Gluten-Free Chocolate Sablés (Just 4 Ingredients!)

Gluten-free Chocolate Sablés (Just 4 Ingredients!)

Gluten-free baking can be discouraging for those who only want to dabble at it: you often dive into a tempting recipe only to discover it calls for three different types of flour and various thickening gums. It sounds daunting, and you don’t necessarily want to invest in ingredients that will just go rancid in your kitchen cabinet.

I am more attracted to naturally gluten-free baked goods that use “regular” ingredients — though I recognize the notion is highly personal. But in the case of these chocolate sablés, they can be put together by hand in no time at all, from just four easy-to-find ingredients: almond flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and butter.

You’ll be wowed by these divine little cookies — crisp as you bite in, then meltingly tender on the tongue, not too sweet but strongly chocolate-y, with roasted notes and the touch of salt that changes everything.

This is a recipe idea I’ve had on the mind for a long time, and I recently came around to developing it, to great success. Knowing that they are based on such a simple formula, you may be just as wowed as I was tasting these divine little cookies — crisp as you bite in, then meltingly tender on the tongue, not too sweet but strongly chocolate-y, with roasted notes and the touch of salt that changes everything.

Though I generally use a silicone baking mat for cookies, I find it more convenient to use a good parchment paper here. I use it to roll up the dough into slice-and-bake logs, wrap them up for setting in the freezer, and slide the cookies onto a rack super gently at the end of baking — gluten-free cookies are typically fragile when still warm, so they need to cool completely undisturbed before they’re all crisped up and ready for action.

Tell me everything!

Do you also feel put off by recipes that call for two kinds of gums and various specialty flours? Did a particular recipe or circumstance convince you to give in and build a gluten-free pantry?

PS: Here’s an index of my gluten-free recipes. And if you decide to invest in a bag of almond flour (I buy it by the kilo at G. Detou in Paris), I can offer many more recipes to make good use of it.

Gluten-free Chocolate Sablés (Just 4 Ingredients!)

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Roasted Green Beans with Shaved Bottarga

Roasted Green Beans with Shaved Bottarga

I have been eating green beans my entire life, mostly boiled or steamed, and it’s only recently that I was turned on to the sheer magic of roasting those guys.

I forget what prompted me to do so in the first place; it was probably because roasting is my method of choice for low-maintenance cooked vegetables. Whether it’s zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, or any sort of root vegetable, I fill my rimmed baking sheet even-sized chunks in a single, not too cramped layer, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and spices (shichimi togarashi — the Japanese seven-spice wonder — and garam masala are my two current favorites), massage everything in with my hands, and whoosh the sheet into the cold oven.

Besides the convenience, roasting green beans transforms them in a way no other cooking technique does. The flavor concentrates and becomes sweeter, the browned bits give off toasted notes, and the teeny tails become irresistibly crisp.

The beauty of this is I can prepare the vegetables this way a couple of hours in advance, and switch on the oven just half an hour before we’re due to have dinner. Other times I turn on the oven and program it to shut off after thirty minutes, before we all go out to run an errand. If we’re back a bit late, so much the better: the vegetables continue to soften in the residual heat and become even more delicious.

With green beans, the process is made even simpler by the fact that there’s only a bit of trimming to do — no peeling and no chopping. And because I usually deal in haricots verts, the slimmer, shorter kind of green bean that is the norm here in France, and because I get them young, freshly picked and not at all stringy, I trim them by the bunch, which saves a lot of time. You gather a little bundle of beans, aligning the stems together on the same side, and chop them all off at once with a chef’s knife. Gather, chop! Gather, chop! Aaaaand, you’re done.

Green beans, stem-end snipped.

I timed myself the other day (dork much?) and went through the full batch (600 grams or 1 1/3 pounds) in four minutes, which seems pretty good to me, though when my three-year-old is around, I’ll revert to the old-fashioned way in which he and I sit around the table to trim in concert and plop the beans into a communal colander. (Very Montessori, I know. We’re working on his technique so he doesn’t trim a full inch off the bean.)

Besides the convenience, roasting transforms green beans in a way no other cooking technique does. The flavor concentrates and becomes sweeter, the browned bits give off toasted notes, and the teeny tails become irresistibly crisp. I have occasionally over-roasted them to the point where the beans sitting in the nether regions of my oven are almost charred, and although I can’t recommend you do the same, I have to tell you charred green beans are tasty. They may become a thing.

Roasted Green Beans

I am content to eat roasted green beans on their own — and like all of my roasted vegetable concoctions I can take in quite a bit — but the other day I was inspired to garnish them with waxy shavings of bottarga, a Mediterranean delicacy of cured, salted fish roe, typically mullet. The pairing was extraordinary, the salty, faintly bitter notes of the roe rubbing against the sweetness of the green beans in all the right ways. This would serve as an elegant appetizer for a dinner party, especially during the holidays, or you could serve it over steamed rice or fresh pasta, and call it a main dish.

I got my bottarga (poutargue in French) from a lovely Italian shop in my neighborhood called RAP Epicerie. They had several kinds; I chose the bottarga di muggine, made from grey mullet roe, but I’ll try some of the others next time. Look for it at your local Italian foods shop, or order it online. It’s not cheap, but it’s powerfully flavorful so a little goes a long way.

I want to know!

What’s your favorite green bean recipe? Have you roasted them before? And have you ever tried bottarga? What do you like to do with it?

Italian grey mullet bottarga.

Italian grey mullet bottarga.

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12th Anniversary Book Giveaway!


Chocolate & Zucchini turns 12 today!

This means I have been blogging for, oh, just about 4 383 days, and this particular anniversary actually marks the point where I have been blogging for a full third of my life. No wonder C&Z feels as familiar to me as my own limbs, and writing here as natural as breathing.

Creating this blog on an idle September day in 2003 is one of the top 3 most life-shaping decisions I have ever made (the other two would be: living in California in my early twenties, and having a child in my early thirties — what about you?).

Not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful beyond words for everything it has brought me. An incredibly fulfilling career, a rich network of like-minded cooks and real-life friends, a wealth of knowledge I would never have acquired otherwise, and my interactions with you, dear readers, who warm my heart, make me laugh, inspire, and teach me daily.

To thank you, I have partnered with my publishers to give away Five sets of my three latest books:

PreservingThere’s PRESERVING, the newest Ginette Mathiot tome that I’ve helped revise for its English-language edition, and has just been released by the good people at Phaidon. This one is all about conserving, salting, smoking, and pickling — in other words, capturing flavors at the height of the season, to enjoy later.

The French Market CookbookThen there’s THE FRENCH MARKET COOKBOOK, a book that celebrates the love story between French cuisine and vegetables, and contains 75 of my heaviest-rotation recipes for seasonal produce, such as my shocking pink pasta with a no-cook beet sauce, my Corsican turnovers garnished with squash, or my pear and chestnut cake.

Edible FrenchAnd finally there’s EDIBLE FRENCH, a lovely book of French food-related idioms that tell you so much about French culture, and come illustrated with whimsical watercolors by my friend Melina Josserand.

Five lucky winners will win a copy of each of these books, so three books total, which will be sent in the mail by their respective publishers.

You have until Sunday, October 11, 10pm EST to enter, using the Rafflecopter widget below: you’ll see you have different options to enter the giveaway, and you can use as many as you like to increase your chances of winning. The winners will be picked randomly and their names will be announced here on Monday, October 12. Good luck and thank you for participating!

We’ve got winners! I have drawn five entries using the Rafflecopter random picker, and the names of the winners are listed in the widget below. They have each received an email explaining the next steps; if you’re one of the winners and you haven’t heard from me, please get in touch!

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October 2015 Desktop Calendar

October 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 October is a photo of purslane, the wonder weed that Michael Pollan has called one of the most nutritious plants on the planet. If you find it in your backyard or your greenmarket, I have 45 ways to use purslane for you!

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

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September Favorites

Dinosaur Kale -- a rare sight in Paris -- found at Terroir d'Avenir.

Dinosaur Kale -- a rare sight in Paris -- found at Terroir d'Avenir.

A few reads and finds from this past month:

~ I have become a member of Food Blogger Pro, and I am loving the many video courses and resources to help me grow and improve Chocolate & Zucchini. If you have a food blog too, and want to join the community, here are promotion codes you can use.

~ Spicy eggplant balls, chilled eggplant soup, zaalouk: my aubergenius recipes in the Wall Street Journal.

~ From potimarron for breakfast, to chocolate after dark: Here’s a day on my plate.

~ Made me laugh: A new caption that works for every New Yorker cartoon.

~ Ten Paris food secrets you may not know about.

~ Can you protect your belly from Delhi belly? (The French call it la tourista.)

~ How to age gracefully.

~ Guillaume Long’s take on what utensils he brings on vacation (in French). Here’s my own minimalist kit for the traveling cook.

~ 10 French Instagram accounts you should follow if you like food.

~ Food illustrations are making a comeback. Is this the end of food porn as we know it?

~ Cubed food: do you recognize them all?

~ Turn lemons into lemonade and coffee stains into adorable monsters.

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

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