Monday, February 25, 2013

Creativity with Leftovers

As I clean the kitchen on Saturdays, one of my tasks is to check the refrigerator to see what leftovers are still lingering from the week’s meals. This weekend I found three items that looked like they would work well together—meatballs, pizza dough and roasted vegetables.

I’ve been making olive oil pizza dough from the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day for several years. I often add whole wheat flour to dough but other than that, I stick with their recipe. I’ve long wanted to try making my own calzone, so this looked like the perfect opportunity.

My first calzone experience was at the Festival of San Gennaro in New York’s Little Italy when I lived in the city. The calzone is a great walking sandwich for a festival since it’s a substantial, Italian turnover which typically has cheese or meat inside. I remember the turnover dough being so hearty that I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish it.

I wanted to roll my dough thinner than what I had eaten so it wouldn’t be so carb-heavy. I rolled it out to approximately 8” by 10”.

Next, I spread a thin layer of tomato paste on the dough and topped it with thinly sliced garlic and a healthy sprinkling of shredded Swiss cheese. Then I cut the three leftover meatballs in two and placed them in the center of half of the dough. The roasted butternut squash and beets came next. I placed them on both sides of the meatballs. Don’t over stuff the calzone.

 You’re almost finished. Top the meatballs and vegetables with lots more shredded cheese.

The final step is to lightly moisten the edges of the dough. Fold one half over the meatball filling and lightly pinched the edges together. I finished mine with a ravioli roller then brushed on a little olive oil.

At this point, I sprinkled cornmeal onto a pizza peel, put the calzone on top of the cornmeal and put the pizza peel on top of the oven. As the oven and pizza stone inside warmed to 450 degrees, it gave the dough time to rest and rise a little. Note: if you don’t have a pizza peel, try using the bottom side of a cookie sheet.

As the oven was ready, I slid the calzone onto the pizza stone and cooked for 12 minutes. When it was browned, I removed it.

I cut into it and could see it would be delicious. I was right!

How are you being creative with leftovers this week?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A recipe for Ash Wednesday

Since this begins the Lenten season for Christians around the world, I thought it was a good time to re-post one of my recipes that uses no meat but has gotten rave reviews. As my goddaughter says about most of what I cook (yes, I did say MOST—she is a teenager after all), it is “nutritious and delicious!”

However, before we get to the recipe, I want to remind you that the Catholic tradition of not eating meat on certain days can help us, Catholic or not, identify with people around the world who don’t have an opportunity to add meat to their diet. For many years, I’ve participated in the Rice Bowl campaign during Lent, through which I save money I might have spent on meals out, special foods, etc. to donate to the good work of Catholic Relief Services throughout the world. As a former employee of the organization, I’ve seen this good work in person and it’s has impressive results. 

A fun part of Rice Bowl is that they publish a calendar of simple recipes, along with stories about the countries they represent. To find these recipes, go to the website and click on the Stories of Hope tab. This year they’ve also added a video that shows some of the preparation steps.

Now, here is my recipe that I hope you’ll enjoy.  

Fall Navy Bean Soup
1 1/4 cup navy beans
½ yellow onion
½ red onion
1 carrot
3 medium beets
1 small butternut squash
salt, pepper, garlic powder
baking soda
1 sprig fresh majoram
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/3 cup chopped parsely
2 sage leaves, chopped
1 ½ TBSP vegetable bouillon

Soak beans in salt water a few hours to soften. Rinse. Put in soup pot, cover with water, sprinkle in salt and baking soda then bring to hard boil for 10 minutes.

While beans cook, peel and chop onions, carrots and beets. Drain beans through colander and rinse. Return to pot and cover with about 2 inches of water. Add vegetables and bouillon plus salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cover and bring to boil then simmer 1- 1 ½ hours until beans are soft. Add squash and cook until soft (10 – 20 minutes depending on their size). Remove 2 cups soup and puree in blender. Return puree to soup pot with fresh herbs. You can puree more if you want to make the soup thicker without cooking it down. Stir and cook without lid until you like the soup’s taste and consistency. Enjoy!