Friday, August 27, 2010

A Fig Tree Grows In Astoria

It’s been a while since I have been able to post. From visiting family around the eastern seaboard to attending bachelor and WAG parties, Joe and I have had a very busy schedule. But this does not mean that I wasn’t cooking anything. In fact we did quite a bit of cooking, but after my third cousin asked me why I was taking pictures of food, did I realize, maybe I should just enjoy and not try to document everything I was doing.

I was going to share with you a ‘Winning Cousins Competition Cake’ but a vanilla cake, with vanilla frosting, on a white plate, sitting on top of a white counter, somehow didn’t look as great as I thought it would. Or the giant greek style feast that a four year old helped me prepare could have played a role on this blog. But every time the four year old asked to help, she followed up with “Can I just eat that?”, and when a child asks to eat melon, cucumber, prosciutto, cheese, mushrooms, and peppers - you just don’t say no.  Even if it means sacrificing pictures.
And then last weekend in New York City, I managed to make a baked Challah French Toast for Joe’s birthday, but again when some hungry guests are clamoring for bacon, and you are using your gracious host’s every last plate and platter, you can’t really delay eating with trying to produce the perfect picture. But as our summer travels wind down, I did manage get into the kitchen and prepare something worthy of sharing.
Our hosts in New York have a gigantic fig tree growing in their back yard. Yes that sentence is full of combinations that don’t seem to go together – grow, New York, backyard etc. But they really all do. And when someone insists that you take fresh figs home, you just can’t say no. Plus I like to count that as the “urban foraging” I am so fond of. 
In Maine, it can be hard to find fresh figs. They are either very expensive, or very over ripe and squishy (or sometimes moldy). So I jumped at the chance to take home a container of fresh figs, and try to incorporate them into every meal. In the past, I have broiled figs, and then spread them on toast, or just eaten them raw. But these NYC figs called for something a bit more sophisticated – a pizza.
Now, I’m not claiming to have made this recipe up by any means, but I also did not follow any set guide on making this pizza. So I advise that you do the same to this, follow what you like but disregard anything you do not.
Fig, Prosciutto, and Blue Cheese Pizza

You can use just about anything as the pizza crust. If you have a favorite recipe for homemade dough, or a refrigerated dough you are familiar with. You can even use some premade flatbread tossed on the grill if you are really pressed for time. I used a refrigerated dough, this time, but if you would like my pizza dough recipe – just let me know!

1 lb pizza dough
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
8 oz. soft blue cheese (like a gorgonzola dolce)
½ lb thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into strips
10 fresh figs, sliced and/or quartered
Olive oil
Arugula, rinsed and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to a hot 450°F.

Roll out the pizza dough to stretch fairly thin, I have a giant rectangle baking sheet and use that as my form. If you use a pizza stone, try to get two pizzas out of the dough. Drizzle olive oil over the dough and sprinkle evenly with chopped garlic.

Then, finely crumble the blue cheese as you sprinkle it over the dough. Add the prosciutto and figs to the pizza dough. Bake pizza in the oven for about 10 minutes. If using the arugula, pull the pizza out midway through cooking, and add arugula on top. Return it to the oven and finish cooking, the arugula will melt on top.

Pull pizza from the oven and let rest a few minutes before cutting and eating.


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