I have been inspired lately by the ladies at sixsistersstuff.com. This has led to some true adventures in the kitchen. This week we’ve made bean, beef and cheese burritos (twice), calzones (twice), spring rolls, and baked ziti. If you’re like me, you make the same ten recipes over and over until everyone is tired of them. It’s been a pleasure to have some “new” things to eat around here. The calzones, however, were particularly revolutionary for our kitchen because a sweet friend of mine suggested that I should make my own ricotta. I don’t know how I missed this! I’ve been making yogurt, tortillas, wheat bread, and really all kinds of things since I moved to this land without prepackaged American food, but ricotta (until now) was not on that list. While perusing recipies online, I saw one that described it as “just as easy as brewing a cup of coffee”. I feel good about making things at home that are cheaper and just maybe more natural than the grocery store version. So, without further ado, I present to you my calzone process from beginning to end….
First prepare the ricotta.
I made 4 cups of whole milk from milk powder and poured them into a large pot. Online, I learned that it is important to use full fat (whole) milk when making ricotta because the fat is needed for the cheese. If you use skim milk it will yield very little cheese in the end. I heated the milk just until it was about to boil adding one teaspoon of salt, stirring occasionally. When it started to really steam, I turned off the heat and added 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. I gave this a good stir and immediately saw the milk begin to curdle. After stirring a little to activate the process, I let it sit for about twenty minutes. Then I poured the milk mixture into a strainer lined with cheese cloth and let the whey run out. If you add a little cream to your milk mixture before heating it, I think you will have a greater yield of cheese in the end. I did this the first time I made it, but not the second. There was no difference in the taste.
In the mean time, I sifted weevils out of a bunch of flour. (My favorite job!) Then I put 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 330 mL of water (about 1 and 1/3 C), 5 cups of flour, 2 table spoons of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, and 2 and 1/4 tsp of yeast into my bread machine and let it do it’s thing. This is my normal pizza dough recipe that came with my machine. I love this bread. It makes my house smell divine.
After I had the dough going, I started browning half a kilo (one pound) of ground beef with some onions and garlic. This time, I made the calzones with ground beef. Not as yummy, but beef is readily available (and relatively cheap) here. The pepperoni I used the first time was delicious, but we are now out until our next trip to the US.
Next, I grated about 8 oz of mozzarella.
Then added the strained ricotta.
I mixed that with 2 eggs and about 1/2 a cup of chopped, fresh parsley with about 10 leaves of fresh basil.
After that last photo was taken, I mixed the meat into the cheese mixture.
I also made some marinara. I used canned tomatoes, garlic, onion, oregano, salt and pepper. My family loves pasta, and at this point I can make red sauce in my sleep!
Next I rolled out a small ball of pizza dough onto my lightly floured counter top. I placed two spoons of the cheese/meat mixture and one spoon of the red sauce on the bottom half of the rolled out dough.
Then I folded it over and rolled up the sides using a fork to pinch them down so the yummy insides wouldn’t leak out while they cooked.
Next I brushed them all with a little egg. I didn’t love the shiny egg finish, but Dave did so we went with it.
I baked them at 350 for 12 minutes and voila! Everyone was very happy with the result.
I hope you find this useful and inspiring. I’ve frozen a bunch of these for the weekend. I think this will be a new tradition around here. I’ve included the recipes for you. Just to clarify, I read that a REAL calzone does not have red sauce inside, but is always dipped into marinara during dinner. I want to force these boys to eat their tomatoes, so I will always put the red sauce in mine!
4 cups of whole milk
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Pour milk into a large pot and add salt. Bring to steaming. Remove from heat. Add vinegar and stir. Let rest 20 minutes. Strain for an hour or more through cheese cloth. Refrigerate after straining. This can be frozen and used later.
3 tablespoons of olive oil
330 mL of water (about 1 and 1/3 C)
5 cups of flour
2 table spoons of sugar
1 tsp of salt
2 and 1/4 tsp of yeast
Knead all ingredients for about 5 minutes. Let rise for 15 minutes and knead again. Let rise for 30 minutes and roll flat on a floured surface.
1 pound ground beef
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, grated
1 cup marinara
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C chopped parsley
3 Tbs chopped basil
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add ground beef. Brown. Set aside. Grate mozzarella. Combine with ricotta, eggs, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper. Add ground beef to this mixture if desired.
Roll small amount of pizza dough flat on a floured surface. Place two spoons of the cheese/meat mixture on the bottom half of the rolled out dough. If using pepperoni, add three slices on top of cheese mixture. Then add one spoon of marinara on the bottom half of the rolled out dough. Now fold dough over and roll up the sides using a fork to pinch them down so they make a good seal. Brush calzones with an egg, if desired. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Serve with mozzarella for dipping, if desired.