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|Hayley Matthews • 4/07/17|
The Short Version: Sometimes all you need to enjoy a memorable date is the right ingredients. Ravenous daters can forgo the hassle of a crowded restaurant and bring fine dining into their homes by cooking up authentic French dishes in their own kitchens. All you have to do is pick a recipe and get cooking! In her food blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, Clotilde Dusoulier offers readers simple cooking tips from her own Paris kitchen. As a wife and mother, she knows how to put together a palatable menu and taps into her vast experience to advise you on the best ingredients and cooking techniques. Her step-by-step guidance empowers home cooks to enjoy the romance and decadence of a full-course French meal in an intimate home setting. French food offers you a tempting indulgence to set the mood on any date night. Next time you want to impress a date with your culinary prowess, check out the resources and recipes recommended on Chocolate & Zucchini.
From the flaky buttery crust of a croissant to the smooth airy texture of a chocolate mousse, French food enfolds many rich and unforgettable flavors that seduce the senses and make you hunger for more. French plates offer an elegant and delicious fine-dining experience perfect for daters who want to add some romance to their evenings.
France is well-known for luxurious cuisine, and dinners there are never second best. However, cooking such a fancy meal can be intimidating to some home chefs. French recipes may be time-consuming or complex, but with a little direction, you can learn how to cook something indulgent and simple at home.
Before you get into the kitchen, pick up useful tips from a skillful French food writer like Clotilde Dusoulier.
On her blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, Clotilde writes about food with passion and humor. Her recipes and recommendations encourage readers to whip up irresistible meals in their own homes.
Whether you’re planning a romantic trip to Paris with your loved one or you want to cook a special full-course dinner at home, Clotilde provides the step-by-step guidance, expert taste tips, and mouthwatering recipe inspiration to help you buy, prep, and devour French food.
“I am also known for my precise and thorough recipes that leave no cook behind, so you can have gleeful success regardless of your skill level,” Clotilde wrote on her blog. “My ambition is not just to share recipes; it’s to teach and inspire, so you can grow as a cook, develop your repertoire, and eventually learn to cook without recipes at all.”
Amazing dates, like scrumptious meals, don’t just happen on the fly — they take thought, care, and planning to pull off without a hitch. If you’re going to cook French food for someone special, you’ll need to do some prep work before your big date night.
In her blog, Clotilde mentions specific cooking utensils she uses in her own kitchen and recommends other resources to home cooks (especially parents) so you can tackle any cooking adventure with confidence.
Before the big day, artsy daters can sew homemade cloth napkins as a fun prep project. Clotilde’s tutorial directs you on how to add a sentimental finishing touch to your table. One reader noted in the comments section that these durable and useful home items make lovely wedding gifts as well.
Another reader named Judith told a story about how cloth napkins bridged a cultural divide between her and her husband. “He was used to paper napkins, I to linen ones, used for several meals with personal rings. My solution was to make loads of cloth napkins using sheets — a fresh one each meal, both of us were happy.”
As the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing right, so take the time to ensure you’re making the best meal possible by consulting Chocolate & Zucchini.
In terms of ingredients, Clotilde suggests using fresh cinnamon sticks, French gray sea salt, and high-quality chocolate to improve any recipe. According to her blog, “Truly, you don’t know what cinnamon tastes like until you’ve tried freshly harvested, freshly grated, top-grade cinnamon.”
When you put effort into every detail of the meal, your date can’t help but be impressed. Your love shows in the quality of your cooking and the sophistication of your tools.
Clotilde has years of French cooking (and eating) experience to back up every word on Chocolate & Zucchini. She began blogging in 2003 as a side project but found writing about food so fulfilling that she gave up her career as a software engineer and gleefully became a full-time food writer in 2005. She now lives in Montmartre in Paris with her husband and two sons, whom she loves to please with her culinary know-how.
Readers of Chocolate & Zucchini trust Clotilde to deliver simple yet professional recipes that represent everything people love about French food. Often, she includes a healthful or kid-friendly twist to make indulgent treats more accessible for everyday eating.
We recommend her 30-minute spinach and chicken coconut curry as an easy date-night meal. “It was such an effortless preparation,” Clotilde wrote, “and we lapped it up with such enthusiasm that I have been making it again and again since, to the collective joy of my spinach-loving family.”
Clotilde’s innovative use of fresh spinach had her readers clamoring for more.
“My husband has not stopped saying, ‘This is gorgeous!’ with every mouthful!” gushed Annabel Smyth in the comments section of this recipe.
Aspiring home chefs can refer to Clotilde’s books or check out her readers’ favorite recipes on the blog to find appetizing recipes to make for someone special. Her detailed instructions are a great help to beginners, and the pictures alone are enough to whet your appetite for delicious treats, like caramelized apple tarte fine, to set the mood at mealtimes.
For further inspiration, you can sign up to the Chocolate & Zucchini newsletter, and Clotilde will send regular updates about her favorite things, latest recipes, special offers, and sneak peeks at upcoming projects. Additionally, her mini-guides and worksheets are designed to teach subscribers about the intricacies of French cooking.
Sometimes just reading a French cookbook is tricky. It’s like they’re speaking another language! Oh, wait. If you find yourself faced with unfamiliar French terms in recipes (or restaurant menus), you can turn to Chocolate & Zucchini’s resources before unknowingly signing up to eat calamari (squid).
Clotilde offers readers a French to English Food Dictionary to clear up anything lost in translation. Studying up on these food terms can help daters feel more at ease cooking and ordering French food.
Readers may also want to download her printable French food cheat sheet of common terms and useful phrases used among French chefs.
Clotilde promises this handy guide will “help you navigate the restaurant and food scene like a pro.”
Another helpful feature of Chocolate & Zucchini is the Ingredient Conversions Sheet, which helps cooks convert quantities expressed in the metric system of measurement, which is used in Europe, into traditional American quantities. This is tricky because the French typically use weight in grams for their recipes. Clotilde considers herself a transatlantic cook, so she knows how important it is to make accurate measurements on any scale. She made conversions for popular ingredients like milk, almonds, sugar, chocolate, and butter, so making a French recipe using American measuring tools is a piece of cake.
French food is about decadence. These recipes are indulgent and filling and meant to be savored. When you put together your meal plan, make sure you’ve got enough to satisfy your date’s appetite and don’t forget to add some sweets for your sweet.
After all, no romantic dinner is complete without a sinfully good dessert. Clotilde has a variety of dessert recipes for whatever you’re craving. Chocolate & Zucchini lets you sift through many vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free recipes to find something tempting and tasty for your table.
The blog’s desserts draw from the flavors of fresh fruits, dense chocolates, and creamy caramels to fill your palate with mouthwatering sweetness. You can follow Clotilde’s step-by-step recipes to make a smooth dark chocolate sorbet or restaurant-style strawberry panna cotta to cap off your night.
In a hurry? Check out these last-minute chocolate recipes for Valentine’s Day to make a simple and sweet finale for your date.
“I’ve handpicked these five recipes for you based on their effort-to-chocolate ratio,” Clotilde wrote. “With these very easy treats, there is no excuse not to show your special someone how much you chocolove him/her.”
Clotilde is passionate about food — she even carried a bread bouquet at her wedding! Her blog is full of personal anecdotes and parenthetical humor delivered in a relatable way to everyday cooks. Whether you’re hankering after a warm and chocolatey croissant or a smooth, simple sorbet, this deft food writer can point you in the right direction with a menu of tasty recipes inspired by French cooking.
The funny and memorable name of her blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, is representative of Clotilde’s unique cooking style. As she explains, “The zucchini illustrates my focus on healthy and natural foods: fresh produce, artisanal goods, organic and local ingredients. And the chocolate represents my decidedly marked taste for desserts in general.”
You’ll find plenty of French recipes to savor and share on Chocolate & Zucchini. The blog is a comprehensive resource of deliciousness. From romantic things to do in Paris to tips for tasting chocolate, Clotilde gives detailed recommendations and culinary insights to help singles and couples get cooking.