30-Minute Spinach and Chicken Coconut Curry

This post is sponsored by Revol, a French manufacturer of top-quality ceramic cookware. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Chocolate & Zucchini.

It’s Confession Tuesday and I have one to make: I don’t really like spinach.

On my early twenties’ quest to rediscover and fall in love with the vegetables I’d grown up not liking (I’m looking at you, Brussels sprouts!) spinach was a total fail.

I blame years and years of school cafeterias and well-meaning summer camp counselors. Unless the spinach is of pristine freshness and cooked with fairy dust in really inspired ways, the metallic aftertaste makes me shudder and push my plate away.

So I hardly ever buy spinach at all. But on a recent trip to the Perche, when we got to the organic produce stall where we buy a week’s worth of marvels (and then some) the minute we arrive at the greenmarket, we saw he had gorgeous spinach that was selling out fast. Maxence was tempted, I relented, and we snatched up an armful.

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French Crêpes

February 2 is La Chandeleur (Candlemas), a holiday that welcomes the first signs of spring. In France, it is traditionally celebrated by making crêpes, with a variety of superstitious little tricks to bring happiness and prosperity upon your household.

One of those tricks involves holding a coin in your left hand while you flip the crêpe pan with your right hand: if all goes smoothly and you haven’t dropped the crêpe or the coin or killed anyone, chances are you’re lying. But if you’re not, that is a very good omen. Another one is to throw the first crêpe of the batch (which is always a dud anyway) on top of a high cupboard, and leave it there for the rest of the year. Well, do you want good luck or no?

If you’re experiencing sudden pangs of anguish because you missed La Chandeleur, fret not: Mardi-Gras is coming soon (refer to this page to know this year’s date), and the French like their crêpes so much that they eat them to celebrate Mardi-Gras, too!

Mini Cookbook of French Tarts

The recipe I use for crêpes was handed down to me by Maxence’s mother a few years ago. We had our own little crêpe party with our neighbors on Saturday night (the perfect equidistance from La Chandeleur and Mardi-Gras entirely fortuitous) and enthusiastically tested a variety of toppings — from nutella to crème de marron to maple syrup to lemon juice — only to conclude, as we unfailingly do, that beurre-sucre (salted butter and sugar) is really your best bet.

(Check my recipe for Savory Buckwheat Crêpes, , or galettes de sarrasin.)

Crêpe batter

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Red Lentil Curry with Cauliflower and Coconut Chips

Red Lentil Curry with Cauliflower and Coconut Chips

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

I am dedicating this particular post to the beautiful souls who follow me on Instagram, several of whom clamored for this recipe when I shared a casual shot of it in my Instagram story a few weeks ago.

“What is it?” they asked collectively. “It looks really good! Where’s the recipe?”

In truth, it is a recipe so simple, and one I make so often and with such ease, that I hadn’t thought to share it until then.

And I am glad indeed for the nudge, because it is the kind of dish that I would happily eat, in one variation or another, every day of the week, every week of my life. I can only assume, if it is true for me, that it will be true for some of you.

So there you have it: my recipe for red lentil curry (or dhal) with roasted cauliflower and crunchy coconut chips.

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French Holiday Recipes

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

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 be tucked into bed early or allowed to collapse on some couch, but the party is not about them. (Sorry kids.)

Some people go out to dinner on New Year’s Eve, but I don’t know who they are and I wouldn’t want to go with them. In my circle, we are more likely to have a special dinner at someone’s house, and possibly go out later, or just push the furniture and party at home*.

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French Christmas Cookies (Sablés)

Biscuits de Noël

Laurence is one of my best and oldest friends. I met her when I was fourteen, on our first day of high school, and soon we were inseparable, so alike in so many ways that people sometimes mistook us for sisters.

I loved going to her house after school. For one thing, there was a television there, which wasn’t the case at my parents’, so there was always the electrifying prospect of maybe catching one of those shows everyone else was watching at the time.

But aside from that, the house felt like a big happy place: Laurence had two (actual) sisters, and her mother, Christine, took care of small children at home, so there were a lot of comings and goings, conversations, people at the door, and girls shouting things down the stairwell.

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