Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rosie's Figs Are A-Comin' In And She's Makin' Figcaccia.

Rosie's figs are coming in.
What to do?  What to do?

I've made fig newtons, fig ice cream, sticky figgy buns, all manner of fig appetizers ...
You name; I've figged it.

What to do next?
Well, I'll tell you!
Make a fig pizza - it's figcaccia!

 This is the finished product.
And you know you want some.

First, I made a dough.
Just my regular pizza dough.
 Here's my dough, rising.

I cut the dough in half.
Saving one half for something later.  Probably pizza.  Put it in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate.

Using the other half tonight for the figcaccia.

I made some caramelized onions.

Then I started working on my dough.
Pressing it out.

Take your time pressing.
Press and rest.
Press and rest.
Then let it rise.

Bake the dough until lightly browned.

Spread with a mixture of Chèvre and Bleu cheeses.

Add on some caramelized onions.

Then some sliced, fleshy figs.


Brie cheese on top of figs.

Ready for baking.

And there ya go.

Beautemous and delicioumous.

Here are the how-tos and what-fors:

Rosie's Dough
1/2 cup warm water
1 package yeast
maybe a teaspoon of sugar

Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water.
Then sprinkle the sugar on top of the yeast.
Leave it.  Let it "proof."
That means the yeast "proves" it's alive.
By getting foamy and poofy.  It's hungry.  It's eating the sugar.  And emitting carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Next, fork in about  1 - 1 1/2 cups or so of bread flour.  Just enough to make a shaggy ball of dough.  Knead it, until it's a smooth and cohesive ball of dough.  Pour some oil in a bowl.  Roll the dough in the oil, cover, and let rise until doubled.

After the rising, I cut the dough in half.  Wrapped one half in plastic and refrigerated it.  Save it for pizza or something else later on.

 Press the dough out in an oiled pan, pressing and resting, until you have about a 10 x 12-inch rectangle.  Let it rise.

Bake the crust in a 350° oven for about 8 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Rosie’s Figcaccia
4 oz. bleu cheese, softened
4 oz. chèvre cheese (goat cheese), softened
1 onion, peeled, sliced, and caramelized
At least a dozen figs, sliced
Fresh rosemary
Brie cheese
Wildflower honey
Extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, mash together the softened bleu and chèvre cheeses.
To caramelize the onion, melt a tablespoon of butter with a little oil in a medium skillet over medium low heat.  Add in the onion slices with a pinch of kosher salt and a pinch of sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until slices start to brown.  Take your time doing this, allowing the natural sugars in the onion to caramelize, resulting in an intensely flavorful concoction.  Remove from heat.

Assemble your fig pie:
Spread the softened bleu and chèvre cheeses evenly over the browned pizza crust.  Top with caramelized onions, as many sliced figs as you like, a sprinkling of fresh rosemary, a dab of brie cheese on top of each fig, and a light drizzling of honey and extra virgin olive oil.

Be sure you use wildflower honey made from bees who have feasted in your garden and live about 1/2 mile away.

Bake in a 350° oven until brie melts – 5-7 minutes.

This is just all sorts of good.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Try This Coleslaw!

 I made coleslaw.
It was unconventional - as in no mayonnaise.

I made two versions.

 Here's the first recipe:

Rosie's Coleslaw
 1 cup shredded cabbage
1 TB finely chopped red onion
2 TB finely chopped Fuji apple
1 TB shredded carrot
2 TB poppy seed dressing
Mix all together.

Rosie's Poppy Seed Dressing
 Makes 1 cup.
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground mustard
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup canola oil
1 heaping TB poppy seeds
½ tsp kosher salt, or to taste
few grinds of pepper

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard, and lemon juice.  Whisk to dissolve sugar.  Drizzle in oil in slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, to make a nice emulsion, or you can combine everything in a mini-processor and have a go at it.  Stir in poppy seeds and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Shake vigorously before pouring.

  It was really good.

 And then I made it over, because I wanted more and I wanted different.
I slightly modified the recipe.
Made more of it.
Made it different.
And made it really, really good.

 Rosie's Modified Coleslaw
 2 cups shredded cabbage
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped, and bathed in juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 carrot, shredded
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup poppy seed dressing
Mix all together.

 Even better.
Sweet and salty!

That's the ticket!

Now, what to do with that extra poppy seed dressing?
 Make a fruit salad!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Youngest Hawthorne Has A Birthday.

Is this a cake or what?!?!

I was mulling over what kind of cake to make for my little Hawthorne, and mind you, the bar is high.

I never know what to expect from Youngest Hawthorne.
And I don't always know what his expectations are.
Although, sometimes I do.
Case in point:
 This is a schematic he drew, 4 years ago, of exactly what he wanted in a birthday cake.
And I successfully delivered.

This year, I had no such game plan, so to speak, so I'm winging it.
I'm going with a three layer coconut and pecan cake.

Here's my mise en place for the cake.
It helps to have everything ready to rock 'n' roll.

Coconut and Pecan Layer Cake

For the cake:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
 8 TB unsalted butter, softened
½ cup Crisco 
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, separated, room temperature

1 ¼ cups coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°.
Butter and flour three 8" cake pans.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in one bowl.
Whisk buttermilk and vanilla in another.
In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, Crisco, and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches (starting and ending with dry) and wet ingredients in 2 batches.  Increase speed and beat until batter is smooth. 
Whip egg whites in another bowl until stiff peaks form.
Fold whites, coconut, and pecans into batter.
Divide batter among three pans and bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pan, then turn out onto wire racks and cool completely.

For the icing:
4 TB unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup toasted coconut

With a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Slowly add in sugar, beating, and vanilla, until smooth.

To assemble:
Place first cake layer on cake stand and spread with about ⅓ of the icing.  Top with second layer and spread with about ⅓ of the icing. Top with third layer and cover top and sides with remaining frosting.  Sprinkle top and sides with coconut and nuts, pressing into icing.  Chill.

Always take time to go check on your hummers.

My cake batter is ready for the oven.

Cooled cakes, ready for frosting.


Happy Birthday to my Little Hawthornelet!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

It's Youngest Hawthorne's Birthday.

 It was a dark and stormy morning.
It's Youngest Hawthorne's birthday!
And I'm fixing him his favorite meal - the one he requests every year for his birthday.
Actually he doesn't have to request it anymore.  I just do it.  Happily.

It's seared scallops.
The scallops are on a bed of some type of risotto (my choice for the additions) and a Parmesan crisp, and the scallops are topped with basil pesto and caramelized onions.
It's Dee-Vine!

I look forward to making this for him every year.

And this year is special.
He was born on a Monday and this year his birthday is on a Monday.
That is special, right?

 This meal involves a bit of preparation, so please indulge me.

  Since I'm making risotto, I need some vegetable stock to add in for the rice to sop up.

Instead of using a boxed or canned vegetable stock, I opted to make my own.  Much better.

 Vegetable Stock
1 onion, cut up into 6ths or 8ths and skin included
1-2 carrots, sliced diagonally (Surface area!)
1-2 celery stalks, sliced diagonally along with the leafy greens
fresh thyme sprigs
fresh parsley
sliced scallions
5-6 fresh bay leaves (2-3 dried)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TB whole peppercorns

Put all ingredients into a 2-qt. sauce pan and fill with water.
Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and let barely simmer for about an hour.
Strain liquid and save ingredients for your compost pile.
I ended up with 1 quart plus of vegetable stock.


Next, I made Parmesan crisps.
I grated Parmesan cheese - about 1 1/2 cups worth.
Then I placed 6 scant 1/4 cups worth of grated cheese on a parchment paper covered baking pan.
Lightly press the Parm into rounds.
Bake in a 350° oven for about 10 or so minutes, or until lightly browned.

Now, it's time for caramelized onions.
I peeled and sliced an onion.
Heated a skillet over medium heat with 1 TB unsalted butter and 1 tsp peanut oil.
Dropped in the onion slices along with a pinch of kosher salt and a pinch of sugar.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion slices turn a delicious light brown.
Like this.

On to the risotto.

1 TB unsalted butter
drizzle of peanut oil
1/2 cup arborio rice
Over 2 cups of hot homemade vegetable stock
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup frozen peas (If you use canned peas, I will come to your house and hurt you.)

Heat oil and butter in skillet until butter is sizzling.  Add in rice and stir until nutty and slightly toasted.
Pour in 1/4 cup of hot stock and stir until rice absorbs the liquid.
Add in another 1/4 cup of stock, stirring until absorbed.
Keep doing this for about 30-40 minutes, until the rice is tender and you have a creamy consistency.
At the end, throw in the spinach and stir until wilted.
Cover and remove from heat.
Before serving, add in the thawed peas and heat through.

Everything's ready.
(Last week, I'd made a big batch of pesto, so I had individual pesto plops in the freezer and just took one out to thaw.)
I just need to do the scallops now.

To prepare scallops:

1/2 lb sea scallops
Remove that tough "foot."  That's the little side muscle of tissue.

Rinse scallops and pat dry.
Dredge scallops through a coating of:
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp cayenne flakes
2 TB sesame seeds
zest of 1 lemon
Shake off any excess.

Melt 1 TB unsalted butter and 1 TB peanut oil over medium high heat in an iron skillet to 350°.  Add in scallops, one at a time, and leave 'em.  Cook 2 minutes, then turn over, and cook 1 more minute.  They should be a lovely golden brown on each side.  Do not overcook your scallops.  Remove from heat immediately.

To plate:
Nestle a bed of risotto on the plate.
Place a Parmesan crisp over top.
Assemble seared scallops on crisp.
Top scallops with basil pesto and caramelized onions.
Sprinkle some sliced scallions over top and a zesting of lemon, if desired.

And enjoy something wonderful!


And come back for the birthday cake!
Here's a sneak preview:

It's pecan and coconut and it's some kinda good!