Broiled Balsamic Artichokes with Pesto Mayo

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

It’s been a while since I worked in the restaurant business. But, aside from the managers I worked for, I do look back on my days as a hostess and waitress pretty fondly. I was by far one of the youngest people working in that restaurant, and frequently referred to as the baby — which I never really minded. It was only another means for me to dip my toes into the social lives of the wait staff of Los Angeles, which is its own beast in and of itself.

Back then, I always felt like I had multiple lives. There was my life at UCSB, pretty and pristine on the beach, with jungle juice (bleghh), running to the Goleta Pier, and fake-fighting with my gay over the hot TA that would eventually become one of my oldest friends. Then, there was my life at the restaurant, counting cash in my parents’ car, triple-seating my ex’s new love interest whenever she picked a fight with the guy, and capping off our late-night shifts with underage cocktails at Fridays (the mojitos were exciting back then, but I shudder at the thought of ever going back to a TGIFridays in the San Fernando Valley). And finally, there was my life at UCLA — football games on the weekends, Red Bull all-nighters in Powell Library, and finally living in my own apartment in Westwood.

The worlds rarely collided. It was as if I teleported between entirely different dimensions when I crossed the borders between Los Angeles, Calabasas, and Santa Barbara.

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

I wouldn’t trade in those days for anything. Since then, friendships have come and gone, and my little brother is even working at that exact restaurant. I see patterns in his social life and his thought processes that reflect what I went through as one of the younger members of a restaurant that was about to graduate from college.

And he mentions things like trying to hide his relationship with another hostess, and, well, I did the same thing when I worked there. But in hindsight, I try to give him advice that would help him be less foolish than I was — even though I know too well that those words of wisdom would be fruitless to a 21-year old in lurve.

Perhaps I don’t want him to get attached because I know that it’s easy to get lost in these worlds. Being 19 or 22 in college in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara feels so unreal at this point in my life. The things I worried about then, the silly problems that stressed me out or made me feel invincible or made me cry — looking back, I wish I knew so much more about why they did or didn’t matter. I come from a family that doesn’t acknowledge emotions at all, so I had no idea what depression was when I went through it. I didn’t know what it was until it hit me in the face. But since leaving California, I feel like I’ve inadvertently surrounded myself with people who have their own stories, their own comparisons of their separate lives that have helped me understand my emotions, how to become more self-aware, and when to recognize when you have real issues to face, or when you’re having a mini panic attack over something that will be an invisible speck in the grand canyon view of your entire life.

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

And really, I’ve just recently come to terms with anxiety — what it is, what it actually feels like, and how to deal with it. Emotions are so incredibly layered, and part of me wishes I met the people I’m so close to now back in high school, when self-awareness could have come in so, so handy. These days, I can just pop some ibuprofen after one too many cocktails, or something else when I realize that I’m physically stressed about something that really doesn’t matter. Like when I’m suddenly overcome with doubt or guilt for some memory that pops into my head from my waiting days or from high school. It’s weird how the littlest memories can strike the most negative or positive emotions for me. Perhaps, you know what I’m talking about.

That being said, science is a wonderful thing. And so are friends who help you through your anxiety. Maybe I’m just rambling at this point.

This recipe was actually one of the recipes on the menu at that restaurant I worked at, where I went through just roller coaster after roller coaster of emotions. I even checked their current menus to see if it was still there, but they’ve since taken this artichoke item off — so I improvised as closely as I could. It was pretty successful, and brought me back a little bit, for better or for worse. For the good moments, it’s nice to sit in bed and reminisce the late nights we spent smoking cigarettes in backyards in Los Angeles, or the pool parties I used to throw in my parents’ Christmas-light-ridden backyard. For the anxiety-inducing moments that I can’t push out of my head on my own, well, there’s always a half a Xanax in my bag. I’ve never been so thankful for science.

Recipe after the jump.

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

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Plum and Marscapone Flatbread, Caramelized Balsamic Glaze

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This might be my favorite set of photos yet.

A couple of weekends ago, Shaeda came over to spend an entire Sunday as my sous chef. The hands you see in these photos are hers. Aren’t they pretty?

I don’t think I can ever spend an entire day cooking without a sous chef ever again. Let me know if you’re interested, because an extra set of hands (and taste buds) in the kitchen really makes my life a lot easier.

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Well, there is only one day and a handful of hours left in this old house. The movers are coming Saturday morning (or so they say…) and I’ll be picking up in an older building in an older, gayer neighborhood.

In usual Sarah-fashion, this week has been unfairly busy. One of my clients sent me their data about a week late, which threw my entire freelance calendar off, which gave me an unexpected week of freedom in exchange for a looming week of hell. Hell was this week.

But as the week winds down, I’ve found solace in pandemonium — mostly thanks to my Thursday yoga “meeting” at the Department of Energy gym. There’s something incredibly soothing about reserving one hour a week to not think about a to-do list or an annual review or a muddled mess of clients. One hour. Just sixty minutes of soothing concentration — on holding a pose, building strength, and personal growth.

At the moment, my life is in boxes. Not everything, but a good chunk of it.

At the moment, there are twelve boxes. There will probably be fifteen by this time Friday night.

But hopefully, Saturday will go smoothly, and I’ll be able to reinstate food blogger Sundays… albeit, from a new home.

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Today, I’ll keep this short. I can’t deny exhaustion, but I just had to share this recipe and my favorite photos to date. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Happy Friday!

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Plum and Marscapone Flatbread, Caramelized Balsamic Glaze, derived from Butter Me Up Brooklyn

Ingredients
1 package active yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup warm water (might need more)
1 teaspoon oil

2 ripe plums, sliced thinly (preferably with a mandolin)
4 to 6 oz. marscapone cheese
Cornmeal, for dusting the crust
Fresh basil, sliced

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar

 

Combine yeast, sugar, flour, salt, and water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the dough hook, knead on medium until the ingredients form an elastic, smooth dough. That should take about ten minutes. Once that happens, cover the dough in the olive oil, place a kitchen towel over the bowl, and let the dough sit for an hour or so.

Roll the dough out on a clean surface — I kept it to about 1/2 an inch thick. Dust with cornmeal.

Heat your oven’s broiler.

Using a spatula, spread the marscapone on the crust, covering as much as you can. Then, arranged the plum slices, and be careful to not put too much fruit in any particular area. Too much will make your flatbread soggy. With a pastry brush, lightly coat the plums in olive oil.

Broil the flatbread for about 8 minutes, until the crust is crisp. Then, crack the oven door, and switch the oven to bake at 350 degrees. Let the flatbread bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, and then remove the sheet from the oven.

In a small saucepan, combine the balsamic, honey, and sugar. Reduce over medium heat until syrupy.

Top the flatbread with sliced basil, and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.