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Chocolate & Zucchini

January 21, 2014

The One-Egg Omelet

 

One-Egg Omelet

My favorite kind of cookbook is the kind that provides you with exciting little jolts of "Why didn't I think of this sooner?" As long as a book generates at least one of those light bulb moments, however tiny, I consider my money well spent.

The one-egg omelet I want to tell you about today is one such brilliant idea, coming from Nikky Duffy's River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook, a book I really really like.

Geared toward parents of a young child -- you'd gathered that much, I'm sure -- it begins with a thorough section on how to feed one, which happens to be in line with my own views on this thorny topic*. But the bulk of the book is devoted to recipes designed so you can cook the same thing for the children and the grown-ups in your household, explaining how to adapt the dish to the former and the latter so everyone's happy.

The River Cafe Baby and Toddler Cookbook
Photography by Georgia Glynn Smith.

It is full of simple, nutritious, yet tempting dishes -- courgette polpette, pork and apple hash, spinach and onion puff tart -- organized by season, but the one I've soonest adopted is a year-round basic she calls the Mini Omelette, which is simply an egg, beaten and cooked undisturbed in a skillet, with or without a touch of cheese and herbs.

This results in a thin little egg crêpe, golden-brown and pliable, that you can use in all manner of ways:

- Cut into strips, or rolled up and sliced, to give to a young child,

- Coated with the spread of your choice (say, beet hummus or peacamole or muhammara), rolled up, and eaten as a lovely snack, or sliced and served as a pretty apéritif nibble, or added to top a green salad,

- Garnished with the ingredients of your choice (especially a crunchy salad such as the Ginger and Dill Cabbage Slaw or the Grated Carrot Salad with Avocado) and use like a tortilla, folded up like a taco,

- Cut into half-moons, to be stuffed and rolled and wolfed down like a temaki.

All of these are very transportable ideas, and since the one-egg omelet can be eaten hot or cold with equal delight, it is your lunch box's new best friend.

I will note that I don't use a nonstick skillet for this; in fact, I no longer own a nonstick skillet. What I use for eggs nowadays is this very sturdy, nicely hefty, French-made iron skillet from De Buyer that I bought last year, and is more nonstick the more I use it.

Join the conversation! What other uses would you dream up for this one-egg omelette? And what's the latest light bulb moment you got from a cookbook?

One-Egg Omelet

* If you want to get a better idea whether this book is for you, you can read this Q&A with the author.

"The One-Egg Omelet" continues »

 

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Cooking/baking time: 3 min

January 14, 2014

Where To Get Your Knives Sharpened in Paris

 

Coutellerie Courty

A few months ago I read an interview with Yves Charles, owner of Perceval knives, whose handsome 9.47 I have often coveted while dining out at some of the nicer Parisian tables.

In the interview he talked about knife sharpening, and how important it is to have a real pro do it, lest your blades be shot in the process. I could only agree, having had limited success with the different sharpening tools I tried over the years.

I got the same message at the knife store I visited in California last fall: if you take good care of your knives, wash them by hand and put them away mindfully -- slipped in a knife block, stashed in the box they came in, or sheathed in a blade guard if you need to put them in a drawer -- you can keep a sharp edge on them for months and months, and bring them in for sharpening once a year. It isn't very costly, and heightens the longevity of your knives.

The truth is, I had been wanting to get mine professionally sharpened for a while, but I wasn't sure where to go. So when I read Yves Charles saying, "In Paris, there are no more than three good places to get your knives sharpened," I had to find out what they were.

"Where To Get Your Knives Sharpened in Paris" continues »

 

January 7, 2014

Best of 2013

 

In De Wulf Granola
Morning granola at In De Wulf.

I will remember 2013 as the year Chocolate & Zucchini celebrated its 10th anniversary, and as the year The French Market Cookbook was published (and so generously well received).

It is also the year I worked on a whole new version of the site -- I cannot wait to unveil it! -- and on a brand new book project, which I will tell you more about very soon (hint hint).

In 2013 I also got to visit not one, but two of my bestest and favoritest vacation destinations, Corsica and San Francisco, and this has felt like winning the lottery, twice.

But beyond these biggies, here are more of the everyday joys that have lit up my year:

Favorite new places to eat in Paris: Bones and Mary Celeste.

Favorite new utensils: my Earlywood spatulas, scrapers, and spreaders, my fabulous new chef's knife, and my cinnamon grater.

Favorite new chocolates: bean-to-bar unconched chocolate by Nicolas Berger for Alain Ducasse, and Marou's organic chocolate from Vietnam, especially the 70% from the Mekong delta.

Best breakfast: The entirely homemade breakfast served at In De Wulf the morning after (see picture above).

"Best of 2013" continues »

 

January 1, 2014

January 2014 Desktop Calendar

 

January 2014 Desktop Calendar

By popular demand, the C&Z desktop calendars are back! At the beginning of every month in 2014, I will be offering you 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 January is a picture of the fabulous sticky buns that are sold at Frenchie To Go, Grégory Marchand's deluxe sandwich place on rue du Nil.

The pastry chef there is my talented friend Camille Malmquist, who says, "I developed the recipe when I was asked to create a cinnamon roll for the breakfast menu. I've always loved the over-the-top-ness of taking a cinnamon roll and baking it, tatin-style, in caramel and toasted nuts. Fortunately, the chef agreed with me, and now they're one of our more popular pastries, even making it to the big leagues -- they've been on the dessert menu at Frenchie for the last couple of weeks!"

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

"January 2014 Desktop Calendar" continues »

 

December 31, 2013

December Favorites

 

Seaweed @ El Bulli
"The Sea", the discovery trail of seaweed I ate at El Bulli.

A few of my favorite finds and reads for December:

~ What has Ferran Adrià been up to lately?

~ The power of cookbook writing.

~ How to have a beach body.

~ The Parisianer project.

~ The New York Times' 100 notable books for 2013.

~ How to make chocolate-covered almonds (I recommend this alternate method for easy candying).

~ And a bunch of cookbook round-ups for 2013 that have done me the honor of including The French Market Cookbook: Love and Lemons' Favorite cookbooks, by region, Eat Chic Chicago's Best Healthy Cookbooks for 2013, Simply Recipes' 2013 Recommended Books List, Red Online's Best Cookbooks of 2013, Yoga Journal's 10 Best Cookbooks of 2013 and The Corner Kitchen's Gift guide for cookbook lovers.

 

December 23, 2013

Chipotle Cumin Roasted Almonds

 

Chipotle Cumin Roasted Almonds

I am ordinarily immune to the pre-holiday rush everyone talks about. I am not in charge of cooking an elaborate Christmas meal (I contribute but don't host), I don't attend a trillion holiday functions, and we don't go crazy with the presents in my family, so the lead-up to the holidays isn't significantly busier than other times of the year.

For some reason though, the end of this year has felt particularly intense. Not with holiday-related stuff, but with various work projects I was striving to complete before taking a little time off to cuddle up at the foot of the Christmas tree and sip hot cocoa while humming Petit Papa Noël (you're welcome).

Of course, when you're a freelancer, having a lot of work is something to rejoice -- not complain -- about, but what it means is that I have had zero time to get my act together and prepare edible gifts as I aspire to.

Fortunately I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and just a couple of days ago I decided I was going to be giving little bags of the chipotle cumin roasted almonds I've been making for myself (and love love loving) lately.

They are a great example of something simple and easy that is still absolutely lovely to receive: few people actually take the time to make their own spiced and roasted nuts, yet they are so much tastier homemade than store-bought. They disappear in an instant when you offer them with a pre-dinner cocktail, and I also love to nibble on them in the afternoon, or chop them coarsely and add them to my lunch salads.

So if you're sitting here wondering whether there's still time to whip something up before the gift-giving commences, chances are there is: all you need is a handful of pantry ingredients and half an hour.

And if you want more edible gift ideas, here is a selection from the Chocolate & Zucchini archives:

Food Gift Ideas

- A pretty jar of Easy Candied Nuts, which you can then coat with chocolate as per this recipe,
- A batch of Christmas Sablés using your favorite cookie cutters,
- A nice bag of Homemade Granola or Savory Granola,
- A jar of Lightly Salted Crunchy Almond Butter.

Food Gift Ideas

- A batch of Almond and Orange Blossom Croquants,
- A box of Ginger and Almond Chocolate Clusters,
- Some Spiced Chocolate Peanut Butter using your very own mix of spices,
- The ever-delicious Yves Camdeborde's Sablés (these are what I made and gave away last year).

Join the conversation!

Have your pre-holiday weeks been crazy or cozy? And are you on top of your game with edible presents this year? What's your favorite last-minute food gift to make?

Happy Holidays!

"Chipotle Cumin Roasted Almonds" continues »

 

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Cooking/baking time: 20 min