French Tomato Tart

This week I saw the first promise of tomato season. A few brightly colored cherry specimens were brought home from the local market, as well as the more standard varieties. I was down in Gascony visiting my friend Kate Hill, and her photographer friend Tim Clinch was there preparing to lead a photography workshop. Looking for something tempting and colorful, tomatoes seemed the obvious choice…

tomato tart

This week I saw the first promise of tomato season. A few brightly colored cherry specimens were brought home from the local market, as well as the more standard varieties. I was down in Gascony visiting my friend Kate Hill, and her photographer friend Tim Clinch was there preparing to lead a photography workshop. Looking for something tempting and colorful, tomatoes seemed the obvious choice to be willing subjects for pictures, and for dinner.

cherry tomatoes erika

In addition to the profusion of flowers plucked from the lush garden by the canal du Midi, the tomatoes had their moment in front of the camera. But once the participants stopped clicking, we grabbed them and put them where they rightfully belong: In the kitchen.

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Vanilla Vanilla Snack Cake

  Sunday snack cakes are the best. Knowing there’s a 13 X 9-inch covered dish filled with cake sitting on the kitchen counter makes me happy. And this one in particular made me very happy today. It’s all vanilla. And no fuss… except maybe for the buttercream swirlies I decided to add at the last […]

 Vanilla Vanilla Snack Cake

Sunday snack cakes are the best. Knowing there’s a 13 X 9-inch covered dish filled with cake sitting on the kitchen counter makes me happy. And this one in particular made me very happy today.

It’s all vanilla. And no fuss… except maybe for the buttercream swirlies I decided to add at the last minute. 

Frosted Vanilla Snack Cake

But only because today’s a meaningful day to me. Today marks the 30th year since my first kidney transplant and even though that kidney did not last as long as I had tried and hoped it would, it’s still special and important to me to this day. It helped me live nearly 20 more years of life and when I started getting sick again, it allowed me the time to receive a second transplant from my mom which is still doing good thankfully after 11 years. So today, we’re going to enjoy the heck out of this cake. And I hope you get the chance to try it and enjoy it as well.

That being said, I’m going to keep this post short so I can get back to snacking.

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Rose Sangria

Summer in France means a lot of things in France. En masse vacations, a blissfully empty Paris, price increases (which happen during August, when everyone is out of town – of course), and vide-greniers and brocantes, known elsewhere as flea markets, where people sell all kinds of things. If you’re lucky enough to take a trip to the countryside, the brocantes are amazing. But some…

rose sangria recipe

Summer in France means a lot of things in France. En masse vacations, a blissfully empty Paris, price increases (which happen during August, when everyone is out of town – of course), and vide-greniers and brocantes, known elsewhere as flea markets, where people sell all kinds of things. If you’re lucky enough to take a trip to the countryside, the brocantes are amazing. But some small towns in France also have little antique shops that are always worth poking around in. And when your other half has a station wagon, well, the possibilities are endless. (And sometimes voluminous!)

peach for sangria

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Cherry Clafoutis

One of the first books that made me fall in love with France and French cuisine was Roger Vergé’s Entertaining in the French Style. Vergé was the chef and owner of Moulin de Mougins, his world-famous restaurant on the Côte d’Azur, near Cannes. I never went, but used to page through the book, admiring the relaxed, friendly lifestyle that always seemed to revolve around a table,…

One of the first books that made me fall in love with France and French cuisine was Roger Vergé’s Entertaining in the French Style. Vergé was the chef and owner of Moulin de Mougins, his world-famous restaurant on the Côte d’Azur, near Cannes. I never went, but used to page through the book, admiring the relaxed, friendly lifestyle that always seemed to revolve around a table, laden with good food and plenty of local wine. It made me want to go and be a part of it all. In fact, there are two empty seats at that table, and I’d like one of them.

Cherry clafoutis recipe

Unlike a lot of chef books, this isn’t “aspirational” cooking, that is, pictures and recipes of foods that you could never hope to make. I recently got a book by a much-admired chef and I wanted to share a recipe. But there was only one recipe in the book that could be made in less than a day, and each recipe had at least one ingredient that I had no idea where I would get it. Don’t get me wrong. I liked the book a lot and his restaurant looks amazing, but it didn’t make me want to run to the kitchen. So I admired the book, and the food, from afar.

Cherry clafoutis recipe

There are so many pictures in Chef Vergé’s book that made me flash back to my past, decades ago, when I was learning more about French cuisine while cooking in Northern California, which shares a similar climate – and ingredients – with Provence. He had dubbed it “Cuisine of the Sun.” The much-loved chef recently passed away and I revisited the book, to relive what excited me about French cuisine, way-back-when.

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Basil Vinaigrette

My sauce for the summer is Basil Vinaigrette. Don’t get me wrong, I love pesto. But this basil-forward sauce has the punchy flavor of fresh herbs and takes less than a minute to blend together. And unlike its thicker cousin, this vinaigrette can be drizzled over everything, from fresh tomatoes and shelling beans, to risotto or roasted potatoes, and even fresh cheese, like mozzarella or…

My sauce for the summer is Basil Vinaigrette. Don’t get me wrong, I love pesto. But this basil-forward sauce has the punchy flavor of fresh herbs and takes less than a minute to blend together. And unlike its thicker cousin, this vinaigrette can be drizzled over everything, from fresh tomatoes and shelling beans, to risotto or roasted potatoes, and even fresh cheese, like mozzarella or creamy burrata.

Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

As soon as I see them, I start hoarding bunches of basil and fresh tomatoes at the market, never letting my supply run low. And keeping a container of this vinaigrette on hand means I can have lunch or dinner on the table quickly. But it also is a great sauce to bring along on a picnic, which we did the other night, enjoying the tranquility of Paris while most of the city clears out until the end of summer. (Although the next-door neighbors, who had a wild party that lasted until 4:30am, didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to leave. Romain reminded them the next morning…in no uncertain terms.)

Tomato salad with basil vinaigrette

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Milk Chocolate Chip Truffle Cookies

I love a good chocolate chip cookie. You can stuff them with semi sweet, milk or dark chocolate morsels or peanut butter, m&m’s or nutella. I like them just about any way I can get them. For these big chippers, I took  chocolate chip cookies and stepped them up a notch, stuffed with a chocolate […]

Milk Chocolate Truffle Cookies

I love a good chocolate chip cookie. You can stuff them with semi sweet, milk or dark chocolate morsels or peanut butter, m&m’s or nutella. I like them just about any way I can get them. For these big chippers, I took  chocolate chip cookies and stepped them up a notch, stuffed with a chocolate truffle inside them.

Milk Chocolate Truffle Cookie ingredients

Let’s get to it. Here we have your basic cookie ingredients – plus some Lindt truffles for the win.

Milk Chocolate Chips

Now, I usually go semisweet or dark chocolate, but these big boys are all milk chocolate to pair with the truffles.

Milk Chocolate Lindt Truffles

Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles by Lindt that is. And the stars of this cookie recipe.

Cookie Dough Scoops

After whipping up the dough, divide into a dozen scoops for jumbo cookies.

Shaping Cookie Dough

Then stuff those truffles inside. You can either shape the dough around the truffle or you can use a scoop to help shape them and keep some of the cookie dough off your fingers.

Cookie Dough Balls

Once the truffles are hidden inside, press more milk chocolate morsels on the top of the cookie dough balls before baking.

Trimming Cookies

These bake up pretty big and if they spread more than your liking, just use a large cutter/circle (about 4-5 inches) to help shape the cookies right when you take them out of the oven and while they are still hot. Coerce the cutter over the cookie and give it a little swirl. When the cookie cools, it will settle into a nice round shape.

Milk Chocolate Chip Truffle Cookies

Nice and round. : )

Milk Chocolate Chip Truffle Cookies

Enjoy these while they are warm for a smooth and creamy, melty, milk chocolate middle. 

Yummmmmmmmmm!

Milk Chocolate Chip Truffle Cookies
Yield: 12-14 jumbo cookies

Milk Chocolate Chip Truffle Cookies

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 1 minute

Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups milk chocolate morsels, divided
  • 12-14 milk chocolate Lindor truffles

Instructions

  1. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and both sugars.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time until combined. Add vanilla.
  4. Slowly add in flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Mix in 1-1/2 cups of the milk chocolate morsels until combined, reserving the rest.
  6. Chill dough for 15-20 minutes. Scoop into 12-14 large mounds of dough using a 2-1/2 inch cookie scoop. Break dough apart and place a truffle in the middle of each dough ball. Reshape and seal.
  7. Place remaining morsels in a small bowl and press top and sides of cookie dough balls into the morsels. Place cookie dough balls in the fridge for another 15-20 minutes to chill.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line large 16 X 20 cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Bake in batches - only 4-5 cookies on a baking sheet for 15-18 minutes. More cookies than that and they may start to merge together. Cool cookies.

Notes

Let these large cookies cool completely before lifting or they may separate. Bake cookies on a large rimless cookie sheet and you can slide the parchment onto the counter to let the cookies cool.

Milk Chocolate Chip Truffle Cookies

Hope you enjoy!

Banana Upside Down Cake

In the winter, we often turn to the tropics to get our fruit fixes. Bananas are the most popular fruit in America, and they’re quite popular elsewhere, too. I’m happy with oranges, grapefruits, and chocolate (yup, cocoa beans are fruit – great news for fruit-lovers!) but sometimes it’s nice to throw something else in the mix, and I’ll grab a pineapple, some kiwifruits, a few…

Banana upside down cake recipe

In the winter, we often turn to the tropics to get our fruit fixes. Bananas are the most popular fruit in America, and they’re quite popular elsewhere, too. I’m happy with oranges, grapefruits, and chocolate (yup, cocoa beans are fruit – great news for fruit-lovers!) but sometimes it’s nice to throw something else in the mix, and I’ll grab a pineapple, some kiwifruits, a few avocados, or a bunch of bananas, when doing my food shopping.

Banana upside down cake recipe

While I was waiting for my yellow bananas to ripen, a few days later I came across these red bananas at the market. I love red bananas, which have a more pronounced flavor than yellow bananas, but are hard to come by in France, and elsewhere. (They should be dead-ripe when you use them. The skin will turn quite dark when they’re ready.) So jumped at the bunch when I saw it, and put those in my fruit bowl to see who would ripen first.

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Strawberry Jam

I was recently gifted an overload of strawberries: I bought four baskets from a vendor at the market, whose booth I shop at often, and he threw in two extra baskets for free, the equivalent of a carte de fidelité (loyalty card) in Paris. So I’ve spent the past few days washing, hulling, cutting and cooking my unexpected bounty. I’ve been making a number of…

Strawberry Jam recipe

I was recently gifted an overload of strawberries: I bought four baskets from a vendor at the market, whose booth I shop at often, and he threw in two extra baskets for free, the equivalent of a carte de fidelité (loyalty card) in Paris. So I’ve spent the past few days washing, hulling, cutting and cooking my unexpected bounty.

I’ve been making a number of things with the gorgeous strawberries. But I also realized that while I have a Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam recipe on the site, I didn’t have a strawberry jam. So here it is.

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Strawberry Frozen Yogurt with Summer Fruits and Italian Meringues

I was once on a panel about food blogging and everyone was surprised when I said that at any given time, I have seventeen posts started, either sitting on my kitchen counter or partially written on my computer. With the focus on blogs being a little more spiffy than they used to be, back when you could – for example – write a haiku to…

The best of the season in a bowl! Icy-cold strawberry frozen yogurt and ripe summer fruits and berries, accompanied with a crisp meringue.

Strawberry meringue and frozen yogurt recipe

I was once on a panel about food blogging and everyone was surprised when I said that at any given time, I have seventeen posts started, either sitting on my kitchen counter or partially written on my computer. With the focus on blogs being a little more spiffy than they used to be, back when you could – for example – write a haiku to a espresso-filled chocolate candy, now you’ve got to me a bit more alert as to what you put online.

I never really thought of this space as a bijou, as the French might say, a jewel. It’s unpolished and casual, more so than a cookbook, and a place to share stories and recipes in a freestyle fashion. I love taking pictures and writing stories, but I worry about flaws, goofs, and that kind of stuff. But back in those days, it was kind of fun to share kitchen disasters and things that I wouldn’t put on the blog today. (Which some of you are probably grateful for.)

Strawberry meringue frozen yogurt Sometimes I look back at posts from ten years or so ago, with pictures taken with a point-and-shoot camera, which at the time, was cutting-edge, breakthrough technology. Seeing them now is like looking at pictures of myself wearing bell-bottoms in the 70’s. (And every time I see young men wearing their trousers halfway down their thighs now, I want to yank them up and say, “Dude, I’m doing you a favor. Trust me, you’ll thank me in twenty years when you see the photos.”)

So occasionally I’ll go back and revisit a recipe and a post, like the one for strawberry frozen yogurt, which is one of my favorite frozen dessert recipes, but the old photos were the size of a postage stamp and looked like I shot them in an airplane bathroom. Looking at the photos on the blog right now, I wonder if I’m going to have to update them in ten years as well. But for now, when I see such beautiful fruits at the market, I try to do the best I can, which is really all we can do, isn’t it?

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Favorite Chocolate Snack Cake

I have a new favorite chocolate cake. Like it is really good and the frosting … Oh my. I took one bite and immediately knew I was in trouble. In a good way, that is. This cake recipe found an instant place on my forever baking list. And I hope you will love it as […]

Happy Snack Cake

I have a new favorite chocolate cake. Like it is really good and the frosting … Oh my. I took one bite and immediately knew I was in trouble. In a good way, that is. This cake recipe found an instant place on my forever baking list. And I hope you will love it as much as I do.

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