Chocolate & Zucchini in Healdsburg

May 29, 2007

I indulged in a fun treat last week that I’ve been wanting to share, but what with designing the new skin, I’ve fallen a bit behind.

P5230453Like many of you, I’m a big fan of Clotilde Dusoulier, the young Parisian of Chocolate and Zucchini fame. It’s been so fun watching her step into success over the past few years—from the initial want to be am a food writer declaration to the launch of her debut book—that I had hoped to catch up with her on her book tour. I was scanning her schedule of Bay Area dates when I noticed that she was going to be in Healdsburg—of all places!

So last Wednesday, on a balmy, sunny evening, Christopher and I headed to Bovolo on the Healdsburg Plaza. We started with a plate of John’s CZ-menurenowned Black Pig Salumi on the back patio (Christopher snapped this pic while Clotilde was signing books for me—great gifts! And Clotilde, I didn’t realize you were so tall . . . I was the one in the big sandals ;-)) and then moved inside for the main meal—Warm Bean Salad with Walnut Arugula Pesto, Lamb and Prune Meatballs with Fregola and (of course!) a Zucchini and Chocolate Cake with Yogurt Gelato. All culled (or adapted) from Clotilde’s book. 

When we got home that evening, I couldn’t resist taking a more in-depth look at the C&Z cookbook. What I’ve always loved about Clotilde’s writing, and what comes across loud and clear in the book as well, is her curious, “wow” nature with food—the way she combines what she already knows with what’s-in-front-of-her-right-now and a dab of “what if . . .” thrown in.

I, too, am an experimental cook. I love having my eyes opened to new ingredients—fava beans or sand dabs, say—from a farmer or fishmonger and taking the time to get comfortable with them using the tips and recipes handed across the counter with the bag. But once I have a handle on what an ingredient brings to a dish, I like to let my own experiences and tastes filter their way in. The butternut squash that I first learned to roast with brown butter and sage might end up mashed into a little panfried cake with cumin and cilantro and lentils, for instance. Or tarragon might find its way into fresh whipped cream as a topping for a berry dessert. That’s why I love reading about Clotilde’s own adventures combining tradition and experimentation, putting savory where sweet ought to be and vice versa.

The recipes I’m most looking forward to trying from the book? The Sardine and Tomato Club Sandwich, the Tomato Tarte Tatin (can you tell I just planted my tomatoes and am already dreaming of the harvest?) and, for sure, the Zucchini and Chocolate Cake. But I’m also looking forward to having Clotilde open new doors for me in an attempt to simplify dinner time once Noe arrives. Her Soft Boiled Egg with Artichoke Fingers, for instance, sounds like a delightful way to end a summer’s evening when we’re just too pooped to do do much in the kitchen (especially since our friends are going to have fresh eggs from their new chickens soon!). And Her Two Tomato and Parmesan “Pain Perdu” (French Toast) looks like the perfect dish for when those tomatoes have really kicked in and we’ve got some leftover bread on hand.

So check out the Chocolate & Zucchini Cookbook and let me know what your favorite recipes are!





10 Responses to “Chocolate & Zucchini in Healdsburg”

  1. Mary D Says:

    Lia- thanks for something unique to read and LEARN from, and I will check out the book:) Hope all is well-

  2. Anne-Liesse Says:

    That’s another dinner session I would have loved to share with you ! Lucky Californians… I’m a fan of Clotilde’s as well.

    I haven’t bought her book yet, though – I might wait for the French version with the metric system. Is there any chance you could share the Two Tomato and Parmesan “Pain Perdu” recipe ? I can’t seem to find it on her blog.

    By the way, you look great on the picture – wish I could have zoomed on it to get a better look !

    Love & bisous

  3. lia Says:

    Hi Mary — how great to hear from you! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog, hope you enjoy the book!


  4. lia Says:

    Hi Anne-Liesse! I’ve been wondering where you’ve been . . . I was just about to e-mail to ask if we have a new addition to the family yet ;-).

    Don’t think me overly anal, but I’m not sure yet what ‘the rules’ are on posting other people’s content (if anyone out there knows what they are, please do share). So to get around that, here’s a link to the recipe as it appeared on MSNBC after Clotilde’s appearance :-):

    Gros bisous to you too Anne-Liesse!

  5. lia Says:

    A-ha! I found a recipe quoting guideline from Clotilde’s Chocolate & Zucchini website itself!

    For anyone who’s interested, here’s what she says, and I think it’s a good guideline to live by:

    “Do not post copyrighted recipes on the forums. The list of ingredients and the process of a recipe are not copyrightable, but the author’s way of describing them is. If you want to share a recipe (or your take on it) from a book, a magazine, a newspaper, or a website, do not copy it verbatim: provide a link to the original text, or use your own words to rewrite it. In all cases, please mention the source and give credit where credit is due.”

    So I think I’m safe with the MSNBC link! 😉

  6. Anne-Liesse Says:

    Thanks very much, Lia ! Both for the recipe and the quoting guidelines. I’m looking forward to making that pain perdu… and wish I had my own veggie garden. I also wish I could try your home grown tomatoes… another way of saying – again ! – I wish I could spend a – chatty ! – evening with you.

    I’m still home… with my huge belly. No signs of any action yet !

    I actually baked Clothilde’s chocolate and zucchini cake today… to what felt like an ungrateful bunch, that is, my niece Manon – a 21/2 year old from whom I didn’t expect much gratitude actually… just less messing around maybe ! -, my brother Pierre-Yves & his wife Catherine, and my husband Gilbert. I GUESS they enjoyed the cake – second helpings are a sign, right ? – but I didn’t hear many thank-yous. I guess I’m getting a little weary and touchy from all the contractions – not “real” ones, though – and various pains… but, in any case, I’m NOT baking next Sunday, whether because I’ll be in the hospital or because I’ll be resting. I want someone to bake for me…

    About the cake… it was really enjoyable ! The recipe you can find on the C&Z blog itself. I didn’t have enough plain chocolate chips so I ended up adding a mix of chocolate and coconut powder – it turned out nicely. I’m happy – despite the ungrateful bunch 😉 – I made a Midwestern recipe as it seems like a nice tribute to my Kansas University years – Lia, do you remember you’re partly responsible for me choosing to go to college in the Midwest ?…… Also, I’m both a chocolate and zucchini fan – the products – and am happy to know they’re so harmoniously mixed. You ought to try it ! I’m now going to write to Clothilde to thank her. So long !

  7. lia Says:

    Isn’t that chocolate & zucchini cake scrumptious? I can’t believe you cooked anything for a crowd and 9 months pregnant! They should be signing your praises, my dear!

    The cake reminds me a bit of the “zucchini bread” my mom used to make back in the midwest 😉 (we used to have a huge garden when I was a kid and were always overrun with zucchini by the end of the year). She uses peanut butter, so it has a moist, richness to it. This recipe from Clotilde made me think about revisiting my mom’s recipe in cake format. I’ll have to noodle that . . .

    You take care of yourself and we’ll look forward to hearing wonderful news from you soon!

  8. Judy Says:

    Lia, I’m a bit late finding this post, I hadn’t realised you met Clotilde! Lucky you, I’m still trying to persuade her to do a book tour of Australia.

    Isn’t is a wonderful cookbook, I’m enjoying it very much and have loved everything I’ve cooked out of it so far.

    Keep on enjoying that magnificent baby of yours – she’s a dear little treasure.

    Best wishes to you all from Adelaide (there are some very good wine regions near here!)

  9. lia Says:

    Glad you’re enjoying that cookbook Judy . . . now that the weather’s turned super warm–and now that we’re having later dinners once Noe’s down–I’m especially enamored with the super simple dinners she explores. It’s good to have your voice on here from Adelaide! 🙂

  10. polla Says:

    It’s an amazing paragraph for all the internet people; they will get advantage from it I am sure.

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