Chocolate & Zucchini
Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen
by Clotilde Dusoulier
Clotilde Dusoulier, like many of us, has a little angel sitting on one shoulder and a diminutive demon on the other. Zucchini is the angel, coaxing her toward all that is healthy and natural, while chocolate is the demon, luring her toward all things sweet and indulgent. Unlike most of us, however, Dusoulier’s shoulder companions are doing battle in the culinary territory of Paris, where the 27-year-old lives in Montmartre, amid greenmarkets and abundant chocolatiers. In this setting, the two sides of her do more collaboration than combat, and the results are delicious. Since 2003, Dusoulier has been penning her award-winning and appropriately named blog “Chocolate & Zucchini.” The namesake cookbook, her first, extends her web efforts with the same passion, creativity and curiosity—not to mention artful photography and charming voice—she exhibits online. Light, modern French cuisine is her terrain, and the book showcases recipes popular on her blog as well as new additions.
Dusoulier divides the book into three sections based on her own eating adventures: Simplicité (Simplicity) offers easy day-to-day recipes, Invitation (Entertaining) covers dinner parties large and small, and Gourmandise (Sweet Things) presents ample desserts. Though she tackles several hearty meat dishes, such as beef bourguignon and fragrant lamb and prune meatballs, and light seafood creations, such as strawberry avocado ceviche and chilled baby spinach and shrimp soup, she relies most heavily on vegetarian ingredients including seasonal fruits, vegetables, artisanal cheeses and nuts. Standouts include everyday dishes like mushroom and cantal cheese tartine or fava bean and mint frittata. For a party, choices like eggplant caviar; walnut, pear and Roquefort madeleines; or zucchini crumble with figs and mozzarella prove fresh and appealing. Dusoulier truly delivers on her teasing title: recipes for cacao and zucchini pasta, as well as a moist chocolate zucchini cake, solidify the luscious union of these emblematic ingredients.
Reviewed by Rachel Levin
(Updated: 11/06/08 SB)