Fig + Prosciutto + Arugula Flatbread

I’ve been anxiously awaiting fig season since the beginning of June. Nothing smells like summer more than the smell of my neighborhood’s massive fig tree by the river. 

They say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. If that’s true, I guess I need to make a career out of blasting the new Bleachers album while making bougie rectangular pizza on a Harry Potter Weekend morning. 

While my pizza dough was rising, I made a stovetop fig jam by simmering 6 figs macerated with a spoonful of sugar and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar. I also spent about 30 minutes trying to caramelize an onion. It’s not as easy as it seems. 

After an hour of rising, I preheated the oven to 475°F with an upside down baking sheet on the middle rack. I stretched the dough into a rectangle on parchment paper, brushed the surface with olive oil, spread the top with fig jam, and topped it with the onions and fresh mozzarella. I slided (slid?) the pizza and parchment onto the preheated pan in the oven and baked for 20 minutes exactly. Lather, rinse, and repeat with pizza #2.

After cooling for a few minutes, I topped the pizza with arugula, fresh figs, and prosciutto. FLAVORS! 

Massaged Kale 

This afternoon, I took advantage of the sun by laying outside and downing two cans of La Croix. Instead of getting a glowy tan, I got a handful of new freckles on my face. The rest of my body is just as pasty and doughy as before. It’s 96°F in my neck of the woods, and the only thing I want to eat is salad.

I’m into contrasting colors and contrasting flavors. In a jar, I mixed white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, a few black peppercorns, and a smashed clove of garlic. Then, I sliced a red onion into thin rings and placed them in a sieve. To par-cook the onion, I poured boiling water over the sieve. I stuffed the onion slices into the jar and let it cool to room temp before chilling the jar in the fridge. The onions go from a dull purple to bright pink within an hour. I could eat pickled onions by themselves.

I washed a bundle of curly kale and separated the ribs from the leaves. Then, I used a sandwich bag as a makeshift glove, and massaged the following into the kale: olive oil, lemon juice, whole grain mustard, sesame paste, salt, and sugar. Massaging kale seriously makes a difference. If you’ve ever had raw kale that wasn’t massaged first, you’re probably lying if you say you enjoyed it. Massaging each leaf really helps break down the tough texture and gives your jaws a break. It’s cool to see the leaves get darker and more tender. After massaging, my bundle of kale reduced to half the original volume.

I drained and rinsed a can of great northern beans and tossed them into the salad, along with shaved parmesan/asiago/romano cheese. I also chopped up some orange honey almonds, my favorite farmers market find. One of the best parts of massaged kale salads is that the leftovers are even tastier than eating it fresh! This will be my lunch for the next few work days 👍👍.

Sponge Layer Cake with Raspberry Curd Filling 

Swiss meringue buttercream. Do it. You will not regret it. 

I wanted to experiment with Swiss meringue buttercream and figured I would do so by making a Mother’s Day cake. For my sponge layers, I used this recipe and failed miserably. Luckily, the buttercream came thru.  

For my buttercream, I whisked 4 egg whites and 1 cup of sugar over a double boiler. As soon as the mixture reached 160°F, I began whipping until the egg whites were white and glossy. Then, I added a splash of vanilla. I added 3 entire sticks of softened butter (this cake will give you a  heart attack) little by little. At one point, the icing became soupy, but based on my extensive research, that’s supposed to happen. I let the KitchenAid whip the icing for a good 10 minutes until the soupy mixture pulled itself together into one cohesive icing. The end product is 100% smoother, lighter, and less sickeningly sweet than American buttercream is. It’s like eating a cloud.

I free-handed the filling by cooking a pint of fresh raspberries, a stick of butter, 5 egg yolks, and a few scoops of sugar on the stove. After the curd thickened, I forced it through a sieve to separate out the raspberry seeds. 

After hours of baking, mixing, stacking, and icing, I took the easy way out of cake decorating by topping the cake with fresh flowers and greenery. 

Creamy Avocado Pasta with Grilled Shrimp and Tomatoes 

Honestly one of the worst feelings is when you buy an entire bag of unripe avocados, and they ripen overnight, all at once. Good thing I’m from California and Californians use avocados in everything. It’s the most versatile fruit (it’s a FRUIT).

Ideally, I would’ve used avocados and basil as the base of this pasta sauce, but our basil plant is completely wilted. So I used green onion and cilantro instead. Not the taste I was going for, but still a taste. I processed together the flesh from two avocados, juice from half of a lemon, a garlic clove, two green onions, and a handful of cilantro. I let the processor run while I drizzled in some olive oil and salt/pepper.

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I marinated some defrosted shrimp in a bag full of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, Tapatío, and salt/pepper. After about 15 minutes (definitely not enough time for optimal flavor seepage), I skewered the shrimp and threw them on the barbie (grill pan) until they were orange and opaque. I also grilled some oiled up heirloom tomatoes, which are also fruits. Meanwhile, I accidentally overcooked some spaghetti noodles.

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Too creamy.

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates and Baby Kale Salad

Bacon wrapped dates are basically meat candies. They’re crispy, sweet, savory, and wrapped in a tiny little package. I stuffed Deglet Noor dates with the cheapest blue cheese I could find at Nugget. I used thick cut bacon, and wrapped a third of each strip around each stuffed date. I used toothpicks to hold the little packages in place, and baked them on a rack (You know, to allow all the grease to drain onto a pan. It’s healthy.) at 400°F until crispy. 

I made a quick salad with baby kale and celery. For a vinaigrette, I whisked together some apple cider vinegar, whole grain mustard, honey, lemon, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I topped the salad with some red onion, crushed pistachios, shaved Pecorino Romano, and segments of the last few oranges from our backyard tree. 

While the bacon cooked, I brushed a few baguette slices with olive oil and grilled them on a grill pan. When toasty, I rubbed some raw garlic on each side. If only you could smell what I’m smelling!

This salad hit the spot. It hit all the spots.