Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen

Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen

4.5 7
by Clotilde Dusoulier
     
 

Clotilde Dusoulier is a twenty-seven-year-old Parisian who adores sharing her love of all things food-related—recipes, inspirations, restaurant experiences, and above all the pleasure of cooking with the fresh ingredients found in her local Montmartre shops. But her infatuation with food was born not in her mother’s Parisian kitchen, but in San

Overview

Clotilde Dusoulier is a twenty-seven-year-old Parisian who adores sharing her love of all things food-related—recipes, inspirations, restaurant experiences, and above all the pleasure of cooking with the fresh ingredients found in her local Montmartre shops. But her infatuation with food was born not in her mother’s Parisian kitchen, but in San Francisco, where she moved after college and discovered a new world of tastes. When she returned to her beloved France, her culinary exploits inspired her popular and critically acclaimed blog, ChocolateandZucchini.com.

In her first book, Dusoulier provides a glimpse into the life of a young Parisian as she savors all that the city has to offer and shares her cooking philosophy in the form of more than 75 recipes that call for healthy ingredients (such as zucchini) and more indulgent tastes (such as chocolate). The Los Angeles Times calls her recipes "simple, charming, and fun."

Appetizers such as Cumin Cheese Puffs, sandwiches and tarts like Tomato Tatin, soups like Chestnut and Mushroom, main dishes including Mustard Chicken Stew, and desserts like Chocolate and Caramel Tart can all be found alongside menus for entertaining, as well as tips for throwing cocktail or dinner parties with French flair. Chocolate & Zucchini is the book for anyone who has journeyed to Paris and can still recall the delicious flavors and aromas—or for those of us who only dream about them.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Clotilde Dusoulier, a young French woman who discovered her love for food in the United States, shares with readers her lighthearted, enthusiastic, and thoroughly modern approach to a very personal culinary passion.”
—Susan Herrmann Loomis, author of On Rue Tatin and The French Farmhouse Cookbook

"This collection of remarkably accomplished recipes, from market-fresh salads to indulgent desserts, includes a soupçon of tasty tales and tips from Clotilde’s Parisian kitchen, and is sure to inspire readers and cooks no matter where they live."
—David Lebovitz, author of The Perfect Scoop and Room For Dessert

"Is there any food lover who doesn't dream about living, cooking, and eating in Paris? This charming homage to French home cooking feeds that fantasy with a feast."
—Melissa Clark

“Clotilde Dusoulier’s comfortable, homey food has just the right amount of authentic French flair, and her stories of life in Paris speak to food’s universal ability to bring people together and make them happy. Of course, being transported to Paris never hurts either.”
—Dave Lieberman

Clotilde Desoulier's first cookbook is imbued with a lively eclecticism that fans of her food blog (chocolateandzucchini.com) will immediately recognize. Like her astonishing title, Dusoulier's concoctions evidence both an artful Parisian attentiveness to ingredients and an American love of innovative simplicity. Chocolate & Zucchini is divided into sections on informal meals, dinner party specialties, and sweets. This paperback original features more than 75 recipes, plus Dusoulier's engaging commentary and digressions.
Publishers Weekly
Readers of Dusoulier's ebullient food blog, chocolateandzucchini.com, won't be disappointed by this wonderful melange of new creations and old favorites. Dusoulier's charm lies in her culinary curiosity and enthusiasm, and she deftly conveys both through 75-plus recipes and narrative commentary. The 27-year-old Parisian arranges her book into three sections. The first, Simplicite (Simplicity), includes salads, sandwiches, savory tarts, soups and eggs. Part two is Invitation (Entertaining) and features recipes for hors d'oeuvres, "impromptu" dinners like Hand-Cut Steak Tartare, dinner party fare such as Comte Cheese Souffles, buffet items and sides. The final portion concerns sweets, clearly Dusoulier's favorite. With scintillating recipes for cakes (Apricot and Pistachio Ricotta), tarts (Blueberry Amandine), desserts (Chocolate Hibiscus Creme Brelee) and "sweet bites" (Orange Flower Shuttle Cookies), this section brims with innovation. Overall, newcomers to French cuisine will learn to make some classics, like Pistou Soup and Beef Bourguignon, while those seeking to expand their repertoires will enjoy the author's idiosyncratic creations. Dishes like Broccoli and Apple Quiche (born out of a "greenmarket run one fall morning") and, of course, Chocolate & Zucchini Cake (which may sound "a little odd," but is "surprisingly successful" and features "real teamwork at play") are just some of Dusoulier's delightful and unusual offerings. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Chocolateandzucchini.com is Dusoulier's wildly popular food blog, which she started in 2003 shortly after returning to Paris from two years in San Francisco. Now 27, she lives with her husband in the Montmartre district, and her web site, which grew out of a cooking journal, has become her full-time job. Her first book presents recipes grouped into three categories: "Simplicité," for simple weeknight meals; "Invitation," more ambitious dishes for entertaining; and "Gourmandise," her favorite desserts. (Recipe and chapter titles are given in both French and English here, but her blog has always been written in English.) Dusoulier has a great deal of charm, and her recipes are fresh and appealing. For most collections.


—Judith Sutton

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780767923835
Publisher:
Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony
Publication date:
05/15/2007
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
428,091
Product dimensions:
6.16(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.66(d)

Read an Excerpt

Simplicité
SIMPLICITY

You know how it is. Whenever you’re at a party with people you don’t know, someone is bound to pop the question, “So, what do you do?” I have to say I expand upon the subject with infinitely more animation now that my work matches my inner wants and needs, and when I do, my interlocutor unfailingly turns to Maxence with twinkling eyes to exclaim,“Wow, it must be an endless display of gastronomic prowess at your place!”

Full disclosure: not really. We eat well, that much is true, fresh vegetables from the greenmarket and quality goods from the shops around us, but the day–to–day menus are simple, and on weeknights we rely heavily on what we call picnic dinners: a bit of cheese from the cheese shop, a modest selection from the charcuterie, or leftover bits and pieces from the previous day’s cooking. Add a hunk of bread from the bakery, a green salad or a bowl of soup, and you’ve got yourself a quickly assembled and heartily enjoyed meal.

And on other nights, when inspiration propels me into the kitchen, it’s with an ample measure of improvisation that I cook, rummaging through the contents of the fridge, and putting together dishes that capture the day's mood and weather. This section holds a few favorites for simple meals, around which I’ll weave variations to use what’s on hand.

SALADE DE POULET, PÊCHES & NOISETTES
Chicken Salad with Peaches and Hazelnuts

When I still worked in an office — before I joined the pajama workforce — I often brought my own lunch. It was a habit I had formed when I lived in the States and this was a widespread custom: I would join my coworkers in the bright orange company kitchen, and we would munch on our respective meals over a game of Boggle (I never once won, but it did enrich my English vocabulary with three– and four–letter words).

At my French office it was less common, and most of my colleagues walked to a nearby bistro for the plat du jour. This was quite pleasant and I joined them from time to time to catch up on office gossip, but for reasons of nutrition, cost, and variety, I still enjoyed putting together my little picnic in the morning.

In the summer, I liked to pack colorful salads and escape to the nearby Parc Montsouris at lunchtime. As I entered the park I would pass by a gastronomic restaurant set in a handsome pavilion and pore over the daily menu in lieu of an appetizer. I would walk on to sit by the little lake, where a handful of ducks swam about, in the vague hope that someone might throw stale bits of baguette their way.

A fork in my right hand, a book in the left, and the container of salad propped up against me with my left wrist — a technique that took years to refine — I would dig in happily, comfortable in my delicious solitude. And after a little post–lunch walk I would return to the office, refreshed and sated.

This salad is a staple from those days, and I still prepare it now for quick lunches, simple dinners, or party buffets. It is an excellent use for leftover roasted chicken, which I like to buy at a rotisserie on rue des Abbesses, where the farm-raised chickens are plump and delectable, and where the lady looks strikingly like the famous French actress Marie–Anne Chazel.

• 3 ripe yellow peaches, about 7 ounces each (substitute yellow nectarines)
• 3 tablespoons hazlenut oil (substitute walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil)
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 pound cooked chicken meat cut into strips, from a store-bought rotisserie chicken or a home-roasted chicken, about 3 cups
• 2/3 cup shelled hazlenuts, toasted, husked, and roughly chopped
• 1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves (substitute fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves)
• Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
• 8 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves, about 8 ounces

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 to 8 as a starter

1. Peel the peaches: this is easier if you blanch them first by putting them in a pan of simmering water for a minute. (If you use nectarines, it is unnecessary to peel them.)

2. In a medium salad bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Add the chicken, peaches, hazelnuts, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Add the spinach leaves and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a day; it gets better as it sits. Remove from the fridge half an hour before eating.

NOTE If you prepare the salad in advance, the vinegar will wilt the greens a little. It will still taste good, but may not look as presentable: if you make it ahead for company, add the spinach at the last minute.

VARIATION Use fresh (or dried) apricots and almonds instead of peaches and hazelnuts.

WINE WEIN & SEKTGUT THIELEN MERLEN FETTGARTEN 2003 RIESLING SPATLESE (Germany, Mosel–Saar–Ruwer, white) A light–bodied wine with stone fruit flavors that reinforce the peach in the salad. Excellent balance between sweetness, to complement the slightly bitter nuts, and acidity, to stand up to the balsamic vinegar.

Invitation
ENTERTAINING

While I love eating out with friends, having them at home is something else entirely: the atmosphere is more intimate, you get to choose your own musical ambiance, and you're free to partake in the kind of conversation you wouldn’t dream of letting anyone overhear in a crowded bistro. Of course, that means no eavesdropping for you, either, but you can't win on all counts.

Whether you are inviting friends for a simple apéritif, putting together an impromptu dinner, planning a more elaborate menu, or throwing a party, this section offers tips and recipes to make the occasion stress–free and successful.

GOUGÈRES AU CUMIN
Cumin Cheese Puffs

The classic version calls for cheese as the only flavoring, but I like to use cumin in mine: this complements the fruitiness of the cheese remarkably well and adds a welcome piquancy. Serve with an apértif drink, or use the same batter to make large gougères (about 3 inches in diameter) and serve as a first course, with a salad.

• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1 cup flour, sifted
• 4 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Comté or Gruyère, about 5 ounces (substitute a good Swiss cheese)

Makes about 40 gougères
Chilling time: 30 minutes

1. Measure all the ingredients before you start. Combine the butter, salt, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium–low heat. Remove from heat, add the flour all at once, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon unitl well blended. Return the pan to medium–low heat and keep stirring until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

2. Let cool for 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, stirring well between each addition, until incorporated. (What you have just made is a pâte à choux.) Sprinkle with cumin and pepper and fold in the cheese. The batter will be thick. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a day.

3. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the batter from the fridge, and use two teaspoons to shape small balls of batter (about 1 inch in diameter) that you will plop onto the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each. If you have to work in batches, cover the batter and return it to the fridge.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, until puffy and golden — however much you want to peek inside, do not open the oven door during the first 10 minutes of baking, or the gougères will not rise well. Turn off the oven, open the door just a crack, and leave the gougères in for another 5 minutes. (This helps prevent an abrupt temperature change, which would cause the gougères to deflate and nobody wants that.) Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes and serve warm, or let cool and serve at room temperature.

NOTE You can freeze the gougères for up to a month and reheat them (no thawing necessary) in a 350°F oven for 8 minutes. They won't be as moist as freshly baked ones, but they are very convenient to have on hand for unexpected guests.

VARIATIONS Replace the cumin with caraway seeds, rosemary, or paprika, or omit the spices altogether.

Meet the Author

CLOTILDE DUSOULIER lives in Montmartre. Her award-winning blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, was launched in 2003.

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Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Two of my favourite things in the world are food and books, so Clotilde's delightful combination of recipes and stories to accompany them is my idea of the perfect cookbook. Her photography adds an extra layer of appeal, with fresh, sharp photos of the recipes, and glimpses into 'her' Paris. The photos of produce at market stalls and outdoor shots of Paris will have people wishing they were there. The recipes are well-laid out and well-referenced, methods are easy to follow, variations and substitutions are noted and wine pairing suggestions are also given. I'm sure this is one cookbook what will be used over and over again. There are recipes for all occasions, from quick, simple snacks to sophisticated dinner party dishes, and lots of delicious everyday recipes as well. The essence of Clotilde's recipes is that they are enjoyable to make and to eat, especially when shared with family and friends. The first recipe I'm cooking out of my new favourite cookbook? The Chocolate and Zucchini Cake, of course!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Several months ago I came across the Chocolate and Zucchini blog in my search for something else entirely. I read the first post 'which I forget now'... and fell head over heels! I have tried several of Clotilde's recipes and they are fantastic! I was also excited to learn she would have a book coming out and kept the release date on my calendar. This week I was fortunate enough to pick it up and attend the book signing at The French Library in Boston. The book is amazing. Like she mentioned at her book signing, she goes into much more detail about her food habits and passion, preparing for dinner parties, food shopping, etc. There are 70+ recipes in this book, only five coming from her blog - so as to not disappoint long time fans of the blog. Not only is she an impressive writer and food artist/cook, but she is an excellent photographer. During the book signing, her photos were displayed as a slide show on a large screen. She has taken all the photos in her book and for her blog too! This book is a definite Must-Have!
LauraA More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best-tested cookbooks in my kitchen. The recipes always turn out delicious food that never lasts long. The Gateau de Mamy has become a household staple.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sadly I'm disappointed that I did not get an autographed copy of Chocolate and Zucchini while Clotilde was in New York. When you have a three year old and no babysitter, it is not pleasant for anyone to make that three year old wait in line for anything! My unautographed copy :-( arrived yesterday. I skimmed through it quickly - reading the recipe titles, scanning the beautiful pictures, reading a bit here and there..now it sits on my bedstand - and I've started to read a few pages every night - I will savor the words as I do a Saveur magazine - reading a little every night to enjoy and inspire me. It is like a mini vacation reading this book (the same way I feel about Saveur). The recipes are unique with a few expected recipes here and there but overall it is a beautiful book crammed with exotic recipes, tantalizing descriptions and witty tales. I am going to buy several copies as gifts for my friends and nieces. This book is a must have for any cook, baker, or lover of fine writing.
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