I remember those early dinners well. My mother would ensure that there was something each of us loved -- one night there would be corn for Paul, or pasta for Chris, or artichokes for me. In return, we always ate what she made, even when we didn't like it, well, except for liver.
One time, she tried to pass off liver as steak. I wasn't fooled. I can still hear
Liver aside, those dinners were unforgettable. Even though it has been years since I have been in school or shared an early dinner with my mom and brothers, there is something--the back-to-school season or the way the sun is lower in the September sky--that brings me right back.
I shared this with my mom when she visited recently, and she agreed. “I wish I could go back one night and have all my kids around the table again. How I loved that time of day,” she added.
Because I now live California, it is a rare occasion for us to be together for dinner. So I look forward to my mom's visits here (where I get to cook what she loves). On her last trip, I made one of her favorites: my fig and fennel pizza.
Fresh figs have a heart-breakingly short season (typically from August-October), so now is the time to savor them. Though the vast majority of figs are produced here in
These lovely tear-drop shaped fruit are singular in appearance and flavor. From their characteristic perfumed fragrance to their fragile skin that is often split from ripeness, revealing droplets of golden honeyed nectar, figs are a treat so luscious that time seems to slow while eating one. And fresh figs are not at all like dried figs. They are soft and creamy and fruity and tangy.
Inspired by a fig and anise bread from
Fresh Fig and Fennel Pizza
Print this recipe here.
1 pound pizza dough
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tsp sugar
1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
¼ tsp lemon zest
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, plus a little more for garnish
Salt and crushed red pepper
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 500 if using a pizza stone or 425-450 if using a baking sheet.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper (if using a stone) or to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with 1 tsp olive oil.
Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced shallots and sugar; stir occasionally, until the shallots begin to caramelize, about 5-6 minutes. Add the sliced fennel and continue cooking over medium-low heat until fully caramelized, another 5-6 minutes. Add sliced figs cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add lemon zest, cinnamon, rosemary, salt, and pepper; gently blend and remove from heat.
Place half of the blue cheese on the dough. Arrange the fig and fennel mixture on top. Top with remaining ½ blue cheese.
For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degree for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted.
For a baking sheet, bake at 450 for about 25 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted.
**Note: The walnuts have a tendency to become overly toasted when put on the pizza too early, so I usually add them when there is 2-3 minutes cooking time remaining.
Let cool slightly before slicing. Garnish with more fresh rosemary if desired and serve immediately.
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