Figs with Blue Cheese and Proscuitto

Sorry about the timing on this. I wasn’t really sure if I should post this tonight – after all, fig season is long gone – but I found dried figs at the store last night and it reminded me that I forgot to share one of the prettiest, easiest things I’ve ever made. This dish was inspired by an appetizer we ordered at Cafe Spiaggia – the restaurant whose more sophisticated sibling is a famous favorite of the Obama’s. It was a wonderful, simple dish composed of fresh figs, proscuitto, and shaved parmesano. When I found figs in my market not long after, I instantly snatched them up. The mild taste of fresh figs is really beautiful and they pair perfectly with the salty of the proscuitto and tangy of the blue cheese.

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So anyway, bookmark this recipe and wait until next year. It’s worth it.

Figs with Blue Cheese and Proscuitto

inspired by a dish at Cafe Spiaggia

I’m finding it very difficult to list measurements for this recipe, so I’ll just list the ingredients and you can estimate the amounts on your own.

Fresh Mission figs
Good quality blue cheese (I happened to have Maytag, but others will work well also)
Thin cut slices of proscuitto
Extra virgin olive oil
Agave nectar or honey
Salt and pepper

To assemble, cut the blue cheese into small chunks and the proscuitto into strips about an inch wide. Cut the figs into quarters, then wrap each segment with proscuitto, enclosing the blue cheese. The proscuitto will stick together pretty well on its own, so wrap it tightly to hold in the cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and just a drop of agave nectar. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

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Butternut Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

I was about to post a recipe for Creamy Poblano soup when I realized that my last two posts were soup/stew related, so instead I have some pretty awesome pizza to share. I’ve been experimenting with pizza dough, trying to find the best whole wheat recipe.

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Well – most recipes I’ve found for whole wheat pizza dough are pretty similar. Rarely do they call for 100% whole wheat flour; usually it’s somewhere in the range of 3:1 or 1:1 whole wheat flour:bread flour. To up the health factor, I go with the 3:1 ratio and throw in a couple teaspoons of ground flax for good measure. I think I’ve said this before – you’ll never get that light, fluffy dough like you get from white flour, but I think that it’s worth it to feel like you’ve done something good for yourself.

I made a rather large batch of this dough and froze several individual portions. Last week, I failed to photograph our traditional sausage pizza with a spicy, peppery tomato sauce, Italian sausage, and fresh mozzarella, but this week I made a fall special with butternut squash. It’s one of my favorite combinations, which I lifted from some recipe ages ago, and it’s a bit unexpected at first. After the first bite, though, I’m sure you’ll be as hooked as I am.

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Butternut Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

for the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm tap water
2 packets active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons ground flax

for the topping:
1 small to medium sized butternut squash
1/2 cup or more to taste of crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese
1/2 cup or more to taste of mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 small to medium size fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
big pinch of fresh ground black pepper

salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
handful of arugula or spinach

Combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor with the dough blade. Pulse to combine. Meanwhile, combine wet ingredients. While processing, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the food processor, until the dough forms into a ball on top of the blade. Remove and knead on a dry, floured surface for a few minutes. Pour some olive oil in a bowl and place the ball of dough in the center, cover with saran wrap. Let the dough rise for approximately two hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

While the dough is rising, roast the squash in a 450 oven for 30 minutes or so, until soft. I usually place a piece of foil on my baking sheet and pour a cup or two of water in to help steam the squash.

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Slice the fennel bulbs very finely. Over medium-low heat, saute the fennel in olive oil for about 45 minutes, until lightly browned and caramelized. Set aside.

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When the dough has doubled in bulk, cut in half and freeze the other portion (or heck, make it all in one night!). Roll out the dough on parchment and pop in the oven for 5-10 minutes (if you have a pizza stone, use that… it’s on my Christmas list).

To make the topping, scoop the squash out of it’s skin and combine with blue cheese, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper – stir it all together so you have a homogeneous mixture. Spread this mixture on top of the baked pizza dough. Top with the caramelized fennel and mozzarella and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted. When it comes out of the oven, top with a big dose of spinach or arugula.