Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pizza Calzones!

On my last day off I found myself contemplating the typical question my whole family wonders about from 2-5 pm...what is for dinner?!  (And who's cooking it...though on the nights I am home that is usually the easy part to answer.)  I felt that we needed to have something fun and yummy...and rewarding since about half of the family was outside slaving away to get some garden work finished before it started raining again.  Seriously Washington, I know you are known for your rain and all, but it was Memorial Day was supposed to be nice!

After much thought and consideration of how energetic I felt about cooking, I decided on pizza calzones.  They are pretty easy and fun to make, plus my family loves them.  They disappear every time.  I mean, what's not to like, its like a pizza pocket but way better!

Start by making a batch or two of pizza dough.  You can also buy store bought, but it really isn't any easier to work with and the homemade stuff tastes much better.  Plus you can talk about how you baked it from scratch...then your family has to practically worship your cooking skills!

Place all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl while the yeast is set aside to activate.

Once the yeast mixture is active, add it and the olive oil to the dry ingredients.

Mix until completely incorporate.  It will form a slightly sticky dough.

Knead in a stand mixer or by hand until soft and smooth.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl to rise until about double.

Pizza Dough
Makes about 1 large pizza or six decent sized calzones
adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis's recipe on epicurious

3/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 envelope active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast from the jar)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil

Start by dissolving the yeast into the warm water.  Let it sit until it is slightly foamy.  While you wait, place the flour, sugar, salt and Italian seasoning in a mixing bowl.  Give it a little stir and set it aside until the yeast mixture is ready.

When the yeast mixture is active, pour it and the olive oil into the mixing bowl and mix it until completely incorporated.  The dough should be sticky, but not overly so.  If it is really sticky, add a little bit more flour to the mix until it is just slightly sticky.  It should stick to you hands when you put them in the dough but not be difficult to remove.

Switch the beater to a dough hook if you are using a stand mixer or turn the dough out onto a floured surface if you aren't, and knead until soft and smooth.  It took me about 5 minutes on the stand mixer.  This will also make the dough less sticky so don't worry too much if you start with slightly sticky dough.

Place the kneaded dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel for about an hour or until the dough has risen to twice its size.  When it is done rising, place it on a lightly floured surface and either cut into 6 pieces for calzones or roll out for a pizza.  (That is about how much a single recipe makes.)

Cut dough into pieces to make calzones.

Roll dough out until about 6-8" in diameters.

Place sauce, cheese and fillings on the dough and then fold to form a half circle.  Pinch to seal in the fillings.

Pizza Calzones
Pizza dough (as many batches as you need to make enough)
fillings such as pepperoni, salami, peppers, olives, etc.
Pizza sauce, 1 medium jar made about a dozen calzones
Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 500F.

Take a piece of the pizza dough and roll it out using a rolling pin until it is about 6-8 inches in diameter.  Place a spoonful or two of sauce on the dough and spread till about 1/2" from the edge.  Place a layer of cheese down and then top it with whatever fillings you like.  We used ground sausage, mini pepperoni, canadian bacon, bacon bits and green peppers.  Top all of that off with another layer of cheese and carefully fold one side of the dough over to the other so that the edges meet up and form a half circle shape.  Be careful to keep all the goodies inside while doing this.  You might need to stuff a few runaways back in here.  Press the ends together and then fold over in whatever design or however you'd like, to keep all of the fillings in!

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden browned.

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