I've tried making calzones before, and failed. I can't remember what went wrong the first time, but I do remember that neither Dave nor I was impressed. Tonight: redemption.
These were by no means perfect. Notice that the filling is starting to spill out? That's not really supposed to happen. Despite my best efforts to seal the calzones, the ricotta/ham/fresh herb/mozzarella goodness oozed out during baking.
But. Don't you think they look like cute little monsters? Just begging me, "Eat Me! EAT ME!!!" instead of "Feed me, FEED ME!" like the venus fly trap in Little Shop of Horrors?
Luckily, Dave and I ate the calzones before they ate us. Well, except for the one leftover calzone we're splitting in half for lunch tomorrow... hope it doesn't come to life overnight and eat what's left in our fridge... and then try to eat us...
Anyway. I wish I'd taken a picture of the homemade marinara sauce (something I also finally nailed, yay) that I served in my cute little red Emile Henry ramekins that tend to make me happy whenever I pull them out of the cabinet. Aren't they cute? And happy? I look for excuses to use them. Anyway. The marinara was tasty. To make it:
* sautee about half a large onion in some olive oil with salt and a little bit of pepper, about 10 minutes.
* right before the onion is done, throw in some chopped garlic. Couple of cloves will do the trick. Or more. Whatever you like.
* add about 1/2 cup white wine. Cook several minutes until the liquid has reduced by at least half. You may want to add about a tablespoon of sugar at this point... depends on what kind of wine you use, and how sweet it is. Or how acidic you expect your tomatoes are.
* throw in some tomatoes. I took one fresh tomato (all I had left of the fresh veggies this week) and a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes and gave them a whirl in my blender, then dumped in the onion/wine/garlic mix. Add some more salt and pepper.
* fresh oregano, basil, parsley, thyme... any sort of fresh herbage is excellent to throw in at this point. No fresh herbs? Use dried, but I cannot stress how delicious fresh herbs are in this recipe.
* simmer as long as you can, over low heat, uncovered. Stir often.
* taste it a couple of times and make sure it doesn't need more salt/sugar/pepper. Adjust accordingly.
* if you want a non-chunky sauce - give the whole thing a good mix in the blender or food processor. Personally? I like the rustic, chunky feel of the sauce, so I left it alone.
* freeze whatever is left over and use it on pizza, bruschetta, pasta, or more calzones.
I finally know my favorite pizza dough recipe by heart (use about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt though). I generally make it and do a cold rise, just leaving it in the fridge until I need it (it's magic!). Today, however, I had just enough time to let it rise on the counter. Oh, and I added more fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme and oregano, from my garden and from the Farmer's Market Basket I picked up last week. I wish I could've captured the smell of my kitchen while they were baking.
For the stuffing, I loosely followed what my man Mario Batali suggested here, in his ricotta & ham calzone recipe. One of my favorite parts of the day this summer has been waking up and eating my cereal and drinking my coffee to Molto Mario. And every morning, I get new ideas for where and what I'll eat when I finally make it to Italy. I'm hoping 2011 is the year. And by hoping I mean, I'm going in May. This is a trick I call "speaking my world into existence."
Oh, and I added more fresh herbs to the filling- basil and parsley this time. And I put extra mozzarella in there before baking.
So that we'd have a little green on the side, I chopped up some romaine and lightly dressed it with my homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Washed the whole thing down with an icy cold SweetWater in a frosty mug.
Dave and I both had really long days today. Normal people would just want to go out instead of standing in the kitchen and cooking. But, it was one of those nights for me where making dinner - creating a tomato sauce, picking fresh herbs to use, playing with food, rolling out a dough that I made from scratch, tasting and retasting to make sure I liked how things were progressing, wondering if it would taste as delicious as it was smelling - was exceptionally therapeutic for me. Despite having stressful days, we got to enjoy a delicious, pretty cheap, easy and not completely unhealthy dinner. It was a good night at Casa Dawmilam.