Feta and Fresh Herb Quick Bread

Feta and Fresh Herb Quick Bread

You can divide the French population in two camps: those who go on vacation in July, and those who skip town in August.

My own family was unequivocally juillettiste (August vacationers are called aoûtiens) so Bastille Day found us in the French Alps every year, crossing our fingers that the summer thunderstorms wouldn’t rain on our parade, quite literally.

These are the sweetest of childhood memories, the years blurring together into a single evening: the walk through the village carrying candle-lit lanterns, the fireworks, the stars in our young eyes, and the soft, unique feeling of being scooped up from the car fast asleep and carried into bed late at night.

As I became an adult, I soon lost the habit of celebrating le quatorze juillet: crowds make me anxious, and after a failed attempt to watch the Eiffel Tower fireworks from the heights of Montmartre (surprise, surprise, others had had the same idea), I pretty much gave up.

But now that I have kids, it’s different; now is the time their own childhood memories are formed (no pressure, right?). And as it turns out, my American friend and fab Pilates instructor* Emily recently moved into an apartment with a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower, and she threw a small party for some friends and their children to enjoy the fireworks**.

Dinner was assembled potluck-style, and the theme was “Typically French”.

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Best Eats in Aix-en-Provence, From a Local

Aix-en-Provence La Rotonde

Travel season is upon us, and I want to make sure you see and taste the best France has to offer! When it comes to Paris I’ve got you covered, but there are many other cities with exciting and delicious things for you to experience. So I’ve asked a team of French bloggers from different cities to share their favorite spots, and I am offering them to you in this new series.

In Aix-en-Provence, Clara recommends…

Clara Onuki Aix-en-Provence To explore Aix, we will be following Clara Onuki‘s footsteps ! Clara is a private chef and culinary instructor. She previously worked as a chef at hotels and restaurants before switching to freelance work. She specializes in healthy cooking and Japanese fusion, and is all about high-quality ingredients from small producers. Check out her site to know more about her services.

Aix-en-Provence, Clara says, is a lovely city where life is good. It has retained its old-world charm, with tiny cobblestoned streets, multiple greenmarkets, historical buildings, and the many fountains it is known for.

Aix denizens are true epicureans, often found on terraces (thanks to the Provençal sun!) sipping a happy hour drink, or biking around to run their errands in the small food shops.

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One-Pot Pomegranate Roasted Chicken

Pomegranate Roasted Chicken

Pomegranate molasses was the topic of my very first column in ELLE à Table when I started writing for the French cooking magazine in the spring of 2008. (Pick it up if you’re ever visiting France!)

In this article I shared my enthusiasm for this amazing ingredient, obtained by reducing pomegranate juice to a thick, dark red syrup. A staple of Lebanese and Persian cuisines in particular, this fruity and acidic condiment is a treat for fans of tart flavors, of which I am a card-carrying member.

In fact, pomegranate molasses is one of my secret weapons when I want to add a little zing to my cooking, an extra trilling note that will be hard to put your finger on but will make all the difference. I may add a few drops to a vinaigrette, stir a spoonful into a yogurt sauce for bulgur, and use it in muhammara of course. I have glazed duck breasts and fish fillets with it, and seasoned mashed root vegetables as well; it is particularly good with celeriac and parsnips.

When dessert time rolls around, pomegranate molasses can be used with a light hand to season fruit salads (especially berries and blood oranges) and poured over roasted figs, to be served with fresh cheese.

In the recipe I am bringing to you today, pomegranate molasses lends depth and sparkle to a lively marinade for a cut-up chicken. Thus voluptuously coated, the chicken goes into the oven (the stovetop or the grill are equally good options depending on your preference and the weather) and comes out fall-off-the-bone tender and divinely caramelized. It is irresistible.

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12 Foods To Bring Back From France

What To Bring Back From France

Planning a trip to France, and not sure what to bring back as an edible souvenir for yourself, or a thank you gift for the kind soul who’s watching your dog/goldfish/child while you’re away?

I have twelve suggestions of artisanal products that are typically French, won’t break the bank — all items are under 10€ — and will actually get used and eaten in your or your friend’s kitchen when you get back.

Those are all easy to find, too. For each item I’ve recommended where to look!

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The Best Cooking Advice You’ll Ever Get

My life-changing extra-large cutting board from Earlywood.

My life-changing extra-large cutting board from Earlywood.

Inspired by a recent episode of the Happier podcast on the most valuable advice listeners had ever been given, I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook for Chocolate & Zucchini readers to share the best cooking advice they have ever received.

Here are the 40 nuggets of wisdom that resonated with me the most. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed, and please add your own best advice in the comments!

On Cooking

Your hands are the most important tool in the kitchen. (Mark)

Buy the best ingredients and utensils you can afford.

Always use a bigger bowl/pot/cutting board than you think you need. (Susannah)

Always be tasting.

Clean up as you go.

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