Wednesday, May 26, 2010


A few of you (including Dash and Bella) have said: ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE DAMN PESTOS.

Okay. Got it. Here are some cookies. The  Original Nestle Toll House Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is where I always start. But this new recipe strays pretty far from the source. These are jacked up.

Less flour. Way more vanilla. More brown sugar. Less white sugar. And finish them off with slivered almonds, 3 different kinds of chocolate chips (small, medium, large), dried cranberries, and oats.
I take them out of the oven when the edges are crispy and the very centers are still raw. They remind me of the cookies I used to get at Taylor's Bakery on Hudson St. in NYC. (I just looked it up and Taylor's is closed!) Anyone else remember that place?

printable recipe
Inspired by Toll House Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies and Taylor's Bakery.
Makes 18-24 cookies depending on scoop size.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
 2 1/2 cups total of chocolate chips (I used a combination of small, medium, and large chips)
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract OR 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
2 eggs

Place butter in the bowl of the electric mixture and allow to soften for a few hours if it's not room temperature already.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a new bowl, mix together chocolate chips, dried cranberries, almonds, and oats. Set aside. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix with a whisk to make sure baking soda and salt are evenly distributed.  Set aside.

Add both sugars to the butter and beat like crazy for a few minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add 1 egg. Mix for a few seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add the 2nd egg and mix for a few seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add the vanilla. Mix for about 3 seconds. Scrape down sides. Add 1/3 of the flour mixtures, mix for a few seconds, scrape down the sides. Add the 2nd 1/3 of the flour mixture, mix for a few seconds, scrape down the sides. Now add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture PLUS the chocolate chip/oat/cranberry/almond mixture. Mix briefly until flour is just incorporated. At this point all the chips, nuts, oats, and cranberries should be evenly distributed as well.

Line your cookie sheet (unless it's nonstick) with parchment or a silpat. These cookies are best big. Use an ice cream scoop. Scoop out balls of dough (a bit bigger than a golf ball). Don't flatten them. Keep them spherical. This way the center will stay gooey and the edges while the edges get crisp. Place a few inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake in the middle rack of the oven.

These take anywhere from 8-15 minutes to bake. But don't go according to time. Instead, keep an eye on the cookies. When the center (quarter-sized) is still raw, take the cookies out. Leave them on the sheet pan for a few minutes. Move to a rack and let cool. Or just cool them on the cookie sheet.

Freeze balls of dough for up to 6 months in a ziploc bag. You can place the frozen cookie balls onto a cookie sheet and right into a preheated oven.

Monday, May 17, 2010


My kids and husband came back tonight after 3 days away. This was my first weekend at home by myself since before Dash was born almost 3 years ago. I slept in, did yoga, and had a martini. Or five.
On Sunday, I wandered through the farmers' market without children for the first time in years. I sat down on a bench and caught up with my lovely friend Julia. We chatted for over an hour. I'm so used to having aborted conversations that I kept interrupting myself and starting new topics.

We each bought a basket of baby zucchini because they look so damn cute. I've tried to take pictures at the market before and they've looked like crap because Dash NEVER STOPS MOVING. Julia is 29-years old and was able to sit very still. I was particularly excited by how her lipstick matched her sweet peas.
I should check with Julia and see what she did with her baby zucchini. I sliced mine in half and smeared them with leftover arugula microgreens and spinach pesto. I topped the dish with asparagus tips, bread crumbs, and cheese.
I don't have a picture of the cooked gratin because I took it out of the oven and ate most of it up—right out of the dish. I also ate 4 peaches right over the sink. That's what you do when no kids are around.

I love recipes with variations. Here are a few for this zucchini gratin.

1. Add pine nuts and slices of mozzarella.
2. Add fresh or frozen corn.
3. Add chopped fresh herbs like thyme, basil, oregano, or rosemary.
4. Make a sandwich. Spread both pieces of bread with pesto mayo (mix 1 part pesto + 1 part mayo). Layer pieces of zucchini and asparagus with hearts of romaine and chopped parsley.
5. Serve over pasta, couscous, or rice. Add more cheese and drizzle olive oil over the dish before serving. And you could even throw in some preserved lemons (I have a recipe coming soon for preserved lemons, but until then here's Yummy Supper's).

printable recipe
No amounts necessary for this recipe. Just cook what you have.

baby zucchinis or small summer squash, trimmed and sliced in half
pesto (store bought or homemade)
asparagus tips (save the rest for a soup)
bread crumbs
grated parmesan or pecorino
pine nuts

Grease a baking dish with butter or olive oil. Place sliced zucchini cut-side up. Spread pesto on each half. Distribute asparagus tips evenly on top. Generously season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs, grated cheese, and pine nuts. Bake 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are just tender and the top is crispy and brown. Serve immediately.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


My husband and kids are out of town.  I'm hanging with the dog, the computer, and a fridge full of leftovers. I'm hella relaxed. I haven't blogged in forever so I'm going to try to do a gazillion posts. Or maybe I'll just do one post and then sleep all weekend. Here goes round one...

These are arugula microgreens. These little babies are pulled out of the ground only a few days after they see the light of day.While they're delicate in texture, they have a very powerful flavor. Here's more about growing your own microgreens over at You Grow Girl (there really is a blog for everything).
I pulverized the hell out of them last week in another one of my late night pesto-making sessions. As some of you know, Bella is the pesto taste tester around here. She proclaimed this pesto the best ever. When she tasted it, she had just brushed her teeth with strawberry toothpaste, but I'd say she can be trusted when it comes to pesto.  

The spicy arugula stands up well to the sharp gruyère, while the creamy goat cheese mellows it out a bit. This pesto is potent so a little bit goes a long way. Here's what I did with it over the past few days:

1. I made lemon/pesto vinaigrette. (Soak a diced shallot in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Whisk in 1 tablespoon pesto. Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons strong olive oil. The pesto emulsifies the dressing.)
2. I put it on pasta for Bella's lunch.
3.  I stuffed it inside herbed mashed potato pancakes (recipe coming soon).
4. I spread  it on bread topped with more microgreens.

printable recipe

Try any kind of microgreens that you want for this recipe or full-grown arugula. Or replace with intense greens like chard or mustard (blanched for a minute in boiling water).

1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups spinach leaves, stems removed
2 cups arugula microcreens (or regular arugula)
2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
1/2  to 3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup gruyère, grated
1/4 cup mild and creamy goat cheese
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
juice from 1/2 lemon
big pinch of salt
a few turn of pepper

Toast the pine nuts in a pan or in the oven until they're lightly browned. Throw all ingredients (including the warm nuts) into the food processor. Blend until smooth. Or you can leave it a bit chunky. Taste for seasoning. Add more of whatever flavor is lacking. Store in the fridge for up to a week with a thin coating of olive oil on top to prevent browning. Or you can freeze it in an ice cube tray and then transfer cubes to a ziploc bag.

Dash and Bella Q&A at Apartment Therapy's Odeedoh

Thanks to Carrie McBride over at Apartment Therapy's Ohdeedoh for summing up my blog so beautifully. Here's what she said:

"The fact that Phyllis Grant's mouth-watering blog, Dash and Bella, is about cooking with children is both exactly the point and beside the point. Her dishes and recipes are what anyone would want to eat - man, woman or child - and the fact that the bulk of her cooking is done with her two children as enthusiastic sous chefs is the cherry on top as well as great inspiration for all parents.

Dash and Bella is young in the blog world, but we think it deserves a large audience. The mouth-watering recipes are lusciously photographed and Phyllis' descriptions of each recipe and the experience of making them with her children are fun and personal. Don't be put off if her recipes seem too "fancy" for your family - Phyllis will gladly tell you that Bella took a 4-year vegetable hiatus and they all enjoy a good PB&J sandwich now and again. She may be a great cook, but she's a real mom, too! Not only are we inspired to try many of these dishes (which she conveniently makes print-ready), she also has fabulous advice for cooking with and for children, even the picky ones."

Click here to read the interview. Thank you Carrie!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'm gathering info for a post about kitchen tools. I'm really attached to my microplane zester, paring knife, mortar and pestle, Silpats, cast iron pans, wine opener, silicone brushes, and old Bonne Maman jars. What are your favorites? Please share by commenting below. Thank you.