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Adapting plans to suit the season can be worthwhile.  The diplomatickitchen makes a detour from the current Menu:  Mixing Business and Dinner with a recipe for Tomato and Fresh Mozarella Calzoni.  Calzoni could be made at any time of the year, but they are especially suited to summer travel, picnics and outdoor eating.  Calzoni fillings, meatless or not, are baked in the same elastic dough from which the Italian bread ‘ciabatta’ is made.  A bread that doesn’t easily crack or quickly dry out, ciabatta lends sturdiness to a calzone.  The calzone’s simple dough and filling structure also makes it portable.  And, what is most important, both the ciabatta and the filling enclosed in it are good to eat either hot…or not.

For all these reasons, this savoury Italian pie is a good traveler to a picnic…or on a road trip in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  From August 14 – August 29, the dk will be traveling through the Congo by car, from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi, with other members of the U.S. Embassy Kinshasa community.  During these weeks, while the dk is ‘off-grid’, recipe posts will appear as usual on the diplomatickitchen blog, thanks to the managerial support of musician and writer Rebekkah Laeuchli, who lives in Basel where… the internet is always up, and running,… and near-at-hand.

Tomato and Fresh Mozarella Calzoni (for 6- 8 individual calzoni)

Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.

A Timing Note:  Ciabatta dough does not require much attention, but it does require an overnight rest before mixing in the remaining flour and giving it two rises.  A good plan is to begin the dough one day in advance and make the calzone filling a day in advance as well so that it will be cool and ready to use the next day after the dough’s second rise.

I.  Making the Ciabatta Dough:

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of Warm Water (12 ounces)
  • 3 and 1/2 cups of White Unbleached Flour (14 and 3/4 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons of Instant Dry Yeast
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Salt
  • a little Olive Oil and a little more Flour for the bowl in which the dough rises

Equipment for the Ciabatta Dough:

  • a large Mixing Bowl
  • a standing Mixer with a Paddle Attachment is optional and useful for mixing and kneading the dough, since the dough is quite sticky and elastic

1.  In the large mixing bowl, mix together the water, 2 cups of the flour and 1 teaspoon of the yeast.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture rest overnight at room temperature.

2.  The next day, pour the mixture into the bowl of the mixer and, at low speed, mix in the remaining 1 and 1/2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of yeast, and the salt.

3.  Clean out the large bowl used for resting the dough overnight.  Oil and flour it lightly.  Pour the (very fluid) dough into it, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it doubles, or, for about an hour or longer, depending on the room temperature.

4.  Deflate the dough and let it rise and double again–for about another hour.  The instructions for making the dough into Calzoni are below in: III.  Making the Calzoni.

II. Making the Tomato Sauce for the Filling and Preparing the Filling:

Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce and the other Filling Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of dried Red Chili Flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2  cans of Plum Tomatoes (400g size or 14.5 ounce size) or 1 can of Plum Tomatoes and about 2 cups of chopped Fresh Tomatoes or 4 cups of chopped Fresh Tomatoes:  Which option is best depends on the quality of the available fresh tomatoes.  The photographed Calzoni are made with half canned and half fresh tomatoes because the quality of the fresh tomatoes in the market was good enough so that their freshness improved the the filling but not good enough to depend upon entirely for a deep tomato flavour
  • 1 teaspoon of Sugar
  • 2 or 3 Tablespoons of fresh Basil, cut in pieces with scissors just before adding it to the tomato sauce
  • 3 balls of fresh Mozarella (about 3.5 ounces or 100 grams each)
  • some dried Oregano:  optional for sprinkling over the filling when putting together the calzoni

Equipment:

  • a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized Pot
  • a Mozarella Slicer…is totally optional and, while it is very skilled at what it does, its primary function in a kitchen is to provide the cook with an amusing way to slice cheese.

1.  Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in the pot over medium heat.  Add the garlic slices and chili pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to color and turn golden.

2.  Add the tomatoes.  (Roughly mash up the canned ones, as they cook, with a wooden spoon if you are using them.)

3.  Add the sugar and–still over medium heat–cook the tomatoes down (for about 15 or 20 minutes) and thicken them into a sauce.  Add the basil and cool the filling before making the calzoni.  (The filling may be made a day in advance, cooled and refrigerated overnight.)

4.  Just before putting the calzoni together, cut the mozarella cheese into slices and the slices into little cubes.

III.  Making and Baking the Calzoni:

Ingredients:

  • a recipe of Ciabatta Dough (from Part I, above)
  • a recipe of Tomato Sauce, the cubed, fresh Mozarella, and some dried Oregano (from Part II, above)
  • Flour for rolling out the ciabatta dough into rounds

Equipment:

  • a Pastry Board and Rolling Pin
  • 6 or 8 rectangles of Parchment Paper, roughly 10″ x 8″ each
  • 2 Baking Sheets or 1 Baking Sheet used twice
  • Scissors or a Knife for slashing the tops of the calzoni

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2.  Divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls.

3.  Lightly flour the pastry board and rolling pin.  Roll out a ball into a circle, roughly 8 or 9 inches in diameter:

4.  Put a rectangle of parchment on the pastry board and place the dough circle on it before adding the filling.  (Each calzone will be transferred to the baking sheet by lifting it up on the sheet of parchment and placing it, still on the parchment, on the sheet.  The dough is soft and elastic; using parchment underneath the calzoni to transfer them to the sheet for baking reduces wear and tear on the unbaked pastries.)

5.  Place about 3 Tablespoons of sauce on the half of the circle nearest you, leaving about a 3/4- inch border.

6.  Spread between 2 and 3 Tablespoons of mozarella cubes on the sauce.  (Estimate the amount of cheese to use in each calzone, according to the number you plan to make–6 or 8.)  Sprinkle a little oregano over the cheese:

7.  Fold the unfilled half of the circle up over the filling.  The calzone is now in the shape of a half moon.  To seal it:  Twist the ends and make a rolled border by rolling the bottom edge up and over the top one, in toward the filling, pressing the two edges together as you roll them:

8.  Cut some slashes in the top of the calzone with a knife…

…or with scissors:

9.  To transfer the calzone to the baking sheet:  Lift up the edges of two sides of the parchment rectangle and shift the calzone, along with the parchment, onto the baking sheet:

…Continue making calzoni in this way until all the dough, sauce and cheese is used.  There will be enough of each to make between 6 and 8 pastries.

10.  Let the calzoni rest for 10 minutes, then bake 1 sheet of calzoni at a time for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden.  As the calzoni bake, some of the juice and cheese will dribble out through the slashes, but they will not burn on the parchment and the goodness of the finished calzoni won’t suffer in any way:

11.  Let the calzoni sit on the baking sheets for 5 minutes to firm the filling a little before transferring them to cooling racks..

Calzoni are good hot–or cold–and freeze well individually wrapped.

A Note:  Tomato and Fresh Mozarella Calzone has been added to the Occasional Menu:  Into the Picnic Basket as an alternative (since both contain cheese) to Bacon, Gruyère and Green Onion Tarts ~ Swiss Style.  Diplomatickitchen recipes that are posted between August 14 – 26 will appear in the Recipe Archives after August 29.

Thanks:  To King Arthur Flour for the very good recipe for ciabatta from their website on which this version is based.  King Arthur Flour has, as well, a useful illustrated article about making ciabatta here on their website.

A Second Note:  Diplomatickitchen recipes that are posted between August 14 – 29 will appear in the Recipe Archives after August 29.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012

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