Sunday, June 24, 2012


There’s a few different stories about the true origin of Stromboli, but for the sake of regional cooking week, we’re going to assume that it was indeed invented in the town of Essington, outside of Philadelphia.  The basic idea is a meat-y (or vegetable-y, if you’re into that sort of thing) filling inside pizza dough. Not to be confused with calzones, which are just pointless.

Stromboli (yields 2 big ass strombolis)

Pizza dough (recipe follows)
½ pound Italian sausages, casings removed
1 cup diced onions
1 lb. package of mushrooms, sliced
2 serrano peppers, deseeded, deveined, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ pound pepperoni
¼ pound capicola ham
¼ pound pancetta
Tomato sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella
1.5 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Fresh basil (a handful), chiffonaded
Fresh parsley (a handful), chopped
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash

First things first - In a large sauté pan over medium heat, brown the sausages. Remove and let cool. Add the onions, mushroom, and peppers, and cook on medium/medium low for about 7 minutes, until the onions are softened and the mushrooms have released their liquid. Add the garlic, season with salt, pepper, and oregano and cook for a minute more. Remove from heat and let cool.

Assembly – on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half, and roll one half into a rectangle approximately 16 inches long and 12 inches wide. Scoop on half the onion mixture, half the sausage, half the meats, a ladle full of tomato sauce, half the mozzarella, and ½ cup of grated parmesan. Top with the basil and parmesan. You’ll want to stack all of the filling in a line, off center (closer to you). Brush the far side of the dough with the egg wash. Fold the dough up creating a lazy cylinder. Bring the far side up last, pressing it against the near side of the Stromboli. Transfer to a baking sheet and cover, letting the dough rise/proof/whatever it does for 20-30 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the dough and fillings.

Baking - Preheat your oven to 375°F. Bake the strombolis for 20 minutes, rotating the two between oven racks halfway through. After the 20 minutes, top the strombolis with the remaining parmesan cheese, and cook for 5 minutes more, until the cheese is golden. Don’t be tempted to use the broiler for this, or you’ll just end up burning the tops. Ask me how I know. Apparently when you take these out of the oven you should let them rest for 10 minutes, but I sure wasn’t about to wait.

Pizza Dough

500 Grams (about 4 cups) all-purpose flour
300 grams (about 1 ¼ cup) water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Add about half the water to a bowl/container and add the sugar and yeast. Let the yeast do its thing for 10 minutes or so – it will be foamy. Place the flour, remaining water, yeast/sugar/water mixture, salt and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with the dough hook to combine, then mix for 5-8 minutes, or knead by hand. Once the dough is nice and smooth, break off a piece and stretch it. If it stretches until translucent, you’re in business. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, transfer the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise until the dough has doubled in size and doesn’t spring back when you push your finger in, 2-4 hours depending on how warm it is in your kitchen.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Strawberry Gazpacho with Pancetta

This version of gazpacho comes care of the Eleven Madison Park cookbook, with some slight modifications. The moment I came across this recipe I figured I absolutely had to try it, due to both how awesome it looked and the fact that it doesn't require your own personal brigade to pull off like some of the other recipes. Cleaning and prepping all the strawberries was time consuming, but other than that it's a simple recipe. I went a little overboard on adding hot sauce, but there's worse things in life to go overboard on. I definitely want to make this again, but substitute some of the strawberries for watermelon.

Gazpacho (serves 8)

6 cups strawberries, hulled (about 2 lbs.)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tomato, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed but left whole
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1.5 cups croutons (recipe follows)
1.5 teaspoons salt
Hot sauce, to taste

Hull the strawberries (remove the stem part) and quarter, and place in a large bowl along with the green and red diced bell pepper, diced tomato, diced cucumber, garlic, 1.5 cups bread crumbs, red wine vinegar, and salt.

Cover and let marinade at room temperature for 3-6 hours. Puree in batches in a blender on high speed until as smooth as possible. Strain and transfer to a large bowl/serving vessel. Taste and adjust for salt, and add hot sauce to taste. Refrigerate (unless you want hot-spacho) until cold.


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed but kept whole
5 sprigs thyme
3.5 cups hearty stale bread

Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into 1 inch cubes. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil and the garlic; when the garlic starts to sizzle, add the bread and thyme. Cook until the bread starts to color (5 to 8 minutes? I wasn’t really paying close attention to how long it took, exactly), but be careful not to burn them. Add 1.5 cups to the gazpacho mixture, and reserve 2 cups (let them cool) for serving.

Strawberry confit:

16 small strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar.

Preheat the oven to 195°F.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Hull and halve the strawberries, and toss with the olive oil. Place cut side down on the baking sheet, and dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Bake for 1.5 hours. Flip the strawberries and bake for 30 minutes more. Let cool on the sheet, then store in a flat, airtight container coated with olive oil to keep the strawberries hydrated. The strawberry confit can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

To serve:

Reserved croutons
Strawberry confit
Coriander Flowers
Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive oil

Pour the gazpacho into chilled bowls, and throw everything else on top to make it look purdy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chicken Picatta

When it comes to a meal that's both easy and delicious, nothing beats chicken picatta. I've adapted my recipe from Simply Recipes, however I've found that I like my sauce to be a little on the piquant side, hence the sherry and extra lemon juice. It really cuts through the sort of 'blah' factor chicken breasts have.

Chicken Picatta (serves 2)

1 large chicken breast
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper
2 T butter, divided
Olive oil
1 shallot, diced
½ cup sherry
1/3 cup lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons of capers
Chopped parsley

Butterfly and cut the breast in half.  Add flour, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper into a large Ziploc bag, and shake to combine. Add the chicken pieces and coat, shaking off the excess when you remove them.

Put a 10” frying pan over medium heat, and add about ½ a tablespoon of butter, and a bit of olive oil. Sauté the chicken breasts until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side depending on thickness. Remove to a plate and cover with foil while you make the sauce.

Take the pan off heat and add the shallots. They’ll burn easily, so you’ll only want to cook them for about 10 seconds or so. Add the sherry, and place the pan back over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and capers and reduce the sauce by half. Add in the remaining 1.5 tablespoons of butter and whisk to combine. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, and top with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

I like to serve this alongside pasta – tonight I used some orzo, boiled in chicken stock with some red pepper flakes, with basil and parmesan stirred in after it was finished cooking.