Thursday, September 2, 2010


If you had told me a year ago that I was going to start a food blog and come up with over 40 original recipes, I would have told you that you were on crack.

But I did just that and here's how it went down. It's all thanks to my parents (and one other person I'll tell you about in a minute).

A year and a half ago, my dad saw my interest in photography and gave me the most excellent gift: my very own fancy-pants Nikon camera. I proceeded to take a lot of out-of-focus photos. I even took the camera into the photo store to see if it was broken. "Your camera works just fine," said the cocky young hipster photographer dude. He continued, "You know, I'm known for being able to hold the camera incredibly still." And then he demonstrated. I went home and practiced a lot so I could kick his photography ass.
My mom is always looking out for me. A little over a year ago, she sent me the following email: "Phyllis - Because you can cook AND write, I think you should enter this contest.  Love - Mommie." It was an online contest put on by the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group in which you were to cook some Julia Child recipes and write about the experience. I spent one crazy day cooking three Julia Child recipes. I even locked Dash in his room so that I could finish. Then I needed a way to submit my entry. I went to Blogger, started a blog (it took two minutes!), and named it after my children. That's how the Dash and Bella blog was born.

When I got the email informing me that I had actually won the contest, Dash ran around the apartment yelling, "I won! I won! I won!" And he was right, in many ways we did all win. Yes, we got LOTS of loot.
But beyond the cookbooks, the dishtowels, the bamboo spoon, and the  enormous Le Creuset pot, this blog changed the cooking vibe around our house. It wasn't a revolutionary change, but a legitimate shift in focus. Much like a destination vacation, everything we needed for hours of fun, day and night, was now found in the kitchen. It became the most exciting room in the house.

My kids now know what's in season. Bella is often schooling Dash. "No strawberries in December! They'll taste awful."

They know the knife rules. Curl your fingers in, angle the knife away.

They've learned some new vocabulary. Last week, three-year old Dash busted out with the question, "Is that savory or sweet?" I didn't use the word savory until I was 25.  

They follow cooking projects through to the end. Look at Dash's concentration as he grates the garlic into the chicken marinade (recipe for Kitchen Sink Chicken coming soon).

Bella's commitment to her Watermelon Salad blew my mind. She was sweating by the end.
One more person supported this blog in a huge way. It's true that a team of people from Knopf chose my entry as the winner, but one member of this team stuck around the whole year. She read my early posts and urged me to keep writing, she tweeted about my blog when it was on Real Simple and Apartment Therapy, and she got excited about my version of bread pudding. Her name is Pamela Cortland and she rocks the house.  

I know this is a long build up to my final blogiversary tribute (and this is the edited down version). But I've arrived. I dedicate the following end-of-summer-use-up-the-corn recipes to my mom, my dad, and Pamela Cortland at Knopf. I couldn't have sustained this blog without their encouragement (and I certainly wouldn't have started it in the first place). Thank you.

The first recipe represents my cooking past. It's a Corn, Goat Cheese, Lemon, and Basil Tart that is inspired by a Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tart that my mom and I have been making for 15 years. Dash filled the tart shell with the cheesy corn filling and claimed the batter was as tasty as cookie dough. I can't confirm this.
The tart puffs up beautifully in the oven. The texture is a bit like ricotta cheesecake. It's not silky smooth, but it still has a melt-in-your-mouth quality. I served this tart with a basil infused olive oil, though it's not necessary. But do serve this tart with something acidic like sliced tomatoes with balsamic and olive oil. Or an arugula salad with a tangy dijon vinaigrette. You can find my recipe for this tart over at food52. It was chosen as an Editors' Pick (woohoo!).

The second corn recipe is Pasta with Grilled Peaches, Corn, Shallots, and Lillet Blanc. This recipe represents a new confidence I've found in creating my own recipes. Until 9 months ago, I was glued to cookbooks. Now I love to freestyle and mess with preconceived notions of what should be savory and what should be sweet.

The key is to marinate the sliced peaches in shallots, garlic, and balsamic before grilling them up.
Then cook the corn in the remaining peach marinade on high heat for about a minute. Finish it off with a big old glug of Lillet Blanc (or white wine).
Add some pasta water, parmesan, and parsley and that's it. I've made it with goat cheese ravioli, spaghetti, bucatini, and penne. All worked really well.

serves 2
I use raw corn for this recipe and it only cooks in the sauce for a few minutes. If you like your corn a little more cooked, you can cook it before cutting it off the cob. This recipe works well with goat cheese ravioli. But it's just as good (and less rich) with plain dried pasta. Or try spaghetti, bucatini, or penne.

4 firm peaches, peeled and thickly sliced
2 shallots, diced
1 clove garlic, grated or pressed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
big pinch salt
a few turns of pepper
olive oil for grilling
3 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob (raw)
2 tablespoons Lillet Blanc or white wine
3/4 pound pasta or ravioli 
1 teaspoon salt
parsley, coarsley chopped
parmesan, sliced with a vegetable peeler

Marinate peaches, shallots, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper for 10 minutes. Hit a grill pan up until smoking. Brush grill with a bit of oil. Sear peach slices for a minute on each side (just to blacken with grill marks). Don't do this for more than a minute on each side or the peach slices will fall apart. Save remaining marinade. Set grilled peaches aside. 

Bring large pot of water to the boil for the pasta. Add salt. Add pasta.

When the pasta has about 3 minutes of cooking time left, heat up a pan to high heat. Mix corn kernels into remaining peach marinade. Add corn and marinade to the hot pan and cook for one minute. Add Lillet or white wine and cook down for another minute. When the pasta is al dente (usually a minute or two less than instructions suggest), don't dump it into a colander. Instead, leave the pasta water in the pot. Scoop the pasta out of the water and place it directly into the pan with the corn. It's okay if some of the cooking water comes with the pasta. Toss until pasta is coated. Add a little more pasta water if it seems dry. At the last second pour over the grilled peaches and any juice. Gently toss once more. Serve immediately topped with parmesan and parsley. Sprinkle extra salt, pepper, and olive oil over the top.


  1. These recipes look and sound delicious!

    I love the story of how your blog was born. A creative risk turned fabulous!

  2. That first recipe has my name on it! I've been experimenting with tarts a lot this summer and trying to get the knack of making good dough. It's an uphill battle sometimes but I just adore savoury tarts! This one looks phenomenal.
    Happy anniversary to you and your wonderful blog!

  3. YUM! Thanks so much for the sweet story and for these 2 recipes. Now I know what I'm making for dinner, corn tart! My mouth is watering...

  4. I might be trying the second recipe soon,
    I've been loving Lillet lately and it sounds so delicious incorporated in past with peaches and corn, yum!

  5. Happy Anniversary! That tart looks wonderful. I added it to my list for this weekend

  6. DELISH!!! In all ways Dash and Bella is delectable. Phyllis, I love... the photos of the kids in full concentration; hearing your reasons for dedication; and of course those friggin delicious recipes. Peaches and Lillet may just be two of my most favorite things. Drool.
    And I bet your photos kick that bratty photo hipsters ass.

  7. You have such a darling blog. It has inspired me to include my kids when I'm in the kitchen cooking something yummy. Everything tastes better when you've helped prepare it!

  8. This looks original! I can't wait to try it.
    Congratulations for your beautiful blog!

  9. Phyllis! Thank you for your kind words in this post. I read it over the weekend and babbled to everyone around me, "This amazing cooking blog wrote a thank you to ME! My name is in one of my favorite blogs OF ALL TIME!!" Being a part of your site's origin story is one of my greatest professional successes.

    Also, my mind is blown at the combination of grilled peaches, corn, and shallots. I might have to start giving you lists of the vegetables I get at my weekly CSA, because you have such an inventive way of combining ingredients, and I'm in dire need of recipes designed to clear out my fridge's crisper.

  10. Totally, totally late to the game on this, but I think if I made the peaches and pasta recipe for my boyfriend, he'd marry me. Filing away for the appropriate moment (and season) . . .