A Day in the Life

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A Day in the Life

I am always curious about other people’s routine, and my favorite section in the French magazine ELLE is the page near the end where a personality shares a typical day in their life. I recently had the opportunity to do just that for an Instagram takeover of One Woman Shop, a community of female solopreneurs, and I thought I would share that little photo essay with you here.

Ready to go behind the scenes and experience a day in the life of a Parisian food writer? Here’s what it looks like.

Breakfast Bowl

Once my two sons (Mika is 1 and Milan is 4) are off to daycare and pre-school respectively, I take a few minutes to straighten out the apartment (I can’t concentrate otherwise), and I sit down to meditate for a little bit using my Muse headband. It is then time for me to make myself breakfast while listening to my favorite podcasts about food, business, life, or parenting.

I go through breakfast phases, but these days I’m all about my paleo granola with some cut-up banana and apple, chia seeds, and coconut milk. This I eat while I read a magazine, or catch up on my email and social media accounts.

What’s your breakfast of choice to give you energy as you kick off your day?

At the coffee shop

Most of the time I work from home, but I also like to mix things up and take my laptop to a nearby coffee shop. I usually achieve laser-sharp focus then, and if I need to hammer something out — say, a freelance assignment for a magazine — the background hum of conversations helps me concentrate.

Is that true for you also? And do you know there’s actually a coffee shop noise simulator you can use if you prefer to stay home?

Lunch bowl

I love lunch dates with friends or professional contacts, but I find it eats up (pun intended) a good portion of my day, so I alternate weeks with dates and weeks without to make sure I preserve vast expanses of time to work, which is my preference.

If it’s a home lunch day, I’ll put together a simple vegan lunch bowl with bits and bobs I have in the fridge: here, it’s roasted broccoli, roasted yellow carrots, massaged purple kale, and half an avocado. Over this I drizzle some sesame oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle some cilantro and vegan parmesan (nutritional yeast + cashews + garlic, blended finely). I am an omnivore, but when I’m on my own I am usually drawn to vegan eats.

What do you typically make for lunch if/when you get to work from home?

Photoshoot setup

When I am developing a recipe, I take advantage of the nice early afternoon light in my living room to style and shoot it. In this picture, I was photographing my sweet potato flatbreads with an “everything” topping — a recipe I l.o.v.e. Attentive observers will notice my eldest son’s play rug on the floor and a tiny corner of his toy garage. Keepin’ it real, here. (To find out more about the photo equipment I use, check my resources page.)

Apple and nut butter

When I’m in the mood for an afternoon snack, I cut up a crisp apple (pictured here is a Reine des reinettes I’d brought back from a vacation in the Perche), add a dollop of almond or peanut butter, and sprinkle with a little salt and freshly grated cinnamon. My treat of choice, refreshing and satisfying! The cinnamon is from Cinnamon Hill and the wooden spreader is from Earlywood Designs.

What’s your favorite healthy snack to have when you need a pick-me-up in the afternoon?

Mastermind group

Second coffee shop stop of the day for a session with my mastermind sisters! A mastermind group is a small group of like-minded professionals who get together on a regular basis to share their successes and struggles, provide accountability, and offer feedback, advice, and resources.

I belong to two such groups — one where we meet over Skype, the other in real life — and it has had an immeasurable impact on my work life. I recommend it to anyone who’ll listen; if you want to know more about the concept and how to get started, read this and this.

Do you belong to a group like this? If not, do you think you would find it helpful?

Pile of books

As part of my work, I receive review copies of food-related books, both in French and in English, which is definitely a perk for me! As I unwind from my day, I take a little time to leaf through a few to see if they would appeal to C&Z readers. If so, I may use a recipe from the book as inspiration for a post, crediting the author’s work, and/or organize a giveaway in partnership with the publisher.

Pictured here are (top to bottom): Paris Cocktails, Le Miso, Venez dîner dans 20 minutes, The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning, Sweeter Off The Vine, Whole Food Energy, Superfoods 24/7, Crumb Cakes, Hungry Healthy Happy, Café, and Ferment Your Vegetables.

And this wraps up the photo essay of my work day!

This is when I get back to my sons, put the finishing touches to dinner, and sit down to eat with the whole family. Then it’s bedtime for the kids, and us-time for the adults. I sometimes work again at that point if I’m working on a particularly pressing or exciting project, but I try to avoid it as healthy sleep is a huge priority for me, and working late gets in the way of that.

I hope you enjoyed this. Feel free to share bits of your routine that may be similar or completely different: like I said, I am very curious about the minutiae of other people’s days!

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Raw Buckwheat Crackers Recipe

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Raw Buckwheat Crackers

With the nicer weather taking us out of the house more — springtime in Paris is no time to stay indoors! — I become a more frequent practitioner of picnic meals.

These are meals for which we just plop a bunch of items on the table for each of us to compose our own plate: imagine crunchy crudité sticks, a simple green salad, buttery avocados, perhaps a jar of chicken rillettes or a can of sardines, some roasted nuts, a quick dip or spread, and any leftover bits and pieces from previous meals.

I love the loose structure, the joy and spontaneity of it, and I never tire of this format.

With this we may have some fresh baguette from the corner bakery, but lately I’ve been making these absolutely irresistible raw buckwheat crackers, leveraging the power of my high-power blender (more on that below!).

The process is very simple: you soak some buckwheat groats and almonds over night, then blitz them in the blender with a few spices. I use cumin and cacao but the formula is very flexible.

You get a fairly smooth paste that you spread on two baking sheets, and dehydrate in the oven or a dehydrator until you get crisp, rough-around-the-edges, high-flavor, raw buckwheat crackers that are up for anything.

I’ve enjoyed them dipped into my simple tahini sauce, to scoop up some hummus, or spread with cashew “cheese”. And when bell peppers come round again I’m sure they’ll be magical with romesco sauce.

Do you need a dehydrator for this recipe? No, I use my oven at a low temperature setting. If you don’t want to wait around for the crackers to dry up, you can also bake them at a higher temp, as noted below the recipe.

Do you need a high-performance blender for this? It’s ideal to get a smooth consistency quickly, but you can also use a regular blender or food processor; depending on the power of your appliance, you may have to pause once or twice through the mixing so it doesn’t overheat.

About my high-speed blender

After years and years (and years) of yearning for a high-performance blender — to make really smooth soups, quick sauces and marinades, nut butters and milks, and of course smoothies — I finally got one earlier this year. Based on my research, I have picked an Optimum blender from Australian brand Froothie as an alternative to the better-known Vitamix or Blendtec. It’s just as high-performing, if not more so; the Optimum is a 2,611-watt blender with 6 stainless steel blades and a single 2-liter (2-quart) jug that works for both dry and liquid ingredients.

I have been super happy with it and have entered into a partnership with the brand, so if you’re interested in buying a Froothie blender for yourself, you can use the promo code CD-Optimum-Blender-20 to get $20 off your purchase of the Optimum 9200A on the US store and it comes on top of the rebate already offered on the site. (It will apply to the Canadian site very soon.) The same code will get you 20€ off the Optimum 9400 or 9200A on the French site, the Belgian site, or the Luxembourg site.

My beloved Froothie blender

Phone

Love this recipe? Share your pics on Instagram or Twitter!

Tag me (@clotildenet) and #cnzrecipes, and I'll repost my favorites!

Raw Buckwheat Crackers Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours

Makes 16 crackers.

Raw Buckwheat Crackers Recipe

Ingredients

  • 140 g (1 cup) uncooked, untoasted buckwheat groats
  • 70 g (1/2 cup) raw almonds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. The night before, put the buckwheat and almonds in a bowl, cover generously with fresh water, and leave to soak on the counter.
  2. The next day, drain and rinse thoroughly.
  3. In a high-power blender, grind the flax seeds until finely ground.
  4. Add the buckwheat and almonds along with the cumin, cacao, sesame, and salt, plus 60 ml (1/4 cup) water.
  5. Process until mostly smooth -- it's fine if some pieces remain visible -- using the tamper tool to push the mixture down, and adding a little more water as needed if the mixture is too thick to process properly.
  6. Line two baking sheet with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  7. Spread half of the mixture on each baking sheet to a thickness of about 2 mm (1/16 inch).
  8. Buckwheat crackers spreading
  9. Insert into the oven and turn the oven on to 60°C (140°F). (See note.)
  10. After 2 hours, score with a knife to mark the shape of rectangular crackers. Return to the oven.
  11. Buckwheat crackers score
  12. After 4 hours, separate the crackers, flip, and return to the oven, switching the baking sheets so the top one is at the bottom and vice versa.
  13. Buckwheat crackers divide
  14. Leave in the oven for another 4 hours, until the crackers are dehydrated and crisp.
  15. (If you are lucky enough to own a dehydrator, it will take 10-12 hours.)
  16. The crackers will keep for about a week in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes

If you prefer to make cooked crackers rather than raw, bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 175°C (350°F), scoring, dividing, flipping, and switching halfway through.

3.1
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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes are copyright Clotilde Dusoulier.

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Best of April

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Happiness is a bunch of tulips

The French have a saying that goes, “En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil,” which means that April is generally too early and too chilly to remove layers of clothing. It has certainly been true this year, though we have had beautifully sunny weather in Paris. I have been to the greenmarket a couple of times with my sons, and we picked out these beautiful, fresh tulips — one of my simplest recipes for happiness.

The sister saying to the above is, “En mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît !” (In May, do as you please) and I intend to do just that.

Good Eats From This Month

Best of April 2016

• The gorgeous weather has made it possible to have a few balcony lunches (bundled up) in the sun. What bliss! Pictured here is the veggie hotbox from Nous. Is it al fresco dining weather yet where you live?

• The famous ramen house Ippudo has recently opened its first French outpost, and their Akamaru special was the best bowl of ramen I’ve had this side of Tokyo. (See highlights from my trip to Japan.)

• They say you should eat the colors of the rainbow and I can’t think of a more delicious way to do so than this toss-it-yourself quinoa salad from vegan haven Le Potager de Charlotte. What’s your favorite way to eat the rainbow?

• How lucky am I that the first Éclair de Génie café has opened right in my neighborhood, on rue Lepic? It offers delicious éclairs galore, of course, but also these irresistibly flaky rolls of brioche feuilletée. Pictured here is the plain version, but they also come in apple, raspberry, or chocolate. Which one would you get first?

Check my map of Paris favorites and follow me on Instagram to see many more food shots throughout the month.

Latest Reads

Minimalist Baker"s Everyday Cooking Plenty More Tasting Rome Hungry Healthy Happy

More reading recommendations »

5 Cool Links

  1. Would you recognize these staple foods if you came across them in their natural habitat? Yeah, me neither.
  2. Ever wondered what French students eat? (Interviews in colloquial French, if you feel like practising!)
  3. If you have trouble drinking as much water as you should, this one’s for you!
  4. I was so very excited to be a guest on the Food Blogger Pro podcast, which I listen to and love. The episode is up now if you want to listen to me discuss my blogging ups and downs, maintaining a bilingual blog, and embracing change.
  5. I walk past the Sacré-Coeur every day and love seeing these old photos of when it was built.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for many more links throughout the month.

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May 2016 Desktop Calendar

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May 2016 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month, 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 May 2016 desktop calendar is a photo of my beloved paleo granola, which I scoop into my bowl every morning using my just-as-beloved granola scoop from my woodworker friend at Earlywood. (If you ask him, he’ll say it’s a coffee scoop, but really, it’s perfect for granola.) What’s your breakfast of choice these days, and does it involve a gorgeous utensil?

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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Luxury Afternoon Tea in Paris + Exclusive Guidebook (A Giveaway)

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Vegan Tea-Time at the Shangri-La

The Shangri-La is a chic hotel in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, a short walk from the Palais de Tokyo and the lovely Président Wilson greenmarket.

For some reason, it’s not the most talked-about of luxury hotels in Paris, yet I’ve been invited a couple of times to eat at their gastronomic restaurant, L’Abeille, and also at their more casual restaurant, La Bauhinia, and I’ve been sincerely impressed with the quality of the cuisine and the outstanding service.

The hotel team is also quite inventive with the events and special offers they create, and they recently issued an exclusive guidebook, highlighting 10 Parisian Walks for you to explore the city’s most charming neighborhoods and discover hidden gems. It’s a slim little book that you can slip right into your pocket as you go on your self-guided tour of Romantic Paris, Historic Paris, Kid-Friendly Paris, and seven more themed itineraries.

Chic Tea and Promenade

This guidebook is normally reserved for customers of the hotel, but! I was so enthusiastic about it I wanted to make it available to you, and asked if we could put together a giveaway. They said yes, and this is how I’m able to offer this generous prize to you.

If you win, you will be invited with the person of your choice to enjoy the Shangri-La’s Vegan Afternoon Tea under the bright glass ceiling of La Bauhinia. You’ll indulge in the amazing pâtisseries and mini-sandwiches created by talented pastry chef Michael Bartocetti, and leave with your very own copy of the Paris Promenade guidebook — in English or in French, as you prefer. (This is a 120€ value.)

Vegan Pastries at the Shangri-La

Vegan Pastries at the Shangri-La

To enter, please fill in the form below before Wednesday, May 4, midnight Paris time. I will draw a name randomly (if you’re curious this is the service I use), and announce the winner here the next day. Please note that you will have a year to benefit from this offer (or have a friend use it on your behalf). Good luck to you!

We got a winner!

The winner of this giveaway is Nancy W. (email: nw******an@gmail.com). Congratulations, Nancy! You should have received an email from me with instructions. Please contact me</b> if you haven’t. And thank you to all the other participants for your enthusiasm!

Vegan Scone at the Shangri-La

Vegan Scone at the Shangri-La

Photo credit: Roméo Balancourt (guidebook photo) and Bernhard Winkelmann (tea time photos).

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