June 2015 Desktop Calendar

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June 2015 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2015, I am offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, with a food-related picture and a calendar of the current month.

The desktop calendar is available in two versions: a US-friendly version that features Sunday as the first day of the week, and a French version (shown above) that complies with international standards, featuring Monday as the first day of the week.

Our calendar for June is a photo of my quick nori rolls with cucumber and avocado, one of my favorite lunchtime treats ever, and so easy to make!

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

Here’s how it works:

1- Click on the following links to get the US version (weeks begin on Sunday) or to get the French version (weeks begin on Monday); each of these links will open a new window (or tab) displaying the wallpaper, in the appropriate format for your screen size.

2- Right-click (or ctrl-click for some Mac users) on the image, and choose the option that says, “Set as Desktop Background”, “Use as Desktop Picture,” or something to that effect (exact wording will depend on the browser you use).

3- If the image does not fit your desktop background neatly, you may have to go to your preference panel (on a Mac: System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop; on Windows: Control Panel > Display > Desktop) and choose “Fit to screen” as the display mode of your background image.

4- Enjoy and see you next month!

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Around the World in 30 Food Expressions

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"Just blueberries", a Norwegian expression illustrated by Melina Josserand.

Whenever I host a giveaway, I strive to craft a question that will encourage creative and thoughtful responses: this is both so you’ll feel engaged in the conversation and, more selfishly, so I get to read through your entries and learn and smile and be inspired.

When my latest book Edible French came out last fall and I gave away copies, you were entered by submitting your favorite food-related expression in any language you liked.

I know you share my love of languages so I wasn’t surprised to see you come through with dozens of curious and delicious expressions. Since then I’ve been meaning to draw a short selection to highlight in a post, and this is it! Many thanks to all who contributed, and feel free to share more in the comments!

Poland: Letting someone in the raspberry bushes (Wpuścić kogoś w maliny) means that you knowingly set someone up for difficulties, getting lost and confused, losing their way, etc.

Korea: Someone is described as chicken skin (느끼해) when they’re super cheesy. The expression refers to super oily and greasy bland foods that make you feel gross.

Poland: Being served duck blood soup (Czarna polewka) means being rejected romantically. Duck blood soup was served by the parents of the young woman to the man whose proposal was being turned down.

Holland: Having an apple to peel with someone (Hij heeft een appeltje met hem te schillen) means having a bone to pick with someone, i.e. bringing a complaint against someone.

Germany: Having raisins in one’s head (Rosinen im Kopf haben) means having big ideas.

Germany: A freshly baked mom (Frisch gebackene mama) is used for a woman who’s just had a baby.

Spain: Being even in the soup (Estar hasta en la sopa) is said of someone who’s overly present, such as a celebrity appearing in every talk show.

Pakistan/India (Punjabi): You are like a blob of soft butter, a bowl of fresh cream and a crystal of sweet sugar (Makkhan de pedeo, malaai de duneo, mishri di dali) is a flirtatious expression for a pretty village belle.

"One day honey, one day onion"

“One day honey, one day onion”

Norway: Just blueberries (Bare blåbær) means something small, simple or not important.

Romania: As important as salt in the food (Esti important ca sarea in bucate).

Greece: In regard to craving, zucchini pie (περι ορεξεως κολοκυθοπιτα) means there is no accounting for taste.

China (Cantonese): A lump of rice refers to someone who’s lazy or inactive, not reacting to any situation. It tends to be used in the context of, “Don’t just sit there like a lump of rice!”

Hebrew and Arabic: One day honey, one day onion (Yom asal, yom basal) is a reminder that life is a succession of happy days and sad days.

Germany: Sugar comes last (Zucker kommt zuletzt) means saving the best for last.

Yiddish: Like chickpeas to the wall (Vi an arbes tsum vant) means that something doesn’t make any sense, or an argument doesn’t hold water.

Argentina: Your half orange (media naranja) is your soul mate.

Russia: You can’t ruin kasha with too much butter means you can’t have too much of a good thing.

Italy: Being like parsley (essere come il prezzemolo) refers to a person or thing that is present everywhere, or a person who constantly interjects him/herself, even when his or her input is not being sought.

India (Hindi): The monkey doesn’t appreciate the taste of ginger (Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad) means that it takes a certain kind of person to appreciate something. It is often said to get back at one’s critics.

New Zealand: Something has sucked the kumara means it is broken or not very good. Kumaras are a type of sweet potato.

Australia: She’ll be apples means everything will be alright.

Spain: It is the parrot’s chocolate (Es el chocolate del loro) means “That’s peanuts” when comparing a small amount of money against a must bigger one in a negotiation.

Canary Islands: When you don’t like something, your plate gets full of it (Cuando no te gusta algo, tu plato se llena de ella) is an illustration of Murphy’s law.

Holland: I can’t make chocolate from that (Daar kan ik geen chocola van maken) is used when something is illogical, or so incoherent, incomprehensible or strange that the information is useless.

"Freshly baked mom", a German  expression illustrated by Melina Josserand.

“Freshly baked mom”, a German expression illustrated by Melina Josserand.

Vietnam: You chop at the cutting board when you can’t hit the fish means misdirecting your anger: you can’t lash out at the person you really want to, so instead you take it out on the person (or thing) that can take your blows.

Italy: Having salami slices over one’s eyes (Aver le fette di salame sugli occhi) means wearing rose-colored glasses.

Ireland: Hunger is the best sauce (Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras) means that being hungry makes everything taste a lot better.

Spain: For a strong hunger, there is no stale bread (A buen hambre, no hay pan duro) means that we’re willing to overlook shortcomings when we’re in real need of something (this seems very similar to the Irish saying just above).

Italy: Either eat this soup or jump out of the window (O ti mangi questa minestra o ti butti dalla finestra) means “Take it or leave it.”

Holland: I cannot say “porridge” anymore (Ik kan geen pap meer zeggen) means you’ve eaten so much you cannot even speak anymore.

For more idiomatic fun, check out my latest book Edible French, this list of 25 Hindi expressions related to food, and these 40 idioms submitted by TED translators.

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Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar Recipe

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Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar

Not long after my second son was born, I received a message from Audrey, a reader I’d been conversing with via emails and comments, who wanted to recommend a recipe drawn from the French blog La Belle au blé dormant*. It was a recipe for dark chocolate bites garnished with squash seeds, sunflower seeds, and caramelized sesame, which both she and the blog’s author Nolwenn had found instrumental in surviving the first few weeks with a newborn.

I read through the recipe and at first the idea of my finding the time and brain bandwidth to make something like this seemed laughable, but it turns out my appetite for chocolate is strong enough to move mountains: I could not get that recipe out of my head, and within a few days I was indeed preparing a modified version for myself — one with just the sesame — accomplishing one small step at a time in between maternal duties.

On one morning, I toasted the sesame seeds. Later, I made the caramel, mixed in the sesame, and broke up that (tasty, tasty) sesame bark into small clusters. The next day, I dug out my digital probe thermometer and tempered the chocolate (yes, tempered the chocolate, that’s how ambitious I was), stirred in the caramelized sesame nuggets, and poured the mixture into a narrow loaf pan.

A couple of hours later, when the dust had settled and the chocolate had set, I unmolded the thick bar, had a taste, and my eyes rolled back into their sockets: this was insanely! good! The smooth bitterness of the dark chocolate** combined with the crunchy, nutty, caramelized sweetness of the sesame clusters made for a sublime combination, and already I knew that chocolate bar would not live to see the end of the week.

I have since made several more batches of that chocolate bliss, and even invested in two silicone molds such as these to make actual bars with breakable squares (the faint swirls in that picture indicate I failed to temper the chocolate properly that day; I’m still not a pro at it, and the baby was crying). Some of these bars went straight into my belly, others were given away as gifts — one of them to a new mother — and I am happy to say they made a gratifying impression on the recipients.

I’ll note that if you don’t have the time or inclination to make the actual bars, you should consider making just the caramelized sesame: it’s extremely easy and a wonderful treat in its own right.

Join the conversation!

Have you ever made your own chocolate bars? What recipe did you use and how did you like the results?

PS: Make this wonderful Cinnamon Granola Chocolate Slab or these easy Ginger and Almond Chocolate Clusters, and make sure you know How To Taste Chocolate!

* Allow me to explain the pun: La Belle au bois dormant (literally, “the beauty sleeping in the woods”) is French for Sleeping Beauty, and the author of this allergy-conscious blog has replaced bois (woods) by blé (wheat).

** I use Valrhona’s Manjari 64% couverture chocolate.

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Makes one 300-gram (2/3-pound) chocolate bar.

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar Recipe

Ingredients

  • 50 grams (1/3 cup) untoasted sesame seeds
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) white sugar (don't use unrefined cane sugar here as it doesn't caramelize well)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) high-quality bittersweet chocolate, preferably couverture chocolate, finely chopped (I use Valrhona's Manjari 64%)

Instructions

  1. Have ready a silicone loaf pan, a regular loaf pan lined neatly with parchment paper, or silicone chocolate bar molds. Have ready a silicone baking mat or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, toast the sesame seeds until nicely golden and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 teaspoons water and place over medium heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve and caramelize without stirring, just a gentle swirling of the pan from time to time, until it takes on an amber shade.
  4. Add in the sesame seeds and salt, stir quickly and thoroughly with a silicone spatula, and pour onto the prepared baking mat, spreading it as best you can.
  5. Allow to cool completely, then crush in a mortar or with a knife to form smallish clusters, like large chocolate chips.
  6. If you choose to temper your chocolate (recommended):
  7. Have ready a large bowl of ice water, and a food thermometer with a probe.
  8. Put the finely chopped chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl and place it over a pan of just-simmering water over low heat.
  9. Melt the chocolate slowly, stirring frequently to ensure even melting, until the chocolate reaches 50-55°C (122-131°F). Don't let it go over 55°C (131°F).
  10. Place the top bowl containing the chocolate over the bowl of ice water and, scraping the bottom of the bowl and stirring continuously, bring the chocolate down to 28-29°C (82-84°F).
  11. Return the bowl of chocolate over the pan of just-simmering water and, still stirring continuously, allow the chocolate to come up to 31-32°C (88-90°F). Don't go over that temperature or you'll have to start the tempering process from the start.
  12. If you prefer not to temper your chocolate:
  13. Melt the chocolate slowly in a double boiler, stirring frequently to ensure even melting, and remove from the heat as soon as it's entirely melted.
  14. To finish:
  15. Add the sesame clusters to the chocolate (tempered or simply melted), stir well, and pour into the prepared pan or old. Level the surface with a spatula, sprinkle with a good pinch more salt, and allow to set at cool room temperature for a few hours. Cut into bars or squares.
  16. Keep at cool room temperature in an airtight container.
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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes are copyright Clotilde Dusoulier.

Caramelized Sesame Chocolate Bar

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