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Friday, November 26, 2010

Calzones Do A Girl Good




It was a terrible, no good, windy, rainy, chilly horrible day and I refused to go outside anymore than I had to. I had to take Little Shack to school (the poor kid went on a field trip to Pioneer Village today - better him than me! ) and I had to go pick him up again but that's it.

I had a couple of choices. I could spend the day doing housework, cleaning, putting laundry away, washing floors, cleaning out cupboards etc. OR I could make something for dinner that would be labourious enough to justify not actually doing all that housework. Guess what i chose?

Shack has been asking me to make calzones for weeks and I have been too busy thinking of lasagne to pay any attention to him. You know, every time I text him to ask him what he wants for supper, he texts back "veal parmesan" and I always ignore him and make something else. I don't really like veal parmesan so I just can't get exited about making it and sometimes I feel a bit guilty about that, especially since he has only really loved one out of the three lasagnes I have made this month for Love 4 Lasagne . I like calzones better than I like veal parmesan so although I am STILL ignoring his desire for veal parm, I am making him calzones so I am this much closer to being a kind and considerate person.

Last week we bought some sausages from a really great east end Toronto Ecuadorian butcher we like Meating On Queen . They make an amazing array of sausages on the premises and we like to grab a couple of new treats whenever we go there. I decided to use two of their chicken/ricotta/and something red that is either red pepper, sun dried tomato or tomato but i honestly forget and it doesn't matter because all three of those options make me happy.
I also had 1/2 a bag of mixed Italian cheese - provolone, asiago, mozz and parmesan and so that would go in there along with some ricotta. I know that some people put sauce right in the calzone but i don't. It can make them soggy and way too messy to eat so I like to make a nice, light tomato sauce to serve on the side and we dip each bite into that.

The dough, of course, is the Olive Oil Dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking , the book that has turned me into a bread baker. It makes a great pizza dough and I have also baked it up into a boule and that was really tasty as well, which is a good thing because I rarely use the whole recipe for pizza.

For the dipping sauce, I do what I learned from a lovely Italian woman, Lydia and her mother, Nona. They taught me this when we were making a bazillion home made pizzas for a fund raising lunch at school because we are three crazy people who do that sort of thing on a monthly basis. For the pizza sauce, they just drained good quality canned plum tomatoes and let them sit in a strainer while they prepped the dough and then they whizzed the drained tomatoes up in the blender with a good glug of olive oil, salt and either some fresh basil or some oregano and garlic. That's it! All those years wasted trying to come up with a great pizza sauce and that was all there was to it. It was absolutely perfect on the pizza and it is the only way I have made pizza ever since.
I make that sauce and then i just heat it up a bit before serving so that it's warmer than just warm but not piping hot either. Perfection.

One of the things i really like about calzones is that they freeze beautifully and they are really easy to reheat. You can throw them in the oven from frozen. If I am planning to freeze them, I put them on a cookie sheet and freeze them uncooked and then when they are frozen I throw them in a zip lock bag. You can take out as many as you need and throw them straight into the oven at about 350F for about 30 minutes. Because you don't even have to defrost them, they become the perfect "Oh, for the love of pearl, I totally forgot that I have to feed these people and I have nothing to make for them" food. You end up looking like a rock star because calzones feel like such a special treat that nobody will ever know that it was either that or Kraft Dinner and your family is thrilled because you clearly love them enough to make them something so delicious and fancy.
Win, win!

So, I am not sure if i am allowed to share the recipe for the olive oil dough from Artisan Bread because it kind of seems like nobody ever does which makes me think they  may have some sort of copyright issue and I don't want to get sued so you can use any old pizza dough recipe you like.

For the Calzones:
Preheat the oven to 450F

Two cooked sausages that have been cooled and then slice them up
(you could also take them out of the casings and fry them up like that but these had cheese in them and i was afraid that would get ugly)

about 1.5 cups ricotta

about a cup of mixed, shredded Italian cheeses of your choosing

I added one steamed and chopped head of broccoli because the kid asked for it and what kind of mother can say no to a kid who is asking for broccoli?

a good sized pinch of kosher salt and a couple grinds of black pepper

Mix up the cheeses and the sausage and the broccoli and set aside while you roll out your dough into circles that are approx. 6 or 7". It's up to you how big you  make them, but I don't like to make them too huge. You can really pile on a generous amount of filling because you are going to stretch the dough over to seal it anyway. I just pinch down the edges of the half circle and use a fork to press them tightly together. You can get fancy and crimp or whatever you like to do with your dough edges. I also poke a couple of holes in the top and then brushed the tops with olive oil and sprinkled with some kosher salt and a mix of chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds.



I sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal onto an inverted cookie tray and lay the calzones onto that for easy sliding onto the pizza stone

Slide them onto the pizza stone (or, if you don't have a pizza stone, cook them right on the inverted cookie tray) for about 20 minutes.

While they are cooking,  gently heat up your dipping sauce which can be my version of a pizza sauce, a basic marinara or your own favourite tomato sauce.

Serve them with a small bowl of dipping sauce for each person.