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An Excellent, One-pan, Protein-packed Power Pasta

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One-pot meals are the savior of weeknight cooking, and this pasta is one of my go-tos. It’s pasta and lentils simmered in crushed tomatoes, finished with lots of chopped kale, saffron, swirls of tahini and chopped almonds. I made a video of how it comes together, but the jist is to simply place most of the ingredients into a big pan or skillet with boiling water, simmer down until the pasta is tender, and plate in shallow bowls with your favorite toppings (I include a list of suggestions). Variations couldn’t be easier once you get the hang of the technique. The recipe is included here, and you can also see how I pull it together in the video. As I mention in it, you can easily do a vegan version of this, or use whatever gluten-free pasta you like. I think the reason I always come back to this recipe is because you’ve got greens, protein from the lentils, and a range of whole healthful ingredients all in one pan. It’s a total crowd-pleaser, and leftovers are A+ as well.

Also! A few of you have asked where to find a list of all my videos in one spot. There will always an up-to-date list on this You Tube page. I’m also posting the shorter ones to Instagram. If you subscribe on You Tube, you won’t miss any, that’s probably the safest bet. In addition to the recipe videos, I’m super excited to post more travel videos. I’m working on one from a trip to (beautiful, sunny!) Tucson, Arizona last week, and a separate video of what I made to take along with me as travel snacks. So, if you subscribe or follow on one of those channels, you’ll likely get the heads up. I also link in the 101 Cookbooks newsletter (sign-ups are sprinkled all over)….The videos are far from perfect (especially the ones I’m in laugh/cry), but they’re so fun to make, and my hope is that I’ll get better at it over the course of the year – 2017 goals! 😉 xx! -h

An Excellent One-pot Pasta Recipe

Continue reading An Excellent, One-pan, Protein-packed Power Pasta…

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guacamole

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guacamole

I have very strong opinions about guacamole. Fortunately for all of our sakes, this isn’t the kind of site devoted to didactic culinary lectures; it’s not that my way is right and your way is wrong. [Don’t I sound so mature today?] If you love guacamole with chopped tomatoes, or red onion instead of white, lemon instead of lime or, like a former president of the United States, with garlic in it (shudder), you should just go ahead and keep doing you. You’re cooking for you, not me. And I will eat it, preferably with a salt-rimmed margarita or paloma. I have never turned guacamole away; I am not a monster.

all you need
a good mince

But, ahem, my way is so much better! [Welp, the high ground was fun while it lasted.] My favorite guacamoles are more like an avocado salad with a minced white onion, chile and cilantro flavor bomb of a lime dressing. I make it first, right in the bottom of the bowl. I do not skimp on the lime but I basically never do with citrus. Then, you score up your avocado halves, scoop them in and gently turn to coat them in the dressing. Taste for salt and flavors and adjust everything to your liking. You’re done!

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McDonald’s Special Sauce

It’s not like we haven’t seen enough of McDonald’s already, McDonald’s is letting its customers in on a little secret … a secret sauce, to be exact. The fast-food chain plans to hand out 10,000 bottles of free Big Mac secret sauce at various locations throughout the country. In appreciation for the new movie – that recently opened, The Founder – The film shows Ray Kroc a very aggressive businessman take over a small burger joint operated by two brothers in a city out of California. The film exploits how Mr. Kroc stole McDonald’s from right underneath the brothers aggressively. The American Dream.

//BUY

This is How You Step up Your Guacamole Game

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I’m all for a straight-ahead, no-fuss, guacamole. Nine times out of ten, that’s how I approach it. Let the avocado shine. Don’t distract with tomatoes, or pomegranate seeds, or too much lemon, or too much lime. I wrote some thoughts about guacamole basics here. That tenth occasion? I’ll work in a wildcard, or take a surprise approach. Something along the lines of what you see pictured here, a recurring favorite. It’s a recipe I shared years ago in Super Natural Every Day, loosely inspired by a preparation I came across in Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking. Imagine guacamole topped with fragrant, Indian-spiced onions and garlic, green chiles, and mustard seeds. The creamy, ripe avocado melds beautifully the savory bits, and the vibrant cooking oil works its way into all the little valleys. People love this with chips, toasted pita, or naan bread. If you’re in any sort of a rut, give this a try.

A quick side note – I can also imagine a Thai-spiced version being wonderful (with green curry in place of the Indian curry paste.

Indian-spiced Guacamole

Indian-spiced Guacamole

Continue reading This is How You Step up Your Guacamole Game…

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Valentine’s Day Gifts for Food Lovers

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Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Food Lovers

Blame it on my recent nuptials: I am in a romantic mood. And since V-Day is coming up fast (February 14, if you’ve just landed from another planet) I had fun creating this selection of fabulous Valentine’s Day gifts for food lovers.

And of course, many of these will work if you’re looking to celebrate Galentine’s Day!

Valentine Cards for Food Lovers

Sometimes all you really need for Valentine’s Day is a carefully chosen, cleverly worded card that says “I love you” but also “I have a great sense of humor.” These are my faves:

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

Chocolate Fondue Pot

Chocolate Fondue Pot

How are you going to make that special person melt without a proper fondue pot? Strawberries are not in season for Valentine’s Day, but chocolate is! Try it with bananas, oranges, apple and pear slices, and of course, marshmallows and pound cake.

“I Love You So Matcha” T-Shirt

matcha t-shirt

A message your favorite tea lover will totally get.

Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutters

Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutters

Make your Valentine a box of heart-shaped cookies using these cutters — mixing and matching sizes and edge styles is super attractive. You can use my recipe for buckwheat speculoos cookies to say “I think you’re spicy!” or your favorite cut-out cookie recipe.

Cookie Decorating Class

Cookie Decorating Class

And if you want to up your cookie decorating game for life, take this amazing class.

Folded Paper Box Mini-Class

Folded Paper Box

Present your assorted cookies, or any small-size gift, in a handcrafted paper box for that amazingly thoughtful, this-is-how-much-I-love-you touch.

Heart-Shaped Cake Pan

heart-shaped-pan

Go big or go home with an entire heart-shaped cake, perfect for my aptly-named, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake.

Heart-Shaped Pancake Rings
heart-shaped pancakes

Waking up together on Valentine’s Day morning? What better breakfast than heart-shaped pancakes? (I like oatmeal pancakes = 1 1/3 cup flour + 1/2 cup oats + 1/4 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon baking powder + a pinch of salt + 2 large eggs + 1 scant cup milk.)

Mr. & Mrs. Mugs

Mr & Mrs Mugs

And for your morning coffee, you’re going to want these classy matte black Mr & Mrs mugs (you don’t actually need to be married). Of course, same-sex couples will choose the appropriate set : Mr & Mr or Mrs & Mrs.

Personalized Couple’s Address Stamp

Personalized Address Stamp

A personalized address stamp makes you seem *so* put-together and saves you tons of time. If you live together with your Valentine, consider surprising him/her with this couple’s stamp that you can use when writing to friends and relatives together.

Sweet Almond Massage Oil

sweet-almond-oil

If your love language is physical touch, massages are a must. Get a massage oil to do it right; this organic sweet almond oil has multiple benefits and can be used in cooking as well!

DIY Sugar Lip Scrub

Got a few friends you want to give small tokens of your affection to? How about you give them each a little jar of DIY all-natural lip scrub? You’ll just need some jars, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and honey.

“I Love You More Than Cupcakes” Print

I Love You More Than Cupcakes Print

Get this one framed for your sweetheart’s kitchen.

Salt & Pepper Mills

Salt and Pepper Mills

Nothing says “You are the sel to my poivre” like a set of high-quality, French-made salt and pepper mills.

Rose Tea

Mariage Frères Rose Tea

Get your special someone a box of Himalayan Rose tea from Mariage Frères (hint, hint), or this organic summer rose oolong tea.

The Date Night Cookbook

The Date Night Cookbook

Who says you have to go out for those special meals for two? The Date Night Cookbook offers stylish ideas and romantic dishes you can cook and eat together. There’s even a “Dining in Paris” chapter! (This is a new title that will be published on April 4; before then you can consider Date Night In as well.)

“Mix Tape” of Music to Cook Together

Mixtape USB

And since you guys love to be in the kitchen together, how about you throw in this cool retro USB key of your favorite songs to cook by?

Cocktail Shaker + Experimental Cocktail Club Book

Cocktail Shaker and Experimental Cocktail Club Book

There is going to be some heavy shaking and mixing with this cocktail set and this v. cool recipe book from the hippest cocktail bar in Paris.

Taza Chocolate Mexicano Sampler

Taza Chocolate Sampler

With this highly shareable sampler of bean-to-bar, stone-ground chocolate — my favorite in the world — you give the promise of chocolate to snack on, but also chocolate to melt into a deliciously warming cup of deliciousness. (This would make an even cooler gift paired with the couple’s mugs above!)

Bacon & Egg Pillow Cases

Bacon & Egg Pillow Cases

Wake up in a happy, playful mood with these matching bacon-and-egg pillow cases.

Bonne Nuit Pillow Cases

Bonne Nuit Pillowcases

Not food-related but perfect for dreaming French dreams together: these “good night” pillow cases.

French Love Poems

french_love_poems

Speaking of French, what could be more romantic than this pretty little volume of the most beautiful French love poems, presented in original and translated versions? Can’t think of a single thing.

Custom Recipe Notebook

Blank Cookbook

What better way to celebrate your most beloved cook than by gifting them a custom recipe notebook to fill with old favorites and new creations? You can even get them started with a couple of hand-written recipes that say something about your relationship.

Avocado Necklace or Cuff Links

Avocado Necklace and Cufflinks

If your special someone loves avocados almost as much as they love you, make sure it stays that way by gifting them this pretty necklace or these fun cuff links.

This post contains some affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase through them, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. All opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for your support of my work.

The post Valentine’s Day Gifts for Food Lovers appeared first on Chocolate & Zucchini.

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Toasted Almond Sables

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When I go to flea markets or stop by a neighborhood garage sale, I always find myself rummaging through weathered cardboard boxes looking for cookie cutters. Vintage ones, distinctive ones. You might imagine I have drawers full of them, but that’s not actually true. I have two small shoe-box sized containers of cookie cutters. That’s it. It doesn’t actually feel like a lot to some who loves to roll and stamp cookies as much as I do, but the good ones are hard to come by. Beyond shape, I have a fondness for metal cutters with sharp edges, and good structure. Shapes that can cut cleanly through a currant or dried cranberry if need be. Today, I thought I’d show you a few of my scores, and share a favorite cookie-cutter friendly recipe as well.

Toasted Almond Sable Recipe

So, I love my Swedish heart cookie cutter. It’s roughly the size of my palm and is perfectly symmetric. Here’s the thing. Hearts are a popular shape for cookie cutters, yet each heart is an individual. Some plunge deep, some curve shallow and soft, some are wide and squat, some are tall and elongated…each one says something different with its shape. There are friendly hearts, serious hearts, sophisticated hearts. It’s a personal preference, but I tend to like the hearts that are just about as wide as they are tall. Symmetrical, direct, with clean lines.

Toasted Almond Sable Recipe

Then there are the wild card cookie cutters that I can’t pass up. Like this farmhouse collection. The shapes get a bit mushy over the years, but the primitive lines are charming and the patina on the cutters beautiful. The pig has apparently escaped – note to self to find him.

Toasted Almond Sable Recipe

I’ve been making tiny shortbread in the shapes of small hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs since I was a kid, and tend to prefer tiny cutters for butter-rich cookies. They’re the type of cookies where a couple make the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon coffee or tea. Today’s cookies qualify, and I picked the teardrop shape.

These toasted almond sable cookies are a take-off on Alice Medrich’s charming Whole Wheat Sables, published in Pure Dessert a few years back. I love them, and make them a number of different ways depending on what I have on hand. This variation is hard to beat – toasty, nutty, peppered with dried currants. They’re made with whole wheat and all-purpose flours, sliced almonds, and the best butter you can come by. That said, I made another variation with June Taylor’s candied citrus peels for the Little Flower School class a couple weeks back – swapping finely chopped peel for the currants you’ll see in the recipe below. The peel left lovely little slashes of color throughout the cookies, and bursts of citrus flavor. I really loved those too.

Toasted Almond Sable Recipe

For those of you who’ve made it this far. I made a note to myself for next time. I’m excited to try this recipe using Dorie’s trick of using cultured butter – for a hint of tang. It might be the thing to put these right over the top.

Continue reading Toasted Almond Sables…

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French Holiday Recipes

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Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Christmas is just a few days away (not to stress you out or anything) and I was shocked to realize that, in thirteen years of Chocolate & Zucchini, I have never offered an actual post outlining how to host a French holiday meal.

So whether you’re seeking to add a little Frenchness to your holiday celebrations, attending your first bona fide French holiday meal this year, or even hosting one (gah!), let me break things down for you, and suggest some winning French holiday recipes.

Christmas and the New Year

French families get together for a Christmas Eve dinner (le réveillon de Noël), and often there’s a second meal for Christmas Day lunch (not breakfast or brunch), either with the same cast or with a different part of the family.

Christmas is largely celebrated in the home; most restaurants are closed that night for staff members to celebrate with their own family. It is considered an intimate occasion reserved for family members and close family friends, so if you are a guest from outside the family, it’s a big deal. Presents are opened either after dinner on Christmas Eve, or in the morning on Christmas Day.

The French New Year’s Eve (le réveillon du Nouvel An) is often celebrated with friends rather than with family, and it is more of a grown-up occasion. If there are small children, they will be tucked into bed early or allowed to collapse on some couch, but the party is not about them. (Sorry kids.)

Some people go out to dinner on New Year’s Eve, but I don’t know who they are and I wouldn’t want to go with them. In my circle, we are more likely to have a special dinner at someone’s house, and possibly go out later, or just push the furniture and party at home*.

Apéritif

A French holiday meal is designed to go on long into the night, so the apéritif phase — pre-dinner drinks with nibbles — will last awhile. Champagne is the typical drink served, but because I am contrarian, I prefer to pick out an alternate sparkling white. At the caviste‘s you can ask for a vin blanc en méthode champenoise, a white wine produced in the style of Champagne, but from another region.

Raw Scallop Crostini on Pumpernickel Bread

Shellfish is a staple of the French holiday table, and coquilles Saint-Jacques (sea scallops) are especially prized. I like to feature them raw in these canapés, an easy and elegant apéritif easily eaten with one hand in a couple of bites.

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!

Fresh Herb and Goat Cheese Quick Bread

There are three reasons you should make this savory quick bread (in French, cake salé): one, it freezes beautifully; two, it cuts into bite-size cubes with little mess; and three, it is a quintessential French buffet item. Also: one of my most popular recipes from this blogging year!

Feta and Fresh Herb Quick Bread

Chipotle Cumin Roasted Almonds

A quick win of a recipe, these spiced almonds are perfect for grazing during the apéritif, or to package up in a pretty sachet and bring as a host(ess) gift.

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First Course

Ready for the sit-down dinner now? Please, take a seat!

Oysters

A traditional no-cook treat to open the holiday feast is the platter of oysters, freshly delivered from the Atlantic ocean. Order yours from the busy poissonnier well in advance; they will shuck them for you at no additional cost (but usually there’s a tip jar). Oysters are typically served raw and in the shell, with thin slices of rye bread, salted butter, lemon juice, and shallot vinegar.

oyster.jpg

Oysters at the fish shop on rue des Abbesses (photo by Anne)

Foie Gras

It used to be that French people only ate foie gras during the holidays. It was a luxury item, produced traditionally, with care and respect for the animals, and appreciated with reverence. Nowadays, people want it year-round and they want it cheap. This has spawned an industry of mistreated, factory-farmed animals yielding tasteless, fatty foie gras.

My recommendation is to skip the foie gras altogether if you can’t be sure it has been produced artisanally and ethically. If, however, you get to visit an independent producer on your travels, or have a solid recommendation for one from a chef or discerning cook, buy a terrine de foie gras entier mi-cuit in a jar and savor every bite.

Duck or goose is a matter of preference; the former is more common (ducks are easier to raise) and the flavor more assertive.

Serve your terrine de foie gras cold, but not too cold, with toasted bread. Pain brioché (think enriched yeast bread such as challah) is traditional, I prefer a sourdough loaf to complement the sweetness of good foie gras. Some people insist on serving it with pain d’épices (honey spice cake) but that is too cloying for my taste, and I don’t think the pairing benefits either. The proper way to eat foie gras is to slice a bite-size piece with your knife, place it on the bread without spreading (sweet heavens, no), and take a bite.

Smoked Salmon

Sigh. Another luxury food item that has been utterly ruined by the consumer’s insistence to eat it any old day of the year, but no willingness to pay the proper price for it. The consequence? Factory-farmed salmon pumped full of drugs and chemicals, destroying the environment, and resulting in oily, unsubtle smoked salmon that just tastes of fish and smoke.

I would much rather buy wild salmon and indulge just once a year, buying a couple of thin slices per person and savoring every bite with my eyes closed. (And if that falls outside the budget, organic smoked trout is a delicious, lower-cost, ethical option.)

Smoked salmon is typically served with toasted blinis, crème fraîche (sour cream will do), and a teensy squeeze of lemon juice.

Artichoke and Goat-Cheese Mille-Feuille

If you’d like to cook your starter, this is a savory twist on the pâtisserie classic that’s easy to make, yet festive and sophisticated.

Goat Cheese and Artichoke Mille-Feuille

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Bacon

A perfect first course if the host’s apartment doesn’t have very good heating, this warming, velvety soup has smoky umami notes thanks to the addition of bacon. (Vegetarians can omit and use mushrooms instead.)

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Bacon

Roasted bird or game

Holiday menus in most families are built around a roasted meat, and in preparation for the holidays, butcher shops in France begin to display whole birds in their windows, feathers and all.

You are likely to encounter dinde (turkey), chapon (capon), poularde (fattened hen), pintade (guinea fowl), oie (goose), faisan (pheasant), but also canard (duck), cailles (quails)… and good old chicken, preferably heritage breeds (coucou de Rennes, Gauloise blanche…) so it feels more exceptional. (I get mine from Terroirs d’Avenir.)

Game is also a popular choice, and it certainly leaves an impression. I remember my uncle roasting a thigh of boar one year, and a friend’s father a whole side of venison, on a spit, for hours, in an open chimney.

But, um, for smaller gatherings, here are my favorite French chicken recipes, which can be applied to any kind of small bird:

Muriel’s Chicken

I love this recipe for its simple, foolproof method. All you need is a few quality ingredients and the patience to let them cook slowly.

Muriel's Chicken

Spatchcocked Chicken Under a Brick

One of my favorite ways to roast any kind of poultry is to butterfly it (see: how to spatchcock a chicken), removing the backbone and flattening it. This method yields a perfectly roasted, moist bird, and takes less time than roasting it whole.

Spatchcocked Chicken

Salt-Crusted Chicken

The salt crust on this chicken allows it to cook in its own juices, and also offers some flexibility when it comes to cooking time — a must if you’re hosting a holiday meal.

Salt-Crusted Chicken

Chicken in a Bread Crust

This two-in-one French recipe is perfect for a festive meal: the bird is tucked inside a bread crust, that you can then cut up and serve, to mop up all of the flavorful cooking juices.

Chicken in a bread crust

Sides

Accompanying the main meat attraction, there will be two to three sides, passed around from guest to guest and across the table in a joyful, voluble chaos. Each family has its own specialties; I recommend you stick with seasonal produce: root vegetables, winter squash, various kinds of cabbage, mushrooms, chestnuts… My mother typically makes mashed celeriac, mashed potatoes, and sautéed chestnuts (can’t wait!). The following are additional options to consider.

Brussels Sprouts

Those squash seeds you’ve been saving for, well, you’re not sure what? They belong on these Brussels sprouts — a tender, flavorful side to broaden the horizons of your favorite selective eater.

Brussels sprouts

Stuffed Lumaconi with Butternut Squash and Chestnuts

Despite being very easy to make, this dish of stuffed pasta feels very special, and it hits all the seasonal flavor notes. Additionally, if there are vegetarians in your party, this has enough personality and substance that it can be presented as a special course for them.

Stuffed Lumaconi with Butternut and Chestnuts

Perfect Roasted Potatoes

Wondering what the secret is for purr-fect roasted potatoes, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside? It’s easy, and requires zero additional tools.

Perfect Roasted Potatoes

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

I know, I know. Everybody claims to have the key to perfect mashed potatoes. Just trust me on this one.

Mashing Potatoes

Cheese Platter

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote that a dinner that ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye (Un repas sans fromage est une belle à qui il manque un oeil). This strikes me now as both sexist and ableist (way to kill two birds with one stone, J.A.!), but in the context of his time it made sense I guess.

Point is, the French consider the cheese course with devotion, and take the utmost care in composing an assortment — use these French cheese tips to craft the perfect cheese board.

Pain au levain

A French holiday meal wouldn’t be French without good bread offered throughout the meal, with a fresh supply brought in for the cheese course. (No crackers with French cheese!)

Now, I’m not suggesting you bake your own pain au levain if you’re the one hosting the feast (burnout much?), but a homemade sourdough loaf such as this one would be a wowing item to bring to a meal hosted by someone else. You can even slash the top in your host’s initial, as I’ve been known to do.


Pain au levain

Dessert

You still with me? Take heart, we have just one more course to go!

Bûche de Noël

The Yule log is the typical dessert to end the Christmas meal. Traditionally topped with kitschy plastic decorations that children will noisily fight over — little Santas, dwarves or reindeers, tiny sleds and saws — and collect from year to year, they are either made of ice cream (bûche glacée) or with sponge cake and buttercream (bûche pâtissière).

As with any French dinner party, dessert is not something the host is expected to make him- or herself. Most French people will order a bûche from their corner pâtisserie, or buy it from a frozen food store such as Picard or the supermarket. (The trick then is to remember to thaw it well in advance, lest you serve your frozen bûche pâtissière as if it were a bûche glacée. #ultimatefail.)

If you have lofty means and want to impress the in-laws, you can go the haute-pastry route and get the latest creation from your favorite celebrity pastry chef.

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

But. If you like simple and homemade best, I recommend this fresh and light bûche de Noël. It is really not difficult at all, and you can prepare it the day before and assemble it the day of. I’ve had readers report that it disappeared much faster than the fancy designer bûche that someone else had brought (sorry).

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Raspberry Dacquoise

A delicate centerpiece and a total crowd-pleaser, this dacquoise has stolen the show at many a New Year’s Eve party. Again, the keyword here is freshness, with tart raspberries and a light filling nestled between moist layers of almond cake.

Raspberry Dacquoise

French Christmas Sablés with chocolate sorbet or chocolate mousse

Seasonal simplicity at its best. And who could say no to a butter cookie with a side of chocolate?

Christmas Sablés Cookies

Tropical Fruit

For those who prefer to forgo a desserty dessert, take a page from my aunt’s book and offer a platter of tropical fruits. In France, exotic fruits are played up more in the winter months, when the local produce mostly hibernates. A good in-between option is to serve this vibrant roasted pineapple, with coconut whipped cream.

Vanilla Roasted Pineapple with Coconut Whipped Cream

Chocolate Mendiants and Treize Desserts

Mendiants — bite-size disks of dark chocolate studded with candied fruit and nuts — are a delicious nod to the tradition of Les Treize Desserts.

These “thirteen desserts” stem from Provence, in the south of France, the number thirteen representing Jesus and his twelve disciples. It takes the form of a large tray filled with goodies for guests to graze on after the meal. Pompe à huile (an orange blossom focaccia), oreillettes (fried dumplings), dried fruits and nuts (figs, raisins, dates, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds), nougat (black and white), and fresh seasonal fruit (clementines, apples, pears). Beyond these traditional treats, you can add small chocolates — such as my mendiants or orangettes — marzipan, and other simple treats. These trays are traditionally put out for three days following Christmas, but they may not last that long.

French Chocolate Mendiants

Galette des Rois

As soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 31, pastry elves start stocking bakery shelves with these golden King’s Cakes, officially meant to celebrate the Epiphany on January 6. They are not, I repeat, they are not an appropriate dessert to offer at Christmas or New Year’s Eve. But if you’re hosting a gathering on New Year’s Day, then yes, go right ahead!

Galette des rois

Food Gifts

Did you dodge the hosting bullet this year, and are you looking for the perfect host(ess) gift? I’m of the opinion that the most thoughtful presents are homemade and edible, from cookies to chocolate to flavorful spiced nuts, and here are my favorites.

12 Best Food Gifts

How about you?

Have you ever taken part in, or even hosted, a French holiday meal? What was it like, and what were some of the most memorable French holiday dishes you tried?

* Full disclosure: I’m not a big party person, and I hate having to find a cab ride home — or a Vélib’ — in the middle of the icy night on New Year’s Eve. To avoid that very situation, we hosted our own New Year’s Eve party for years, but now that we have children and the logistics are more complicated, my bliss is to stay home, watch a movie, eat roasted broccoli and dark chocolate (not together), and switch off the lights at (barely) midnight.

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Ten Ingredient Alkalizing Green Soup

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This is my anti-dote to the holidays with all their sweets, drinks, and, cold, short days. You put ten ingredients in a blender, puree, and then decide if you’d like to enjoy the soup hot or cold. In winter, I like the gently heated option, but keep in mind, this is also a fantastic summer soup when served chilled. It’s a potent jolt of alkalizing vegetables and herbs, with some staying power thanks to the fat in the silky coconut cream, and the protein-rich split green peas. Serve topped with whatever herbs, sprouts, or nuts you might have on hand, or simply straight and green.

A few considerations – in winter, heat the soup gently. Just shy of a simmer. And just before serving. This will help maintain the beneficial qualities of the miso, and more of the alkalizing power of the greens.

Ten Ingredient Alkalizing Green Soup

Ten Ingredient Alkalizing Green Soup

Happy holidays everyone. I’ll post some more clean eating favorites to the front page in the coming days & weeks for new year inspiration.

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Best of December

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Christmas Tree

How are your holidays coming along? Any fun plans for New Year’s Eve? Be sure to check my post on French Holiday Meals, and my 12 Best Food Gifts!

We had such a lovely, quiet Christmas celebration this year. Now that my children are respectively 4 1/2 and almost 2, we are really getting into the magic of it.

In addition to the big-boy bike for Milan (no training wheels!) and the adorable crochet vegetables and mini dining set for Mika, Maxence and I had a blast hunting for vintage toys from our own childhoods, such as “real” Lego blocks (not the hyper-specialized, imagination-thwarting crap they put out now) and Smurf figurines (I mean Schtroumpfs) with an actual! mushroom! house!.

A Family of Shoes

Currently loving

  1. As part of my Monthly Museum Challenge, I went to the Grand Palais to see the Hergé exhibition all about the creator of Tintin, joining a private guided tour led by the amazing Catherine Rosane of Fred & Kate. I loved the exhibition and Catherine’s insightful take on it, and doodled along gleefully (see below). I am now engrossed in Benoît Peeters’ biography of Hergé, Hergé fils de Tintin.
  2. How to Throw a Dinner Party Like a Parisian, with some of my thoughts thrown in.
  3. In addition to my Monthly Museum Challenge, I’m enriching my life further with a Monthly Poem Challenge: I’ll be choosing a new poem to memorize each month. For years and years I’ve known just two (Mon Rêve familier and Le Dormeur du val), and I’ve just memorized this new one, which jumped up at me in a copy of Les Fleurs du Mal lying around at Aloha Café. I love the idea that by the end of 2017, if all goes well, I’ll know twelve more. Are you in?
  4. Meals at La Mascotte, a wonderful Belle Époque brasserie in Montmartre where the food is excellent and the waiters are genuinely nice.
  5. Our new hand-crafted Kinto mugs in moss green and yellow, which I found at Amami in Paris. I plan to spend all winter with my hands wrapped around their smooth, soft sides.
My sketch of Hergé's 2CV

My sketch of Hergé’s 2CV

Find my top Paris spots on this map of favorites, and follow me on Instagram to see many more food shots and Paris recommendations throughout the month!

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pimento cheese potato bites

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Sorry, I blinked and missed 2016 in that way that happens when you’re so deeply in it, you forget to look up. I went from having one kid and a tiny bundle wrapped in a blanket to have two real-live mobile children and they are impossibly cute and exhausting and I wouldn’t want it any other way except for maybe once a week if we can find a babysitter. Like all parents ever, I think my seven year-old says amazing things, such as when he told us this weekend we needed to get our New Year’s Revolutions ready. My 17-month old is a tempest of curls and a blur of frenetic energy and whenever she exhibits, ahem, “low frustration tolerance” people decide this is the perfect time to tell me how much we are alike, not sure what that’s about… Both kids got serious birthday cakes and for once, my husband did alright too. I got to go on a surprise birthday trip to Mexico City without kids (!) and then we went to Portugal with two children, had a great time, and even remembered to bring the same two children home with us. If we can do that, we can do anything, right?

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What To Do Instead of a Detox: A Gentler Way to Start The Year

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What to do instead of a detox

We’re just a few days into January, and already you are being assailed by messages of diet this and detox that.

And certainly, you will feel the pull. Who wouldn’t? It’s everywhere, and you feel a little food-ed out from the holiday celebrations. But. There is more than one way to handle this feeling, and I’d like to offer an alternative to self-punishment.

Instead of diving head first into group guilt, self-loathing, shame, restrictive eating, imaginative cleanses, and the inevitable backlash they breed, consider directing these vast (VAST!) amounts of time and energy and brain juice toward making peace with food and with your body.

It’s revolutionary.

I don’t believe anyone passionate enough about food to read cooking blogs — or, um, write one — has a perfectly carefree relationship to food and body image. In fact, I’ve long surmised that many of us food bloggers start their blog in part to make sense of that relationship; I know I did.

And it’s no wonder, friends. We live in profoundly body-obsessed societies that hold up impossible standards for us to beat ourselves up over. And French women, with their worldwide reputation of slim figure and effortless elegance, are in no way immune to this. I don’t remember a time, past the age of nine or ten, when I was a-okay with the way my body looked. Do you?

The obsession and its implications come in different flavors depending on the culture, but it is so profound, so internalized that few even question it.

Over the past couple of years, I have become more keenly aware of this: in the way I inhabit my own body, and in my environment, both online and offline. Body positivity and unconditional self-love* are radical ideas, and I am fully on board.

Only recently, I watched my friend Elena Rossini’s new documentary The Illusionists about the global marketing of unattainable beauty. It carries such an important, enlightening, liberating message that I wanted to share it with you, and I have five copies of it to give away (details at the bottom of this post).

The Illusionists: A documentary about the marketing of unattainable beauty around the world.

The Illusionists: A documentary about the marketing of unattainable beauty around the world.

Instead of a detox, how about this

And in the spirit of being the change I want to see in the world, I offer my thoughts on detoxing, and how to brace yourself against the overwhelming message you will be receiving today, throughout the month, and year-round, that you need to fix yourself. Instead, I say:

YES to acknowledging that the holidays are (also) about the food, and that depending on your social circle and personal history, it’s likely you ate more than you needed or wanted.

YES to being okay with the imperfect choices you made.

YES to listening to your body’s cues after this period of more bountiful meals than you’re used to. YES to eating mindfully (most of the time), honoring your hunger (most of the time) and recognizing your signals of satiety (most of the time).

YES to seeking out the foods that make your tastebuds sing and make you feel full of energy (rather than virtuous or “clean”). For many and for myself, this is typically fresh, colorful, whole foods, cooked simply — i.e. 99% of the recipes around here — but do what feels right for you.

NO to measuring your self-worth by how much kale you’re eating and how many fries you’re not.

YES to finding a practice of self-knowledge that helps you process your emotions. It could be meditation, inspirational podcasts, your faith, good old therapy… the idea is to gain clarity on whatever difficulties you’re experiencing in your life. Food is never the core issue; it’s what it means for you.

Imagine being a-okay with yourself

OKAY to “cleanses” and “nutritional resets” ONLY IF you’re trying to untangle emotional ties to certain foods, identify food sensitivities, or troubleshoot digestive issues. Even then, proceed with caution.

NO if the cleanse or reset is just a covert, socially acceptable(ish) way to restrict your food intake or pay penance for the “bad” choices you made. Only you will know the difference, deep down.

OKAY to searching for “detox” or “clean eating” recipes online to find the kind of produce-centric and wholesome foods that make our mouths water (I’m assuming you’re with me on this, if you read this blog to begin with). NO to clicking on the ones that use images of photoshopped women in fitness wear, or promise you will lose twenty pounds and ten years from drinking that ginger water.

YES to doing a social media detox — unfollowing, unfriending, muting anyone whose highlight reel makes you feel less than, or inadequate in any way. While you’re at it, allow your subscription to lapse for any magazine that celebrates a single body type. Instead, expose yourself to images of normal people in various shapes and colors, and consider supporting such magazines as Bust or Causette.

YES to opting out of diet talk, and withholding judgment on what others eat and look like. (Like magic, you’ll stop judging yourself on what you eat and look like.) You can even form the habit of (privately) noticing something you like in anyone you come across: a scarf, a smile, a stance, a stride. It makes the day so much lovelier.

YES to moving your body in whatever way feels good and joyful (not punishing).

YES to showing up as yourself, unapologetically, unashamedly, because you are enough.

None of this is easy. Being absolutely okay with yourself is so counter-cultural! It takes time and deliberate daily efforts to undo decades of conditioning, especially when more and more of it is hammered into you every day. But it’s completely doable, and then it’s like a switch you can’t unflick. Not that you would want to: the light in here is beautiful! And we breathe so much easier!

Win a free digital copy of the documentary The Illusionists

My friend the film director Elena Rossini has shared 5 digital copies of her illuminating documentary The Illusionists for me to give away to readers of Chocolate & Zucchini, and I know you’re going to love it. For a chance to win, please enter your contact information into this form before Wednesday, January 11, midnight Paris time.

I will draw 5 names randomly (using this service) and announce the winners here. There are no geographical restrictions for entering. Good luck!

Sharing, reading, listening

If this resonates with you, please share this post with a friend who you think would benefit.

And if you’d like more resources, I recommend:

* If you understand the term “self-love” as romantic love, as in “Oh, I’m so passionately in love with my body”, that may feel weird, narcissistic, or unattainable. That’s not it, though. The love we’re talking about here is more like the love you have for your child, a dear friend, a sibling: profound, tender, and more important, unconditional.

Permission to opt out

The post What To Do Instead of a Detox: A Gentler Way to Start The Year appeared first on Chocolate & Zucchini.

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chicken wonton soup

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I don’t know why it took me so long to make this as it combines the only two things I ever want when I’m sick: chicken noodle and wonton soup. The thing is, when you’re sick, you absolutely do not want to cook anything. (Also sometimes when we’re well, to be completely honest. Shh, don’t tell anyone.) And so for a couple nights, we picked up a decent chicken noodle soup in the neighborhood, but when we tired of that, ordered wonton soup instead. It’s usually a disappointment. Sometimes it seems like a quart of bland broth with three floating pockets in it, not the most filling meal. Plus, it’s off the menu for anyone who doesn’t eat pork or shrimp. But this one was not; it was chicken wontons in chicken broth and it was exceptional, the happiest mashup of the two wonderful things.

chicken, ginger and more

Had the delivery not come an hour later, forcing me to — gasp! — scramble some food together for the kids anyway, I probably would have never made this. But as I was enjoying my soup, I realized that this would be so ridiculously easy to hack, it might even be done before it arrived next time.

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Pickled Turmeric Eggs

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A number of you spotted these pickled turmeric eggs in my refrigerator when I posted this shot to Instagram recently. They’re great! They’re also incredibly easy and quick to make, and convenient to have on hand. Pickled eggs, like these, will keep in your refrigerator for a week or two, and I love to use them in all sorts of ways. As a component in a quick lunch you can’t go wrong, or to top off a Buddha bowl, or just as a stand-alone snack. You can eat them halved and topped with whatever you have on hand (pictured here with scallions, chopped walnuts, and a dab of turmeric lemongrass curry paste, and a bit of watermelon radish), but I also like to grate them on a box grater for a vibrant shredded egg salad. You can also use the shredded version as a protein-boost on top of a green salad, or as the main event on an open-faced sandwich. The turmeric swings some nutritional weight, and brings an electric yellow hue to the outside of each egg. The apple cider vinegar delivers a nice bite and tang to the situation, and also tightens up the texture of the egg. You have to give these a try! I’m posting a video of the process here, and you can find the recipe down below as well.

One last thing I’ll mention is this – Be sure to use the shallots (or onions) as well. They’re great in salads, on tacos, or served as a condiment at the table. A little pickle accent is welcome at just about every meal.

Pickled Turmeric Eggs

Pickled Turmeric Eggs

Enjoy! –Heidi

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5 Tips for Fabulous Homemade Soups

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Fennel Soup with Lime and Cashew Cream

You know the feeling. This time of year, you’re simply dying for a bowl of something warm, comforting, and full of vitality. But as painful experiences may have shown you, good intentions and a throw-whatever-vegetables-you-have-into-the-pot approach doesn’t always work so well.

For a simple, clean-out-the-fridge soup, I will point you to my Everything Soup. It’s the ultimate guide to soup improv that you can tweak to your heart and fridge’s content, with recommendations for optimizing flavor profile, plus must-haves and must-nots.

Once you have these basics down, here are some more tips for fabulous homemade soups, which will turn any pot you make into a seductive winter dish that will have your spoon quivering with excitement.

Stay in season

It’s not just about the carbon footprint, the mood of the weather, or the tradition, though of course these things count. It’s also that in-season vegetables taste significantly better, and if you want a soup that shines with flavor, you gotta have good vegetables to begin with.

And as luck would have it, winter vegetables are perfect candidates, with their starchy textures and sweet, earthy notes. Can’t remember what’s in season? I have a free seasonal produce guide for you.

Chunky or smooth?

Whether you are in the mood for a chunky soup or a smooth velouté, make up your mind before you start. This will determine how you cut the vegetables, and the order in which you add them in. If you want it chunky, such as this chunky pumpkin soup, you’ll pay more attention to not overcooking any of the vegetables. And if you want an ultra-smooth, restaurant-quality velouté, investing in a high-performance blender such as this one will make all the difference (night and day).

Play with spices and fresh herbs

Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

Soups are the perfect opportunity to finally get some mileage out of that spice drawer. Vegetables are such a welcoming canvas, whether you are flavoring them with citrus and spicesturmeric and hazelnuts, or an ayurvedic blend of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with just salt and pepper if that’s all you have (sometimes they’re all you need!), but this is your chance to kick things up a notch and test out new, interesting flavor combinations.

Make it interactive

I love meals that require some audience participation, whether you invite the eater to drizzle oil or cream, sprinkle things, or stir a condiment right in.

I like using the latter method with my pattypan squash and pesto soup: I just place a bowl of pesto on the table for guests to help themselves, stirring it into the soup and preserving the immediacy and freshness of the pesto.

You can also elevate a simple soup meal with bowls of various soup accoutrements, like almond breadcrumbs, roasted chickpeas, homemade croûtons, crushed spiced almonds… or anything you have on hand that will add texture and flavor to your soup.

Keep it creamy

If you’re craving a creamy soup but want a change from dairy (or can’t have it), there are options. Instead of adding heavy cream or crème fraîche, try using coconut milk to make the soup silkier, or whip up a quick cashew cream to pour over the top (bonus: it’s pretty). You can also use almond meal or nut butters to thicken your soup.

Join the Conversation

What’s been your favorite soup combo lately? Any tip you want to share for soup success?

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Homemade Galette des Rois Recipe

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Galette des rois

If you’ve ever been in France during the month of January, surely you’ve noticed the blossoming of galettes des rois in the window of every bakery and pastry shop. A puff pastry pie garnished with a buttery filling, it is the traditional confection with which the Epiphany is celebrated*; I have written in more detail about this tradition in this post, so I invite you to go and read that first. I’ll wait right here.

La galette, and the fun ritual that determines who will be king or queen for the day (allow me to insist you read this post if you don’t yet know about the fève thing), bring back many a happy childhood memory for me. Aside from the two years I spent in California, I have partaken of at least one galette a year for as long as I can remember.

My first homemade galette des rois!

I used to buy them from the pastry shop, like most French people do, but I started making my own a few years ago.

My deep attachment to this confection should have compelled me to do so years earlier, but the Epiphany is theoretically celebrated on January 6 — though this is extended to the whole month of January nowadays — and I always felt a bit too tuckered out after the holidays to tackle the project.

But that inaugural year was different. We were celebrating my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary one Saturday, my sister, brother-in-law and nephew were visiting from London for the occasion, and my mother had asked if I could bring the dessert for our celebratory lunch. It seemed the perfect opportunity to share a galette with my family, and I had just enough time to make it myself.

My initial intention was to make my own puff pastry, using this easy puff pastry formula, but I didn’t quite have it in me so I decided to use store-bought puff pastry. Not just any store-bought puff pastry, mind you, but Madame François’ puff pastry, which is produced in Sologne with butter from the Charentes, farine de gruau (fine wheat flour) and zero additives. I got it from G. Detou, where it is sold in slabs of 3 kilos, ready to be divided, shared and/or frozen; it can also be ordered on their website**.

What’s inside a galette des rois?

The stuffing was crème d’amande, not frangipane. There is a lot of confusion between the two, so here’s the difference: crème d’amande (almond cream) is a simple mix of butter, sugar, ground almonds, and eggs, more or less in equal parts. Frangipane, on the other hand, is a blend of crème d’amande and crème pâtissière (pastry cream), which in turn is made with eggs, milk, sugar, and flour or cornstarch.

Most galettes sold out there are filled with frangipane rather than crème d’amande — the production cost of frangipane is a lot lower, since the almonds are the most expensive ingredient in there — but my preference goes to crème d’amande, which makes a more delicate, less eggy, more flavorful filling.

As for the all-important fève (read here to know what that is), I had wisely saved the one Maxence got when we ate a galette des rois at my cousin’s a week before: it is a little porcelain tower of some sort that seems like the tip might pierce the roof of your mouth if you’re really out of luck, but this is France, where people don’t really sue one another for that sort of thing***.

Mini Cookbook of French Tarts

I consulted countless recipes, watched numerous videos including this one, and merged all the things I’d learned into my own version, with a little hazelnut flour in the stuffing.

The making of the galette itself really wasn’t difficult at all, at least for someone with a minimum of baking experience: you spread the puff pastry into two circles, spread crème d’amande on the first, cover it with the second, score, eggwash, and bake.

The only slightly tricky steps are: 1- not forgetting to place the fève in the filling (a horrifying prospect), 2- placing the top circle precisely over the first, 3- sealing it properly so the filling won’t escape, and 4- making sure the eggwash doesn’t drip over the edges of the puff pastry, otherwise it might not rise to its full potential.

I did get some guidance from my personal galette hotline, i.e. my friend Pascale, whom I asked if I could prepare everything a day in advance and bake the galette on the day of: she said I could freeze it overnight, and bake it straight from the freezer in the morning. She even mentioned that puff pastry rises higher if it’s been frozen at some point.

It worked perfectly: I woke up, preheated the oven, slipped the frozen galette inside, and tried my best to occupy myself with other things — watched puff pastry never rises — until it was ready, golden brown, puffy, and gorgeous.

Transporting my homemade galette des rois

The bonus challenge I faced was transporting the galette to my parents’ apartment — on Maxence’s scooter. I improvised a cake carrier out of two cereal boxes, inserted it in the compartment under the seat, and hoped for the best. Maxence was very careful to avoid bumps and ruts, and although we were practically run down by our squealing nephew upon arrival, the galette made it safely to my mother’s kitchen, then to our table, where it was received with enthusiasm and compliments. My father even declared he’d never eaten such a flavorful galette des rois, and he’d said that about Pierre Hermé’s before (a completely unbiased opinion, to be sure).

And as luck (and possibly karma) would have it, I got the fève, which means I could save it for the next year, when I made another galette: once you know how rewarding and fun it is to make your own, there’s no turning back, I’m afraid.

Feeling up for the project yourself? You have until the end of January to do so — at least that’s when the French stop eating galettes (and stop wishing one another a happy new year). And if it feels too tight, well, the recipe will be right here waiting for you next year!

Galette des rois

* Except in the south of France, where the gâteau des rois — a ring-shaped brioche studded with candied fruit — takes its place.

** If that’s not an option, use the best quality puff pastry you can find and afford. Ideally, it will be made with just flour, butter, water, and salt (no other type of fat, and no preservatives or additives); in France, the one that is sold by Picard is said to be the best option in its range.

*** I’ve read that some French-style bakeries established in the US simply place a whole almond instead of a trinket in their galettes, to avoid any broken tooth incident.

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Homemade Galette des Rois Recipe

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Serves 6 to 8.

Homemade Galette des Rois Recipe

Ingredients

For the crème d’amande:

100 grams (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar (I used a blond unrefined cane sugar)
110 grams (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) almond flour (= almond meal or finely ground almonds*)
20 grams (2 tablespoons) hazelnut flour or finely ground hazelnuts** (optional; you can also use all almond meal as in the classic galette, 130 grams total or 1 cup and 3 tablespoons)
8 grams (1 tablespoon) corn starch (in France, this is known under the brand name Maïzena)
a good pinch sea salt
2 large eggs
1 drop almond extract (optional)
1 tablespoon orange flower water or a liquor of your choice, such as Grand Marnier or rum

For the eggwash and glaze:

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Accessories:

1 porcelain trinket or dried bean
2 paper crowns

Instructions

1. Prepare the crème d’amande.

Beat the butter until creamy, but avoid incorporating air into it. In a bowl, combine the sugar, almonds, hazelnuts, corn starch, and salt. Stir with a whisk to remove any lump. Add to the creamed butter and mix until smooth. Add the almond extract and orange flower water, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

Crème d'amande
2. Roll out the puff pastry.

Divide the puff pastry in 2 equal pieces, and roll each one out to form a rough circle a little larger than 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter. Use a sharp knife and an upturned plate of the right dimension to cut a neat 30-cm (12-inch) circle out of one, and a slightly larger one with the other, adding, say, 6 mm (1/4 inch) all around the edge of the plate.

3. Assemble the galette.

Place the smaller of the two circles on a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk with a tablespoon water (or milk, if you have it handy) until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the outer rim of the dough lightly with the eggwash by a width of about 2.5 cm (1 inch). Make sure not to wet the actual edge of the dough, or it will impede its rise.
Pour the crème d’amande in the center and spread it out inside the eggwash ring with a spatula.
Place a porcelain fève, a dried bean, or the trinket of your choice in the crème d’amande — not in the center but closer to an edge, or your knife will keep running into it when you divide the galette. And if it is an elongated shape, make sure to orient it straight toward the center of the galette, again, to minimize the possibility of you hitting it with your knife (as you see in the picture below, mine was not, and sure enough, I cut right into the top of the little tower). Press it down gently to bury it.

Stuffing

Transfer the second round of dough precisely on top of the first, smooth it out gently over the crème d’amande to remove any air pocket, and press it down all around the sides to seal.

Closed
4. Score the galette.

Using the back of the tip of your knife (i.e. the dull side), draw a decorative pattern on top of the galette: a diamond-shaped grid, optionally with double or triple lines, a flower pattern… see examples here, here, or here.
I chose to make a sun pattern as demonstrated in this video: you start from the center and draw an arc to reach the edge of the galette in a single, smooth gesture, exercising just enough pressure to score the dough without piercing it. You then turn the galette ever so slightly, draw a similar arc nested in the first one, and repeat until the entire galette is scored.

Scored

Holding your knife upright, blade down, and using the dull side of the blade, push the dough inward where each sun ray ends, to create a festooned pattern.

Chiquetée

Brush the top of the galette lightly with the eggwash: again, make sure it doesn’t drip over the edges, or the eggwash will seal the layers of the puff pastry in this spot and it won’t develop as well. Let it rest a minute then brush it lightly again with the eggwash. (As you can see on the picture below, my eggwash pooled a bit around the bulge of the crème d’amande, which resulted in a darker coloring around the sides; I didn’t mind, but I’ll be more careful next time.)
Using the tip of your knife, pierce 5 holes in the top dough — one in the center, and four around the sides, piercing through the pattern you’ve drawn — to ensure an even rise.

Eggwash

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or a tart pan with a removable bottom, and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Alternatively, you can place the galette in the freezer at this point, on the baking sheet or pan, and bake it the next day. Although I haven’t tried it, I’m sure you could prepare it up to a week or so in advance: once the galette is thoroughly frozen, transfer it to a tightly sealed bag to avoid freezer burn.)

In pan
5. Bake the galette.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F); if the galette was in the freezer, take it out while the oven preheats. Insert the galette in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes (35 if it was frozen), until puffy and golden brown.
In the final minutes of baking, combine the tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar with a tablespoon very hot water (heated until boiling in the kettle or the microwave). When the galette is done, remove it from the oven, brush it across the top with the syrup, and return it to the oven for a minute; this will give it a shiny finish.
Place on a rack to cool completely (it will settle as it cools) and serve at room temperature. (Some people prefer it slightly warm, so they reheat it slightly in a warm oven before serving.) The traditional pairing is with Champagne or hard cider.
Have one of the guests (usually the youngest) hide under the table if he’s willing, or at least cover his eyes or turn his back to the table. Cut the galette into servings and, for each serving, have the guest decide who should have it. If your guests are unfamiliar with the tradition, make sure you warn everyone that a fève may be hiding in their slice. Whoever finds it is king/queen for the day, receives a paper crown, and gets to pick his/her queen/king (or king/queen for that matter) by giving her/him the second paper crown.

Galette des rois

Notes

  • I provided volume conversions, but for best results I strongly recommend you weigh the ingredients for this recipe.
  • I normally mention that you can also grind your own almonds, but here it is worth seeking out almond meal (you’ll find it at natural food stores and Middle-Eastern markets): it is a lot more finely ground than what you could achieve at home, and this will make the crème d’amande incomparably smooth.
  • Read more about the hazelnut flour I used. Alternatively, you can grind the hazelnuts yourself if you prefer: place 20 grams (3 tablespoons) shelled hazelnuts in a blender with 2 tablespoons of the sugar used in the crème d’amande, and pulse until finely ground.
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http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cakes-tarts/homemade-galette-des-rois-recipe/

Unless otherwise noted, all recipes are copyright Clotilde Dusoulier.

Galette des rois

This post was first published in January 2010 and updated in January 2017.

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crusty baked cauliflower and farro

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I have been thinking about how it might be cool to do a bake pasta dish in which we swap the noodles for farro but leave all the great parts like cheese, so much cheese, chunks of vegetable and, most hopefully, a crunchy lid for years. Years! In that time, I have cooked hundreds of other things, some even not terrible, even, but it took until I handed my husband the latest Ina Garten cookbook and told him to pick out some things we should eat and he pointed to her recipe for crusty shells and cheese that I thought “This!” I last felt this urgently about swapping pasta for a grain when we made this, three and a half years ago.

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Vibrant Vegan Double Broccoli Buddha Bowl

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A Buddha bowl is all sorts of healthful goodness piled in abundance in a single bowl. They tend to be very beautiful, and have an ability to make people more appreciative of a meal than usual. Perhaps it’s because of the care that is often taken in their preparation and presentation? I’m not sure, but there is something about a bowl like this that re-frames the food at hand, and reminds us just how beneficial, miraculous, and powerful each ingredient we use can be.

I’ve highlighted a favorite Buddha Bowl here. It’s strong on a number of points. Green, filing, and fast to pull together, particularly if you have cooked quinoa on hand already. It’s a bowl on green overdrive – doubling up on broccoli by using it in a coconut curry pesto and using the florets on their own as well. You toss it all with a quinoa base, and top with whatever else you have around – avocado, micro greens. The base ingredient list is, literally, seven ingredients long, and there is a lot of room for flexibility – part of the charm of a bowl like this. 🙂

I’m posting a video of the process here, you can see me pull it together, and you can find the recipe down below as well.

You can certainly do a version of this bowl any number of different ways. I can imagine a yellow curry version with cauliflower and brown rice (or millet) in place of the broccoli. Or a non-curried version with a more traditional pesto.

Double Broccoli Buddha Bowl

Enjoy!

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My Paris Wedding

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Buy Clotilde’s latest book, The French Market Cookbook!

All photos by Fabien Courmont.

On December 22, 2016, twenty years to the day after our first date, Maxence and I got married.

It was a small wedding — just our parents, siblings, sons, and closest friends — that we decided on and planned in just two months, because we’re crazy like that.

It was, quite suitably, the most magical, the most romantic day of my life, and I kinda want to do it again this year, and the next, and the next (with the same man, obv.).

One of the benefits of getting married when you’re thirty-seven years old and you’ve been together for twenty, is that you know yourself and the other person very, very well. You can make swift and easy decisions that feel 100% you, and you can flow through the planning in a way that is joyful and exciting and a celebration of your relationship.

In that spirit, I want to share with you some of the choices that added up to create the perfect day for us.

If you don’t give two figs about weddings, I’m not offended in the least; I was firmly in your camp up until three months ago, so click away, my friend, click away.

But for those of you who geek out on this kind of stuff, here goes. (Also, I have put together this mini-guide of 10 Romantic Ideas in Paris that is free to download!)

Bride & groom's hands

I got my dress from My Philosophy, a small ethical fashion boutique in my neighborhood where I’ve bought several (non-wedding) dresses in the past. The designer and co-founder Kroeusna Khaou buys remainder fabric from haute-couture collections, creates her designs, and has them made in a dedicated workshop in Cambodia that employs young women in need, providing them with shelter, training, and respectful working conditions.

In addition to creating this amazingly comfortable dress of chic and simplicity (love at first wear), Kroeusna was also super warm and available, helping me figure out how I could wear my hair, suggesting accessories that would complement the outfit, and getting sweetly and genuinely excited for me.

She’s the one who suggested I wear a pearl pendant, and as luck would have it, my mother had one that my father brought her back from Mallorca in 1964, one month into their relationship. (It was my “something borrowed”.) I also wore my late grandmother’s silver wind-up watch, and her own wedding ring (“Eugène uni à Marcelle 25-2-33”), which I’ve worn every day for the past twelve years or so. (Adding up to a lot of “something old”.)

Ethical wedding dress by My Philosophy

Because it was a winter wedding, I needed to find a coat and a scarf so I wouldn’t end up as The Newlywed with Pneumonia. I tried to borrow one or the other, but it turns out normal people don’t really own white coats or scarves. So I ordered this fake fur jacket that is warm and cosy, with a hood and zipper that give it a modern touch. I found an ivory white scarf at Sac & Sac, an independent boutique on rue des Abbesses where I have bought many a bag and scarf and shoe over the years. (“Something new.”)

I wanted a hair accessory and scoured Le Bon Coin (the most popular site for classifieds in France) for second-hand options. I lucked out on this Cécile Boccara tiara, sold at a steep discount by the loveliest woman, who was also full of happy thoughts and good advice for me.

I got my shoes on Le Bon Coin as well, buying ivory white heels from a woman who had bought different pairs to try on for her own wedding, and had never worn these. The fit was perfect and she happened to live right across from the Mairie where we got married, so that was a fun coincidence.

Bride & groom's wedding shoes

Next to the dress, my bouquet was the most personal, most meaningful choice I made: I asked my friend Apollonia, who runs the Poilâne bakery, if she would make one for me. The concept came to me as a revelation one sleepless night (“I want a bread bouquet !”), and in the morning I wrote to her to ask if it was a crazy, or a crazy good idea.

I gave her carte blanche, and she and Félix, the artist-baker who crafts their wonderful decorated loaves — one of which I received for the birth of each of my sons — got to work. Together they created the most delicate bouquet of bread roses in three colors of dough, with slender leaves and ears of wheat. It was a thing of beauty that stole the show, got compliments from everyone, and kept our sons happily occupied during the ceremony. They may or may not have eaten a few of the leaves.

Bridal bouquet made of bread by Poilâne

It’s always a headache to know where to put your phone and lipstick and tissues when you’re wearing a wedding dress (right?). My oldest dearest friend (and witness*) Marie-Laure offered to make a clutch bag for me, which she sewed by hand in a stunning gold-and-blue Japanese fabric. (It was my “something blue.”)

The day before the wedding, I got my nails done with a simple French manicure (FYI, we call it une French manucure here) at a nail bar near me. In early morning on the big day, I headed out to Profession Coiffeur so Michel, the head stylist, could get my hair into a bun, according to the style we had chosen together during a test session the week before.

I did my makeup myself — professionals often overdo it and I want to cry and wipe it all off — but I benefited from the private makeup course that my thoughtful friends booked for me at La Maison du Dr. Hauschka on my (quote unquote) bachelorette day. (Right before we had tea at Amami, saw the laugh-till-you-pee show Les Coquettes, and had dinner at Café Trama. Best. Friends. Ever.)

Wedding dress

During the civil ceremony at the Mairie, we exchanged the wedding rings of hammered red gold that we bought from Paulette à Bicyclette, a Parisian designer of ethical jewelry who works with certified fairmined gold, and got engraved.

You can pick out songs to be played while you sign the register at the Mairie, and we chose this, this, and this. We also realized these three song titles were perfect to name our three tables at the restaurant: Love, Stars, Remember. In three words, all was said! And since I dabble in hand-lettering lately, I made the table and place cards by hand.

Hand-lettered wedding table cards

After the Mairie, Maxence and I walked up the most charming streets of Montmartre toward the magical Hôtel Particulier, where we had booked a room for the night. We had a little time there to rest and recharge before the evening.

Wedding dinner at yam'Tcha

Our wedding cocktail and dinner were held at yam’Tcha, our very most beloved restaurant in Paris, where we’ve celebrated Maxence’s birthday every year since it opened***. Adeline Grattard and her team hosted us like friends (friends that would also be kings), and outdid themselves with a memorable meal that blowed our collective minds.

Wedding dinner at yam'Tcha

I also enlisted Apollonia Poilâne for the wedding favors: instead of the traditional dragées (candied almonds), our guests left with little bags of heart-shaped Punition sablés — a.k.a. the world’s best butter cookies — marked with our initials. They were distributed alongside short mad lib questionnaires I had drawn up in lieu of a guestbook (thank you Pinterest), which were super fun to read at breakfast the next morning.

Personalized Punition cookies

And to document it all, wedding photographer extraordinaire Fabien Courmont, who was such a friendly, kind, fun, and warm presence at our sides, you would have sworn he was one of our friends; apparently he gets that a lot. A perfect fit for us. (And if you want to meet him, he’ll be at the alternative wedding show LOVE/ETC in Paris on February 3 and 4. Tell him I said hi!)

In parting, here are two nuggets of wisdom I received, and would like to pass on:

1- My friend Bérangère recommended that I get absolutely everything sorted and organized in advance, so I’d have nothing to do on the day of, but to enjoy it. It may sound obvious, but I did catch myself many times thinking, “Oh, we can just call the taxi when we’re ready to leave” or “I’ll just pull out the bedsheets for the sitter before we go” or some other tiny thing, and remembered Bérangère and her wise words. So I scheduled the taxi rides in advance, prepared a bundle of sheets and towels for the baby-sitter way ahead, and on and on. My sailing? So. Much. Smoother.

2- A few days before the wedding, I heard the amazing Sarah Von Bargen on the Create Lounge podcast. She mentioned this thing that she does right after a trip or a vacation: she writes down 100 memories from it, big or small, in no particular order. I thought it was a wonderful idea and applied it to our wedding day. I sat down the next night and soon got to eight pages and 137 memories, which I slipped into our envelope of memorabilia. I don’t know when I’ll re-read the pages, but I know they’ll make me smile. And probably cry a little bit. Can’t promise I won’t.

Kids' wedding outfits

* In France, you have to get married at the city hall (à la mairie) of the place where you or your parents reside. In Paris, each arrondissement has its own mairie. Because of the separation of church and state, this civil ceremony must happen before any kind of religious celebration.

** In France, we don’t have maids of honor or best men, we have witnesses (témoins); for the civil ceremony you can have four in total, of any gender. Most often the bride choses two female friends and the groom two male friends, but there’s no obligation either way.

*** Except the year it was closed when it moved location, but still we picked up baos from the boutique.

Bride & groom in Montmartre

Note: None of these links are sponsored in any way, but the bouquet was a wedding gift from Apollonia.

PS: Don’t forget to grab your FREE mini-guide of 10 Romantic Ideas in Paris!

The post My Paris Wedding appeared first on Chocolate & Zucchini.

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A Glow-promoting, Luminizing Breakfast Beauty Bowl

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One of the very best ways to work toward beautiful, luminous, glowing skin is through eating well and mindful hydration. Your skin is often a direct reflection of the internal eco-system of your body, and, being nice to your inside is one of the best ways to positively impact your outside. It’s the foundation you need to support good skin, bright eyes, strong hair, thick eyelashes, healthy nails, and on and on. Eating a seasonal, plant-centric, whole foods diet is a great place to start, but I thought I’d take today to highlight a few skin-friendly superstars in this Luminizing Breakfast Beauty Bowl – they’re extra beneficial and skin-supportive, and quite easy to work into your day to day.

The base of this beauty bowl is a simple mixed berry smoothie boosted with some chia. The berries are compact, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory powerhouses, rich in cleansing fiber and collagen-boosting Vitamin C. I use mixed berries (blackberry, blueberry, strawberry) for a bit of diversity (and because they’re quite easy to come by in most freezer sections) but if you really want to step up your Vitamin C game, you might trade in acai for the berries now and then. Switch it up – diversity in your is also important.

Luminizing Breakfast Beauty Bowl

Use whatever plain, unsweetened, yogurt you prefer – coconut yogurt, Greek yogurt, nut milk yogurt, or sheep or goat milk yogurt – the probiotics here are a big help in balancing out your inner digestion and overall internal ecosystem. Use whatever yogurt works for you. Chia helps with tissue repair and skin regeneration. That’s the foundation here.

Beyond that, you can boost your beauty bowl with as few or many other ingredients as you have on hand. Pick at least a handful. Here (pictured) you see digestion-friendly pineapple wedges, pomegranate seeds (thought to help reduce UV photo damage), Vitamin C-rich citrus (blood oranges and mandarin segments), a sprinkling of nuts and granola, some crushed dehydrated raspberries, and a sprinkling of bee pollen.

Luminizing Breakfast Beauty Bowl

Luminizing Breakfast Beauty Bowl

I love serving this sort of thing as a DIY breakfast option. You can make a big batch of smoothie (pourable straight from the pitcher), and then offer up a “buffet” of toppings. Everyone can customize their own bowl to their liking ;)!

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chocolate dutch baby

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If I had a superpower, it would be rationalizing. Did you find a pair of boots that you love but they’re wildly expensive? Text me and I will tell you about the only time in my life I have splurged on boots and how lovely they are. Were you having a nostalgic conversation with a friend about boxed macaroni and cheese and now you’re craving it? I say you’re basically obligated to reunite with it once in a while as an adult for, like, reassessment. But that’s my base level of rationalizing; what I did last weekend was Olympic.

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