Make and Freeze: Calzones

These calzones are not so hard to make and give you a good thing to stash in the freezer for nights when cooking dinner isn’t a reality. The filling is very versatile. Like ravioli, I use calzones as a catch-all for anything that is seasonal. Since we have a new supply of fresh, homemade sausage in the house, this time I used Ryan’s bulk Italian and spinach for the filling. (Look for a recap of SausageFest2010 soon!)

Makes about 8 calzones. Recipe easily doubles.

Calzone dough:

4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
corn meal for dusting the pan

  1. In the bowl of your mixer or by hand, mix the dry ingredients. Add in the wet.
  2. Stir and knead until the dough comes together and becomes elastic, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cover and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

Basic cheese filling:

1 lb. homemade ricotta
2 cups mozzarella, coarsely chopped if homemade, shredded if it’s a harder mozzarella
about 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt
a few grinds of white pepper
optional: fresh herbs – parsley, oregano, or basil

  1. Prepare cheeses and garlic.
  2. Mix it all together.

For spinach and sausage filling:

1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
about 4 cups of spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
red pepper flakes
olive oil

  1. Prepare the basic cheese filling. (Don’t stir in the garlic. You’ll want to cook it for a few minutes. See step 3 below.)
  2. In a large skillet, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil and begin to brown the sausage. (If you have Italian sausage in its casing, just remove from casing and crumble up with the spoon as you cook.) cook for about 10 minutes or until nicely brown. Continue to break the sausage up with your spoon. You may need to drain some of the liquid from the pan.
  3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes (to your liking) and stir around for about one minute.
  4. Add spinach and stir until wilted.
  5. When this mixture has cooled, mix it in with the cheese filling

Assembling the calzones:

  1. Prepare your area. Place parchment paper on two baking sheets. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Get out a large cutting board, scale, and bench knife. Place a little parchment on your scale and zero out. Sprinkle your cutting board with flour and dust your hands. (Remember, during this process, dough sticks to dough. If your hands get too sticky, ‘wash’ with flour.) Continue reading

How to Make Grilled Pizza

pizzaSummer vegetables make for great pizzas. It’s time to highlight those delicious tomatoes. Grilled pizza comes close to simulating the brick oven pizza that you might find in restaurants (and is always an impressive party trick.) If you’re organized, it’s not too hard and it’s worth every bit of work. The key to the amazing flavor really is the garlic oil. Try different variations of your own – different veggies, with or without the pesto – but never skip the oil.

Dough:

Makes 4 personal pizzas.

2 1/4 cups bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp. yeast
1 cup water, warm
2 tbls. extra-virgin olive oil

  1. For the dough, mix dry ingredients (including yeast). With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, add water and oil. Mix and knead until smooth. You want it to be elastic, not sticky.  Move dough to  a clean bowl, sprayed with olive oil. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours. (This step is very forgiving.)Stack dough between heavily floured parchment.
  2. Deflate dough and divide it into 4 pieces. With cupped hands, roll each into a nice ball and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut 4 squares of parchment paper. With a rolling pin, roll each dough ball out to about 8 inches. Stack between heavily floured parchment paper. (Sticky dough is your worst enemy during this process. Err towards using extra flour.)

Toppings:

3 balls mozzarella, fresh or homemade, sliced into small pieces
3 or so delicious tomatoes, sliced thinly and patted dry between two washcloths
fresh garlic oil
pestoOrganize your toppings.
fresh basil or oregano, coarsely chopped
kosher salt

Prepare your toppings and lay them  out on a tray. You want everything to be easily on hand when you go out to grill. Be ready to brush on the oil with a pastry brush (or improvise with a paper towel folded into a tight rectangle.)

Time to grill:

When you prepare your grill, heap charcoal on one side of the grill. This creates a hot side and a cooler side. Arm yourself with tongs, a large spatula, and an empty cutting board. If you have an assistant around, they can help in case panic sets in, but don’t let them tell you any interesting stories. Pay attention! Constant vigilance!

  1. Grill only 2 pizzas at once. Peel off parchment and place dough on hot side of the grill. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. (Don’t be afraid to check the bottom.)After cooking one side, remove from grill.
  2. Remove pizzas from grill and place, cooked side up, on the empty board. Top your pizza in this order:  garlic oil, pesto
    (if you’re using), cheese, tomatoes, sprinkle of kosher salt over the whole thing.
  3. Return pizzas to cool side of grill. Cover with lid. Cook for about 2 minutes until cheese is melted. (Check often.)  Remove and keep pizzas warm in oven. (If your fire gets away from you and the bottom starts to burn before the cheese melts, there is no shame in melting your cheese under the broiler.  It happens.) Remove from heat and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
  4. Repeat with 2 remaining pizzas.

Sage Pizza

For some reason, we seem to be good at growing sage. Maybe you are too. This is an easy pizza to put together – no chopping, no precooking.sage pizza

Pizza Dough (1 ball)
1/2 c. + 2 tbls. water
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
pinch sugar
1 1/2 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil

2 balls fresh mozzarella
about 10-15 leaves of sage
Parmesan
olive oil
red pepper flakes, salt

  1. Make the dough. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the wet. Knead for 10 minutes. Let rise in a bowl coated in olive oil and covered with plastic wrap for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 500F.
  3. Slice your mozzarella and put it on a cloth to dry.
  4. Shape the dough. Stretch and toss. Place on a pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal.
  5. Place mozzarella  on the dough. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake on the lowest rack of your oven for 7 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and add sage. Bake for 8 minutes more or until brown.
  7. When it’s done, sprinkle with a small amount of red pepper flakes, a little salt, and grated Parmesan.

I followed most of the directions from a recipe in Local Flavors, a wonderful book that  I’ve repeatedly checked out of the library and now own. (Thanks, Mom!)

Spinach Frittata

We’ve been so busy lately that there hasn’t been a lot of cooking going on. But thanks to our CSAs and the active farmer’s market, the bounty has certainly been flowing in. Tonight we took a breath and cooked some of those greens in our fridge. What’s the answer when you’re looking for a quick, healthy dinner? Frittata, of course.

How many variations of eggs and veggies for dinner must there be? (We’ve already posted a few recipes here and here.) This version is light and airy, due to the ricotta. Greens can be mixed and matched, of course. I’m adding pea shoots to everything lately. In this dish, they really give you something to chew.

6 eggsin the oven
1 garlic scape, cut into small pieces
3 handfuls of spinach
1 handful of pea vines, chopped roughly
1/2 cup of ricotta
1/2 cup of milk
a few leaves each of mint and oregano
olive oil, salt, pepper

  1. Separate the eggs – yolks in one bowl, whites in a second bowl.
  2. In the bowl with the yolks, add ricotta, milk, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  3. Whisk egg whites vigorously (or gratuitously use your mixer – it is, after all, a quick and lazy dinner). You want them to be light and foamy.
  4. Fold the egg white mixture into the yoke mixture. Turn over gently until they are completely incorporated.
  5. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a heat proof (cast iron) skillet set over medium heat. Cook the greens for about 3 minutes, just until wilted down.
  6. Stir in the egg mixture.
  7. Bake at 35oF for 12-15 minutes.

Notes:

  • This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite quick meals,  puffy corn omelet.
  • I was completely lazy and didn’t even chop anything.  Scapes always seem to fly everywhere when I chop them with a knife, so I just use kitchen scissors to snip them down to the size I want. While I had the scissors, I cut the pea vines and the herbs right over the bowl or skillet. Easy!

Chard Gratin

This dish takes a little while to prepare, but it’s worth it. Using the stems and the leaves lets you really enjoy the complete flavor of the chard.

about 2 bunches of chard
1 onion
1 garlic clove
about 2 tbls. fresh dill
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbls. flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup semi-hard goat cheese (or mild white cheese of your choosing)
salt, pepper

  1. Wash leaves and stems.
  2. Trim. With a sharp knife, cut the leaves off the stem, on either side of the rib. Sort the stems and leaves. Roughly chop the leaves. Cut the stems into about 1-inch pieces.
  3. Finely chop an onion. Add to stems.
  4. Finely mince the garlic and the dill. Set aside.
  5. Heat 2 tbls. butter in a medium pan over medium-low. Cook onion and chard stems for about 20 minutes.
  6. Add chard leaves, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tbls. water. Stir and cook for another 10 minutes. Set this mixture aside in a bowl.
  7. Using the same pan, melt another 2 tbls. of butter. Add breadcrumbs, garlic cloves, and dill. Stir until the breadcrumbs are brown, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  8. Melt 1 tbls. butter. Whisk in flour. Whisk in milk. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and a little white pepper. Simmer this sauce on low for five minutes.
  9. Fold the sauce into the chard mixture, along with cheese. Pour into a buttered 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumb topping.

    Only 6 weeks and our baby chard will be a gratin.

    Only 6 weeks and our baby chard will be a gratin.

  10. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Notes:

  • To store chard until you are ready to use it: Keep bunched and placed in a glass of water. Place a plastic bag loosely over the top. Refrigerate.
  • To make homemade breadcrumbs: Dry out old bread in the oven and using a blend or food processor, whiz until fine. I store mine in a container in the freezer, with a paper towel in the top to absorb moisture.

Kitchen Scraps

  • We went to hear Ruth Reichel, of Gourmet fame, talk about her newest book at Elliot Bay last night. While she talked more about women’s issues than food, she was still fascinating. And?? They’re serving Hot Lips Soda in the cafe. Whoa.
  • The Seattle Cheese Festival is happening at Pike Place Market this weekend. I heard this interesting piece about burrata cheese on the radio this morning. How caEdible Schoolyardn you not be intrigued by a cheese that is a fresh mozzarella stuffed with reduced cream? Mmmmmmmm.
  • A big thank you to my favorite, glorious librarian who found this book for me: Edible Schoolyard. Written by none other than Montessori teacher turned chef, Alice Waters, it was inspirational and beautiful. If you’re someone who believes in the power of food and the empowerment of kids, you’ve just got to read through it.

Cardoon Gratin

Don’t be frightened! That ferocious looking celery that you see at the farmer’s market is a cardoon, a mild-tasting stalk that is served often in Mediterranean cuisine. What to do with it? The gratin below is inspired by a recipe from Alice.cardoon gratin

cardoons, about 6 stalks
olive oil
salt and pepper
lemon or vinegar
cream
chicken stock
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Prepare the pot of water that you will later use for simmering. As soon as you begin to trim a cardoon, it may change color, so you need to be ready to place it in water that is “acidulated.” (Great word, isn’t it? I intend to use it as often as possible.)  Acidulate your water with a little squeeze of lemon (or a tablespoon of vinegar.) Flavor with 2 tbls. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  2. How to trim a cardoonTrim your cardoons. Peel off the leaves and the thickest of the strings. (This will be easier to do if your cardoons are very fresh.) Cut into about 3-inch lengths and, as you work, immediately toss the trimmed cardoons into the acidulated water.
  3. acidulatedSimmer the cardoons for 45 minutes. They should be almost tender, when you poke them with a fork.
  4. Drain and pour the cardoons into a small gratin dish. Cover halfway with chicken stock. Add salt and pepper. Stir. Fill until the cardoons are just covered with cream. Add Parmesan to the top.
  5. Bake at 375F until the top is brown, about 25 minutes.
  6. To serve as a side, scoop out cardoons with just a little bit of the liquid and plate.