Stone Fruit Cobbler


We’ve done quite a lot of traveling around France over the years. We have always preferred to stay either in a chambres d’hôtes (a bed & breakfast) or, if we are traveling with a group of friends, a gîte (an entire house). Without a doubt, one of our favorite things about staying in a bed & breakfast has always been the breakfast part. The bed part is rarely good. The mattresses are often old and either lumpy and soft or hard as a rock. And the pillows are almost always square. Yes, square. The French use square pillows. Which means that the bottom of the pillow comes under your shoulders. And that makes for a really uncomfortable night of sleep. We’ve actually considered traveling with our own pillows but we don’t want to carry that much luggage.DSC03257

Anyway, back to the breakfast part. It is always a rather rich affair, with fresh bread, salted butter, homemade jams, fruits or fruit salad, baked goods, cheeses, and whatever else the owners have either prepared or acquired from their local market. I remember one B&B in the Loire valley that had the most amazing homemade jams. I still dream about their peach and rosemary jam. As you may already know, breakfast is very important to Steve and me. We wake up hungry, hungry! One of our friends has a funny photo that she took on our last trip when we were all staying at a B&B in Normandy. Steve and I are at the big dining table that is covered with untouched breakfast food. We are the first ones there, sitting ramrod straight in our chairs, staring straight ahead at the camera, looking incredibly hungry and anxious. It’s obvious we are thinking “why are they not down yet? when are we going to eat? we are so hungry.” DSC03251

This stone fruit cobbler is the type of dish that would be typical at this kind of breakfast. It’s quick to make and it uses few ingredients and seasonal fruit. It can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, ready to be presented to the two hungry American tourists that are sitting at the table by themselves, looking like they are ready to devour everything.



Stone Fruit Cobbler – Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit

Note: If stone fruit is not in season, you can use other fruits like apples or berries.


3 pounds peaches, nectarines, or plums, each cut into 6 wedges (or 1″ pieces if using ramekins)
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon kirsch (clear cherry brandy) or other fruit brandy (optional)
½ tablespoon orange flower water (optional)
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3½ oz. almond paste
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until pale golden brown


Toss peaches, granulated sugar, flour, salt, kirsch and orange flower water, if using, in a large bowl. Transfer to a 13×9” baking dish or split among 12 ramekins; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, almond paste, and granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each. Mix in dry ingredients.

Drop dollops of batter over fruit (batter will even out during baking). Sprinkle with almonds. Place baking dish or ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until topping is golden brown and fruit juices are thick and bubbling, 50–60 minutes for13x9 dish or 45-50 minutes for ramekins. Let cobbler sit at least 20 minutes before serving. It will sink as it cools down.

Cobbler can be served slightly warm, at room temperature, or cold, straight out of the fridge. It can be served as dessert but it also makes a wonderful breakfast or brunch addition.

Caramelized Tomato Tarte Tatin


I’m back after a three-week hiatus from the blog. I was abroad, first back home visiting my family and then for ten days in France, mainly in Paris, with a two-day escape to the Bay of Somme. Here are a few odds and ends from the trip:

    • Parisians seem to follow New York politics more than New Yorkers. On multiple occasions, we were asked about our opinion of the new mayor, Bill de Blasio, and about how he was doing.
    • You know you have great friends when they surprise you with a birthday dinner at Septime, an incredibly tough-to-get-a-reservation restaurant in Paris that is all the rage among both the French and Americans. How tough is it to get a reservation? They accept them only three weeks in advance and our friend called 22 times in a row (!) as soon as reservations opened until she luckily got an answer. It was well worth it. The meal was fantastic, with fresh ingredients, minimally prepared, letting them shine on the plate.
    • French restaurants are making a great comeback. Yes, it’s still a crapshoot if you just duck into any corner bistro, where you are still likely to get food that was prepared in a processing facility, prepackaged, frozen, and then reheated in the microwave of the restaurant. But new places, like Septime, are rejuvenating the Paris food scene. Our new discovery: Le Cotte Rôti (1 Rue de Cotte) in the 12th arrondissement. An unassuming restaurant next to the Marché d’Aligre where we had a three course meal for 39 euros that left us gasping with excitement.
    • The Bay of Somme is a spectacular, huge bay in Normandie in the English Channel, that empties daily during low tide. It goes from a vast expanse of water, to a desert-like land that you can walk on for a few hours until the water returns. Just know that if you go towards the end where the old concrete german bunker is lying on its side, like a giant alien spaceship that crash-landed decades ago, you will find yourself shin-deep in black silt that is sticky and stinky. By the time we realized it, we were well in the middle of it and had no choice but to walk through it to get to the other end. I can still smell the putrid odor.


So, in honor of our trip to Paris, where we had the most amazing weather we have ever witnessed in France, I give you today a more savory version of the famous tarte tatin. The dessert is traditionally made with apples that are cooked in caramel and sit on a bed of puff pastry. This version uses tomatoes. It makes a great appetizer or a light summer meal, paired with some good cheese, a green salad, and a glass of ice cold rosé.

Bon appétit!DSC01324

Caramelized Tomato Tarte Tatin – From The New York Times


1 14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus a pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1 1/2 pints (about 1 pound) cherry or grape tomatoes; a mix of colors is nice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.


1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Unfold puff pastry sheet and cut into a 10-inch round; chill, covered, until ready to use.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of sugar and cook, stirring, until onions are golden and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and let cook off, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Transfer onions to a bowl.

3. In a clean, ovenproof 9-inch skillet, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, swirling pan gently (do not stir) until sugar melts and turns amber, 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar and swirl gently.

4. Sprinkle olives over caramel. Scatter tomatoes over olives, then sprinkle onions on. Season with thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Top with puff pastry round, tucking edges into pan. Cut several long vents in top of pastry.

5. Bake tart until crust is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then run a knife around pastry to loosen it from pan, and flip tart out onto a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.


Pain d’Epices (Spice Cake)

People who have visited Paris have all kinds of special memories from there. Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. Walking the Champs Elysées. Kissing along the Seine. Finding an amazing little bistro hidden in the 20th arrondissement. It’s a city filled with memories, just waiting to be made.


One of my own all time favorite memories is a little different than most people’s. It’s my first visit to the Salon Saveurs des Plaisirs Gourmands, an exhibition of independent, artisanal food makers. Just imagine: a huge exhibition space, filled with hundreds of stands, each one a different, small producer of some of the most amazing food and drinks you’ll ever taste. From chocolates to breads, to cheeses and wines, to sausages and foie gras, to cakes and candies, to sauces and jams. The moment I walked into the space I almost passed out from excitement. Then, I started walking and sampling.


I could write an entire book on everything I tasted during my three (yes, three) visits to the Salon. But one of them sticks to mind especially well. In a corner stand, a man and a woman were selling slices of pain d’épices, the traditional french spice cake that is sold in every patisserie and bakery in Paris. These were not your usual pain d’épices though. They were round and about a foot tall, the biggest ones I’ve ever seen. There were two or three different variations available but I first tasted a sample of the orange flavored one and my life changed forever. Ok, I’m exaggerating but my view of the pain d’épices definitely changed from that point on.


This cake was light and moist with an intense flavor of honey and orange. The spices were definitely there but they were not too strong. Instead, they worked as a base or a background to let the honey and orange shine. I circled back to that stand a few more times to get more samples. It was, and still is, the best pain d’épices I have ever tasted.


I’ve never been able to recreate it exactly on my own, even though I’ve tried several times. Different recipes have resulted in cakes that are either too dense, too dry, or too spicy. The closest I’ve come is with the recipe I have for you here. It’s by Clotilde Dusoulier, the brilliant mind behind the Chocolate & Zucchini blog, as well as a few cookbooks.


It’s an incredibly easy recipe to make and the cake it produces is moist and intensely flavorful. It also keeps very well for 3-4 days and even gets better in taste as it “ages” on the countertop. She proposes several variations in her book, such as one with chopped crystallized ginger (which is the one seen in these photographs), but our favorite is the one with orange rind and a tiny bit of orange extract. As an added bonus, the recipe can be easily made vegan by substituting the milk with coconut milk. I’ve made both versions and we’ve never been able to taste the difference.


Pain d’Epices (Spice Cake) – Slightly adapted from “Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen

1 1/2 cups whole milk (or coconut milk if you want a vegan version)
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses
1/8-1/4 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon of finely grated orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, honey, and molasses. Stir over medium heat until the honey and molasses have completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add the orange extract, if using. Set aside as you continue with the recipe.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, and orange zest. Form a well in the center of the flour mixture and slowly pour the milk mixture in while whisking from the center out, in a circular motion. Whisk until all the flour has been incorporated. The batter will be thin.

Pour the batter in the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a rack and let it cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Cool completely on the rack and store at room temperature wrapped in foil or in a cake saver.