Velvety Lentil Chestnut Soup

Velouté de Lentilles aux Marrons

[Velvety Lentil Chestnut Soup]

I think I am getting the hang and love and joy of soup. I told you before the odd intimidation it provoked in me, but after preparing a few successful pots of simmering velvety goodness, I think I can declare myself officially and fully over it.

The other day, browsing on Maki’s excellent blog i was just really hungry, one of her soup recipes caught my eye, a Lentil-Chestnut Soup. Lentils and chestnuts are two of my favorite things, it sounded simple and versatile, and I had (almost) everything on hand to make it. When so many elements confer to make you try a recipe, it is usually a good omen!

I set about making this on a weeknight, coming home from work, and it was, as Maki promised, nicely uninvolved, with hardly any peeling and chopping, just a bit of soul-warming dumping, timing and stirring. As always, I didn’t follow the recipe to a T, and subbed or omitted a few things here and there, so I will share with you my take on it. (Maki suggests a few interesting variations too, including using sweet potatoes in place of the chestnuts.)

I have to tell you : this soup we have here, my friends, this soup, is a small masterpiece in its own right. It is creamy with delectable chunks, and has the light and subtle sweetness I adore so much in chestnuts. It is a fantastic dish for a winter night, and reheats to even more greatness (and covetous looks from your coworkers) for lunch the next day. Thank you, Maki, for a wonderful gift of a recipe!

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Oeuf Cocotte : Take 2

Oeuf Cocotte : Take 2

Admittedly, the picture looks like somebody’s idea of a volcanic eruption, but this is really the Oeuf Cocotte I made myself the other night.

This recipe, as described in an earlier post, is a dream of versatility. This time, I made it with strips of ham, a spoonful of sweet confiture d’oignon (onion jam) and a spoonful of crème fraîche, with salt and pepper. As per Jackie‘s advice, I made sure to pour very hot water around the ramequin, and this shortened the cooking time. When I took my little jewel of a dinner out, the yolk’s top half was beginning to harden a little, and this proved very enjoyable.

I ate this along with a tomato (note to self : just because they still sell tomatoes in January doesn’t mean you should buy them), dipping organic oatcakes in the egg. Mmmmh.

Truffle Hazelnut Boudin Blanc, Two Mashes

Boudin Blanc, Deux Pommes en Purée

[Truffle Hazelnut Boudin Blanc, Two Mashes]

Boudin blanc is a soft sausage, made with white meat (usually chicken or veal) enriched with pork or veal fat, cream, eggs, flour and mie de pain (the inside of a bread loaf), finely mixed and well seasoned. It is traditionally a Christmas dish, but in Paris you can pretty much find it in charcuteries year round. For my greatest pleasure, as it has to be one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. It has a very mild taste, a little sweet and a little peppery, and a soft texture underneath the thin casing, making it a sure kid pleaser.

The other day, while out food-shopping, Maxence and I stepped into a small charcuterie in the rue Lepic, in which we had never been before – for no apparent reason. It turned out to have a really appetizing selection of pâtés and sausages and traditional prepared dishes. Among these, their Boudin Blanc Truffé aux Noisettes caught my eye, a variation on boudin blanc that included truffles and hazelnuts. Sunday lunch menu : check!

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Coconut and White Chocolate Cake

Gâteau Noix de Coco et Chocolat Blanc

[Coconut and White Chocolate Cake]

As you know, yesterday was Maxence’s birthday : I treated him to a nice dinner out on Friday (review on the way), and we celebrated again yesterday night with a group of friends, in a bar just a block from our apartment – which we more or less took over. This bar is a small place and we were on friendly terms with the owners, so I had decided to bake a cake and share it with our friends there. And since coconut and white chocolate are two of Maxence’s favorite things, I twisted my favorite coffeecake recipe yet again to make a version around this combo, with flaked coconut in the batter, and a white chocolate and coconut frosting.

The birthday cake ceremony was duly held, with the lights off and the song and the clapping and the candles and the blow-them-out-in-one-breath challenge (successfully met). We served the cake on the paper plates we had brought, and I was showered with compliments about it, much to my glee. The cake, as pleasantly moist as ever, has a great coconut flavor and the frosting works really well, making it sweet and rich but not overly so.

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Picture Gallery

Picture Gallery

New feature on Chocolate & Zucchini! I have created a picture gallery to showcase the photos I take to illustrate the entries. It also serves as a visual archive index, as clicking on each picture will take you to the corresponding post. A link has been added in the “About” section on the left nav bar.

The digital camera I use for my pics, as I have been asked a few times, is a Nikon Coolpix 950. We bought it in 2000 and this model is not sold anymore, but I recommend the Nikon brand wholeheartedly.

On an unrelated joyous note, Maxence turns 25 today! I’m sure you will all join me in wishing him a very happy birthday. Joyeux anniversaire petit chou! :)

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