Thursday, August 12, 2010


These blogiversary dedications are not in order of importance. Just thought I"d point that out as I go into the third one. This post goes out to the cute guy below holding hands with Dash. My husband.
From our first meal together (1990, NYC, 3am, pasta with 14 cloves of garlic) to drooling over bottarga on the island of Elba (back in the 90s when we took trips) to our wedding (the menu was more important than the ceremony), food has defined our relationship.

My husband is my all-around editor. He keeps the cutesy out of my writing, the blandness out of my food, and the awkward composition out of my photos. And he tries to edit my clothes but I tell him to go away. His current refrain about one of my favorite dresses is, "Are you trying to bring back the Eighties?" He's wrong. It's a kick-ass dress.

I love cooking for my husband after the kids are asleep but I do get a bit caught up in the meditative process.  It will be 10 pm and my husband will call out gently, "Dinner soon?" And I'll reply, "Why don't you watch a little more Ultimate Fighter. I still need to roast the chicken." Yes, Ultimate Fighter. We have a ridiculous amount in common. But Ultimate Fighter is where we part ways.

Last weekend I went down to Los Angeles by myself.  I came up with a recipe that reminds me so much of my husband. I cooked and photographed the dish in the middle of the day with beautiful natural light. There were no little hands grabbing things off the table. I got to focus on the tomato in front.
And then the tomato in back.
You might say I had too much time on my hands. But there was something very satisfying about photographing the deconstructed dish.
Here's my leisurely Los Angeles assembly. Tomatoes, corn, and then some poached eggs. 
Some parsley pesto, chopped parsley, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. A sprinkle of fleur de sel and a final drizzle of olive oil. I texted my husband a photo of this dish and he texted back hours later (after the kids were down): "YUM!" I smiled, tucked myself into bed, and then slept for 12 hours straight.

serves 2

6 thick slices of heirloom tomato
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 slices of white country bread
1 clove garlic
raw kernels cut off from 1 ear of corn
2 eggs, poached*
2 tablespoons pesto (any kind -- see below for a few ideas**)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley or chives
parmesan, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler
1 tablespoon pine nuts, lightly toasted
olive oil
chunky salt

Core and thickly slice the tomato. Coat both sides of each piece with the vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat up a grill pan until it's smoking. Sear tomato slices for a minute or so on each side. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Grill or toast the bread. Rub garlic clove all over each piece of bread. The garlic clove will disappear like an eraser.

Poach eggs until they reach desired doneness. Remove eggs from water and place on a clean dish towel for less than a minute.

Start stacking things up on the bread. First the tomato slices, then the raw corn, followed by the hot poached eggs (the eggs will steam the corn a bit). Top with pesto, chopped herbs, parmesan shavings, pine nuts, a drizzle of olive oil and crunchy salt.

*Tips for poached eggs (taught to me by my mother)
1. Bring water to a boil. Make sure it's at least 5 inches deep so the eggs don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
2. Turn flame all the way down. You don't want the water bubbling at all.
3. Add a pinch of salt and a few teaspoons of white, white wine, or champagne vinegar. Stir.
4. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Slowly slide the egg into the water. Repeat with next egg. And so on. Don't overcrowd the eggs. Two at a time works best in a small pot. Four at a time in a larger pot. (My mother cooks them one at a time and before sliding in the egg she spins the water around with a wooden spoon to make a whirlpool. Then she slides the egg into the middle of the whirlpool. Super cool trick. But don't try this if you already have another egg in the water.)
5. After a minute, use a slotted spoon to check on the egg. It's probably about halfway there. Once the white is completely set (touch it if you can't tell), remove and place on a clean dishtowel to catch the water.
6. Serve right away. Or you can reheat the poached egg by sliding it back into the water for 30 seconds or so.

**Dash and Bella pesto recipes (classic basil or sun dried tomato pesto would also work well):


  1. Your blog continues to make me laugh out loud, drool and want to learn photography...all simultaneously! Amazing work, Phyllis. xoxo

  2. Beautiful pictures - and they make me hungry. Happy anniversary!

  3. I'm loooooooving your blog. Photos, stories, food, humour. Congrats to you.

    Ever since your pesto post, I've become a coriander (cilantro in your part of the world) pesto fanatic... and I thank you for that. I didn't have enough of the "right" ingredients on hand the first time so I improvised and added peas to flesh out my small handful of cilantro... cashews... lemon zest and a pinch of chilli flakes and it was amazing. I've made it every week since! thanks. PS: Your recipe is very forgiving... I've pushed it as far as I can take it (no nuts, mostly parsley etc) and it always tastes good.


  4. Another great post! You are a bloggin' rock star this week. Keep em coming!
    This one was really crackin me up.... I want to see that "eighties" dress.

  5. great recipe and what an amazing're so lucky to have such a great "editor" :)

  6. I was just given a cookbook that has a poaced egg atop almost every recipe. I'm kind of afraid of it. This, however looks like something I might be able to handle.
    Gorgeous photography!

  7. Oh Phyllis, that recipe made me swoon. Will get Ben to make it for me when he gets back from the mountains. Since he'll owe me. :) And I'm sure the dress is darling. xo, kk

  8. Phyllis -- I love these posts. Can I send Maddox to you for some food immersion? He gets mac and cheese from me, but at a restaurant tonight he ordered pasta with clams and devoured it.
    XO Helpless in the Kitchen (you know who I am)

  9. phyllis, where has this blog been all my life??? i can't wait to read through all the old posts. your writing is terrific - funny, real, exactly right. and all these recipes! theo's been asking to cook with me (or mostly cullen) for a year, and now we have no excuses. i'm looking forward to trying so many of these out!

    also, if you haven't already, could you please, please do an entry on lunches i can pack theo for school? i think i speak for lots of parents out there when i say we will pay you in cold hard cash or babysitting hours for this information. - Liz

  10. Congratulations on your anniversary!

  11. Congrats on your anniversary! This looks so delicious. It's almost like a revamped bruschetta!

  12. Great photos, especially of the tomatoes!!

  13. You should send this recipe (or any other that you might have) into this contest I know of that’s making its way around the country, the Aetna Healthy Food Fight. It’s coming to San Antonio on October 2-3 and Houston on October 9-10! I noticed your blog and thought you would be interested. You could get great exposure for your recipes and meet celebrity cooks (Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson, Sara Moulton, or Cat Cora). All you have to do is go to to submit one of your healthy recipes. Deadline to sign up for San Antonio is September 15th and Houston is September 22nd so hurry! Good luck if you decide to enter, and if not, keep posting! :)

  14. Must comment Phyllis! I love this blog so much. Just have to say that tears came to my eyes reading about yours and Matt's first meal back in 1990! Remembering how we all met up afterwards and you were so giddy about the date and literally just as giddy about how much garlic you guys consumed.