Fig, Caramelized Shallot, and Goat Cheese FlatBread

Figs, and their cute little stems poking out of the package, bright green, deep purple. Last week, I bought a bag of figs, 10 or so. I was so excited when I saw them in the store. I brought them home, and then completely forgot about them for a couple of days. Once found, their juices started seeping out of their skin, and I knew it would be too late if I didn't gobble them up that day. 

Unable to eat a dozen figs, I knew that these little gems would need to make their way into a dish. I didn't want to use them in a dessert,

this recipe

, being very close in my past. I found some inspiration from a fig and caramelized onion pizza I had a while back, and hoped to recreate it in my kitchen. Also, being intrigued by the newly en vogue micro greens, I envisioned a perfect accompaniment to this flat bread. A predominately sweet flavor, balanced by the creaminess of the cheese, and crisp earthy taste from the greens. Caramelized shallots turn from delicious to amazing once fried in butter, and then drizzled with balsamic, invokes some serious sensory stimuli. Sweet earthy figs, melt in your mouth, followed by a hint of creamy salty cheese. All flavors work so well together. A wonderful late summer treat. A perfect stage to display those beautiful figs. 





makes 2 medium size flat breads

notes: Micro greens can be substituted with arugula. Onions can be substituted for shallots, and dried figs can take the place of fresh. Any pizza dough recipe will work fine. If I am feeling extra lazy, I pop down to the grocery store and buy pre-made dough. There is no shame in that. 


2 small 

pizza dough

4 large shallots, sliced

2 tbsp butter for frying

2 - 3 tbsp good olive oil

6 - 8 figs, sliced

3 oz goat cheese, crumbled

1 - 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 handful micro greens

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 500ºF or higher, depending on your oven. Place a pizza stone into the oven and allow to get hot. If you don't have a pizza stone, place the flatbread onto a baking tray just before placing into the oven. Let the pizza stone sit in the oven for at least 20 minutes before using. 

In a medium size frying pan, add the butter and sliced shallots. Fry on low-medium heat, turning occasionally, until the onions have browned and caramelized, approximately 10 minutes. 

Place a piece of parchment paper onto the counter. Grab a fist-size piece of dough and place onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle a small bit of flour onto the dough, and with a rolling pin, roll it out flat and 1/4 inch thick.

Generously spread a tbsp (or more) of olive oil on the dough. Spread half of the shallots, 3 or 4 sliced figs, and then drizzle balsamic vinegar on top. Crumble the goat cheese, drizzle a touch more oil, and season with salt and pepper.

With a pizza paddle, lift the flatbread and parchment paper, and place it onto the pizza stone. If you are using a baking tray, place the flatbread and paper onto the tray and into the oven.

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until the flatbread begins to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Sprinkle with micro greens and serve. 

cast iron pizza

If you're like me, celebrating the New Year with sequins, sparkles, streamers, and bubbly is a must. This year I plan to wear the shortest black sequin dress, the reddest lipstick imaginable, and the cutest blue suede heels. I will dress myself up, put my lipstick and phone in a teeny tiny purse that costs way too much, and cross my fingers that there is no more than an inch of snow on the ground. Because I'm not really sure how I will get from point A to B with my New Year's attire in these northernly conditions. But this is what we have to do. This is what it takes to look good. We must brave the harshest elements and put on a smile, because next year is going to be amazing and we are going to bring in this new year with style. I plan to get started on the right foot, hopefully a non-frost bitten foot, a nicely manicured foot, with fuchsia pink polish or gold, it's undecided.

However, if you're the type of person that would rather stay in the warm cozy confines of your exquisitely decorated house, well, then you're probably smarter than me. I imagine you will decorate your house with sequins, streamers, and balloons. You will chill the champagne and plate the d'oeuvres. You'll put on your best dress, and maybe some red lipstick. This sounds nice. I'm starting to get jealous. 

If you are planning to stay home this New Years, throw a party, attend a party, or just spend some quality time with your family, might I suggest throwing a super fancy gourmet pizza party? Not the type of pizza party you had when you were young, where your mom cut English muffins in half, you decorated them with your favorite toppings, and then baked them in the oven. I mean a gourmet, delicious, similar-to-wood-oven pizza party. 

Mr. H's papa got a lovely artisan pizza book from Santa. After skimming through a couple of chapters, I stumbled upon a new pizza technique. Instead of cooking on a pizza stone (which is totally awesome), these pizzas are cooked in a cast iron skillet. You will be so impressed with the results. The pizza tasted as though it just came out of a wood oven. The crust was light and airy, but crispy on the outside. There were even a few bubbles in the crust like you see in wood fired pizza. After baking in the cast iron pan, the pizza is transferred to the oven to broil, where the cheese and vegetables can acquire a nice crispy texture. Each person can make and decorate their own personal size pizza, and there is no need to slice up those English muffins. Make some dough, chop some veggies, grate some cheese. Invite over some friends and have a pizza party. Bring in the New Year with style and great pizza. It's a must.

makes 10 small pizzas

Prep time: 35 minutes + 2 hour rise
Cook time: 7 minutes per pizza

3 1/2 cups lukewarm water (100ºF or below)
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
good olive oil for drizzling over pizza
1 - 2 cups of tomato sauce
various pizza toppings

In a very large bowl (5 quart or a plastic food container), add the lukewarm water. Lukewarm water will speed up the rising time. Sprinkle in the yeast and salt, and let it sit for a couple of minutes to proof.

Add the flour to the yeast mixture and combine with either a wooden spoon, food processor with a dough attachment, or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Do not knead the dough, just mix until all the ingredients are uniformly moistened with no dry patches. The dough should be moist and sticky.

Cover the bowl with saran wrap and then poke it with tiny holes. Let the dough sit covered for 2 hours in a warm draft free area. The dough should double in size. Once it has doubled place it in the fridge until you are ready to use. It can stay in the fridge for up to 14 days or the freezer for 3 months. Do not punch down the dough, it needs to retain as much gas as possible.

When you are ready to make your pizzas, pre-cut and prepare all of your ingredients. They should be located in an easy to reach spot. You want to top your pizza quickly so the dough doesn't stick to the paddle or counter.

Place your cast iron pan on the stove top and preheat on medium for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and place the oven rack on the highest slot.

Working very quickly, generously sprinkle flour or cornmeal on the pizza paddle to prevent it from sticking. Gather a peach size piece of dough by grabbing, twisting then cutting from the larger batch. Cover your hands and the dough in flour, until it is no longer sticky. Put the dough back in the fridge, it is easier to work with when it's cold.

Gently stretch and flatten the dough into a disk by pulling and rotating with your hands. Place the dough onto the pizza paddle and using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll the dough into its final shape 1/8 inch think. Quickly top the pizza with sauce, then vegetables, and cheese. Drizzle with olive oil.

Slide the pizza into the cast iron pan (you may need a spatula to help give it a little push) and cover with a lid. Cook the pizza for 4 minutes and do not remove the lid until done. Remove the lid, then place the cast iron pan in the oven on the top rack for 3 minutes to brown the cheese. With a spatula, remove the pizza from the pan and place it onto a cutting board. Slice and serve warm.

Tossing Pizza Dough

I've come up with a few tips on how to toss pizza dough.

1. Generously, sprinkle your counter with flour.

2. Roll the dough into a 10 inch circle.

3. Drape the dough over your right fist and left hand.

4. With a spinning motion, spin the dough into the air and let fall onto your right fist. Use your left hand to guide the dough.

5. Continue tossing, spinning, and stretching the dough evenly until you have a desired size.

6. If you would like a video demonstration of this process please follow this link. Tony Gemignani is the eight-time world pizza-tossing champion. He has mad pizza tossing skills.