Hype-free recipes and offbeat pairings

The Baltimore Sun

Chez Jacques

Traditions and Rituals of a Cook

Chocolate & Zucchini

Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen

By Clotilde Dusoulier

Broadway Books / 2007 / $18.95

Clotilde Dusoulier named her popular food blog, and now her first cookbook, to convey her agreeably split culinary personality: health nut with a sweet tooth.

In her chatty, accessible book, she combined the title ingredients in only a couple of dishes - Cacao and Zucchini Absorption Pasta, and Chocolate & Zucchini Cake. But unlike veteran French chef Jacques Pepin, this Internet-era upstart does not shy away from offbeat food pairings.

One that grabbed my attention: Blancmange (a milky, hazelnut- and almond-flavored molded dessert, similar to the Italian panna cotta) With Basil Coulis. Basil dessert topping? I was skeptical but game.

The blancmange was simple enough to make, but I was still dubious because of its blah light-brown color. (My fault: My almonds had skins and Dusoulier had called for blanched.) I decided to take a taste before making the sweet basil puree.

I never did bother making it - but only because the blancmange was fantastic alone. Maybe basil really would complement that creamy, intensely hazelnutty dessert. I'll try it the next time I make it, which will be very soon.


Grilled Spicy Leg of Lamb

Serves 8 to 10

small whole leg of lamb, about 4 1/2 pounds, with most of the fat trimmed from the top

1/3 cup hoisin sauce (a sweet Chinese bean sauce)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

Place the trimmed leg of lamb in a large plastic bag. Mix the other ingredients in a bowl, then pour into the bag, covering the meat on all sides. Tie the bag tightly. Refrigerate the lamb and let it marinate overnight.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill and preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Clean most of the marinade from the leg, and set the liquid aside in a roasting pan. Grill the lamb for about 10 minutes, turning it so it is nicely browned all over, then put it on top of the marinade in the roasting pan with 3/4 cup of water.

Place the lamb in the oven and cook for about 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let the lamb rest there until serving time, about 20 minutes. Adjust the time if the leg is bigger or if you like lamb medium rather than rare.

Note: If you use a charcoal grill, Pepin recommends using wood charcoal.

Per serving (based on 10 servings): 296 calories, 31 grams protein, 17 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 3 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 102 milligrams cholesterol, 287 milligrams sodium

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