Posted on January 13, 2019
If you are a chocolate lover and/or if you have lived or been to Europe, chances are you have tried Nutella® before and you are probably totally addicted to it. Now if you are like me and you grew up in France, where eating Nutella® for breakfast or a snack is a national sport, chances are you still have to have your Nutella® fix once in a while, but are not so keen on some of the ingredients that are present in its recipe (palm oil, soy lecithin…). Don’t take me wrong, the recipe used to be worse (hydrogenated palm oil was listed for a while) but the brand has worked on improving its formula, and even though it still contains some saturated fat and sugar, the delicious spread also supplies a good amount of key vitamins and minerals. I just don’t like the fact that it is using palm oil, which the production has an extremely harmful impact on the planet. It contributes to deforestation of the rainforest, therefore a loss of animal habitat for endangered species. In the past 16 years, the quest for palm oil has led to the death of an estimated 100,000 orangutans… Other animals, such as rhinos and elephants are also supposed to be at risk. As a concerned world citizen and animal and planet lover, my conscience just doesn’t allow me to buy products that use palm oil (or other non-sustainable products). Nutella® is one of them, I have decided to make my own by coming up with a recipe that would not use the controversial oil, and use less sugar by the same token.
The chocolate spread recipe below only uses 4 ingredients and does not use any added sugar. It is extremely simple and quick to make, nutritious, and does not contain any yucky ingredients. It will, for sure, satisfy your craving for the delicious spread.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC)
Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool off. Once the hazelnuts are safe to the touch, place in a kitchen towel and roll the hazelnuts with your hands to remove as much skin as you can (if the hazelnuts are already skinless, skip this step). Don’t sweat it if you can’t remove some of the skin, it will be fine anyway.
Add the skinned hazelnut to a high-speed blender or food processor, and blend on low until a hazelnut butter is formed. It should take about 10 minutes depending on your blender.
Heat the chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave, making sure it does not burn.
Add the vanilla and the oil and blend again to mix all the ingredients. Add the chocolate little by little until it is well blended in the hazelnut butter. If you decide to sweeten your hazelnut spread, add the maple syrup or sweetener now and blend again.
Et voila! Your feel-good chocolate hazelnut spread is ready for consumption! Transfer to a glass jar or a covered bowl and keep for 2-3 weeks (do not put in the fridge or it will harden and lose some of its flavors…)
This chocolate-hazelnut spread will be amazing on a freshly baked baguette (see my amazingly easy recipe here), pancakes, crêpes, waffles, any kind of toasted bread, cut up banana, apples, honey wheat pretzel sticks, and/or just out of the jar with a tablespoon… Yep!
Posted on December 4, 2018
Posted on November 6, 2018
I am not kidding here… This is the most surprisingly easy recipe for French baguette that I have ever tried in my entire life! Now you might say that “easy” doesn’t mean “good” or “authentic” at all, but… it has been tested by the French Connection (including myself as well as the fam) here in San Diego and it was unanimously approved! Now the beauty of this super simple recipe is that there is no kneading or poolish involved! You can basically get the dough ready in the evening (in about 10 minutes), let it rise overnight and cook your bread in the morning for a delicious and typical French breakfast.
In a mixing bowl, mix the yeast with a little bit of the lukewarm water to dilute it and then add the rest of the water
Add the flour and the salt and mix roughly with a wooden spoon (yep you read that right)
Cover the bowl with a cotton fabric towel and leave for about 1 hour and 1/2 until the dough has doubled in volume
Preheat the oven to 465°F (240°C) and fill the drip pan with water (the moisture released will help the crust be more crunchy during the baking process)
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured baking sheet or stone (you can line it with parchment paper), or directly into The dough will be very sticky but it is totally ok and normal. Stretch it in one long baguette, or you can separate in two or more pieces to make more baguettes (smaller ones though). Don’t work the dough too much so it doesn’t go down.
Make beveled cuts on top of each baguette with scissors or a blade (2 or 3 cuts per baguette loaf)
Place the baguettes in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes (each oven is different so cooking time may vary)
Take the baguettes out of the oven and let cool on a rack and wait about 30 minutes before cutting.
Store in a cotton fabric bag or a towel (no plastic please!). It will keep for about 2 days but I guarantee you that it will be gone way before that! You can also freeze them but do it the day you baked them and once they are cooled.
Bon appétit! 🇫🇷
Posted on October 25, 2018
This one drink brings me back to the place where I grew up, in the French Alps. It is a delicious warm drink (for both vegans and non-vegans) that combines an old traditional European hot chocolate recipe and a delicious and surprising ingredient. The beverage is enhanced with Chartreuse liqueur, which is produced by French monks from a 400-year-old recipe. Both Green Chartreuse and Yellow Chartreuse (we will use the green one in this recipe) use a secret blend of 130 herbs and plants and the entire operation is still overseen by just two monks (and manufactured near my hometown in the Alps). The liqueur has a unique taste that you probably haven’t had before, but it is worth a try as it is considered one of the best liqueurs in the world. Check with your local liquor store to see if they sell Chartreuse. If not, I have linked an online shop below that sells it. Be ready for a cup of hot cocoa with a very pleasant twist!
For one cup:
8 oz of plant milk or regular milk for non-vegans
2 tsp of hot cocoa powder (I get mine from Trader Joe’s and it is inspired by a traditional European recipe).
1/2 or 1 tbsp of green Chartreuse (Shop here)
1 tsp of brown sugar
In a cooking pot, combine the Chartreuse, the hot cocoa powder, the sugar and the plant milk. Warm up at low heat and remove right before boiling (do not boil really, I am serious here!)
Remove from heat and serve in a mug. Sit back, relax and enjoy…
Non-alcoholic and kids friendly version: Don’t add the Chartreuse and add a cinnamon stick during the warm-up process! Delicious!
Posted on October 11, 2018
One of the first changes our family made when we started our journey to reduce our use of plastic, was to eliminate plastic food wrap.
We used to cover most food leftovers or simply wrap anything that would go in the fridge with the stretchy film. We would buy them by the roll, and we even had one that was 3000 ft long once because a friend of ours bought it for us thinking that was the size we wanted… it took us four years to finish it… not our proudest moment looking back, and thinking where this plastic is standing right now and how long it will be there for… Eeeek!
Fortunately, reality and awareness of the plastic problem that we, humans, have created, sunk in and our family decided to make some major changes to get rid of the plastic film use completely.
Going back to basics by storing food in glass containers was the first option we chose. Additionally and after doing a little research we found out about beeswax reusable food wrap, which is totally amazing and sustainable, as well as safe, and can be used exactly like plastic food wrap, but without the yucky plastic. The only downside to this amazing product: the price tag…
Now the DIYer in me could not resist the temptation of making her own beeswax wrap, soooo… I tried, and I can say I succeeded! The process was easy as can be, and the wrap worked like a charm! Now, just so you know, if I can do it, so can you! The good news is that you only need two items to make a large quantity of beeswax reusable food wrap: cute fabric (cotton or hemp) and beeswax (we have our own beehive so beeswax is easily available to us, but you can also purchase in craft stores or online). And that’s it! For a fraction of the price of the store-bought ones, you can get your own, personalized, homemade, reusable beeswax food wrap!
So if you are willing to make this change (I really hope you do… ) and if you are a little crafty (just a little…), check out the tutorial below.
Now if you prefer buying the wraps already made, I highly recommend the ones I first bought, but I have to warn you that the price is a little high… The brand is Etee and our family purchased a pack of 3 wraps two months ago ($18) and we are extremely satisfied with the products! Also, I went to Trader Joe’s this morning and was super (and pleasantly) surprised to see that they started selling some beeswax food wraps at a very cheap price ($8.99 for a set of three). I bought 2 sets but since I have not tried them yet, I can not say if I recommend them or not…
Beeswax Food Wrap DIY
What you need:
Your new beeswax food wrap is ready to use!
Cutting the fabric with pinking shears will prevent fraying
Make sure the beeswax pellets are evenly spread out on the fabric
Once the beeswax has melted, spread it evenly with the help of the paintbrush, to make sure the entire piece of fabric is coated
How to care for your beeswax food wrap:
Wash with mild soap and cold water (do NOT use hot water as it will melt the beeswax coating)
Do not wrap any raw meat or fish in your beeswax food wrap (since you can’t wash it with hot water, it is probably safer not to use it for this purpose…)
Depending on how often you use it, it will usually last a long time
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