Calzone is comely, yet divinely rustic. A turnover of pizza dough…stuffed with differing fillings and supple cheeses, folded over and shaped like a half moon before being baked or fried. Squisito!

Not surprisingly, the word is of Italian ancestry — from calzone (the singular for calzoni, “pants”), which is augmentative of calza (“stocking”), from the Medieval Latin word calcea taken from the Latin for “shoe” calceus. The etymology apparently alludes to the folded shape of the dish. The first known use of the word calzone in culinary circles was post WW II (circa 1947). Post modernist fare? Did kitchens, suspicious and tiring of authoritative definitions and singular narratives, create calzones as an antithetical reaction to traditional flat pizza reality?

By the bye, in Italian the word calzone has three syllables, [kalˈtsoːne]. Excuse the inconsolable pander, but please peruse other calzone (or pizza) entries here.

OLIVE & FENNEL CALZONE

Extra virgin olive oil to coat bowl

1 C warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 envelope active dry yeast packet
1 T honey

3+ C all purpose flour
1 t sea salt
3 T extra virgin olive oil

Pour warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast and honey until it dissolves. Let stand until yeast activates and forms foam or bubbles on the surface, about 5 minutes.

Rub large bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix flour and salt in stand up, heavy duty mixer equipped with flat paddle. Add yeast mixture, flour, salt and olive oil; mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Refit mixer with dough hook and process at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, or transfer to lightly floured surface and knead dough by hand until smooth (or some of both). Kneading does help develop strength and elasticity in the dough. During this step, add more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is too sticky. Work dough with hands into a smooth ball.

Transfer to large oiled bowl, turning dough until fully coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then a dishtowel and let dough rise in warm draft free area until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes for quick rising yeast and 1 1/2 hours for regular yeast. Punch down dough and work with hands into a smooth ball. Cut and divide into two rounded equal balls.

Preheat oven to 500 F (with pizza stone in oven on lowest rung for no less that 45 minutes before cooking)

3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 large fennel bulb, cleaned, stemmed, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, peeled, halved vertically and thinly sliced
1 t fennel seed, toasted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ozs mozzarella, grated
3 T fresh oregano leaves, peeled off stem minced
3 sprigs thyme leaves, peeled off stem, chopped

3 T choice imported black olives, pitted and thinly sliced
4-6 ozs tallegio, thinly sliced

Extra virgin olive oil

Briefly toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan.

Heat olive oil and garlic in a heavy, large skillet over medium high heat. Remove and discard garlic. Add sliced fennel bulb, sliced onion and fennel seed. Season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, place dough on well floured board or large work surface and roll out, starting in center and working outward toward edges but not rolling over them. Roll the dough to roughly 12″ in diameter, but always feel free to create any shape to your liking or whim — so long as it can fold in half for a calzone. Transfer to a pizza paddle which is either covered in cornmeal or heavily floured so it can slide off easily into the oven.

Combine mozzarella, oregano and thyme. Arrange the filling on one half of the dough, leaving a 1″ margin on the edge. Arrange fennel and onion mixture, then olives and finally tallegio slices over the top of the filling. Brush the edges of the dough with water, and fold the dough over to seal, pinching together with fingers.

Bake the calzone, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Calzones tend to take a few more minutes to cook than open pizza. Brush with olive oil immediately after removing from oven. Let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

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Pizza Di Nuovo

April 20, 2009

The perfect lover is one who turns into a pizza at 4:00 a.m.
~Charles Pierce

CALZONE WITH PROSCUITTO, CHEESES & HERBS

4 ozs goat cheese, crumbled
8 ozs mozzarella, grated
3-4 slices proscuitto, about 1/8″ thick
2 T fresh chives, finely chopped
3 T fresh oregano, minced
3 sprigs thyme leaves, peeled off stem, chopped
2 plump fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

Extra virgin olive oil

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

Cut proscuitto into 2″ long julienne strips. Combine goat cheese, mozzarella, proscuitto, chives, parsley, thyme and garlic cloves, making a thick paste. Arrange the filling on one half of the dough, leaving a 1″ margin on the edge. Fold the dough over to seal, pinching with fingers, much like closing the top and bottom crusts on a fruit pie.

Bake the calzone, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Calzones tend to take a few more minutes to cook than open pizza. Brush with olive oil immediately after removing from oven. Let rest before slicing.

GOAT CHEESE, ROASTED GARLICS & SUNDRIED TOMATOES

6+ plump, fresh roasted garlic cloves, peeled and sliced*
4 ozs goat cheese, crumbled
4 ozs mozzarella, shredded
10 sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil and cut into ribbons

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano, grated
1 bunch basil, cut into ribbons

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

Lightly brush pizza with the garlic olive oil, using a pastry brush. Spread the pizza dough with mozzarella, leaving a 1″ border. Scatter crumbled goat cheese over mozzarella. Strew garlic cloves and sun dried tomatoes over cheeses.

Bake the pizza, until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with grated parmigiano reggiano and basil.

*Roasted Garlic

Preheat oven to 400 F

Leaving skin on, cut 2 heads of garlic in half transversely. Place each half in a ramekin, cut side up. Cover with extra virgin olive oil and then foil. Place on a cooking sheet or baking dish and cook until slightly golden, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool. Keep garlic oil for cooking purposes, including brushing on pizzas or calzones in lieu of simple extra virgin olive oil.

TAPENADE, CAPERS & CITRUS ZEST

Tapenade
2 C brine-cured olives, such as Niçoise, pitted
2 fresh plump garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly
2 T capers, drained and rinsed
2 high quality anchovy fillets
1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 t Dijon mustard
Dash of brandy or cognac
6 T olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

If the anchovies are salt packed, let them stand in a bowl of milk for 15 minutes to exude the salt. Then, drain thoroughly.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the drained anchovies, olives, capers, mustard, garlic, cognac and thyme. Process in bursts to form a thick paste.

With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it is thoroughly incorporated. Season with pepper, then allow the tapenade to stand for an hour or so to allow the flavors to marry.

Tapenade
8 ozs fresh mozzarella, shredded or thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil

Parmigiano reggiano, grated
2 T capers, well drained
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Zest from 1/2 orange

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

Lightly brush pizza with olive oil, using a pastry brush. Spread the pizza dough with tapenade, leaving a 1″ border. Strew mozzarella over the tapenade.

Bake the pizza, until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, garnish with capers, citrus zest and then a grating of parmigiano reggiano.

SAUSAGE & CHILI PEPPERS

5-7 chili peppers of varying colors (poblanos, anaheims, jalapeños, serranos), stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
2 plump fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/3 lb. fresh Italian sausage, out of casings and crumbled
8 ozs fresh mozzarella or serrano, shredded or thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Large pinch dried thyme

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano, grated
Fresh thyme sprigs

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

In a large, heavy skillet, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic and sauté chili peppers on medium high heat. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Remove and set aside, discarding garlic. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.

Brush pizza dough with olive oil and cover with mozzarella, leaving a 1″ border. Arrange sausage and chili peppers atop the mozzarella.

Bake the pizza, until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, garnish with a grating of parmigiano reggiano and a few fresh thyme sprigs.

PIZZA CON UOVO (EGG)

3 large fresh, organic, free range eggs
8 ozs fresh mozzarella, shredded or thinly sliced
3-4 slices proscuitto or serrano, very thinly sliced, and then sliced again lengthwise
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Parmigiano reggiano, grated
1-2 T fresh tarragon, chopped

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

Brush pizza dough with olive oil and cover with mozzarella, leaving a 1″ border. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove pizza half way through cooking (about 5-6 minutes), arrange proscuitto on cheese and crack eggs on top in an equilateral triangle; sprinkle with pepper and return to the oven to cook through. Bake the pizza, until lightly browned, for a the remaining 5-6 minutes. When cooked, garnish liberally with a grating of parmigiano reggiano and chopped tarragon.

Pizzas (cont’d)

April 16, 2009

Now that the basic dough has been mastered, it is time to assemble. Pizzas and calzones are rather simple creatures once you get the drill. But to reduce any unnecessary anxiety and enhance the pie making experience, it is crucial that the ingredients be prepared in advance with most all mise en place before dressing those yeasty doughs. Having the components neatly arrayed before you in bowls creates a sense of empowerment. Isn’t the kitchen really about controling chaos anyway?

When arranging the toppings, the dough should be rolled out on a pizza paddle which is sprinkled with a thin, but consistent, layer of cornmeal.

Be original, and think seasons, color, harmony, and design—almost feng shui. Please exercise restraint, remembering the cardinal rule that less is best.

Each recipe below uses the basic pizza dough recipe found in the preceding post (Pizza & Calzone Dough), which does not bear repetition.

LEEKS & PANCETTA

3 leeks, most of top trimmed off, well cleaned and sliced
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1 C pancetta, cut into lardons, 1/2″ square or so
8 ozs fresh mozzarella, shredded or thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
A large pinch dried thyme

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano, grated

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

Sweat sliced leeks in olive oil and butter until tender. Season with salt, pepper and thyme while cooking; set aside and cool. Cook pancetta in a drizzle of olive oil until crisp and lightly browned; drain on paper towels. Brush pizza dough with olive oil, using a pastry brush. Spread mozzarella over dough, leaving the border uncovered. Strew leeks and pancetta over the dough. Bake the pizza, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, immediately garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a healthy dose of grated parmigiano reggiano.

PISSALADIERE

Pissaladière, a classic onion marmalade, olive and anchovy pizza has its origins in southern France. This tart derives its name from pissala, a Provençal anchovy paste.

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
3-4 yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t fresh thyme, minced

10 high quality olive oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
1/2 C whole Nicoise olives, pitted

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano, grated

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

In a large heavy skillet or sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper and thyme and lower the heat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and nicely caramelized, 35 to 40 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes more.

Brush pizza dough with olive oil or garlic olive oil, using a pastry brush. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the pizza, leaving the border uncovered. Arrange the anchovy fillets in a criss cross or diagonal pattern over the onions. Bake the pizza, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, garnish with olives, a drizzle of olive oil and a grating of parmigiano reggiano.

PIZZA MARGHERITA

3 C chopped fresh tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped and well drained
8 ozs fresh mozzarella, shredded or thinly sliced
Sea salt
12 fresh basil leaves, shredded (chiffonade)

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano
Whole basil leaves

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

Brush pizza dough with olive oil, using a pastry brush. Spread tomatoes uniformly over the pizza dough, leaving the border uncovered. Distribute mozzarella evenly over the surface of the tomatoes. Lightly salt, then strew basil over the mozzarella. Bake the pizza, until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a grating of parmigiano reggiano and ribbons of basil leaves for color.

*Chiffonade: stack 4 or 5 basil leaves flat on top of one other. Roll the leaves tightly. Cut thinly with a very sharp knife which will create ribbons.

MUSHROOM

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1/3 C ruby port
1 T fresh thyme leaves, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 lbs assorted mushrooms, such as porcini, shiitakes, chanterelles or morels, sliced
8 ozs fresh mozzarella, grated
4 paper thin slices of proscuitto or serrano, then sliced again lengthwise (optional)

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano, grated
Several sprigs of fresh thyme

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

In a heavy skillet over medium high, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the mushrooms, port and thyme and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper during the cooking process. Set aside. Brush pizza dough with olive oil, using a pastry brush. Strew mozzarella evenly over pizza dough, leaving an uncovered border. Distribute mushroom mixture evenly over the top of the mozzarella.

Bake the pizza, until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a grating of parmigiano reggiano and some thyme sprigs for effect.

Categories’ Translations

January 22, 2009

Admittedly, a paranoia induced entry. In a late night, overwrought effort to be cute, some of my Categories titles may be rightly dubbed obscure. So, to assure the utter transparency that is ever much in the political vogue these days (a more accurate word might be “translucence”), the literal interpretations follow:

Ab Ovo — Eggs

Asides — Vegetables, Side Dishes

Between the Sheets — Sandwich fare

Dough & Yeast — Pasta, Pizza, Calzone

Fine Fowl — Poultry

Fish Out of Water — Fish, Shellfish

Gadgets & Toys — Cutlery, Cookware, Tools, Utensils

Going Green — Salads

Soupçon — Soups

Mulling over Mammals — Meats

Ruminations — Random Thoughts, Ideas

Silk Pantries — Pantry, Cupboard items

Small Pleasures — Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres, Amuses gueles/bouches, Tapas

Sweet Teeth — Desserts

The Holy Grill — Grilling, Barbeque