer, and let’s just say pouring in hot melted butter while the motor is running is not pretty — and it yields absurdly perfect madeleines: buttercup yellow, softly sticky bumps, lightly crisp edges, and fluffy, moist hearts.

As they baked and I stared in through the oven door, hardly believing my eyes that the centers rose slowly to form the oh-so-elusive bumps, I heard a deep voice echoing through the kitchen, saying, “Your Quest Stops Here.”

Looking at the recipe, I think the key elements that make it so astonishingly successful are these:

  • Refrigerating the batter overnight and preheating the oven to high is what creates the temperature shock that causes the bump to form.
  • Using a piping bag to fill the madeleine molds may sound fussy, but it is in fact immeasurably easier than using a spoon — the batter is pretty sticky — and it ensures the madeleines are neatly formed and evenly sized, which in turn makes them bake evenly.
  • Carefully buttering and refrigerating the madeleine tray, then assertively banging the tray sideways on the counter right out of the oven prevents the madeleines from sticking — they pop right out! — and the moisture from building up on the madeleines’s underbelly as they cool.

A few parting comments and words of advice:

  • Overfilling the molds will get you duck-billed madeleines (see picture below) that your toddler may recognize as such and specifically request (“Madeleine canard !”) but may not meet your own standards of aesthetics.
  • I altered Le Bourdat’s recipe slightly, reducing the amount of sugar (from 300 to 250 grams), adding salt, using a mix of baking soda and baking powder, and adding lemon zest as a classic flavoring. Feel free to omit it, or substitute the zest of another citrus, or vanilla, or orange flower water.
  • You can certainly dream up all kinds of wilder flavorings, but I encourage you to try these simple flavorings first, to experience the beauty of the plain madeleine. You can always eat them with alternating bites of dark chocolate.
  • The madeleines sold at Blé Sucré are topped with a lemon glaze, which is quite lovely, but messier for little hands to deal with. Up to you.
  • Watch your madeleines closely as they bake — especially your first batch — to determine the exact baking time that works for your own oven’s idiosyncrasies. Since madeleines are small, it can be a minute between perfect and overbaked.

Join the conversation!

Have you had success baking madeleines in the past? Or is this the nudge you needed to give it a go? Are you an advocate of plain madeleines, or are you just dying to add in chocolate chips and blueberries and bacon bits?

* Here’s my own grainy video baking my chocolate and zucchini cake for that same website.

Duck-billed madeleine: this is what happens when you overfill the molds.

Duck-billed madeleine: this is what happens when you overfill the molds.

Perfect Madeleines Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours, 30 minutes

Makes 48 madeleines.

Serving Size: 1 madeleine

Calories per serving: 117

Fat per serving: 8 grams

Perfect Madeleines Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 250 grams (1 1/4 cups) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • Zest of one organic lemon, finely grated
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 375 grams (13 1/4 ounces, about 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 400 grams (1 3/4 cups) melted unsalted butter, hot, plus more for brushing

Instructions

  1. Prepare the batter the day before. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and lemon zest, then whisk in the milk.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir with a clean whisk to remove any lump. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, whisking all the while.
  3. Whisk in the melted butter, cover, and refrigerate until the next day. The batter will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to three days.
  4. Two hours before baking, brush a madeleine tray (preferably tin) with melted butter, making sure no excess butter pools in the ridges. Sprinkle the mold thoroughly with flour, then tap upside down over the sink to remove excess flour. (After my first batch, I forgot to flour the mold and merely buttered it, which turned out to be enough to prevent sticking.) Place the tray in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  5. Madeleine mold
  6. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
  7. Pour some of the batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. (To make this step easier, you can place the piping bag in a tall measuring jug and fold the sides over and out to keep it open.)
  8. Piping bag
  9. Pipe the batter into the prepared madeleine tray, filling each mold to three quarters. Bang the tray once on a cutting board (or your counter if it's sturdy) to remove any air bubble.
  10. Madeleine batter in mold
  11. Insert into the oven, lower the heat to 180°C (360°F), and bake for 12 minutes, until the sides of the madeleines are golden brown and the domes buttercup yellow.
  12. Remove from the oven and unmold immediately: holding the tray with both hands, tilt it forward so the madeleines face away from you, and bang the side of the tray on your cutting board or counter so the madeleines will pop out. Depending on how well-seasoned your tray is, it may take one to three bangs to pop them all out.
  13. Transfer to a rack to cool. The madeleines freeze well in an airtight container.

Notes

Adapted from a recipe by Fabrice Le Bourdat, pastry chef and owner of Blé Sucré, as seen on Le Fooding.

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Perfect Madeleines

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The French Market Cookbook: 1st Anniversary Giveaway! http://chocolateandzucchini.com/books-cookbooks/the-french-market-cookbook-1st-anniversary-giveaway/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-french-market-cookbook-1st-anniversary-giveaway http://chocolateandzucchini.com/books-cookbooks/the-french-market-cookbook-1st-anniversary-giveaway/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:00:02 +0000 http://chocolateandzucchini.com/?p=5868 The French Market Cookbook came out just a year ago today, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank […]

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The French Market Cookbook

The French Market Cookbook came out just a year ago today, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those of you who bought the book — sometimes multiple copies of it! — and cooked from it with such enthusiasm. It has been a joy and an absolute treat to hear your season-by-season reports, read your sweet tweets, and see your Instagram pictures, so please keep them coming!

To celebrate this one-year anniversary, my publisher and I have five fresh copies of the book for you to win, so you can finally get your hot little hands on it, or gift it away to your favorite vegetable lover.

For a chance to win a copy of The French Market Cookbook, please leave a comment below no later than Wednesday July 9, 2014, midnight Paris time, telling me which of the book’s recipes you most want to try*, or which one you like best if you’ve already cooked from it.

I will draw five comments randomly and announce the winners here next week. My publisher has agreed to send the book out to any mailing address in the world, so you’re welcome to play regardless of your location.

We Got Winners!

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

  • Petra Durnin, who wrote, “I’ve made the Ratatouille Tian and loved it! Would like to try the green pancakes next :)”
  • Mary Duggan, who wrote, “Green pancakes! I love chard and I’m always looking for new ways of cooking it!”
  • Martic, who wrote, “I want to make the Stuffed Vegetables with Beans and Barley — that sounds delicious!!”
  • Brigita Orel, who wrote, “I would love to try the peach, almond and cardamom clafoutis.”
  • Alyson, who wrote, “I really want to try the avocado and radish mini tartines… anything with avocado is a must for me!”

Congratulations to them, and thank you all for participating with such enthusiasm!

* To help you make a choice, here’s a sample of the book’s recipes, excerpted with the publisher’s permission:
~ Avocado and Radish Mini Tartines
~ Very Green Salad
~ Shaved Fennel Salad with Preserved Lemon
~ Green Pancakes
~ Green Bean and Red Rice Salad
~ Radish Top Pasta
~ Zucchini and Apricot Socca Tart
~ Ratatouille Tian
~ Stuffed Vegetables with Beans and Barley
~ Strawberry Tartlets with Breton Shortbread Crust
~ Peach, Almond and Cardamom Clafoutis

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