Happy Bastille Day!!!

Tarte Tatin

In honor of Bastille Day in France, here is one of my favorite desserts to make!

The first Tarte Tatin was created in the late 1800’s at an inn just south of Paris, run by the Tatin sisters Caroline and Stephanie. Legend has it that while preparing an apple tart for her guests, Stephanie forgot to line her baking pan with crust before she put the apples in the oven and started baking. When she realized her mistake, instead of starting over, she threw a crust on top and flipped the tart upside down. Stephanie served her disaster hot from the oven as a “new creation”. It became an instant hit at the inn and the rest is dessert history.

Tarte Tatin

Serves 6-8


1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 8-10 ounces) or you can use pie dough

3-4 lbs (about 8) medium sized firm apples such as Granny Smith, Fuji or Gala

1 stick of unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a knife, cut dough into a large circle that is 1 inch larger in diameter than the skillet you are using. Poke holes in dough with a fork, transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate until needed.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. (Don’t worry about apples browning since they will caramelize during baking.)

In a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet (or a non-stick skillet), over medium heat, melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar until blended.

Arrange apples, rounded sides down, first making a tight circle around the inside edge of the pan. Pack the apples snug in the pan as they will shrink during baking. Make another circle of apples inside the first circle ,and then fill in the center of the pan with remaining apples. Cut smaller pieces of apple if needed to fill in any gaps.

Put the skillet over medium heat and cook until the sugar turns golden brown- about 15-20 minutes. Sugar will bubble. Do not stir and DO NOT TOUCH as sugar is very hot. Remove from heat and transfer the skillet to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for spillage.) Check skillet for any apple slice gaps. If there are any, move fruit into the right place with a spoon.

Center the crust on top of the apples and loosely tuck edges under slightly along edge of pan. Be careful not to burn your fingers. Use a knife if needed.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the top of crust is golden brown.

Cool on a baking rack for 2 minutes. Run a sharp knife along the inside edge of the pan. Using potholders or oven mitts, place a serving plate (slightly larger than the skillet) on top of the skillet and quickly flip over the whole tart onto your serving platter. If any pieces of apple stick to the pan, carefully place them back where they should be on the tart.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Tarte Tatin is best served right away and hot, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. But it will also keep for a day at room temperature. Re-heat if you’d like.











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Peach Blackberry Cobbler

This 4th of July, spend more time at the party than in the kitchen with this easy-to-throw-together fruit cobbler.  A perfect ending to your holiday meal, this dish is sure to give the fireworks a run for their money.  Mine is peach and blackberry but you can get creative with the filling, choosing fruits that are fresh and in season. Blueberries and raspberries for example, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top make for a true red white and blue Independence Day dessert.  It’s so quick to make, you can have your cobbler and eat it too!

Peach Blackberry Cobbler

Makes 10-12 servings

Filling Ingredients:

3 lbs fresh peaches, cut into 1/2 inch slices (about 4 cups sliced) peeled or skins left on*

2 cups fresh blackberries

¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Topping Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon white sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour mixture into a 9X13 baking dish.

In another large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and mix well.

Add cold butter cubes to flour mixture and crumble with your fingers until butter is the size of tiny peas.

Add heavy cream and gently mix to make a soft dough. 

Drop dollops of dough over fruit mixture and sprinkle dough lightly with remaining sugar.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes until biscuits are golden and the filling is bubbling.

*To peel or not to peel your peaches. I like it both ways. Peeling adds a few quick steps, and leaving the skins on will add a little pop of color to your cobbler. To peel, cut a small “X” in the bottom of each peach. Dip them in boiling water for 45 seconds, then into an ice water bath to prevent further cooking. Once cooled, remove from water and skins will slide right off.

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Mother’s Day Throwback Thursday…

Below are two of my favorite past Mother’s Day articles from my column “Dishing with Jessica” in Soap Opera Digest Magazine.  And be sure to check out this week’s issue for an exciting new recipe for Mom on her special day… Tart Tatin!











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Bucket List: Alinea in Chicago!

Alinea has been at the top of my restaurant dream list since it opened a decade ago.  On my recent trip to Chicago, I was lucky enough to score a table.  What an incredible night!

Founded in 2005 by Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, the dining experience at Alinea combines delicious modern cuisine, art and theatre all in one.  One of only 12 restaurants in the United States to earn the coveted Michelin 3-Star rating, Alinea currently ranks as #9 on the 2014 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.



Our tasting menu consisted of 20 seasonally driven courses, lasting over 4 hours, and even included an edible balloon!

Below are my photos of the entire menu.  The kitchen is having so much with food.  Keeping their diners pretty darn happy too!

To begin, traditional OSETRA caviar


SALSIFY root hidden in a branch camouflage

FullSizeRender_3SKATE with brown butter, lemon and herbs


PEBBLE ebi, ogo, clam shells


TAI SNAPPER with white pepper, Vietnamese coriander, broccoli

FullSizeRender_6SUNCHOKE with hazelnut brittle and white truffle vinegar


EGGPLANT, banana, cocoa and curry


CHICKEN SKIN with Thai basil, mint and cucumber

TAMARIND young coconut, nam prik num

SIAM SUNRAY with lemongrass, chili and soda

FullSizeRender_9SUCKLING PIG Puerto Rico


HAMACHI with shishito, bean and a pine branch cooked over table side fire


MAITAKE lobster, dashi and shisho


BEEF parsnip, black trumpet and kombu


HOT POTATO and COLD POTATO with black truffle and butter


SQUAB with beet, orange and dark flavors


BLACK TRUFFLE explosion, with romaine


CHOCOLATE frozen distillation in a gorgeous ice sculpture

GRAFFITI pistachio, périgord and balsamic


QUINCE almond, grapefruit and oxalis


BALLOON with helium and green apple (great fun breathing in the helium and chatting away!)


TROPICAL FRUIT rum, vanilla and kaffir lime


A huge THANK YOU to everyone at Alinea for making the night an unforgettable one!



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Eataly in Chicago!

I am so in LOVE with this place!  I’m obsessed.  An absolute must for any food lover visiting Chicago, I went three times in a week on my recent trip to the windy city.  A culinary mecca!


EATALY is a 63,000 square foot epicurean paradise.  Owned by a partnership that includes beloved Italian chefs Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, the team delivers the highest quality Italian foods and beverages.

Boasting over 20 exciting restaurants and bars, EATALY is also the grocery store of your dreams offering up meat, fish, produce, breads, the greatest cheese selection I’ve ever seen, pastries, chocolates, gelato, endless aisles of pasta, sauces, oils, jams, wines, kitchen supplies, even a Nutella Bar!  Seriously, how can all of this deliciousness be under one roof?

Eataly cheese

IMG_6729IMG_6726IMG_6724IMG_6721IMG_6725IMG_6727For lunch, a signature dish at La Pizza bar: Margarita Pizza paired with an afternoon glass of Brunello di Montalcino red wine …


Preach it! …



EATALY in Chicago

45 East Ohio Street


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Sweets to the Sweet… Happy Valentine’s Day!

Looking for something really unique to do this Valentine’s Day?  How about a Dessert Wine & Sweets Paring? If I do say so myself, this episode of Sugared is just plain awesome!  I teamed up with some gal pals- the best in their fields- to make this dessert pairing party phenomenal.  From Bon Appetit Magazine, wine columnist Heather John picked out some of her favorite dessert wines and Valerie Gordon, owner of my favorite chocolate shop in town – Valerie Confections – was on hand to pair the perfect treats with the perfect wines.

I can’t describe how much fun we had!  I mean, come on!  Chocolate, wine, giggles.  Think about doing your own tasting at home.  Invite a group of friends and have everyone bring a dessert wine and a paired sweet. Watch this latest episode of Sugared below for tips on how to pair and what to think about when doing so.

Here’s a complete list of our parings in the episode:

Robert Mondavi Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2000 paired with a Rose Petal Petit Four

Justin “Obtuse” Paso Robles Dessert Red 2008 ($24) paired with a Chocolate Tart filled with milk chocolate ganache and topped with grey sea salt

Fonseca LBV Port 2003 ($22) paired with a Blushing Berry Chocolate Bar

La Tour Vieille “Vendanges” Banyuls 2006 ($18-25) paired with Orange Toffee covered in 61% Valrhona chocolate and topped with candied orange peel

Broadbent 10 Year Malmsey Madeira ($40) paired with a Caramel Parfait and Almond Fleur de sel Toffee

If you live in Los Angeles, a trip to Valerie’s confectionary gem is a must.  But you can also find her sweets online at valerieconfections.com.  And be sure to check out Heather’s amazing food AND fashion blog The Foodinista.

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Dishing with Jessica: The Valentine’s Day Menu

Cooking on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family”…

JC appearing on HOME & FAMILY Tuesday 2/10 10/9c on Hallmark Channel.

… cooking up Crème Brûlée French Toast with Cristina Ferrare and Mark Steines.  Be sure to tune in!  Find us all on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and let us know how you like the recipe! HOME & FAMILY

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