Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ricotta Calzones with Red Peppers, Spinach, and Goat Cheese

Calzone - Mmmmm

So what to do with all that homemade ricotta? Why make calzones of course! This recipe is adapted from Cook's Illustrated (sub required)... and it really is adapted (not just copied) because I thought they had some pretty loopy instructions about parchment paper rounds and needing a food processor/stand mixer for mixing a very dry dough (hydration: 56%). So this recipe has been streamlined for people who have baked some bread or pizza on a pizza stone before... not experts, mind you (I certainly am not one), but if you've never used your pizza stone for anything other than frozen pizza then this may be a little hard to follow and I'd recommend the Cook's Illustrated version.

I made most of my notes within the recipe itself, but one thing up top: you can use regular or baby spinach here, but you're definitely going to want to stem any regular spinach. Oh, and we also didn't actually use goat cheese here (false advertising!) but a local cow's milk cheese with a similar flavor and texture... something I'm very curious as to how they accomplished, but that's a job for another day.

If you don't need six calzones at one meal, you can either bake these all the way and then reheat leftovers on the stone for ten minutes, or under cook them a bit, freeze them, and then bake until golden (not sure how long). I did the former and Anna did the latter, though she has yet to sample a frozen one.

  • 22 ounces bread flour (4 cups)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 envelope)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 1/2 ounces water (1 1/2 cups water, plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 10 ounces whole-milk ricotta
  • 8 ounces shredded fresh mozzarella (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
  • Table salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch by 2-inch strips
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound spinach, washed, dried, and stemmed (about 4 cups)
  • 8 ounces goat cheese , crumbled
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing and kosher salt for sprinkling
  • Cornmeal for dusting
  1. You could make this dough in a stand mixer or food processor or something, but I think that makes you a big baby. C'mon it's just dough! They were making calzones before electricity people. OK, rant done: In a large bowl whisk flour, yeast, and salt to combine. Add olive oil and water and mix with a spoon until mixture comes together in a shaggy ball. Transfer to counter and knead by hand until an elastic dough forms that passes a medium window pane test (10 minutes or so). Form the dough into a ball and then transfer it to a lightly oiled large bowl. Spray the ball with a little cooking spray and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (should double in size).
  2. Meanwhile, combine your ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg yolk, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate: try not to sample the delicious cheese mixture because your mom will kill you if she finds out you ate something with raw egg in it.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a dutch oven (or any pot large enough to hold the spinach) over high heat until oil begins to smoke. Add red bell peppers and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook (with little stirring) until the peppers are slightly softened and spotty brown (5 minutes). Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon minced or pressed garlic and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Turn off heat and stir in spinach and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir until spinach is wilted (1 minute). Transfer mixture to paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Once the mixture is cooled, pat with paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
  4. Now this sort of depends on your oven... and if you use a baking stone regularly to bake bread or pizzas you'll know best here. However, I find that my oven runs pretty hot and I'll burn things if I put the stone on the bottom (as is commonly suggested) and think cooking is most even with it in the upper third. YMMV. Anyway, adjust oven rack to upper third of oven, set baking stone on oven rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Turn risen dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Divide dough in half, cut each half into thirds, and then reshape each piece of dough into ball. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet, lightly spray balls with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest 15 to 30 minutes.
Calzone Filling
  1. Working with one piece of dough at a time (keeping other pieces covered) roll dough into 9-inch round on a lightly floured workspace (note: if it's too springy and won't roll out - let it rest some more). Place 1/2 a cup of cheese filling on the bottom half of the dough round. Spread the cheese mixture around in an even layer (staying on the bottom half of the dough round) using a spatula.... but make sure to leave a 1-inch border. Then spread 1/6th of the pepper mixture over the cheese and sprinkle with 1 ounce of goat cheese. Fold the top half of dough over filling, leaving 1/2 inch border of bottom layer uncovered. Lightly press around silhouette of cheese filling and out to edge to lightly seal dough and face this newly pressed seam towards yourself.
Shaping  a Calzone
  1. This next part is a little hard to explain (and Anna did it to be honest - I just watched), but starting at the left end of the seam, you want to place a finger diagonally across edge and gently pull the single layer of dough and fold it up and over the tip of your finger onto the double thickness section. Then you pull your finger out and it leaves a nice little crimped edge. Did that make any sense? Probably not, but if you look at the picture below I think you can figure out how it works. Regardless, working around the perimeter of the calzone, you repeat this process until the edge is fully sealed. With a sharp knife cut 5 slits, about 1 1/2 inches long across top of calzone, making sure to not to cut completely through it. 
Calzone Ready To Bake
  1. We did the baking one at a time, but you could certainly make them all and bake in batches (more than 3 won't probably fit on a baking stone at once). But to prepare for baking, brush top and sides of a calzone with extra-virgin olive oil and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt (be careful here, you're not making a pretzel). Put calzone onto pizza peel (or rimless baking sheet) that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal and then slide it onto the hot baking stone. Bake until golden brown (about 11 minutes). They need to cool a bit before you eat them, but if you're going one-by-one you'll want to cover them with foil while you bake the rest.
Calzone - Dinner

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