mytopleft

Sunday, June 16, 2013

OMG, it's food porn!

Yes, yes, we finally have some food porn. Took me a while, and, to tell the truth, I damn near forgot to start taking pictures for the post, so the step-by-step is not as illustrative as some cooking shows might be. On the other hand, none o those cooking shows have me, so I guess it balances out.

Today we make calzones, a fine Italian dish that is often abused. Calzones usually involve a cheese-meat-vegetable mixture of some sort wrapped in a pizza-dough crust. Many people put marinara sauce (spaghetti sauce) inside the calzones, which is barbaric. You can drench the calzone with sauce after cooking, or dip each piece in sauce as you eat it if you like, but the sauce stays on the outside. That said, we begin.

First, of course, you must make dough for the crust. You will need one package of yeast, one teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of olive oil, a cup of warm water and 2-1/2 cups of flour.


 Yeah, not everything is in the picture. Did I mention I almost forgot to take pictures? You don't like it, refer to the title of the blog. And Clapper, blow me. (Sorry, I could not resist the urge to throw in a gratuitous insult to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who apparently is reading everyone's blog, among other things.)

Mix the yeast with the water in a bowl, and add the oil, sugar and salt. My recipe says "small bowl," but it never talks about moving it to a large bowl to blend in the flour, so I start this mixture in a large bowl. Anyway, get it all mixed in nicely, with the yeast and everything dissolved, then stir in one cup of flour. Get it smooth, all lumps stirred out, etc., then gradually stir in the remaining 1-1/2 cups until the dough is smooth and workable (meaning it doesn't stick to your hands every time you touch it). You might have to add a small amount of water to blend in all of the flour. I find that the second cup of flour stirs in well, but the final half cup should be spread on a cutting board or other smooth surface and kneaded into the dough. This is fine, since you have to knead the dough for about five minutes until it is nice and elastic. At that point, you put the dough back in the large bowl, pour a tablespoon of olive oil over it, flip it  rub it around the bowl to coat the entire surface of the dough with olive oil, then set it aside to rise. Looks like this at that point:


 Unimpressive, I know.

Now we make the filling. You will need 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese, 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, about a cup of diced pepperoni, a tablespoon of basil and, if you like, a half cup of mushrooms, onions, or something like that. I chose not to add any of those things today.


 Anyway, mix all those things together while the dough is rising, then cover and refrigerate. Looks like this:


 It takes about 45 minutes to an hour for the dough to rise. You want it to double in size. So go drink a beer or two, mow the front yard, play with the kids, whatever. At some point, the dough will now look like this:


 Yeah, it's a lot bigger. Punch that sucker down and divide it into four pieces. In turn (not all at once unless you have a really big rolling board), roll each part into a circle on a floured surface:

 I think a marble rolling pin is best, but use wood if you think you must. (By the way, this is probably a good time to start preheating the oven to 375.) After each piece is rolled out to the desired size (don't ask me what the desired size is -- how big do you want the damn thing to be? Actually, I recommend about 8 inches in diameter, because you don't have enough filling to make four calzones bigger than that.), put one-fourth of the filling onto the crust.


 You will do this four times, folding the crust over and pressing the edges together. Put the assembled calzones on a greased cookie sheet or, as I did, a greased pizza pan.


 Beat one egg in a small bowl. Get a basting brush.


 Use the basting brush to slather the calzone crusts with the beaten egg. Makes them brown nicely.


 OK. I assume you took my earlier advice and preheated the oven to 375 degrees. If not, turn it on now. I'll wait. Drink a beer while the oven preheats. Seriously, do you people not listen to me? Once the oven is ready, pop those suckers in for about 30 minutes. When done, they should look like this:


 For sauce, you can either pour marinara sauce over your calzone, or you can put some in a bowl to dip each piece as you cut up your calzone and shove it in that gaping maw you call a mouth.


By making four calzones, it is simpler, but they are large. You can cut them in half, and a single serving then looks like this:

Drizzle sauce and add the vegetable of your choice as a side (unless you shove vegetables inside during the making) and you get this:


Anyway, don't bug me now. I'm eating. Bon appetit.

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