Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Tuesday night fun cooking! calzones

Predictably, when I ask my kids what they want to put on the menu for the week, the first things they rattle off are variations of starch+cheese+tomato sauce, preferably adorned with meat: pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, you get the idea (last week's hummus and fattoush was a rare exception).

This week was Daniel's turn to choose the menu for Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! and we made calzones. Calzones are a favorite for all of us, but I don't make them all that often. They seem like a lot of work, though come to think of it, it's no more time and effort than pizza, and I make pizza all the time. In fact, a calzone is basically a little pizza folded in half. That's not so hard, is it? Scroll down to the end of this post for my recipe.

I try to have the kids do as much as possible, both so they are learning by doing and also so my hands are free to take pictures. I managed to get several posts on Instagram within an hour before I had to put my phone down and help things along. (I created a new hashtag, by the way: #tuesdaynightfuncooking and I'd love to see some more people join in.)

We started off by mixing up the dough. I had stirred up some semolina, yeast and water to proof, and it was up to the kids to add salt, olive oil and the rest of the flour. They each had a turn adding those things and stirring them in, but they still managed to fight over it (sigh).

Anya refused to smile. She was still upset about the salt. 

We set the dough aside and went to work on the filling. This is what takes so long making calzones. I mean, you could just grate some cheese and be done with it, but it's better to add some other stuff, too. 

Anya likes to grate cheese. Daniel does not. One less thing to fight about, at least.

Daniel likes to chop things. Slowly.

Please ignore the sopping pile of dirty rags on the counter.

Anya opens the package of ricotta with gusto. "Take THAT!" Notice Daniel is still chopping that mushroom.

Daniel carries chopped mushroom across the floor to the stove one handful at a time. He only drops a few on the way. 

Teamwork!

"Oh no you don't, you're not going anywhere near that pepperoni!!!"

Roll it out and make it round-ish.

There it is: calzone, marinara, and salad.
Calzone recipe
For the dough:

  • Mix 1 1/4 cups semolina flour with 1 T yeast and 1 cup water, and let it sit for an hour or so
  • Add 2-3T olive oil, 1.5tsp salt, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and stir together
  • Add white all-purpose flour a few tablespoons at a time until you have a ball of dough that is soft but not sticky; you'll use a cup total or less
  • Leave the dough in a bowl, cover with a plate and set aside while you make the filling
For the filling, mix a tub of ricotta with a fist-sized pile of shredded mozzarella and whatever else you want. Tonight we sautéed mushrooms with garlic and onion and mixed that in along with some fresh basil.  In the past, I've cooked up Italian sausage and chopped kale and nobody complained about it. When it comes to vegetables, you just have to make sure you don't have anything too watery like fresh tomatoes or uncooked spinach; better to save those things for a side salad.

To assemble the calzones:
  • Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces slightly larger than golf balls 
  • Roll each piece out into a round that is about 1/4" thick; any thinner and the filling will ooze out
  • If you are using pepperoni (we did), layer a few slices on one half of the rolled out dough, then spoon 2-3T of the cheese filling on top of the pepperoni
  • Fold the other side of the dough over the filling and pinch the edges shut to prevent the filling from leaking. Usually it does anyway, but you can say you tried.

Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes, or until the calzones are golden brown.
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping, and fresh vegetables or green salad on the side.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...


Wed. eve.

A couple of short comments.

One. For "healthy" cooking and eating, Michael Pollan (sp?) has "learn to cook" as one of his "food rules."

Two. It is very important for people, not only kids, to do things with their hands. Not just sit down with a book or spend all of one's time at a screen. It is good to see them cutting and grating and so on.

Three. Knives. Not too early to learn. I wonder about curling the fingers and tucking under the thumb to keep those finger tips away from the business end of the blade. But maybe slow and deliberate is fine for now.

-Opa

Anonymous said...

Thur. morning

"Oh thou hypocrite." I am speaking to myself, in a mirror as I put a small bandage on my finger. This after "preaching" knife skills yesterday.

I held it wrong, and it wrong. Trying to split a small roll and then but some brie on the halves. Oh well. A pretty minor cut, but a cut all the same.

-Opa