A Guest Post | Goat Cheese Tart with Honey and Figs

Aloha friends. Can I ask you a serious question?

Where the deuce did Summer go? One minute the heat has me more hot and bothered than a lonely housewife reading 50 Shades of Grey at a Magic Mike screening (thanks someecards), and the next minute I’m pulling out my boots, scarves, and turning on my seat heaters during my early morning commute to work. What gives?

Just like that, Fall is here. Don’t get me wrong, I love Fall. Crisp air, gorgeous colors, cozy sweaters, delicious treats (aka. pumpkin everything)…I adore it all. Unfortunately, around these parts, Fall lasts a cool hot minute and then it’s suddenly Winter. For six. long. months.

However…these days I’m focusing my efforts on being a glass half full kind of gal, so let’s nip this Winter talk in the bud and hone in on something positive.

Did you know that fresh figs are in season in late Summer/early Fall? Did you know that if you pair up fresh figs with puff pastry, creamy goat cheese, honey, and fresh rosemary, little tiny leprechauns will do a dance on your taste buds and fireworks will erupt in the sky?

You didn’t?! Well then, get your fannies on over to my lovely friend Kristy’s blog, A Gastronomical Sovereignty, where I tell you exactly how to make this taste bud extravaganza (aka. a Goat Cheese Tart with Honey and Figs) happen. And while you’re there, check out Kristy’s space – where she shares stories about her ethical culinary adventures, and drinks wine while she’s at it. No wonder we get along so well. 🙂

PS. Let’s reminisce about Summer. What was the best thing you did/saw/ate over the past few months?

Celebrating Mom | Pistachio Baklava with Cinnamon Honey Syrup

Friends, in case you’ve forgotten, tomorrow is Mother’s Day. A day to take time to celebrate and thank the wonderful mothers in our lives for all that they do.

We’ve all got them. Whether they are our mothers, mothers-in-law, grandmothers, or other women in our lives who have encouraged us as mothers do, we all have “mothers” to be thankful for. I hope that you are able to share some love with the mamas in your life tomorrow.

My mom is wonderful – a serious frontrunner for Best Mom Ever. I consider myself very lucky to have her. My mom is loving, caring, kind, and considerate. She is smart. She is generous, and tends to put the needs of others before her own. She is encouraging. She is patient. My mom is fun too. And she has healing powers. The power to heal a skinned knee with a kiss, or a broken heart with hugs and sweet words, my mom has always been there for me, through thick and thin, in good times and bad (and really, really bad). She gave me life, and she has saved my life, countless times.

Thank you Mom, for being you. I can only hope that one day, I can be the kind of mom to my children that you are to me.

Food is one of the ways that I share love with people. And a perfect way to share love on Mother’s Day. I made this baklava a few weeks ago. I have been wanting to try to make baklava for ages, but it always seemed like such a difficult, involved recipe. In all honesty, baklava is not as difficult to make as you might think! Sure, it takes some time and patience, but I can assure you that there are no crazy skills involved. I put on some good tunes, poured myself a glass of wine, and spent an hour dancing around my kitchen, buttering layers of phyllo to the rhythm of the music. I didn’t stress about any tiny tears in the phyllo (no one will know!), and I didn’t dwell over the spilt syrup on the floor that my feet stuck to for days afterwards.

And I was rewarded with this rich and deliciously sticky baklava at the end of it all. Totally worth it. Don’t even try to tell me that you can’t do it, because you can. Just don’t make the same mistake that I did, and look up the nutritional content of one wee square of baklava. Let’s just say that it accounts for an unfortunate amount of your daily recommended intake of fat, sugar, and everything else bad for you. But that doesn’t mean I stopped eating after just one square. You must know me better than that by now. 😉

Pistachio Baklava with Cinnamon Honey Syrup (from First Look Then Cook)

2 cups plus 8 TBSP. sugar, divided

2/3 cup honey

1 cup water

2 cinnamon sticks

3 cups shelled pistachios, toasted

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

18 14×9-inch sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed (from one 16-ounce package)

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups of the sugar, honey, water and cinnamon sticks, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium heat until reduced to approximately 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Cool.

Place the pistachios and 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar into a food processor. Pulse until most of nuts are finely ground (the largest pieces should be the size of small peas). Mix the nuts, 6 tablespoons sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously brush a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with melted butter. Place 1 phyllo sheet folded over on bottom of dish (to fit the dish). Brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat 5 more times with phyllo and melted butter. (You’ll want to work quickly so that your phyllo doesn’t dry out. Cover the phyllo that is waiting to be used with a damp towel.) Sprinkle half of the pistachio mixture (about 1 1/2 cups) evenly over phyllo. Place 1 phyllo sheet (folded over) over nuts; brush lightly with butter. Repeat 5 more times with phyllo sheets and melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining pistachio mixture evenly overtop. Place 1 phyllo sheet atop nuts folded in half; brush with butter. Repeat 5 more times with phyllo sheets and melted butter.

Using a very sharp knife, cut diagonally through the top phyllo layer from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. Cut the top layer of phyllo into 1-inch-wide rows parallel to both sides of first cut. Turn the pan and cut rows about 2 1/4 inches wide, forming a diamond pattern. Bake the baklava until golden brown and crisp, about 50 to 55 minutes. Drizzle the syrup evenly over the hot baklava. Cool and then recut the baklava along lines all the way through layers. Serve!

See, easy as pie! If baklava doesn’t float your mom’s boat, here are some other tasty ideas to share for Mother’s Day:

Nana’s Cinnamon Buns (I’ve got a batch of these rising on my countertop right now)

Banana Bread Oatmeal Pancakes

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Red Velvet Sandwiches

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! xoxo

When Sickness Strikes | Hot Honey Lemon and Ginger

You know how I was talking about all that stress in my last post? Well, it hit me. Hit me hard indeed. Whatever my body was fighting on Friday…let’s just say my body lost the battle. I am now in the throes of a cold/flu that is residing in my chest and sinuses. Bleh. When a cold/flu strikes around here, the doctor prescribes a hot honey lemon and ginger. A honey what, you ask? Let me walk you through it…

You start with some lemon, ginger, and honey.

Slice your lemon in half, and then slice each half into two pieces. Throw them into a nice big mug. Take a finger of fresh ginger, and slice it up into several pieces. Add it into the mug.

Still with me? Now fill your mug with boiling hot water.

Add some honey. I usually find that a tablespoon does it for me, but add more or less depending on your desired level of sweetness.

Stir everything up, and take a couple minutes to mash the lemon and ginger with a spoon to encourage them to release their juices and flavors. And there you have a hot honey lemon and ginger. Enjoy one of these when you’re feeling under the weather. Lemon and ginger have all kinds of healing properties, especially when it comes to colds and flus. If you need some extra help, add in a splash of cognac or brandy and you’ll be feeling the positive effects in no time.

This beverage with healing powers was introduced to me by Honey’s (my honey) family. We always keep a stock of lemon and ginger in case the need for a hot honey lemon and ginger strikes. If you have trouble using up fresh ginger before it goes bad, pop it into the freezer, and voila, problem solved.

I’m off to lie on the couch and watch bad daytime TV. And hopefully kick this sickness to the curb.

%d bloggers like this: