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2018-04-23T21:07:43.167Z
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Buy Clotilde's latest book, The French Market Cookbook!

I have been wanting to share this recipe for ramen-style pork belly with you for, oh, two years and a half, ever since I made it for the first time, using Camille Oger’s excellent directions in her post Easy braised pork and quick rāmen.

Camille Oger is a French food writer and journalist who travels extensively to visit growers and producers and chefs. She has spent a lot of time in Asia, and in Japan in particular. Her blog posts are extraordinarily well researched* and her photos are an armchair traveler’s dream come true.

• Related: Highlights from my trip to Japan.

My personal favorite is probably her post on hoshigaki (dried persimmons) or maybe the one where she spent the day at a bento-ya, a kitchen where they prepare the typical Japanese boxed lunch.

In her post on braised pork, she gives a shortcut recipe for chāshu, the braised pork belly that is typically added in thin slices to a bowl of rāmen, the iconic Japanese noodle soup I love so much.

What I first loved about her recipe is that it is very approachable — a short list of ingredients, a free...

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A little treat for you and me today!

A few months ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the facility where all La Maison du Chocolat treats are manufactured, in Nanterre, just outside of Paris.

I was accompanied by my friend and former assistant Anne Elder, whom you may recognize from the dedication page in Tasting Paris. Using footage from that day, she put together a short video to share some of these delicious scenes with you.

Enjoy!

The post Behind the Scenes at La Maison du Chocolat appeared first on Chocolate & Zucchini.

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Easter is just round the corner and, just like I did last December with my tips on how to host a French holiday meal, I thought you might like me to outline how to host a French Easter meal.

If you celebrate Easter, you are probably already following your own traditions, but just in case you would like to add a French twist to this year’s celebrations, here are my recommendations for a delicious, traditional French Easter meal.

How the French celebrate Easter

Pâques is the oldest and most important Christian holiday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. In France, the date is set following the Gregorian calendar – as opposed to Eastern Churches that rely on the Julian calendar.
 
As is the case for many religious holidays, Easter traditions also have pagan roots. It has long been a celebration of springtime, life’s victory over death and the renewal of nature. Since ancient times, eggs, symbols of a new life, have been central to the rites hailing the new season.

Bells are another strong Easter symbol in France. Since church bells remain silent for several days as a sign of mourning, children were told that they had flown out to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. Bells are said to return in the morning on Easter Sunday, showering gardens...

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So.

March decided to take me and send me flying high, with a national ad campaign featuring my podcast in the metro and on television, and the release of my new cookbook, TASTING PARIS: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local, which has been received so warmly I am filled with gratitude and pride.

And then March decided it would sink me low, and my father died.

If you’ve been following Chocolate & Zucchini for a while, you’ve read about him a little bit over the years, and what a wonderful person and father he was. There is so much of him in me, in my mind, in my work. We were alike in many ways, sharing a love of language and good conversation and chocolate and offbeat humor and The Beatles.

I don’t yet know how to live in the physical absence of him. I don’t know whom I will email now to ask about capitalization and syntax. I don’t know who will go see exhibitions about Goscinny and Gotlib with me and laugh like we did twenty-five years ago. I don’t know who will hug me in that tall, lanky,...

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Today is a big day for me: my new cookbook TASTING PARIS: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local is hitting bookstore shelves everywhere!

TASTING PARIS is a collection of 100 recipes that reflect the most exciting flavors of my beloved city — a mix of bistro classics, home-style favorites, contemporary creations, and foreign influences that infuse the Paris food scene.

The book is illustrated with gorgeous photography by Nicole Franzen. There are Paris scenes that make you want to jump right through to the sunny terrace of a café, and some seriously tempting photos of the recipes, with food styling by Suzanne Lenzer assisted by Andie McMahon.

I think this is my best book yet, and as advance copies have been sent out and I’ve heard back from these early readers, I can see it is striking just the chord I hoped. I could not be more excited, or more grateful.

If you relate to my style of cooking and writing and living here on Chocolate & Zucchini, if you want a book of approachable recipes to...

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

You know how sometimes, in the morning, you feel you should eat something because it would give you energy, but you’re not actually that hungry? Or maybe you need to get out of the house early, and you would rather have something later, when you get into work, but something un-complicated and un-messy?

These are the very situations when you’ll be glad you’ve befriended this tahini and date coconut smoothie.

It is as simple as it sounds, a smoothie made with coconut milk thinned with water (you can also use all coconut water if you like) made creamy with a few tablespoons of tahini (or other nut butter) and lightly sweetened by medjool dates.

The idea for this comes from a reader of Chocolate & Zucchini, who kindly mentioned it as an irresistible use of coconut milk.

It is nutritious and delicious, and entirely made from pantry items — which you may actually have on hand at this very moment, go check, I’ll wait — so you can whip it up in five minutes any day of the week.

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

• We had snow! In Paris! It was so fun!

Sure, the city and transportation system aren’t really equipped to deal with it so it was chaotic on many levels. But Paris is so gorgeous in the snow that it brings Parisians together, all twinkly-eyed and twelve at heart.

If you’re on Instagram, you can check my account to see two pictures of the Sacré-Coeur on two subsequent days (including the sunny one above) and my “Snowy Paris” Story Highlight.

• One of my most uplifting YouTube videos is this one, showing friends skiing down the Sacré-Coeur gardens in 2013. The same team shot a fresh one this year.

• I announced the pre-order bonus for my new cookbook, TASTING PARIS: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local! It’s an audio walking tour in which I take you along my favorite market streets in Montmartre to do some food shopping together. We had a lot of fun recording it, the food vendors played along brilliantly, and it is my pleasure to share with you the unique soundscape of my neighborhood.

To get your pre-order bonus, all you need to do is place your pre-order through the platform of your choice, and then fill out

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Do you have a trip to Paris planned this year?

I know it can feel overwhelming to organize your time in a city like Paris. With so much to experience, how can you possibly choose? How do you make the most of it all?

As a native Parisian, food writer, and passionate explorer of my city, my goal is to equip you with insider tips and recommendations so you know you have your bases covered, and you can feel relaxed, confident, and excited.

It is the spirit in which I’ve created this FREE and FUN email series called 21 Days to Get Excited for Paris.

Sign up for FREE today and for the next 21 days, you will receive a daily email from me in which I’ll share one of my favorite things about my home city — things I don’t want you to miss when you next visit Paris. (FOMO begone!)

And if a trip to the City of Light is not in the cards for you at this time, you won’t feel left out: I am also including recipes and online resources so you can enjoy a taste of Paris, wherever you are in the world.

>>Click here to get started!<<

The post 21 Days to Get Excited for Paris appeared first...

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The story of this mushroom buckwheat soup starts with a dinner date with Maxence.

With two little boys and rich work lives, we make it a point to book baby-sitters on a regular basis, in order to enjoy an evening just for us grownups. Sometimes we go see a movie (a movie! in an actual movie theater! oh, the thrill!), sometimes we catch up with friends (uninterrupted conversations! swearing allowed!), sometimes we go to a party (an actual party! with music! and dancing! this is too much!), but most of the time, we have dinner just the two of us at a restaurant in our neighborhood, which — lucky for us — is rife with wonderful places.

I get ridiculously excited about those evenings. I think it is one of the many convoluted gifts life hands you along with small children: yes, time for yourself becomes pretty scarce. But when it does come, you drink it up and bathe in it and cherish every drop like it’s the very nectar of the Gods.

On that particular night, we decided to go to Le Pigalle. This is a hip little hotel in an area dubbed SoPi (South of...

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

How are things? I hope this fresh new year is smiling its freshest, brightest smile at you already. That’s how I feel myself!

• This month, I went with my father to see the exhibition about René Goscinny at the Jewish Art and History Museum in Paris. His name may not ring a bell, but I’m sure you’re familiar with his work.

He is the co-creator and/or script writer for some of France’s most successful bandes dessinées series (comics), in particular Astérix, Lucky Luke, Iznogoud, and Le Petit Nicolas. The former three played a huge part in my childhood, and it was a treat to see some behind the scenes documents and original strips in the company of my dad, who had filled an entire room of our apartment with bandes dessinées that us kids could read our way through, and did, dozens and dozens of times for some.

• We celebrated the Epiphany with several galettes des rois, which I did not hand-make this year, but rather purchased — one from Utopie downstairs from my friend’s house, and two from Pain Pain around the corner from us. Both are excellent, but I particularly liked Utopie’s, which had coarsely milled...

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

My new cookbook TASTING PARIS: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local will be coming out in North America* on March 20, 2018!

This is the book I’ve long wanted to write to share the many and wonderful flavors of Paris from a local’s perspective. A cliché-free Paris that reflects the way real Parisians eat today.

>> Claim your pre-order bonus here! <<

From simple stews to dreamy pastries, vibrant greens to oozy cheeses, from the classic to the contemporary, the familiar to the exotic — Parisian food is indeed full of wonders.

Tasting Paris features 100 recipes coming to you straight from my very own Parisian kitchen, inspired by the exciting food scene around me, and honoring the many immigrant communities who have made Paris their home.

I received my very first actual copy just a couple of weeks ago, and I am so proud of how it turned out. I’ve been carrying that copy around everywhere, just to hold it and look at it whenever I need to convince myself that yes, it is real, it is happening!

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

Do you want to hear one of the least publicized benefits of working from home? You get sick less often.

Not only can you choose to stay in when it’s cold and drizzly and icky outside (pyjamas optional), but you also spend less time in crowded public transportation, shake fewer hands and kiss fewer cheeks (in French office environments, it is common to kiss your close colleagues hello when you come in in the morning), and touch fewer shared coffee pots and bathroom door handles.

Or at least that has been my experience for the past thirteen winters, ever since I quit my office job and started working for myself.

Except this one winter a few years ago, when my son Milan went to daycare for the first time. There he was naturally in contact with other adorable little people — including twins he’s still friends with five years later — and the bazillion germs and viruses they all brought to share with one another, and took home at night.

It’s all part of the process, and I was copiously warned about it, but we went through a rough patch that first winter, when Milan was sick for the first time of his life, I had the nastiest cold I’d ever, ever had, and neither of us seemed to be...

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

In addition to planning my menus, I have been doing more and more batch cooking these past few months.

The idea of batch cooking is to block out time one day of the week to prep or cook a bunch of ingredients in advance, which you can draw from and combine for low-effort homemade meals the rest of the week.

It is the shortest path to feeling like a kitchen superhero, saving you brain juice and money along the way.

And today, I am offering you the vegetarian batch cooking plan for winter I’ve created and test-driven with great success: 1 1/2 hours of prep work for easy 6 meals on subsequent days.

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

How are things? I hope this fresh new year is smiling its freshest, brightest smile at you already. That’s how I feel myself!

• This month, I went with my father to see the exhibition about René Goscinny at the Jewish Art and History Museum in Paris. His name may not ring a bell, but I’m sure you’re familiar with his work.

He is the co-creator and/or script writer for some of France’s most successful bandes dessinées series (comics), in particular Astérix, Lucky Luke, Iznogoud, and Le Petit Nicolas. The former three played a huge part in my childhood, and it was a treat to see some behind the scenes documents and original strips in the company of my dad, who had filled an entire room of our apartment with bandes dessinées that us kids could read our way through, and did, dozens and dozens of times for some.

• We celebrated the Epiphany with several galettes des rois, which I did not hand-make this year, but rather purchased — one from Utopie downstairs from my friend’s house, and two from Pain Pain around the corner from us. Both are excellent, but I particularly liked Utopie’s, which had coarsely milled...

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

Christmas is just a few days away (not to stress you out or anything) and I was shocked to realize that, in fourteen 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...

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You have no idea how excited I am about this.

What I have for you today is a recipe for Mexican chocolate discs that you can make at home in 15 minutes, wrap up, and give to your friends and family members this holiday season to gain their eternal admiration, love, and gratitude. Not a bad return on your investment, right?

If you’re not familiar with Mexican chocolate discs, let me explain. They are round pucks of coarsely milled chocolate flavored with a little cinnamon, wrapped up in paper, that you buy in stacks.

The official way to use these chocolate discs is to break them up into sections — conveniently marked on top of the discs — and melt them in water for hot chocolate, using a little corn starch for thickening. You can sprinkle a little more ground cinnamon over your cup, and ideally you will serve these steaming cups of champurrado with freshly fried churros, because YOLO.

I’ve never been to Mexico myself, but I have had Mexican clients on my private walking tours (you know I offer walking tours of Paris, yes? get in touch to know more if you’ll be visiting soon!) and...

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This post is made possible by the support of La Maison du Coco. More info below!

My pantry doesn’t feel quite right if I don’t have a stack of coconut milk cans handy. I find a million and one uses for them, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you today.

A cornerstone of Southeast Asian cuisines, coconut milk is the liquid that is pressed from the grated flesh of a fresh, ripe coconut. (It is different from coconut water, which is the clear liquid that’s in the center of young, green coconuts.) And for those of us who don’t live where coconuts grow, coconut milk is mostly available canned.

And once you have a couple of cans stacked up in your kitchen cabinets, what do you do with them? Here are 10 delicious things to do with coconut milk.

The coconut milk I get from La Maison du Coco

The coconut milk I like to buy is from La Maison du Coco, a French company that works with coconut growers in the Philippines to offer certified organic and fair trade coconut milk. I find...

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It’s never too early to fall in love with Paris!

Whether you already have a young Francophile on your hands, or want to stimulate the interest of your child, your nephew, or your friend’s kid in the City of Light, here’s my selection of tasteful and whimsical gifts for all ages.

Gorgeous books, fun toys, colorful stationery, French learning games, cool shirts…

All of them are great opportunities to discuss French culture and history, and they will prompt many questions you’ll love answering about this glittering, inspiring city. You may be so charmed that you’ll decide to order them for yourself, too!

Best Gifts for Paris-Loving Kids

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We’re just a couple of 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...

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How did your November turn out?

Mine has been a little bit of a blur. 2017 has been a year of planting seeds for me, and some of them have sprouted and grown a little sooner and with more vitality than even I anticipated. All of a sudden I have a whole garden of young things to tend to. It’s a good problem to have, certainly, but add to that two small children — including one who’s not sleeping all that well — and you have to manage your mind even more carefully.

I remind myself that overwhelm is not a function of how long one’s to-do list is; overwhelm comes from not knowing what to do first. So I work on keeping that to-do list realistic, yes, but also maintaining clarity on what my priorities are. Does that resonate with you in any way? (If it does, have you already received my 3 Secrets of Productivity?)

Anyway. Amidst said blur, here are the things that brought me delight:

• The Atlas Obscura website, all about the quirkiest and most surprising places on Earth. I recommend their newsletter — I find myself wanting to share just about everything on social media — and you can dive into their newly created food section, Gastro Obscura.

I haven’t seen their book Atlas Obscura...