Rough Puff (Quick and Easy Puff Pastry)

This recipe changed my life, and I have Lucy Vanel to thank for it.

A few years ago, I bookmarked her fast feuilletage, an easy, fuss-free way of making puff pastry that did not involve rolling out the butter and enclosing it into a détrempe, nor did it confine you to the kitchen with incessant refrigeration steps.

A fuss-free puff pastry that does not confine you to the kitchen with incessant refrigeration steps.

Instead, her recipe merely has you cut the butter into the flour to form a rough dough, then do four rounds of rolling out, folding, and turning, like you would for a classic puff pastry, but without refrigerating the dough every time.

This means you can have a remarkably good, homemade puff pastry ready in, oh, fifteen minutes, without sacrificing flavor: four rounds are enough to create dozens* of layers of butter and flour — more random ones, yes, but just as effective — that will puff up gloriously in the oven and produce the flakiest texture.

Continue reading »

Spiced Carrot and Ground Beef Stir-Fry

During the winter months, the grower I get my weekly basket of vegetables from often includes bunches of small new carrots, not much larger than my middle finger, with the bright green tops still on.

Pretty, but a bit of a puzzle to me: the skin on those young carrots is so thin it doesn’t seem necessary to peel them, but they do have tiny fibrils shooting from all around their sides, and those I did not know how to handle. While I could scrape those off with the side of my blade, it felt finicky, and a disproportionate effort when compared to the amount of edible carrot I ended up with.

A lot of the carrot’s taste resides in its skin, so finding a way to keep it guarantees bold flavors.

Then, one day, I finally thought to ask Didier — that’s the name of the farmer — how he cleaned them. His response was quite liberating: “I just wash them, leaving a short section of the stem.” No scrubbing, no scraping, no peeling — it was simply a matter of removing any dirt or grit, without worrying about the fibrils that so disconcerted me.

It was all the permission I needed, and the dish I made the first time I prepped the carrots this way was so good it has practically become a weekly staple. A lot of the carrot’s taste resides in its skin, so finding a way to keep it guarantees a bold flavor.

Continue reading »

February 2014 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2014, I will be 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 now available in two versions: a US-friendly version that features Sunday as the first day of the week, and a French version that complies with international standards, featuring Monday as the first day of the week.

Our calendar for February is a picture of Gontran Cherrier‘s remarkably rye and red miso bread, which I dearly love.

The crumb is tight and almost cake-like in its tenderness; the crust is robust and toasts to a satisfying crisp. And the flavor — it is unlike any rye bread I’ve ever had, with the genius pairing of the malty aromas of rye and the umami sweetness of red miso. Read more about it here.

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

Continue reading »

January Favorites

A few of my favorite finds and reads for January:

~ Green tea granola with chestnuts? Yes, please!

~ What do London Underground stops taste like?

~ A gorgeous photo-report on how the Japanese make dried persimmons.

~ My friend Shauna over at Gluten-Free Girl names her favorite cookbooks for 2013.

~ Pay by the hour at L’Anticafé, a co-working space in Paris. Would you go?

~ Scientists create a map of human emotions.

~ The best and worst errors and corrections for 2013.

~ Adorable teabag cookies for the tea lovers around you.

~ The Paris by Mouth team selects their favorite new restaurants for 2013.

~ A new food coop opens in Paris’ Goutte d’Or neighborhood.

~ 100 verbs to liven up your recipe writing.

~ The nerdiest food articles of 2013.

~ The twenty-one habits supremely happy people cultivate. How many have you adopted?

Welcome to the new Chocolate & Zucchini!

Something looks different around here, no?

I am very excited to unveil the new version of Chocolate & Zucchini! I have been working on it for a good while with the extraordinary team over at cre8d, and it’s been wonderful to see it take shape over the months as we dreamed up my ideal C&Z.

So take a look around, see what you think. There is still a bit of fine-tuning to do, so I hope you will forgive any glitch you run into. And if you have a moment to report back and share thoughts, suggestions, and general feedback on the new site, I will be very interested to hear from you.

Here are a few quick notes on some of the new C&Z features :
Continue reading »

Get the newsletter

Receive a free monthly email with a digest of recent entries, plus exclusive inspiration and special announcements. You can also choose to be notified of every new post.