avocado BLTs

last weekend, jon and I drove to big basin redwood state park.

we made our way there and back on highway one, starting south out of san francisco on 280 – through pacifica and half moon bay – until we reached la honda road and wove east on skyline boulevard to highway 9.

it’s been a few months since our last trip out of the city. at the end of july, shortly after arriving in california (and newly married), we took a week to drive to and from portland. while the trip to portland is one that could be done in a day, we decided that we’d rather take our time and see the coast – stop at state beaches and visitors centers along the way, really take things in – so with a back seat full of camera equipment, books, and food, we set out across the golden gate bridge toward eureka.

10 miles shy of the oregon border, we cut east on highway 199 away from crescent city per the suggestion of a national park employee in orick. using our phones as a guide, we took a few turns off the redwood highway into jedediah smith redwood state park, and landed on an almost single-lane road that snaked through the giant trees. compared to being 10th in a line of cars along a two-lane highway, the byway felt like a well-kept secret – the ability to stop underneath the trees was something I’ll never forget about that drive. and just as easily as we had found our way onto this road, we made our way to the other end  – into oregon.

on this recent weekend trip, all it took was the thirty-minute stretch on skyline boulevard to make me feel the same as I had in jedediah smith state park. the narrow road linked jaunts through the tall trees with stretches along the crest of a hill by way of tight turns and ascents away from the ocean. when we arrived in the park, jon cooked bacon in our new dutch oven, and we made these sandwiches. every once in a while, it feels really good to get away.

avocado blts

makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices country bread (we used semifreddis sweet batard)

6 slices thick cut bacon

1 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see below)

1 medium avocado

sea salt

2 handfuls of arugula

We packed all of our ingredients – some prepared, some not. Start with the bacon – cook over the fire (or on the stove) in a cast iron pan (we cooked ours on the lid of the dutch oven) until crisp. While the bacon is cooking, mash the avocado slightly and season with sea salt. spread the avocado mash onto one side of the bread, layer with 1/2 of the roasted tomatoes, then arugula. When the bacon has finished cooking, break each piece in half and layer on top of the arugula – 3 slices per sandwich. Top with the other slice of bread & cut in half.

roasted tomatoes

(inspired by these from heidi swanson)

1 1/2 – 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 T. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2-3 T. olive oil

On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, then sprinkle with sugar and salt. Roast at 400 for 30-40 minutes. Once the tomatoes have cooled, store them in the fridge in an air-tight container.

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butternut and pesto calzones

a lot has happened since I wrote my last post over, (ahem), four months ago. when I last wrote, I had just settled into a new apartment in the south end of boston–and apparently, that’s when the fall semester took ahold of me. I researched and wrote about bagels last fall, a lot of research and a lot of writing, which also meant I ate a lot of bagels. also, at the end of october, jon came to visit me in boston and we got engaged! so between the gastronomy program, wedding planning, the holidays, multiple moves, and now, the start of my thesis project, time has been flying by.

this semester is my last in the gastronomy program at BU. in addition to my final project, I’m taking culinary tourism with dr. lucy long, which has been a great elective so far. it seems slightly fitting to my being in transition this spring too–with all of the moving around I kind of feel like a tourist myself.

so, to fill in the spaces, after the semester ended in mid-december, I packed up my apartment with the help of my parents, and made the twelve hour trip back to michigan. leaving boston was definitely bittersweet. I have a lot of friends there and it was hard to say goodbye, but the prospect of finishing my thesis was also pushing me forward. in a lot of ways, starting my thesis has helped me realize how all of my work since the start of the gastronomy program last january has been leading me to this point. as to not to give away too much too soon about my project, i’ll say this much for now. I’m in san francisco part-time, (and in kalamazoo the other part of the time), and working once again with la cocina. I’m looking forward to being able to share more of my work later.

on sunday afternoons, I have been enjoying making bread and other staples that can be used for meals throughout the week. this past sunday I made oatmeal sandwich bread, slightly adapted from orangette, and I will say it was the most successful loaf of sandwich bread i have ever made. It’s ever-so-slightly sweet, a tad dense, and really great for my lunch of choice, peanut butter toast. the loaf has almost lasted through the week; so adding it to the weekly sunday repetoire will work out nicely. the other thing I’ve been making a lot of is heidi swanson’s pizza dough, which I freeze in three or four sections and pop into the fridge as needed.

since jon and I have been eating a lot of pizza, I decided to make calzones, instead. 

butternut squash + pesto calzones (makes two)

1/4 batch pizza dough, recipe here (in her recipe, adding olive oil is optional, but i highly recommend it, it makes all the difference)

2-4 T. pesto, recipe below

1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (I used almond cheese, which melted and worked nicely)

1 cup butternut squash mixture, recipe below

salt and pepper

I bought pea shoots at the farmers’ market last weekend and wasn’t sure what to do with them. It turns out they make a pretty nice pesto.

pea shoot pesto

1 small bunch pea shoots, rinsed and dried

2 small cloves garlic

juice from one lemon

3/4 cup cooked white beans

1-2 T. fresh rosemary

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp. salt

combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and smooth. the pea shoots I used had a pretty strong flavor, so I adjusted slightly with more beans, more rosemary, and a touch more salt and tasted again. you won’t use all of it for the calzones, so freezing a portion of it might be a good idea unless you plan to eat it some other time that week.

roasted butternut squash

2 cups cubed butternut squash

1 red onion, cut into 6-8 wedges lengthwise

1 T. olive oil

salt

combine the onion and squash on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil. sprinkle salt and bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees, until squash cubes are soft but don’t start to break down. set aside and allow them to cool.

assembly

cut the piece of dough into two equal sizes. on a floured surface, roll out each piece into a square or rectangular shape, whichever you prefer for working in the filling. once they are rolled out, divide the amount of pesto, cheese and squash between the two. spread the pesto on one side of the dough, top with the cheese, finish with the squash and season with salt and pepper. fold the empty side over and pinch the edges closed with your fingers. brush with olive oil and create small slits in the top of the calzone to release steam.

cook the calzones on an oiled sheet for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, or until the edges begin to brown and the dough is no longer sticky.