Tag Archives: recipe file

Chez Panisse Calzone (Recipe File Project #3)

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My new special celebration dinner: I just found out that I got an internship at a museum!

Lee laughed when I told him what this recipe calls for. “ Three kinds of cheese and prosciutto.” I said. I should have known he’d find that funny. You see, Lee doesn’t eat cheese and I don’t eat meat. Why did I choose to make a recipe from my grandmother’s file that calls for both?

1) I wanted to make something savory rather than sweet.
2) The calzones sounded delicious
3) How could I resist Alice Waters?
4) I thought I could easily adapt the recipe to our diets while remaining faithful to it’s flavors.

See, I’m not so crazy. I also think I succeeded in accomplishing #4, although it took some thought. I replaced most of the cheese with chopped, roasted cauliflower, adding some veggie cheese to the filling for Lee’s calzone and goat’s milk ricotta salata to mine. The cauliflower made up the bulk of the filling and it’s earthy flavor blended beautifully with all the fresh herbs called for in the original recipe. I guess you could say I replaced the prosciutto with roasted red peppers, mostly for color.

As a baker, the crust was definitely the most exciting part of this recipe for me. I resisted the temptation to mess with it, using all-purpose flour as called for rather than substituting some whole wheat pastry for some of it. The dough began with a rye flour sponge, a technique I’ve never used for pizza crust before. The dough was so, so silky and light! It was incredibly easy to worth with and crisped up beautifully around the calzone filling. Best of all, it did not tear on the chunk cauliflower as I feared it might. This could become my go-to pizza crust!

I made two calzones – or calzoni, as Water’s calls them – a slightly larger one for Lee and smaller one for myself. They were perfect for a special dinner without making us feel stuffed. I’m sure the cheese-filled originals would be outstandingly delicious and much richer.

Why did my grandmother tear this recipe out of The Denver Post’s Sunday Empire magazine? My guess is that she was drawn to the novelty of calzones and the renowned Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, a restaurant she visited in Berkeley while my dad was at school there in the 70’s. Helen liked to make new and different things and these would have been right up her ally.

I wonder if she ever made them, or if the clipping sat in her file all these years without her getting a taste of Chez Panisse Calzone?

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Chez Panisse Calzone
from Pasta, Pizza & Calzones by Alice Waters, reprinted in The Denver Post Sunday Empire magazine

(Filling)
2 oz fresh California goat cheese, crumbled
2 oz French goat cheese, such as Bucheron or Lezay, crumbled
7 oz mozzarella, grated
2 slices prosciutto, cut about twice as thick as you would for a sandwich or salad, then into a julienne
2 tablespoons fresh, finely cut chives
2 tablespoons fresh, minced parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
1 sprig fresh marjoram, chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients together in a large bowl.

(Dough)
Lukewarm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup rye flour
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Make a sponge by mixing together 1/4 cup lukewarm water, yeast, and rye flour. Let it rise 20-30 minutes.
With a wooden spoon, mix together 1/2 cup lukewarm water, milk, olive oil, salt, and all-purpose flour. Add to sponge.
Knead dough on a floured board, adding flour to the board as needed but no more than necessary.
The dough will be light and a little sticky. A soft, light dough makes a light and very crispy crust.
Knead for 10-15 minutes to develop strength and elasticity.
Put dough in a bowl rubbed with olive oil and oil the surface of the dough to prevent a crust from forming.
Cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and let it rise for another 40 minutes.

Place a baking stone, if you have one, in your oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
On a floured board, roll dough into 1 circle, about 14 inches in diameter, or divide into 2 or 3 circles for small calzoni.
Have the filling ready, at room temperature, and work quickly putting it on half of the dough circle(s).
Moisten the edges with water and fold dough over filling. Fold the dough at the end up onto itself, pinching it together.
Transfer calzones to a heavily floured pizza peel, the back of a baking sheet, or a sheet or parchment paper.
Slide calzones quickly into a preheated, 450 degree oven with a baking stone on a rack close to the bottom.
Bake 15-18 minutes or until brown and crisp.
Remove from oven, brush calzone tops with olive oil, and serve.

My notes and changes: Instead of most of the cheese, I used 1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, roasted at 400 degrees for about half an hour, and then chopped. The soft goat’s milk ricotta salata I used in addition was just what I had on hand and it was delicious! (1/4 cup or so for my calzone) I was able to cut down on the rising times for the dough since I was running short on time. I gave the first rise about 45 minutes and the second 20-30 and it worked fine. You can use a parchment-lined baking sheet if you don’t have a baking stone! (But get a baking stone, it really helps and there are inexpensive ones out there that work fine.)

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Old-fashioned Nut Loaf

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Here it is, the bread with graham cracker crumbs in it! I considered everyone’s advice about the confusion between graham flour and graham cracker crumbs. I waffled back and forth about which ingredient I would try but finally settled on graham cracker crumbs. It was too unusual an addition (at least for me) to a quick bread not to try.

Once I remembered to get graham crackers at the store (it took a few visits) I was ready to go. The rest of the ingredient list is short an simple. In fact, I almost didn’t notice something rather odd about this recipe: there are no eggs or oil. The only liquid and fat comes from milk. I’d say that makes this an easily veganized treat!

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of the graham cracker crumbs. They looked so insignificant blended into the flour. Could they really add any flavor? I was wrong to doubt, as Joanne pointed out, graham crackers make everything better!

This bread has a unique sweet, nutty flavor that I can only attribute to the crumbs. They probably also contribute to the beautiful golden brown color of this loaf. It borders on too sweet for me but the flavor is lovely and unique. The nuts are almost secondary to the bread in which they’re suspended.

I felt like I’d entered a time warp eating my half-muffin bread tasting, like I was eating something people made during the depression when they were trying to come up with creative ways to use the ingredients they had on hand. That could very well be the era this recipe comes from. Helen’s file seems to include recipes from almost an entire century and from all over the country.

Break out that food processor (or a plastic bag and hands for smashing) and make some graham cracker crumbs for a old-fashioned nut loaf. Then sit down for breakfast or with a cup of tea in the afternoon to enjoy a little time travel.

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I made 2 mini loaves and 3 large muffins…and had a bit of an overflow in the oven.

Nut Loaf
from Helen’s recipe file

2 cups flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 pinch salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda stirred in to…
2 cups sour milk (I used buttermilk)
i cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, salt, and sugar, stirring with a whisk to blend completely.
Add baking soda to buttermilk in a separate bowl, stirring until there are no lumps of soda left. (Different method for baking soda. I’ve never seen this before but it works!)
Pour buttermilk into flour mixture. Stir gently until combined.
Fold in nuts.
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan or mini loaf pans/muffin cups.

Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes (mini loaves/muffins) to an hour (large loaf).
Remove when the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool, slice, sit, eat, and wonder if food is the best time machine we have.

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“Graham” as in Graham Crackers?

I have a recipe all picked out for my next installation of the Recipe File Project but there’s a bit of a problem: ingredient confusion! This was bound to happen with recipes penciled on scrap paper from at least half a century ago. This one is written on the back of a guarantee for coal from the North Western Fuel Company. Anybody up for Nut Loaf from a coal-fired oven? I know my great-grandmother used to bake pies in the wood stove at the family fishing cabin.

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So here’s the question: In a recipe for Nut Loaf, what does “1 cup graham” mean? Is that graham flour or graham cracker crumbs? First I was leaning towards flour but there’s already 3 cups of flour called for. Graham cracker crumbs kind of make sense and would certainly be a novel addition to a quick bread.

I think I’m going to go with graham cracker crumbs (once I remember to buy graham crackers) unless anyone tells me otherwise. But really, I’m looking for your input!

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A is for Aspic

        I know that lovely copper ring looks a lot like a Bundt pan but if you saw it in person, size would rule that out.

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        I first saw this odd pan on a visit to grandmother Helen’s shortly after I moved to Denver, the city neighboring Helen’s long-time home. She was living in the local PEO house along with a handful of other elderly characters (I always joked that they should start a detective agency or something). I remember her ushering me into her minimal kitchen and pulling out this pan/mold thing in excitement.
“This is an aspic mold. Do you know what aspic is?” she said.
Of course I didn’t know what it was.
I don’t remember how she described it but she immediately pulled a newspaper clipped out of a pile and presented me with a recipe for Tomato Aspic.
“I think you’d really like this.” She said. “It’s just so fresh and nice and has all these lovely crunchy vegetables in it.”

We talked about tomato aspic for a while. Oh how I wish I’d had a tape recorder with me!

After she died I thought about aspic a lot. It came to symbolize the last months of my relationship with me grandmother. I always thought it was odd that she’d shown me the mold and the recipe but had not given them to me. Maybe she knew they’d be mine soon anyway. Maybe it was some kind of a test to see if I could connect the two items later when they turned up among her possessions.

I could have cried when I pulled the tarnished copper mold out of a cardboard box at my dad’s house earlier this summer. It was here! I hadn’t imagined the whole tomato aspic conversation! If only I could find the recipe she’d shown me…but it was there too! I recognized the yellowed newsprint as soon as I saw it. At that point I knew what Helen wanted. She wanted me to make tomato aspic, to try something new a different, and to think of her.

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Unfortunately, I had kind of a hard time getting my aspic out of the mold. Any advice for a molded salad newbie?..But look how red and beautiful it is!

Tomato Aspic
From Menu Planner Cookbook by Miriam B. Loo (reprinted in an unknown newspaper)

The fresh taste of tomato comes through in this deep red aspic.”

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cool chicken broth (your own or canned)
4 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into fine strips (I used 3 different small heirloom tomatoes and the colors were beautiful!)

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over chicken broth and soften for 10 minutes.
Combine tomato juice, celery, scallions, Worcestershire sauce, celery seed, salt, sugar, and white pepper in a saucepan.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add softened gelatin and stir until dissolved.
Set saucepan in cold water and stir until mixture is cool (I put a few inches of water in the sink).
Fold in tomatoes.
Rinse a decorative 2 qt ring mold with cold water, pour in tomato mixture.
Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Unmold and serve on lettuce leaves with the following dressing.

Dill-Mayonnaise Dressing (I didn’t make this dressing. I used Annie’s ranch dressing instead.)

1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed.

Blend all ingredients well ad let stand for an hour to develop flavors.

What did Lee and I think of the aspic? Well, it was different that’s for sure. My mold was too small for the whole recipe so poured the rest into two small bowls and we ate that with grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner (it was like tomato soup and grilled cheese!). I served the aspic over a green salad with ranch dressing and it was a great combination of flavors and textures. The aspic was much more intensely tomato-y than I expected it to be. It was a little too intense for Lee. He made me promise only to serve tomato aspic in very small quantities in the future.

I will be making this again. Maybe for a potluck because it’s just so strange and retro.

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