Raw Scallop Crostini, Pumpernickel and Herbed Butter

A chic yet easy nibble. Learn how to make herbed butter! Spread it on pumpernickel bread with a sliced scallop on top. Great for a special occasion buffet!

Herbed butter is my secret weapon for apéritif nibbles.

It’s just about as chic as it is easy to make: you get the best artisan butter you can find and afford, allow it to soften slightly, and add flaky salt along with finely chopped fresh herbs. Chives, flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, chervil, basil, dill… If you can mix and match, so much the butter, uh, better.

Once ready, this green-flecked butter is the ideal binder to bring together the base and topping for ultra simple but very attractive canapés. This is assembly cooking at its best: slices from a fresh, slim baguette and halved pink radishes; crunchy cucumber rounds topped with a small roll of cooked ham; or squares of pumpernickel bread and sliced scallops.

The lightly nubby pumpernickel bread, the creamy herbed butter, and the slippery, silky scallops come together for a fresh and delicate two-bite savory treat.

Coquilles Saint-Jacques are no doubt my favorite kind of shellfish, and I particularly enjoy their sweet and subtly briny flavor when they’re raw — perhaps you’ve encountered them as hotate sushi before. In France, fishmongers sell live scallops that they’ll shuck to order, so you’re assured of their freshness; if that’s not an option, make sure you get sushi-grade scallops*.

And since scallops don’t come cheap, I save them for special occasions — holiday meals in particular — and I make sure the recipe I feature them in will allow their looks and taste to shine brightly.

Here, I’ve chosen to pair them with clean flavors and complementary textures: the lightly nubby pumpernickel bread, the creamy herbed butter, and the slippery, silky scallops come together for a fresh and delicate two-bite savory treat that I like to serve with a chilled Muskadig.

Tell me everything !

What are some of your favorite pairings for simple crostini that you can serve with a pre-dinner drink or as part of a chic buffet? And have you started thinking about your holiday menus, or is it way too soon for you, in which case please don’t let me freak you out?

* And if still you’re not comfortable eating your scallops raw, just sear them for a minute on one side in a lightly oiled skillet.

A chic yet easy nibble. Learn how to make herbed butter! Spread it on pumpernickel bread with a sliced scallop on top. Great for a special occasion buffet!

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Food Blogger Pro: Why I Joined and You Should Too

C&Z Loves Food Blogger Pro

If you’re a Chocolate & Zucchini reader, there’s actually a high chance that you have a blog of your own, or are thinking about starting one.

And whether you’re just in this for the fun of it, or have ambitions to turn your talents into an occupation that pays the rent, I’m sure your number one goal is to grow your food blog: blogging is such an engrossing, time-consuming activity that it’s natural to want the greatest number of eyes on the fabulous content you strive to create.

This means working really hard to hone your craft and put out content you’re excited to share (if you lie sleepless because you can’t wait to hit publish in the morning, you’re doing it right) but it also means staying in the game in terms of social media and, for those with professional goals, monetization.

But when it’s just you and your computer, these considerations can easily throw you into overwhelm mode. Analysis paralysis, anyone?

But when it’s just you and your computer, these considerations can easily throw you into overwhelm mode. There are dozens of avenues you could explore and research and experiment with, but you only have so much time in your day (or your nights and weekends, if you have, you know, a regular job) and these strategies take time to put in place and evaluate, so it can all feel very spin-your-wheels frustrating and discouraging. Analysis paralysis, anyone?

I know. I’ve been there. Multiple times. Twelve years of food blogging certainly don’t mean I have everything figured out, so I try my best to devote time and resources to the site’s growth. And I’ve recently found something that has made the process considerably easier, more efficient, and more fun.

Food Blogger Pro in Review

Food Photography Course on Food Blogger Pro

It’s a membership site called Food Blogger Pro that is run by Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom, the couple behind the crazy successful blog Pinch of Yum. They have always been generous with their advice and (quite amazingly) transparent about their process, going so far as to publish monthly income reports for others to learn and draw inspiration from.

But Food Blogger Pro takes this coaching to another level, providing members with a whole slew of video courses that take you through everything from getting your blog set up and building traffic, to improving your food photography and editing your photos, to playing the social media game, generating income, and publishing your own ebooks.

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Sweet Potatoes: 40 Irresistible Ways to Use Them

Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potato is an incredibly versatile tuber, but I tend to prepare them in the same two or three quick and easy ways most of the time, so I decided to seek new ideas. I wasn’t disappointed: there seems to be no end to the inspired recipes one can dream up to use sweet potatoes and enjoy their irresistibly sweet taste and superfood status (more details here), and I collected my forty favorites to share with you below, organized by cooking method.

My sweet potato of choice is the orange one, which is vibrantly flavorful and loaded with nutrients (especially beta-carotene and vitamin A). It’s not easy to find Europe-grown ones at this point, but you can find imported ones in an increasing number of supermarkets, organic or not. Sweet potatoes grown in the United States tend to keep longer (at cool room temperature, never in the fridge!) and their flesh is moister.

You’ll find all the recipes I linked to below gathered on this Pinterest board for easy browsing.

Winning pairings

~ Sweet potato + Bacon
~ Sweet potato + Leafy greens, especially kale and spinach, and salad greens, especially arugula and mâche
~ Sweet potato + Beans, especially black beans
~ Sweet potato + Chickpeas
~ Sweet potato + Lentils
~ Sweet potato + Maple syrup
~ Sweet potato + Chicken
~ Sweet potato + Pork
~ Sweet potato + Miso
~ Sweet potato + Butter
~ Sweet potato + Tahini
~ Sweet potato + Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds
~ Sweet potato + Potato
~ Sweet potato + Sage
~ Sweet potato + Olives
~ Sweet potato + Anchovies
~ Sweet potato + Herbs, especially cilantro and chives
~ Sweet potato + Citrus, especially lemon and lime
~ Sweet potato + Avocado
~ Sweet potato + Carrot
~ Sweet potato + Quinoa
~ Sweet potato + Feta cheese
~ Sweet potato + Broccoli and cauliflower

Steaming and boiling

Steaming is the best way to retain all the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes. Cut into 2- to 3-cm (1-inch) cubes, they will need about 10 minutes of steaming. Sweet potatoes also do well boiled and puréed in the cooking liquid for a soup.

~ Make patties with the steamed and mashed sweet potatoes and an egg as the binder, possibly mixing them half and half with regular potatoes, and cook in the skillet or the oven. Add feta cheese to the mix.

~ Pair with lentils for this Thai-inspired sweet potato soup.

~ Pair with chickpeas to make sweet potato falafel.

~ Use it in an easy vegetable curry.

~ Turn it into a sweet potato hummus.

~ Use it to make a gluten-free pizza crust.

~ Make sweet potato and kale balls.

~ Add to your burritos, quesadillas and tacos.

~ Roll into sweet potato tots.

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November 2015 Desktop Calendar

November Desktop Calendar from Chocolate & Zucchini

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

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

Our calendar for November is a photo of a red kuri squash, or Hokkaido squash, or potimarron to the French. It is one of my very favorite winter squashes, one I like to feature in soups, with pasta, and even a breakfast bowl I will tell you about very soon.

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

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October Favorites

Jacques Genin's Lemon Tart, photographed by Pascal Lattes

Jacques Genin's Lemon Tart, photographed by Pascal Lattes

A few reads and finds from this past month! Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

~ Cabin porn: who knew it was a thing?

~ Five useful lessons Cambria Bold has learned from five years of meal planning. Here are my own menu planning tips and tricks!

~ I am beyond honored that my French Market Cookbook features in the Blue Hill gift selection.

~ How do you get people to eat more seaweed? Easy: you make it taste like bacon.

~ The gorgeous rue Crémieux in Paris’ 12th arrondissement, photographed by the ever inspiring Audrey F.

~ Loved these two episodes of the Food Blogger Pro podcast featuring Dianne Jacob on finding your voice, and my friend Elise Bauer on building a food blog empire.

~ Have you ever come across those little books from Short Stack Editions ? They’re hand-stitched and bound with baker’s twine, and I can’t think of a better trio to start a collection with.

~ A lovely interview with my talented friend Marie C. on her web series My Life in Sourdough.

~ The Challenges of Updating a Vintage Recipe, in light of my recent work on Ginette Mathiot’s Preserving book, now published in the English language by Phaidon.

~ Interesting insight from Alton Brown about choosing a passion-driven career: Love is the gasoline, not the car.

~ A treat of a video for bread lovers: an artisan boulanger in the wee hours of the morning.

~ Are you a fan of tarte au citron? Here are Paris’ 10 best lemon tarts according to L’Express magazine.

For more links and articles throughout the month, follow me on Twitter or follow me on Facebook!

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