Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip & Pecan Cookies

Best. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. Ever.

You will be the star of every picnic, pot-luck, or office party you bring them to. True story.

Get the recipe here.


Fancy Tomato Pie

Tomato pie is back by popular demand.

This time, I went a little fancy and used a fluted French tart pan.  And I mixed in some ricotta with the mayo. So I guess you can call it Fancy Tomato Pie, or a Tomato Pie Tart. It's up to you. Either way, this pie is delicious and delightfully simple to make. (I'm definitely going to be adding it to my "perfect to serve to company" files.)

Fancy Tomato Pie
1 batch biscuit dough
8 oz. ricotta cheese
2 TBS half and half
2 TBS mayonnaise
Heaping 1/2 cup aged cheddar, grated
Smoked sea salt (or regular Kosher salt is fine)
Ground black pepper
Italian herbs (fresh or dried)
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Garlic powder (optional)

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do: 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Prepare the biscuit mix according to your recipe or the package directions.
  • Butter a fluted tart pan (or pie pan) and press the biscuit dough into it.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the ricotta, half and half, mayo, cheddar, salt/pepper and herbs. Spread evenly over the dough.
  • Top with tomato slices (seed side up) in a circular pattern, then sprinkle with a bit more salt/pepper, herbs, and a pinch of garlic powder if you want. Note: I was a bit messy with the tomatoes at the end (I have no patience for fanciness), but if you take your time, you'll have a beautiful looking dish.
  • Bake until browned and bubbly.
  • Let cool, carefully remove from tart pan, then cut into wedges.
  • Serve pie warm with a green salad and glass of wine. (It's also fabulous eaten cold, for breakfast or a late-night snack.)

Warm Weather Cookery Tricks

Some favorite warm weather tips, from my kitchen to yours:

'Tis the season for grilling, making S'Mores, slurping popsicles and dipping your toes in the pool. And soon it will be time for my favorite summer picnic treat -- corn on the cob. Which means it is time for me to remind you (as I do every summer) how to make the best corn on the cob without turning on your stove.

Easiest Corn on the Cob Ever
  • Place two un-husked ears of corn in the microwave for 6-8 minutes, depending on your microwave's power. You can make as many as you want, but only put two in the microwave at once for best results.
  • Carefully remove the corn from microwave and cut off the bottom part of each ear (about a 1/2 inch or so).
  • Take one of the ears and hold it at the top of its husk. Give it a little shake. The corn should slide out easily. Repeat with the next one.
  • Or you can cut about 1 inch off of both ends of each ear of the cooked corn and then peel off the husk.
  • Add butter and salt, a sprinkle of chili powder and enjoy!

Hot weather is also the perfect time for ice cream. There's nothing better than a drippy cone on a hot summer day. But how about a lower-fat, dairy-free version? That's easy. Go bananas.

Banana "Ice Cream"
  • Peel 4 or more ripe bananas and slice them into rounds. Then freeze overnight.
  • Blend/process the frozen banana pieces on high speed, until smooth. Have patience. It will be crumbly at first, but then suddenly, it will transform into creaminess. 
  • Drizzle in a bit of honey or your favorite ice cream extras and pulse in the blender until combined. (I like to add peanut butter cups.)
  • If you eat it right away, it will be like soft serve ice cream. If you wait, put it in a freezer-safe bowl with a lid and let it freeze for 30-60 minutes.
  • Scoop into bowls and drizzle with hot fudge, melted peanut butter, whipped cream or your favorite ice cream toppings.
  • Go bananas!

    It's important to hydrate when it's hot outside, especially if you're also having a summer cocktail or three. But sometimes a glass of water isn't the most popular of picnic treats. But, add some herbs and fruit to your water pitcher and watch how quickly everyone reaches for it. You can strain into glasses or serve as is, just don't forget the ice! Here are some add-in ideas to get you started.
    Water, Water Everywhere
    • Lavender or rosemary sprigs and lemon wedges
    • Fresh ginger and lime slices
    • Mint leaves and orange or cucumber slices
    • Tarragon leaves and diced peaches
    • Basil leaves with sliced grape tomatoes
    Happy Summer!

    Soba Soup! (with Maitake Mushrooms in Soy Broth)

    We like to eat good food here at Chez Gourmess. And when I say "good food" I mean food that's as delicious to look at as it is to eat, food that's good for you but still feels like a treat, and food that is made up of high quality, animal- and earth-friendly ingredients. Otherwise, what's the point?

    French cuisine is of course my forte, but lately, the good food we've been eating and cooking has taken a bit of a turn toward Asia. Especially when Chris is at the stove.

    About that...I'm trying to become more tolerant of having someone in my kitchen. Chris told me I can be a bit of a kitchen bully -- so one of my New Year's resolutions is to be nicer to people when they are in my kitchen. (Chris also says it is "the kitchen" not "my kitchen" -- cue eyeroll.)  But, just thinking of someone using my knives and my spices and my beautiful pans, and manhandling my produce...ugh. I guess I have a long way to go...

    Anyway, Chris pulled out a dog-eared page from an issue of Bon Appétit magazine that had a yum-sounding recipe , and when he does that, I know he's serious about cooking. So, we gathered all of the ingredients and he went to work on this tasty soup that features buckwheat soba noodles, gorgeous "hen of the woods" a.k.a. maitake mushrooms, and a ginger-garlic soy broth. Topped with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, radishes and a beautiful egg yolk from free-range, happy chickens, it becomes a creamy, dreamy lunch or dinner. And, just like my handsome Chris, it's not bad on the eyes, either. Look how gorgeous the finished dish is!
    The ginger and garlic in the broth, the mushrooms and the noodles. Did I mention the mushrooms? OMG. So good. You must try it. Click thru for the recipe for Soba and Maitake Mushrooms in Soy Broth. Yum!

    Now, about those mushrooms:
    We've encountered maitake or hen of the woods mushrooms several times before. I remember the first time I ever had them. We were having dinner in the grand dining room at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, and there was a dish called something like "The Chicken and the Egg" that included a perfectly cooked egg somehow still in its unbroken shell and some gorgeous hen of the woods mushrooms. There was probably something else divine on the plate, but those mushrooms stole the show. Another year at Shelburne, they soaked up a buttery sauce like sponges, the stars of an earthy, hand-made pasta dish. (Even if you don't like mushrooms, one bite would have changed your  mind.) And, we recently had them in a Tarte Flambée with chives and a Comté cheese gratiné at The Museum of Modern Art's restaurant, The Modern. We devoured it. Ah-mazing.
    The mushrooms grow at the base of oak trees, and are plentiful in the fall. Apparently, maitakes have also been used for ages in Asia for medicinal purposes like increasing the immune system, lowering blood pressure and even treating cancer. Maitake means "dancing mushroom," in Japanese, and I agree -- whenever I eat some or see them on a menu, I do a little happy dance. They are one of my favorite things.

    Speaking of my favorite things, kudos to Chris for making a beautifully simple, flavor-packed dish and for bringing this recipe into our rotation. I'm looking forward to having it again, soon.