Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

This is one of those recipes I’m super excited to have added to my repertoire: it’s very (very) easy, it can be whipped up from 100% pantry ingredients, and once it’s on the table it tastes and feels like a much more sophisticated dish, the kind that makes you sigh with pride and content and say, “We eat pretty well around here, don’t we?”

It started out as the 20-minute fish curry in Meera Sodha’s excellent book, Made in India, Cooked in Britain, which I own in its British edition and have used multiple times with great success. Her original recipe is for an Indian-style curry without the coconut milk, but after several iterations in my kitchen it has taken on Southeast Asian flavors (lemongrass, basil or cilantro, lime juice) that make it a little bit Thai as well.

I apologize to purists of either cuisine in advance, but the result is a fine curry, richly favorful and clean-tasting, that does really well on its own or served over rice. My current preference goes to this sticky rice, which I throw into the rice cooker Maxence talked me into buying despite my reluctance (rice cooks just fine in a regular pan on the stove! we don’t need a specialized appliance!), and I now love and cherish (perfect rice! every time! no need to watch or time or anything!).

Since settling on this wonderful fish curry formula, I now make sure I keep on hand a can of coconut milk, a jar of whole peeled tomatoes, and fish fillets in the freezer at all times (the spices, onions, and fresh ginger I always have around), and I throw the curry together almost on a weekly basis. Although I’ve only made it for our family meals so far, it is without a doubt a company-worthy dish, one you could even pull off for a weeknight dinner party, possibly followed by this vanilla-roasted pineapple.

Join the conversation!

What’s the most recent addition to your roster of easy, weeknight-friendly recipes? We all need more of those so please share!

Easy Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

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Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

When I was growing up, sweet potatoes never ever appeared on the menu: they don’t belong to the classic trove of French vegetables, and I don’t think I had a taste until I moved to the US in my early twenties. But I quickly grew to love and crave them as if they had been a part of my food landscape all of my life: the sweet flesh and versatility of these tubers makes them a delicious alternative to other starch options, especially regular white potatoes, and I indulge on a regular basis.

It doesn’t hurt that orange sweet potatoes (there are also white, less recommended varieties) have been touted a superfood for their exceptional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, due to their super high content of beta-carotene and vitamin A, among other vitamins and minerals. They are also said to have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, despite a medium glycemic index.

On top of the wedges I sprinkle a lovely chopped condiment of black olives, toasted almonds, shallot, cilantro, and lemon zest, that brings a remarkable zing to the whole dish.

Steaming is the best way to retain the entirety of their nutritional qualities, but they do beautifully when you boil, roast or grill them as well. You can serve them mashed, turn them into fabulously creamy soups, add them cubed to grain dishes and meal-size salads to make them extra satisfying, or purée them for use in cakes as a sweetener.

They are included in the “clean fifteen” list* but I usually buy organic ones, making sure they are nice and firm with no bruises. They are increasingly easy to find in supermarkets, organic or not, and I have found that sweet potatoes from the US have a moister flesh and keep longer. I store them in a paper bag at cool room temperature (never in the fridge!) and when I cook them I leave the skin on, both for nutrition and to help the pieces keep their shape if that’s needed for a particular dish.

I am always surprised to see sweet potatoes often paired with sweet ingredients in North America (maple syrup! sweet spices! brown sugar! marshmallows!) as I much prefer to balance their natural sweetness with contrasting flavors: tangy, sour, acidic, savory, umami… And because their flesh becomes quite tender when cooked, I usually take care to add an element of crunch to the recipe I use them in.

One of my quickest and easiest tricks to serve sweet potatoes is to boil or roast them — either whole or in cubes — and top them with my simple tahini sauce and lots of freshly snipped herbs, or Aria Beth Sloss’s miso butter topping.

But in warmer months, when I have access to a barbecue — or just my trusty griddler — I like to cut the sweet potatoes into long wedges, par-steam them, brush them with a mix of oil and lemon juice, and grill them. I love the mix between lightly crisp outer skin and the creamy soft insides.

On top of the wedges I sprinkle a lovely — and very quick to throw together — chopped condiment of black olives, toasted almonds, shallot, cilantro, and lemon zest, that brings a remarkable zing to the whole dish. This I’m happy to feature as the centerpiece of the meal, along with a green salad, or to serve as a side with roast chicken, duck magret, or grilled pork.

Join the conversation!

Are you a sweet potato fan? What’s your favorite way to serve them?

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Almonds

* The clean fifteen is a list of the least contaminated conventional produce; the dirty dozen lists the most contaminated.

This post is sponsored by the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute; visit their website for more information and recipes to use the delicious sweet potato! All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the organizations who support Chocolate & Zucchini.

American Sweet Potato

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Lemon Verbena: 35 Ways to Use It

Lemon Verbena

Starting in mid-spring, the guy I get most of my produce from brings in long stalks of verveine citronnelle, bushy with feather-shaped leaves, faintly sticky and powerfully fragrant. Rub one with your thumb and it will knock you over with a floral and citrusy scent that does bear resemblance to lemongrass, as the French name points out (citronnelle means lemongrass).

The most natural thing to do with the leaves is to infuse them for herbal tea, to be served hot of chilled, but I was looking for more ideas so I turned to you — via Twitter et Facebook — and the Internet for suggestions. Here’s a compendium below; I hope you find it inspiring if you come across that lovely herb yourself!

Happy pairings

Lemon verbena + Peach
Lemon verbena + Apricot
Lemon verbena + Raspberry
Lemon verbena + Strawberry
Lemon verbena + Rhubarb
Lemon verbena + Pear
Lemon verbena + Citrus (especially grapefruit)
Lemon verbena + Yogurt
Lemon verbena + Ginger
Lemon verbena + Fish
Lemon verbena + Chicken
Lemon verbena + Pork


~ Make herbal tea, hot or iced, with lemon verbena on its own or mixed with other herbs, such as mint or sage.

~ Prepare a simple syrup for cocktails, non-alcoholic spritzers, iced tea, or lemonade.

~ Make a liqueur.

Baking and desserts

~ Add it to a rhubarb tart.

~ Make sorbet or ice cream.

~ Infuse it in the cream for panna cotta and other custard-style desserts, such as crème brûlée, and pots de crème.

~ Infuse it in the whipped cream for peaches and cream.

~ Make a simple syrup to moisten a sponge cake or a rum baba, drizzle onto crêpes and yogurt, or dunk in some ladyfingers for a strawberry charlotte or tiramisu.

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood!

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood!

I suffer from the curse of the restless baker: however much I like a recipe I’ve borrowed or created in the past, I am wildly tempted to venture a little further, tweak it some more, or walk another path entirely, just to see what will happen.

This makes every opportunity to bake an adventure, and although I sometimes kick myself for not simply going for the tried and true — I do have to live with the occasional disappointment — most of the time it’s a chance to learn something new, expand my repertoire, and of course, share a novel recipe with you.

Crisp on the outside with a moist and tender heart, they’re big on the chocolate flavor and moderately sweet, just the way I like them.

And I am particularly excited to bring you this one, born out of a craving for chocolate chip cookies. I could have gone for this ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe, which I’ve made again and again to sighs and swoons from all involved, but I wanted to try something different this time and make a vegan chocolate chip cookie instead.

With almond butter as the fat, some ground chia seeds, a mix of rice and wheat flours, and unrefined sugar, I like to think these are a little better for you than the conventional cookie (or at least they’ll bring some ingredient variety to your overall diet) yet they are just as satisfying. Crisp on the outside with a moist and tender heart, they’re big on the chocolate flavor — I threw in some cacao nibs as well — and moderately sweet, just the way I like them.

So this one is definitely going into the cookie rotation. I’ll try not to mess with it further, though I can’t promise I won’t try different nut butters (peanut would be great in there too) or a handful of chopped nuts, maybe pecans or hazelnuts.

One final note: as always with anything chocolate, the devil is in the brand you choose: going out of your way to buy a high-quality bittersweet chocolate will pay dividends beyond what you can imagine. I myself like to use Valrhona’s Manjari 64% couverture chocolate, which I get by the kilo (two-pound) bag at G. Detou in Paris, but is also available online.

Join the conversation!

Are you a compulsive tinkerer as well, or do you enjoy making your classics again and again? And what is your favorite chocolate for baking?

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood!

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood!

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June 2015 Desktop Calendar

June 2015 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2015, 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 June is a photo of my quick nori rolls with cucumber and avocado, one of my favorite lunchtime treats ever, and so easy to make!

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

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