Monthly Archives: October 2011

Fig and Speck Pizza

My mother grew up in an Italian-American family in Brooklyn. Gran Fran, my mother, has for all sorts of recipes, both old and new. Her favorites were passed down from her Nonna (the typical Italian grandma) and her mother. In turn, over the years, she has passed along her considerable collection of recipes and food facts to all of her children and now her grandchildren.

Recently, I asked Gran Fran about the difference between speck and pancetta. She told me speck is more like a black forest ham, cured, whereas pancetta is raw and needs to be cooked. She then shared this Fig and Speck Pizza recipe with me.

There are a lot of ingredients here, but it’s a simple process to put the whole thing together. I bought pizza dough since I’ve never had much luck with making my own. The fun part comes when you spread everything out and grate that final sprinkling of parmesan over the top.

Have fun with this and enjoy your Fall!


recipe courtesy of Fran Claro of The Italian Pantry.


Fig and Speck Pizza


  • Dough for 1 pizza crust, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta, well drained
  • 1/2 pound whole-milk mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound speck, diced
  • 12 figs, halved lengthwise
  • 3 garlic cloves, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 basil leaves, torn
  • 3 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Sprinkle coarse salt
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • In the olive oil, saute garlic until golden; set aside oil and garlic.
  • Spread pizza dough in lightly oiled pan.
  • Smooth ricotta over dough; top with mozzarella.
  • Arrange figs in a pinwheel pattern atop mozzarella; sprinkle with speck.
  • Scatter garlic over ingredients; set oil aside.
  • Sprinkle pizza with basil, Parmigiano, salt, and pepper.
  • Drizzle with garlic oil and honey.
  • Bake 18 to 25 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling.
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Finalist: Play With Your Food,

This is my entry from the contest: Play With Your Food.

I was a finalist, alas, did not win, but did have plenty of fun working on this project. Hope you do, too.

Edible gems.
We’ve been talking a lot around here about fun things we could cook that would be a little different. And, as we got further into the conversation what with the Holidays coming, the timing couldn’t have been better, we realized that some of our ideas would make great party favors or small gifts.

My nephew asked if I knew how to make rock candy. That’s when my sister yelled out “candy jewelry!” She hit upon something classic. The idea of trying to update this kids classic was daunting, but I think I rose to the challenge quite nicely.

It has been over 17 years since I last tried my hand at hard candies. Making them now, I’m reminded of my tiny kitchen in my first non-roommate apartment with no counter and only a small foldout table. There was a point during that early attempt, where I had the trays laid out on our 7 foot mustard yellow thrift store couch. In hindsight, this could have been a huge sugary disaster, but hey, I was young, you did whatever you had to do to get by.

Speaking of which, I’m realizing now, that I’m heading back to that devil-may-care attitude these days. I’m so enamored with posting everything that I make right now, that I’m pushing myself to find the time and creativity to make something new and better each time.


Hard Candy Recipe


  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light Corn Syrup¼ cup Water
  • ¾ tsp extract of choice (I used lemon)
  • Food coloring


Special Equipment:

  • Parchment paper
  • Non-stick Cooking Spray
  • Lollipop and Hard Candy Molds
  • Quilter’s Pins
  • Disposable Sheet Pans
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Colorful Thread for stringing


  • Lay down parchment paper on your work surface, it will make clean up so much easier.
  • Put pins in the molds and attach the molds to the sheet pans.Spray the molds with the non-stick cooking spray.
  • Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan.Place the pan over medium-heat and insert the candy thermometer.
  • Do not stir.Heat the mixture to 295 degrees and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Stir in extract and food coloring at this point.Fill the candy molds with the mixture. I used metal spoons, but if you can create some kind of piping method, that would be great.
  • Allow the hard candies to cool completely.Carefully remove the candies from the molds.
  • Immediately thread a needle and string the candies as a pendant.
  • Package individually in waxed paper or small glassine envelopes



Lollipop Charms

Finalist in the Play With Your Food contest on

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