Fig, Honey, Thyme & Goat Cheese Yogurt Popsicle

So I’ve noticed a lot of our recipes have really long titles and this no exception. I just really want people to know what’s in them right off the bat I guess? I was going to call them red, white and blue popsicles in honor of the upcoming holiday but I thought that might be pushing it as figs are really more purple than blue on the outside…

Figs

Figs

Also I was way too excited to get a half day on Wednesday and with that and no work on Friday I basically did not really remember to finish this post until today. So I guess the red, white, and blue is not really applicable anymore…

Figs from the farmer's market

Figs from the farmer’s market

Figs are amazing. I am aware they are not the most popular fruit and as a kid I tried to pretend I didn’t like it because I thought the interior of the fig looked like “tentacles” but they are delicious. Plump, sweet, and incredibly fragrant I suggest you find yourself some figs before they’re gone!

Figs

Figs

Perhaps the only downside with figs is that they are indeed highly seasonal and a touch on the more expensive side. I have bought figs from Trader Joe’s ($2.99 for a basket not bad at all), from the Little Italy Farmer’s Market ($4.99 for a basket) and Whole Foods ($5.99 for a basket) and sadly despite the TJ’s one being super cheap they were also not quite worth the money as they were still green on the outside and even after ripening were mostly hollow and dry inside. The one’s from the farmer’s market were the best, and I will be picking more up this weekend!

Figs

Figs

There is not much you need to do to enjoy figs, I find that they’re best when super fresh, it almost seems like a waste to cook them into anything unless they are dry or past their prime.

Figs

Figs

One of my favorite ways to eat them is as a light snack, drizzled with honey and then sprinkled with thyme and good feta or with a dollop of thick greek yogurt if you are not into the salty and sweet thing.

Fig with Thyme & Honey

Fig with Thyme & Honey

Fig + Honey  + Thyme + Greek Yogurt

Fig + Honey + Thyme + Greek Yogurt

And as much as I like them fresh, I perhaps got too excited about figs and having bought some from the farmer’s market and Trader Joe’s I decided to use some of the Trader Joe’s ones to make popsicles. More specifically: fig, greek yogurt, goat cheese, thyme and honey popsicles. This might have also been influenced by me recently acquiring these nifty little Zoku popsicles molds.

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

I got these from Pigment in North Park, this store sells all kinds of interesting decor, books and food items as well as all the components you would need to build your own terrarium. Zoku also has these other instant popsicle molds that will have your popsicle ready in 6 minutes or something of that sort. I can wait more than 6 minutes for my popsicles so I got the regular kind but those are a good option too for you more impatient types 🙂

Fig, Honey, Thyme and Goat Cheese Popsicle

Fig, Honey, Thyme and Goat Cheese Popsicle

INGREDIENTS:

Makes 2 popsicles with my molds, to make more double, triple, etc. accordingly.

1 cup of greek yogurt
4 tablespoons of goat cheese
sugar/agave/sweetener to taste
4 tablespoons honey
1 sprig of thyme
3 figs, chopped
popsicle molds

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Whisk the greek yogurt, goat cheese and sugar/agave/sweetener together until smooth.
2. Taste to see if its sweet enough for your liking, keeping in mind we are adding some honey after. Add more if necessary.
3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the honey, thyme leaves, and chopped figs. Beat the figs around with the whisk a little so they break down a little until the whole mixture is the lightest shade of pink.
4. Add the last 2 tablespoons of honey but only mix in slightly so you still have swirls of honey.
5. Pour into popsicle molds and let freeze for at least 3 hours or according to popsicle mold instructions.
6. Eat!

Yogurt and Goat Cheese

Yogurt and Goat Cheese

Cherry Blossom Honey

Cherry Blossom Honey

So basically with popsicles or ice cream the more impurities you add to your liquid base the less solid it will be. Adding sugar, fat or alcohol all will make your popsicle softer. For this recipe I used nonfat Greek yogurt but using full fat would give you a creamier popsicle.

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

This is a lovely very grown up popsicle with good tang from the goat cheese, a floral flavor from the honey and figs and lastly a slight herbal earthiness from thyme. I don’t know that kids would enjoy it as much as adults but this is a perfect light dessert to serve after a summer BBQ.

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

TIPS:
– If you don’t like figs other fruits that can be substituted would be strawberries, apricots, grapes, blueberries or peaches.
– Thyme and the goat cheese could also be omitted. For the herb component you could also substitute it, some herbs that play nicely with sweeter flavors are rosemary, tarragon, mint, lavender, and basil.
– Different kinds of honey would add different dimensions to the flavor, I used a light cherry blossom honey but buckwheat honey would add a deeper honey flavor that would be lovely with the thyme.
– Lastly, if you want a really creamy popsicle you could always substitute heavy cream for the greek yogurt! But just make sure the cook the cream with the sugar before so that the sugar is properly dissolved.

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Buona Forchetta

I’ve been hearing about Buona Forchetta for a while and was really excited to try this place with its gorgeous golden pizza oven (look at the website!).

Sergio Pizza

Sergio Pizza

First driving into the Golden Hill / South Park area was great. I don’t frequent that area too often but its beautiful and I promised that I’ll start exploring it more. Its completely different from the other side of the Balboa Park along 6th Av., much less busy and so charming. But anyways, I digress.

Buona Forchetta Menu

Buona Forchetta Menu

The place has a rather small inside but a nice patio with heaters. Loved the vibe of the place. The menu was fairly simple: appetizers, salads, pastas, pizzas (regular, white, fried), calzones and desserts. There was no happy hour but with glasses of sangria regularly priced at $4 and beer at $5  who needs happy hour anyways.

DRINKS: Even a better deal than the cups of sangria is a carafe of sangria. For $18 we got a carafe of fantastic white sangria. It was very crisp tasting although not very alcoholic. This was fine by me.

White Sangria

White Sangria

APPETIZER: To start off we ordered the Pizzelle, fried up little rounds of puffy pizza dough with marinara sauce and parmesan. You get three of these little babies and they are quite tasty. They’re very tomato-ey with all that sauce and the marinara is very fresh tasting.  I liked these but eat them fast as they get soggy and cold sitting under all that sauce for a while. Also since I prefer marinara that tastes more like fresh tomatoes instead of stuff thats been cooking for days I really liked the sauce on the pizzelle and on all their pizzas.

Pizzelle

Pizzelle

Probably because I felt guilty about my imminent consumption of vast amounts of cheese and dough I also ordered a salad, the Gamberi. It had shrimp, arugula, capers, artichokes and a lemon-y dressing. This salad is quite tart with the brininess from the capers and the lemon dressing, but it was tasty and refreshing. They also give you decent sized shrimp, I hate ordering something with shrimp and getting the tiny cheap crap shrimp. No such thing here.

Gamberi

Gamberi

ENTREE: We got three pizzas to share. As a note the pizzas are personal sized and cut into 4 pieces, however we were 4 people and got three and it was more than enough. The first was the Sophia with mozzarella, artichokes, mushrooms and prosciutto cotto. Prosciutto cotto is cooked prosciutto. It was torn into small piece and it was crispy at the edges, tasting more like the best crispy ham ever instead of silky prosciutto. This was my personal favorite. There was just enough cheese + the mushrooms and artichokes worked wonderfully with the prosciutto cotto to feel like you were eating a fantastic hearty pizza. I have to commend them on their crust too; thin but still chewy with the perfect amount of char. That fancy oven is doing you good Buona Forchetta.

Sophia pizza

Sophia

We also got the Sergio. This was mozzarella di bufala (fresh mozzarella made from buffalo milk), fresh prosciutto and arugula. For this pizza the arugula and the prosciutto are added after the pizza leaves the oven so the prosciutto was still that silky soft texture and the arugula was crisp. This was also delicious, my only wish was that there was more mozzarella di bufala, I think that would have made this my favorite pizza. It definitely feels less hearty than the Sophia because its not all hot melty everythingness but its a perfect hot weather pizza since the fresh prosciutto and arugula balance out the hot crust and cheese.

Sergio pizza

Sergio

Our last pizza was a pizza bianche, or white pizza. We ended up choosing the Isabella, with creme fraiche, sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, onions and rosemary. Sadly this was my least favorite pizza but I normally prefer regular tomato based pizza over the white sauce versions. The sun dried tomatoes were a little too charred for me and the overall pizza felt dry, we all wished there had been more creme fraiche. They have very thinly sliced mostly raw red onions on the pizza too so if you love onions you will like this one.

Isabella pizza

Isabella

DESSERT: So for dessert we got the Millefoglie a flaky pastry that was filled with a sweetened mascarpone cream and fresh strawberries. There was also chocolate sauce drizzled on the plate. This was amazing. I wish there were more strawberries because getting the flaky pastry + cream + strawberries in one bite was heavenly. Sadly we were sharing this and it got devoured so fast I don’t even have any pictures of it 😦

Overall we all loved Buona and cannot wait to go back. The prices are very reasonable and you legitimately don’t see people doing really good Neapolitan style pizza in San Diego. Don’t get me wrong I love ALL kinds of pizza but especially kinds that are thin and light enough that I can consume three pieces without feeling excessively full and/or guilty. Looking at that menu I already know what I wanna order next time…and definitely not planning on sharing dessert again 😉

CHECK:
White Sangria $18
Pizzelle $5
Gamberi $10
Sofia $11
Sergio $13
Isabella $13
Millefoglie $6
TOTAL: $82.08

Buona Forchetta
3001 Beech St.
San Diego, CA 92102
http://www.buonaforchettasd.com/

5 Minute Healthy Salad – Strawberries, Feta, Almonds, Turkey + Thyme

One of the best ways to eat healthy during the work week is to BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch. Cooking a bigger portion ensures you have extra leftovers to bring to work. However there are days when there are no leftovers to be had and very little time in the morning to prep something to take to work. Even though I have turned to Trader Joe’s frozen meals and PB&J’s, I also learned how to make tasty, filling salads that I can throw together in 5 minutes. I love salads with berries and this an easy strawberry salad that requires minimal cooking and will be ready to go in your trusty tupperware in less time than you take to shower in the morning.

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

The best part about this recipe is that the basic concept is there but you can substitute whatever you have in your fridge: if I don’t have strawberries I throw in blueberries, if I don’t have feta I use goat cheese…No turkey? A tiny bit of bacon is not going to kill you. It’s all good 🙂

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

INGREDIENTS:

Mixed greens
5 strawberries
2-3 slices of roasted turkey breast (not the cheap rubber-y kind please)
Handful of almonds
Feta
3 sprigs of thyme
2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat up a small frying pan and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to it.
2. Rip up the turkey in small pieces and add it to the hot pan. Season to taste and let it get crispy and brown around the edges.
3. While the turkey is browning fill your plate/bowl with the mixed greens and slice up your strawberries and place them on top of the greens.
4. Add almonds, thyme leaves, then crumble feta on top.
5. Add the turkey thats browned.
6. Combine the 2 tbsp of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a small bowl then whisk together and season to taste. If you are eating this right away pour it on top and toss to combine. If taking to work add it to the bottom of the container so everything doesn’t wilt and you can toss it all together before eating.

Amounts in this recipe are fairly loose because you should not be measuring things that early in the morning. Just add however much you want of each ingredient. I recommend adding A LOT of toppings so that the salad feels like a meal and you’re not just eating greens by themselves like a rabbit :/

You could also always add more meat like chicken breast. I like using meat as just an accent as opposed to the main ingredient in this salad because reducing your meat intake is good for you (but hard to do!) and although we tend to cook full meals for dinner (complete with steaks or salmon filets and whatnot) there are so many tasty ingredients you don’t miss it in this salad.

Strawberry

Strawberry

A great way to make salads more flavorful too is to use herbs like salad greens. If you have ever had tabbouleh or fattoush or other Middle Eastern salads, they use parsley and mint as if they were salad greens not just accent herbs. So have herbs on hand! I grow rosemary, basil, parsley and thyme. All are doing pretty well except for the parsley which apparently cats like to eat…

For this salad basil, rosemary, or mint would also pair beautifully with the strawberries.

Thyme

Thyme

Basil

Basil

Rosemary

Rosemary

So this is a lovely 5 minute salad for spring, look out for future posts on a super fast nicoise style salad and citrus-avocado based salad…

TIPS:
– If you don’t have strawberries: blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries would all do – just make sure its fresh fruit!
– We used fat free feta but using real feta makes the salad creamier and using goat cheese even more so!
– If you don’t have almonds, hazelnuts would be particularly good here. Or else pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachio and most nuts would work…perhaps not peanuts.
– Candied nuts always are really good in berry salads as well! Those have a lot of calories so we stayed away from them this time.
– Any mixed greens maybe with the exception of iceberg lettuce could be used as a base – butter lettuce, romaine, spinach, etc.
– If you use a pre-made low fat dressing that would save you even more time!

Scarpetta’s Stromboli Bread

Even though almost everyone bakes now people tend to shy away from anything using yeast. Well I promise that working with yeast is fairly easy. Especially if you have a dough hook in your mixer or try no-knead bread or pizza dough (here). It takes times sure but it will cost you a few cents and there is nothing like freshly baked bread.

Stromboli!

Stromboli!

Scott Conant’s Scarpetta restaurant has an amazing salami stromboli in their bread basket and after eating way too much of it at the Scarpetta in Vegas I was happy to find the recipe on Food Network’s website. Here’s the recipe on the site and below are some tips for making it:

SCARPETTA’S STROMBOLI

INGREDIENTS
Dough:
1 tablespoon dry yeast
Extra-virgin olive oil
5 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
Filling:
2 cups grated smoked mozzarella
Salt
1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces salami, sliced thin
Extra-virgin olive oil
Toppings:
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt, such as Maldon
1/4 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Citrus Herb Oil, for serving, recipe follows
Mascarpone Butter, for serving, recipe follows
Directions
For the dough: Whisk together 2 cups cold water, the yeast and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Put in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix on speed 1, or low speed, for 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue mixing for an additional 5 minutes. Then turn the mixer to speed 2, or medium speed, and mix for 5 minutes. Add the salt until incorporated. Add 1 tablespoon oil at the end of the 5 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a large hotel pan greased with oil. If you don’t have a hotel pan, you can use a large bowl; just make sure there is ample space for the dough to double in size. Put a little oil on top as well, about 2 tablespoons.
Wrap all the way around with plastic wrap and put on top of the oven (or other warm, draft-free area) with something in between, such as a kitchen towel or a baking tray, for about 1 1/2 hours. The dough will double in size.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
When ready, transfer the dough to an oiled table or flat surface. Form into a log to make it easier to portion, and cut into two equal pieces. Cover with plastic so it doesn’t dry out. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Lightly brush a baking tray with oil. Spread out the dough on the oiled countertop with the palms of your hands, don’t use your fingertips. It should be even all the way around, with no fat edges.
Place half the fillings on one piece of dough in the order listed: mozzarella, salt, basil, garlic, pepper and salami. Fill two-thirds of the surface, leaving the bottom third and a little on the sides empty. Roll the dough over twice, seal the sides with your palm, fold over the bottom and then the sides. Transfer to the oiled tray. Rub a little oil on top. Repeat with the second portion of dough. Put the rosemary, sea salt and tomatoes on top. Cover the tray with plastic and let sit for 15 minutes to rest.
When ready, put a pan of ice in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove. Place the tray in the oven and bake for a total of 45 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn 180 degrees. Bake another 20 minutes, then turn again and bake the remaining 5 minutes.
Transfer to a new baking sheet lined with parchment. Allow the loaves to cool. Slice and serve with Citrus Herb Oil and Mascarpone Butter for dipping.

Read more here

TIPS:
– I halved the recipe, the original one makes A LOT of stromboli.
– If you don’t have a dough hook on your stand mixer and are kneading by hand, here’s a quick tutorial (video)
– When you are kneading just keep going until the dough goes from sticky and lumpy to shiny and smooth. Once the dough comes together and isn’t sticking to your hands anymore its ready!
– You don’t need Maldon sea salt but any coarse salt will do. I skipped the tomatoes and added some fleur de sel to the top of the loaves and they add a lot of texture and taste to the final product.
– Eat it right out of the oven! I mean not literally because it will be scalding hot but definitely tastes best eaten hot.