Saturday, 24 January 2009

Tostones and Calzones - Fun to Say, Fun to Eat.

One of our new features this year for Tyler Florence Fridays is Megan's Challenge , a once a month optional recipe chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures. The round-up will be at the beginning of the next month, along with the new challenge.
For January, Megan has selected Three Cheese and Spinach Calzones. A fun and family friendly dish that you are more than welcome to put your own twist on.
If you would like to participate in the Tyler Florence Fridays round-ups and join the blogroll, please see the TFF website sidebar for details on how to join.

To make these calzones more teenage boy friendly, I added some cooked bacon to the filling. My youngest son looked at the green filling with suspicion and when I told him that I added bacon just for him, he asked me why I didn't omit the spinach just for him. Boys.

This recipe was easy, fun and delicious. A great pick to get us out of the usual January comfort food mode and into something exciting. Plus, you can eat it with your hands. I love that.

I made tostones to go with it, completing my fun weekend theme. These my son did like, although when I told him they were plantains (carefully pronouncing it plan-ten, like my Jamaican friends have taught me) he said, "What is plankton?". Hilarity ensued.

Spinach and Three Cheese Calzones, Tyler Florence
1 package rapid-rising dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Egg wash
Cornmeal, for dusting
For Dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, bloom the yeast by combining it with warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve, then let stand 5 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and add salt. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Test the dough by pressing 2 fingers into it. If indents remain, the dough is adequately risen. When ready, knead the dough gently and divide in 4 balls. Sprinkle the rounds lightly with flour, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes. This will relax the dough, making it easier to stretch. In the meantime prepare filling.For
Calzones: Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. If you don't have a stone, simply grease a baking pan. Roll or spread the dough discs into 10-inch circles, leave the dough slightly thick so that the filling will not ooze out. Spoon a quarter of the filling onto 1 side of the dough round and brush the outer edge with egg wash to help form a seal. Fold dough over to enclose the filling and form a large turnover. Roll up the edges with your fingers to close tightly and prevent leaking. Cut a few slashes in the top to allow steam to escape during baking and brush with egg wash. Repeat with remaining rounds. Sprinkle a pizza peel (or prepared baking pan) with cornmeal and carefully transfer the calzones. Bake directly on pizza stone for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Let the calzones rest 10 minutes before cutting to allow the cheese to set. Serve with basic tomato sauce if desired.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound baby spinach, washed and dried
Salt and pepper
15 ounces ricotta
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded fontina
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For Filling: In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add the spinach, season, and continue to cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander and squeeze out the excess liquid. If necessary, drain the ricotta in a sieve to remove excess moisture also. Calzone filling should be fairly dry, because it may leak out or make the dough mushy. Combine spinach, cheeses, egg, and pepper in a large bowl.

Tostones, Ingrid Hoffman, Simply Delisioso

2 green plantains
1 cup vegetable oil, plus more if necessary

Cut off the ends of the plantains and then carefully cut a slit down the length of the skin without cutting into the plantain itself. Using a wooden spoon, pry up the edges of the peel and pull off the skin. Once the peel is removed cut the plantain crosswise into 3 or 4 pieces, each about 2 to 3 inches long.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until it shimmers, about 3 minutes. Add the plantains and fry them until they turn golden on all sides, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Reduce the heat to medium.
Flatten the plantains by pressing down on them with a heavy-bottomed pan. Return 1/2 of the flattened plantains to the oil and re-fry until deep golden on both sides, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer back to the paper towel-lined plate to drain and repeat with the remaining flattened plantains. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

I would like to thank Gloria Chadwick from Cookbook Cuisine who bestowed upon me this inspiration award. I took a long time to think about who I would like to pass it on to, and it hit me while I was walking the dogs. (As many things do)
The most inspiring home cook and food blogger that I could think of is Elra from Elra's Cooking. Elra started her blog to help share her love of cooking with her sisters, and has earned many friends, admirers and new sisters along the way. She is fearless in the kitchen and lovingly takes on every food culture from around the world. If you have not discovered Elra's Cooking, I suggest you bookmark it, you will be coming back again and again.

Choose, cook, share.
Round-up every Friday, check out the Tyler Florence Fridays site for details.