Friday, December 19, 2014


We hike up the hill towards the track, running shoes on, holding hands, pretending we're forest ninjas. 

Are pumpkins still alive after they're picked? Why have you been drinking so much tea? Who is this King Tut guy? This stick totally looks like a machine gun. I want a robot, don't you? Did I tell you I got a Kangaskhan card and it has 230 life? I don't think there's a God. I want a new dog and I will name him Biscuit. Oh my God, mom, look at that beautiful sky.

Swaths of orange and red blaze across the bay, a sunset so breathtaking that dozens of people sit in the bleachers, reveling, taking photos, leaning in towards one another. It would be so easy to join them.

Don't sit down. Don't sit down. Don't sit down.

Mom, are you talking to yourself again?


We shift. We smile. We feed on each other's hesitations.

Ready, mom?

Ready, Dash.




I don't go. Shit. I don't go.

He is halfway around the track.

I own a different body now. My breasts are three inches lower. My legs are three inches thicker.

He has almost completed a lap.

My abdominals are split open. My pelvic floor is a foreign country.

He swings by for lap number two, slows down, tries to grab me. 

Come on, mom.

He doesn't know that scraped out feeling. Always searching for the on button.

We're here to run.

He wakes up running. I wake up recalibrating.


Bound by bound, breath by breath, I match his gait. My legs glide without effort. My arms pump. We move and move and move. Faster and faster and faster. He has me.

Dash. Oh my God. I'm running!

He gives me the I-love-you-even-though-you're-crazy look.

Dude, I didn't think I would make it more than ten steps. The last time I ran was on my wedding day. 

You mean you haven't run since way before I was born?

Nope, Dash. I haven't run for 13 years.

Up and down the attic stairs to fetch laundry, paper towels, dead rats. In circles. From the house to the car to the house to the car. Down the supermarket aisle to catch a tumbling bottle of wine, a jar of pickles, an avalanche of apples. Towards a choking child. Out of the house in anger. Into my husband's arms. Behind a child's teetering bicycle. Towards speeding cars, crashing waves, third story windows.

He stops to process. To catch his breath. To search for the moon. To be seven years old.

Mom, it's dark and I want to go home and I'm so hungry.

Dash, I want shakshuka more than anything.

I want mac and cheese more than anything. 

I chase my little running man down the hill, endorphins dancing around my head, superhero rocket jets still humming. 

I have let my stories get too big. 

What did you say, mom? Why are you smiling?

Dash, please eat shakshuka with me.
(recipe written up by Dash; layout inspired by Pokémon cards)

Shack shooka. Shakshuka. Shakshouka. Chakchouka. Many spellings from around my house. And from around the world. I understand it has Tunisian and Israeli origins. I have never followed a shakshuka recipe but I've been inspired by dozens of photos from all over the web. 

My Berkeley version involves a harissa-spiced tomato and onion sauce, dotted with feta, topped with baked eggs and chopped herbs. 

Scoop it up with grilled bread. Add white beans, grilled sausages, braised lamb, or cooked potatoes.

Add on. Take away. Make it your own.

Here's my shakshuka. Please tell me about yours. 

printable recipe
serves 4
The only thing you need to make ahead of time is the garlic confit. Or just skip it! 

You can make this a one-dish dinner by cooking the sauce in an ovenproof pan, adding the eggs, and throwing it into the oven. Or, make the sauce a a few days ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Or freeze it. You can make individual shakshukas. Or spoon the sauce into a large baking dish for 4 people. Or double the recipe and make it for 8.

Sometimes, I use my cast iron pan for this but some people swear you should never put acidic tomatoes into cast iron. I've never had a problem. Do this at your own risk. I think it might depend on the depth of buildup on the interior of your pan.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely diced (yielding 2 to 2.5 cups)
1 heaping teaspoon salt
8 cloves garlic confit, squeezed out of their skins
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
3 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
1 box or can of crushed or diced tomatoes, 26 to 28 ounces (avoid those with too many additional ingredients, salt and basil are fine)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon harissa
1 tablespoon honey
2 sprigs fresh thyme
sherry wine vinegar, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon lemon zest (either stripped with a zester or microplaned)
6 ounces of your favorite feta (any kind is fine but I prefer one with a creamier texture)
4 eggs
1/4 cup garlic oil from garlic confit

Place medium-sized ovenproof pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and butter. Once butter is melted, add onions and salt.  Stir every few minutes until translucent. Turn the heat to a simmer  Cover. Cook for about an hour. Stir every 10 minutes or so. If it starts to stick, add a splash of water. It's okay if it browns a bit. This will just add flavor. It's done when the texture is creamy and the color is golden. Remove the lid and boil off most of the liquid (if there is any). Keep the heat on low.

With your mortar and pestle, make a paste out of the garlic confit, fresh garlic, and anchovies. Add to cooked onions. Cook for 30 seconds. Stirring constantly. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, harissa, honey, and thyme. Stir. Bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about an hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so. You want it to thicken and sweeten and intensify. Taste. Adjust. 1 tablespoon of harissa can be quite powerful, but add more if the sauce doesn't have enough kick. I usually add some more salt and a splash of sherry wine vinegar. Remove the thyme sprigs. At this point, you can cool the sauce and then refrigerate or freeze until needed.

When you're ready to eat shakshuka, preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine parsley, mint, and lemon zest. Set aside.

Either leave your sauce in your ovenproof pan or spoon the sauce into a baking dish that allows about 1/2-inch of room at the top. Crumble or cube the feta and press it down into the sauce. It's okay if some of the pieces are poking up through the sauce. Place the dish in the oven until the sauce is piping hot, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. With a spoon, make 4 circular holes for the eggs in the tomato sauce. Crack an egg into a bowl and slide it into a hole. Repeat 3 more times. Sprinkle half of the parsley, mint, and lemon zest over the surface. Spoon over some garlic oil.

Bake until eggs are cooked to your liking. It's okay for the top of the sauce to start browning a bit. Sometimes I find that the yolk is set before the white is cooked. In that case, the best thing to do is cover the dish or pan with a lid or tin foil for about 1 minute. Remove from the oven before it looks done because it will keep cooking. You can always throw it back in for a minute or two. Garnish with remaining herb and lemon zest mixture. Serve immediately with grilled bread and extra garlic oil.

Monday, October 20, 2014


you are not crying from anger or giving the fuck up. You are not crying from drinking too much red wine. You are not crying from wanting a different child, a different life, a different husband.

You are watching your son race back and forth in the detergent aisle, his sweaty cheeks getting pinker with each sprint, his intensity scaring customers away from their Tide and Bleach Pens, his grace taking your breath away. He rushes up and slams his head into your belly. He doesn't notice your tears.

Dash. What was your one job?

To find the figs.


I forgot! Don't worry, mom! I will find them.

He makes it ten steps before crashing to the ground. Up he pops, waving, smiling, yelling out, I'm okay, mom. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay.

For once you are not crying because the car is making a funny noise. You are not crying because you forgot the school meeting. You are not crying because you need more sex.

It is 5pm. You are hungry. You are spacey. You are mumbling your way through the market, looking for recipe inspiration, half-planning a week of meals, trying to steer yourself back to the practical: to the sandwich bread, the apples, the broccoli, the dental floss. But what you really want to do is get lost in the condiment aisle.

Across the football field of produce, your son is nowhere to be found. You flip flop from the oh he's fine mom to the oh my god he has been kidnapped mom. And just when you are about to franticly yell out his name, you find him seated in the toiletry aisle, staring up at the baby products.

Dude. The figs.

Wait. Mom. Look. Here are some baby wipes.

Baby wipes will never ever be a part of my life again.

You never know, mom.

Yes I do.

Your tone is too serious. You don't even know how to begin explaining how hard it was.

You are not crying for the woman who stands on the sidewalk in her bathrobe, glaring up at the sky as if she has lost her way or her family or her mind, swaying in a wind of her own sadness and sobs.You are not crying for the homeless man who power walks through Berkeley all day every day until his shoes are worn down and his feet are bloody.

Mom, you could find another baby inside of you.

Like a sock. Or your car keys.


Is it a choice?

Yes. It is. 

So, you could choose to have a baby and go to to bed and then wake up with one. Right, mom? Is that how it works?

All of aisle 10 awaits your answer. The teenager looking at the essential oils. The young couple with the baby. The pregnant mama. Their ears wide open. Their breathing on hold.

You pick him up and cradle his 50-plus pounds in your arms.  The screaming bloody blob of a thing that slid out of you seven years ago can now read in French and English, navigate an Xbox, peel a clove of garlic, weigh in on the pros and cons of soda tax.

Today you are crying for what is right. For what works. For this moment. For this boy who took so many years to conceive. For all those miscarriages. For loving him more than you thought possible. For deciding he would be your last one.

You tuck him into the shopping cart, surrounded by chicken, wine, anchovies, pomegranates, grapes, baguette, goat cheese.

You go off to find some figs. Together.

Every Monday in October, I've made chicken with figs and grapes. This makes me sound way more organized than I actually am. But this particular dish has been revelatory for me because, up until a month ago, I had managed to overcook chicken breasts for most of my adult life.

If you're game, here's my new trick: cook it at a very high temperature. Open the oven at minute 15 for a quick little baste. Take it out at minute 25. That's it. No fussing necessary. 

Flavor-wise, this dish is sort of the 
anchovyfied lazy younger sister of Chicken Marbella. (Remember? Silver Palate! 1980s! Right. Some of you weren't born yet.) Many of the same ingredients are included (brown sugar, vinegar, wine, fruit), but it's not nearly as acidic or herbaceous. It's way easier because you don't marinate it overnight. The final dish doesn't produce much sauce but that's because my goal with this recipe is to let chicken be the perfectly cooked star: moist and tender, not dry and bland. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. 

Be warned, some of you might find this chicken undercooked. I take it to about 160°F. I don't want you to do something that makes you nervous. If you feel more comfortable bringing the internal temperature of the chicken up to 165°F or 170°F or even 180°F, I totally get it. Do it! I've just been stepping away from the thermometer (full disclosure: it's broken) and trying to cook in a more intuitive way. I'm also a big fan of cooking something that can extend into many meals without tasting like overcooked leftovers.

Think of this dish as a template of comfort.A pan of possibilities.

See recipe below for lots of meal ideas.

printable recipe

There's quite a trend in large chicken breasts these days. The breasts I used were about 10-12 ounces each. As long as they're not pumped full of hormones or antibiotics, I'm down with the size. So ask around. Try to get organic and free-range chicken. And if at all possible, avoid the pre-packaged pieces. Ideally, have them butchered right before your eyes. If the breasts are smaller than 9 ounces, you should check them for doneness after about 20 minutes instead of 25.

The fruit shrivels up a bit from the high heat and absorbs the chicken fat and sweet balsamic garlic anchovy marinade. As my friend Margi says: you can't go wrong when you mix carnage and fruit. If the fruit isn't as soft and jammy as you like, scoop it into a separate dish, paint it with a bit of goop from the bottom of the pan, and throw it back in the very hot oven for a few minutes while the chicken rests.

If you can't find figs, just use red seedless grapes. Or dried fruit like figs or apricots. Even prunes would be delicious (à la Chicken Marbella). If you use dried fruit, soak it first for an hour or so in warm orange juice, wine, or chicken stock. 

4 large chicken breasts, skin on/bone in
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
a few turns of black pepper 
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
1 tablespoon balsamic reduction*
2 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
3 cups figs and/or red seedless grapes (or prunes, apricots, peaches, dried figs or apricots)
a few sprigs fresh thyme
1/3-1/2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Place chicken in a baking dish or cast iron pan (use a pan if you plan to make a sauce). Generously season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.

With a mortar and pestle, bash the garlic and anchovies until you have a smooth paste (this takes a few minutes, so be patient). Whisk  in balsamic, red wine, olive oil, brown sugar. Pour 3/4 of the marinade over the chicken. Use your hands or a pastry brush to coat every bit of the chicken. Turn skin up in the dish or pan.

If you're using figs, stem and halve them. Pick through your grapes. If you're using apricots or prunes, make sure they're pitted. Place whatever fruit you're using in a bowl. Toss the fruit with the remaining 1/3 of the marinade. Tuck the fruit in, around, and under the chicken. Crush the thyme sprigs in your hands and tuck them in as well. Place chicken into the preheated oven. After about 15 minutes, baste the chicken with a few splashes of chicken stock. If the pan is dry or the drippings are burning, use a bit more stock to loosen things up. I find that after about 22 minutes, the juices start to flow out of the chicken and the fruit. And by minute 25 the skin is a deep dark caramel color. At this point, remove the dish or pan from the oven. You have many options. You can set it on the counter and move on with your day. You can take the internal temperature and make sure it has reached a number you're comfortable with (at least 160°F for me). You can cut into the deepest part of the largest breast and take a peek. If it's still a bit raw, then throw it back in the oven. If it's just the tiniest bit pink and the juices are running clear, you're golden. 

If your oven doesn't deliver the beautiful color, don't fret. Just place it under the broiler until desired color is reached.

You can eat this right out of the pan as is. Or save it to expand into a bunch of future meals. Here are some ideas:

1. SORT OF A FANCY DINNERChicken With Mashed Potatoes. While the chicken is cooking, make some mashed potatoes. Scoop out the cooked chicken and fruit and place on a warm serving plate (leaving any juices behind). Cover with tin foil. Crank the heat under the chicken pan, add a finely diced shallot, and use a spatula to scrape up the goodies. Add 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce by half. Turn off the heat and taste. Adjust seasoning. Pour sauce over the warm chicken and fruit.  Serve immediately with the mashed potatoes and a garnish of chopped parsley. 

2. WHEN YOU HAVE 30 UNINTERRUPTED MINUTES TO SPARE (HA!) AT THE STOVE: Lemon Risotto with Chicken and Herbs. Take out two of the breasts and carefully cut the meat off the bone and then into cubes (the skin can be a bit invasive in a delicate risotto, so you might want to give it to the dog or your son or throw it right in your mouth). Make a classic risotto recipe. When you're adding your cheese at the end, stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, one more splash of warm chicken stock, and the cubed chicken. Cover for five minutes. Uncover and stir. Serve with additional parmesan. 

3. SIMPLE DINNER: Rice and Chicken Bowl: Toss cubed chicken (with the skin on this time) and cooked fruit into a pot of cooked brown or white rice. Garnish with chopped scallions. 

4. EASIEST DINNER EVERCheese Pizza with Chicken and Figs. Add cubed chicken (no skin) and cooked figs (don't use the grapes for this one) to a frozen cheese pizza. Follow baking instructions. Drizzle with balsamic reduction* and olive oil before serving. 

5. SOLO LUNCHRoasted Fruit and Goat Cheese Tartines. Scoop out the fruit (eat the chicken another time), top it with crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, broil until hot and nicely browned, press down onto grilled bread rubbed with garlic. 

6. QUICK HEALTHFUL PASTA: Pasta with Chicken, Sage, and Peas. Brown some butter, toss in a few leaves of chopped sage, turn off heat, and stir in cubed chicken (no skin, no fruit) and frozen peas (or massaged kale). Toss with cooked pasta and a splash of pasta water. Serve with olive oil and parmesan cheese. 

7. SANDWICH:  Chicken Breast, Bacon, Arugula, Avocado, and Garlic Confit Sandwich. Cook a few slices bacon to desired crispiness. Grill two slices of gooey sourdough bread. Spread one slice with mayonnaise and the other with garlic confit. Toss a handful of arugula with anchovy garlic vinaigrette. Layer the sandwich with sliced chicken breast (skin on this time), bacon, avocado slices, and dressed arugula. I highly advise eating this with sea salt and vinegar potato potato chips. For extra crunch and excitement, you might even want to tuck a few potato chips into the sandwich.

*I make balsamic reduction by boiling down inexpensive balsamic vinegar (usually, a 17-ounce bottle yields about 3/4 cup. Just store as you would any vinegar).

Monday, September 29, 2014


when you cross the street, even when you're alone, you reach back to take a child's hand.

How when you slam on the brakes, your right arm flies up to protect a little front seat passenger. Even when he's sitting in the back. Even when he's not in the car.

How before you pour boiling water through the coffee filter, you look over your shoulder to make sure all creatures are at least six feet back.

How every homeless person is someone's lost child.

How through the mundane movements of every meal, every load of laundry, every trip to the market, a piece of you is drifting back to their births and forward to their deaths.

How parenting feels like a fucking crap shoot.

How you practice looking into each other's eyes, interlacing fingers, squeezing hands together like they're superglued.

How you remind him that he can control his body. He can listen. He can sit still. He can even change.

You can't learn to fly, mom.

How your breath deepens.

You can't learn to vomit every second of every day.

How you start to laugh.

How you will never ever tell him how much you love him because it would feel like too much of a burden.

How, instead, you start yammering about how you left tomatoes to slow-cook in the oven all day.

How he rolls his eyes with indifference.

How his face lights up when he sees them after school, neon and glistening on the sheet pan.

How he tells you you're the best cook in the world.

How you take this with a grain of salt.

How you ask him to repeat it. Again. And again. And again.
I know it's the tail end of the season, but I've asked around and I hear that there are a few tomatoes left out there in the world. Here is something to do with those stragglers.

There is something very gratifying about throwing food into the oven in the morning and retrieving it at the end of the day. But I would be lying if I told you I had a recipe for these slow-cooked tomatoes.

Just do this: Preheat your oven to a very low temperature. Maybe 200°F. Unless your sheet pan is pristine and perfect and nonstick, line it with a Silpat or parchment paper. Halve some cherry tomatoes and place them on the sheet pan. It's okay if they're from the back of your fridge and all sad and smushed. Stem and thickly slice some whole tomatoes (at least 1/2 inch thick or they will melt away). Add to the sheet pan. Pour about a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil into a bowl. With a pastry brush, paint the tomatoes with a light slick of oil. Take a pinch of kosher salt and sprinkle it over the tomatoes, evenly coating, moving your fingers the whole time until the salt is dispersed. Repeat with more salt until all tomatoes have been lightly touched. Do the same with granulated sugar. Flip the tomatoes over. Repeat steps  Slide sheet pan into the oven. Check after 2 hours. If you're leaving the house, turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes to coast until the evening. If you're sticking around, check them every 30 minutes or so. I find that they are best when shriveled up but not dry. Keep tasting. You will know when they are right.

Where to put these goodies: Store in a jar as is. Or, tuck thinly sliced garlic in amongst the tomatoes and drown everything in olive oil. Throughout the week, pull out tomatoes for sandwiches, pastas, and omelets. Bella eats them on her mac and cheese. I eat them in arugula salad with avocado. Throw them in everything. Or freeze in a jar until deep December when you're desperate for some summer brightness.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I've been saving my stories for the book that I'm writing. Most of them, at least. A few have slipped their way over to Food52 (see above).  I've posted one of my early summer favorites below.

Once my manuscript is turned in, I'll be back here with lots to say. Just keep chanting you can do it, you can do it, Phyllis, you can fucking do it.

Thanks. It helps. A lot.

P.S. You can find me posting excessively over on Instagram. And sometimes I have a few things to rant about on Twitter or Facebook.

After a weekend away and some heavy-duty denial about the fact that it’s officially June, I wake up early Monday morning to find the rest of my life sitting on my chest. This unfamiliar weight scares me. 
I make my coffee, paw around in the freezer, pray that there is something I can MacGyver into two school lunches. Frozen peas land on my jet-lagged son's head. Lamb bones fall onto my bare toes. And before I can stop it, an avalanche of unlabeled freeze-burned Ziplocked scraps slides down to the floor.  
I shove it all back into the freezer, heave my body weight against the door, and lock the chaos back in. 
And things don’t improve. 
It is the kind of morning where my son cries because his daddy will miss his Ninjago-themed sleepover birthday party. It is the kind of morning where I drop my husband off at the airport, lean in for a long deep kiss, and say goodbye for the entire summer. My heart aches so much that it is hard to turn my head over my shoulder to change lanes. I find myself driving down the freeway singing along and sobbing away to John Cougar Mellencamp. 
It’s only 11 AM. 
Bird by bird. 
I open the freezer. I face my future. 
Ten years ago, if you were scrounging around in my freezer for a stick of butter, you would have run into a placenta, a dozen bags of breast milk, some very stale pot, and lots of New York Super Fudge Chunk. Period. 
Now you’ll find enough tortillas to open a Mexican restaurant, fancy-ass square ice cubes (small, medium, large), lardo, bacon, bacon, bacon, two uncooked short ribs from this year’s Super Bowl party, fresh horseradish, a smorgasbord of pastries, pesto, egg whites, my neighbor’s homemade lemon curd, mini pissaladièresbrown butter cupcake brownieschocolate chip cookies, pulled pork, garlic confit, slow-cooked tomatoes, soup, pizza, pizza, pizza. And that, my friends, is just the beginning.  
Starting with the short ribs, I begin cooking the next six meals that will go into my kids’ bellies. I sear off the frozen meat in bacon fat, toss in some onions, garlic, and anchovies. I deglaze with wine while the meat is still in the pan. I break all of the rules. And then I add some gooey balsamic and a large frozen block of diced tomatoes. 
I throw the mess into the oven and forget about it until the smell brings me back.
I lift the lid. I shred the meat. I pick out the fatty bits. My heart rate slows down.

Friday, May 23, 2014


A letter to my daughter. And some recipe ideas for the long weekend. I highly recommend pouring crème fraîche all over your pasta. And butterscotch sauce all over your caramel ice cream.


Dear Bella,  
This morning, you rolled over and yelled out, I want a grilled cheese with pesto in my lunch. And then you added, please. And then you said, but only if that's okay, mom, if not, just make me whatever is easiest. That's when I felt my heart grow too damn big for my chest. It pushed up and made a little lump in my throat. It made the back of my neck tingle.
And that's when I thought, hot damn. That baby girl of mine is going to be okay. I just need to keep letting go.
You probably don't remember, but I spent the first six months of your life holding your teeny screaming body to my chest. While bouncing vigorously on a massive blue exercise ball. Because you thought this world sucked. And you wanted back into my womb. The first time I could put you down without hearing a colicky wail, I sobbed with relief and accomplishment. As if, yes, I have arrived. I am done. I did my work.
But then I had to be brave enough to walk around the corner to make myself a cup of coffee and believe that you would still be alive when I came back.
Then I learned to let go of your hand. Your baby words. Your need to always be by my side. 
More and more, lately, I've been jumping ahead to the day that you move out of our house. I have so much more to teach you. How are we going to fit it all in?
So I've decided to start writing things down. Here's my first lesson. And surprise surprise, it involves the kitchen. Start here, and many other things will fall into place:
1. Freeze little bits of everything. Bacon. Tart dough. Half a cookie. Nuts. Coffee. A chunk of parmesan. Pesto. Tomato sauce. Baguette scraps. That way you can throw a dinner together in the middle of the night. You never know. 
2. Make your own crème fraîche. Once a week. It will brighten up everything. Your windowsill. Your chocolate cake. Your pancakes. Your pasta.
3. Put lemon zest in everything.
4. Learn to make empty-out-the-fridge pesto. Kale and almonds and manchego. Or arugula and walnuts and goat cheese. Almost any combination works. It is cost effective. It is versatile.
And someday, in your own kitchen, you will find yourself eating pasta with broccolini pesto, crème fraîche, and lemon zest. For breakfast. Like I did this morning. But until then, I will rouse you out of bed, help you search for matching socks, wipe the Nutella off your chin, and tuck your hair behind your ears. Until you slip slip slip out of my fingers into someone else's arms.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Dash, what did you do today at school?

Chased girls.

Which ones?

Ella. And Chloe. Oh my god they have a lot of girls protecting them.

What do you do when you catch one?

That doesn't happen much.

But if you do?

We throw them in the dungeon. But they always escape. They put their heads down and bust out like bulls.

Strong girls. I like that.

I slowly back out of his room.

Mom. Stay. I need you.

Good night, beautiful.

You suck, mom. I always ask you to stay and you never do.

How did it go today with the girl chasing?

Sadly, mom, we didn't get any.

Girls are hard to catch. 

He grabs me by the shoulders.

Mom. Stay. I need you.

I slip out of his arms like I'm removing armor.

Dash. I've been thinking. If you want to catch them, you've got to be smarter.

You mean like steal their detailed dungeon maps?

Smarter than that.

Like what?

Maybe offer them some dessert.

Interesting idea, mom.

He rolls away and faces the wall. I can feel his brain churning.

Thanks so much for giving me two Rice Krispie treats in my lunch.

You're so welcome. I thought they would make you smile.

And guess what? Chloe saw them and freaked out because she wanted one so bad. She was all blooblablooblablooblablaaaaaaaaaaa. Shaking her arms. Like a monster. I was super scared. So I gave her half a Rice Krispie treat.

Chase any girls today?

No, we're done with that.


I don't know. Maybe we should just ignore girls for a little while. I don't understand them.

Well, I'm a girl. Don't ignore me. 

You're not a girl. You're a woman. And you're old.

Mom, will you please google something for me? Type in what's the difference between boys and girls?

Dashi, I know the answer to that. Girls have vaginas. Boys have penises.

I heard something else. I heard that girls have more taste buds.

Well, that explains a lot of things.

Like what? Mom. What does it explain? Google it.

Scoot over. I'm lying down.


You want to hear what daddy cooked for me on the night we met?


It was the middle of the night. It was snowing...
printable recipe
Adapted from the classic recipe for Kellogg's Rice Krispie Treats. Use really dark and bitter chocolate to balance out the sweetness of the marshmallows.
serve 2-8

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound bag of trashy marshmallows (don't waste the fancy organic kind on this recipe)
6 cups Rice Krispies (I use Kellogg's)
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate

With butter or nonstick baking spray, grease  a baking dish (about 8"x10"). Lightly grease a piece of parchment that's about the size of your hand. Set both aside.

In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over medium heat. It will take a few minutes to brown. But stick around. It will sizzle for a bit. Once a wonderful nutty smell hits your nostrils, watch carefully. The foaming and sizzling will slow down and brown bits will drop to the bottom of the pan. At this point, turn the heat down to low. Add the marshmallows. Stir until they're all melted. Turn off heat and stir in Rice Krispies and salt.

Quickly pour mixture into the greased baking dish. Move fast. With the piece of greased parchment, press it down until firmly until it's flat and even. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes. Loosen by working your way around with a spatula. Slowly pry the firmed up block out of the dish. Be patient. This can take a few minutes. If it falls apart, you can always press it back together. Place on a cutting board.

 In a double boiler or over low heat, melt the chocolate. Drizzle melted chocolate all over the firmed up Rice Krispie mixture. Place in the fridge to set up for about 20 minutes. Cut into squares. Eat.

Store squares at room temperature for a day or two. Or freeze for a few months. But believe me, they taste best right away. Slightly warm. Fresh. With a bit of extra chocolate.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


This post will be old news for those of you who follow me on  Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. So if you think of it, please check back next week for some newness involving Dash, chasing girls, and caramel apples.

But for those of you who aren't following me on social media and maybe thought I had fallen off a cliff, I've been busy with the following:

Working on my book (due in six months). 

Killing rats (I take no prisoners). 

Trying to drink fewer martinis (no comment).

Tending to sick kids (but not too sick to be dragged out of bed and enlisted as photographers).
photo credit: Isabel Ross (my daughter)

Making Baked Alaskas (Dash + blow torch = all kinds of excitement).

Celebrating 25 years with my husband (yes, we met when I was a child of 19).

Cleaning out my closet (exciting finds: a 10-year-old bong made from a Miracle Whip jar and a pair of over-the-knee UGG clog boots). 

Shaving my legs (once, on February 3rd). 

Talking Dutch Baby Pancakes on Yahoo Food.

Doing an interview with Saveur Magazine in which I ramble on about the birth of my blog, how I develop a post, and what I've learned over these past four years of blogging. Here's the pinch-me-is-this-for-real intro: With a deeply personal emphasis, and style ranging from confessional to light and jocular, Phyllis Grant's blog Dash and Bella is a prolific and poetic log of daily life that focuses on food and cooking... (continue reading on Saveur)

And I've been writing every few weeks for Food52. I'm loving working with my editor, Kenzi Wilbur. Nice to get out of my crazy head. Very freeing to have someone guide me. Here are the last five pieces from my "Cooking What I Want" column. There is a link to each story if you want to continue reading or check out a recipe. 

In a fit of hunger, I have never opened the fridge and exclaimed, “Damn, I need to eat some carrots. NOW.” 
To be honest, carrots in both their raw and cooked iterations have always made me feel depressed...(continue reading)
Year round, my freezer is a treasure trove of sweet treats. Often, when friends come over, they walk right past me, head into the kitchen, and start foraging around until ahhhh yes they find what they’re looking for: chocolate chip cookies. They take a huge bite and sigh out a thing or two from this list:
They’re intoxicating.
Can I live at your house? In your freezer? With those cookies?
They’re perfect.
They need ice cream.
They’re so you.
They make me happy.
They are the reason I come over to your house.
I’ll trade you some for a bottle of gin.
Can I have another?
(continue reading)
I’ve always baked during my daughter’s birthday week. Obsessively. Epically. You name it, I’ve whipped it up. Vanilla bean cupcakes covered in marzipan bumble bees. Three-tiered pink princess cakes peppered with Playmobile figures. Crushed candy cane fillings. Ganache waterfalls. Towers of donuts. Her yearly birthday dessert vision appeared weeks ahead of time via a sit-down meeting and an intricate drawing. I welcomed the challenge. The more advanced the pastry adventure, the less time I had to trip out on the passing of time and the fact that this phenomenal girl was going to be heading out of the house before we knew it. But this year was different...(continue reading)

Peel and thinly slice an onion. Throw it in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add a knob of butter, a generous splash of olive oil, and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir until the onion softens a bit over medium heat. Don’t listen to that voice telling you you shouldn’t caramelize one onion because if you’re doing one you might as well do eight. Drop in a sprig of thyme, cover. Feel extravagant. Turn the heat down as low as it will go.
Water your plants. Scrub some paint off of the kitchen wall that you’ve been staring at since your son was three years old. Sort the socks. Start re-reading the Molly Bloom chapter from “Ulysses.” Smell something sweet and beautiful. Remember the onion. Run for the onion...(continue reading)
Friday morning. I stare at twelve duck legs, two frozen lamb shanks, and twenty sausages. I don’t quite believe it, but by Sunday night, in order to celebrate multiple family birthdays, this pile of meat will morph into an enormous pot of French stew. I open my recipe journal from this time last year to find notes on how to make a cassoulet. It was so delicious that I want to replicate every last detail. I search and search. I finally concede that I didn’t write anything down. I burst into tears. I’m on my own.
Saturday morning. The beans are simmering with salt pork. The duck legs are smothered in salt and garlic and bay leaves. The lamb is seared off. I am making shit up as I go along, but I am optimistic. While bashing garlic, anchovy, and tomato paste into a purée, I start thinking about the post-cassoulet dessert. It must be chocolate. It must be elegant...(continue reading)