One of my guilty pleasures on the television is Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, or triple D (http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/tv-shows/diners-drive-ins-dives.html?omnisource=gid_uk) as it is known. It is throw away television that is a perfect no brainer before bedtime. It is on The Food Network and hosted by a man called Guy Fieri. He travels around America visiting small independent eateries, that are something special. Most of the food looks amazing, and you think, I could eat that, but just occasionally you see something and think, I could make that. Well that’s what happened the other night.
The restaurant they visited specialised in making Stromboli. Now, I had never heard of Stromboli as a food, let alone knew what it was, but it looked amazing! It is basically a sharing calzone, or folded pizza, only the crust is more substantial. I thought, I would look up a recipe and see if it was a lot of faffing or if it was something I could do.
When I look at a new recipe, there are several things I have to consider. Firstly, can I make it – obvious I know. Then, is it going to cost too much. But the most important thing is will M eat it! M is fussy, but it’s about getting over the fear of putting something new into his mouth. He has things he likes and is comfortable with, but offer him a new food and it can be major meltdown time. I kind of understand where he is coming from, as most of my food dislikes are about texture. If it feels wrong in your mouth, there is no way you can make yourself swallow it. I mean, what is a tomato all about? You bite through the tight plastic skin, into sponge, and then into slime! But I can’t eat without tomato ketchup, and the only soup I have it the bright orange Heinz Cream of tomato! M is also confused by mixed food. He loves chicken pie, but the lid has to be removed, the filling eaten, and then the pastry. Casserole has to be spread out on the plate so he can see the individual ingredients. Even a sandwich has to be opened and the ham eaten, then the bread. To us, his need to separate food is the norm, it isn’t something he does to be awkward at the table, it’s just something he needs to do. There is of course, the one exception and that is pizza. Now, M will tell you he doesn’t like cheese but I think he doesn’t like raw cheese, because he will take it cooked. Pizza though only comes with 2 toppings, and that is ham and sweetcorn. He is getting slightly more adventurous, but like most things it has to be on his terms!
So with it in mind that this was just a folded up pizza, I thought I would be safe to try it.
I used a bread recipe that makes the lightest dough I have ever made. It’s brilliant for making bread rolls too as it is a soft airy texture with a nice chewy crust.
In a large bowl put 2 1/2 cups of warm water, I tablespoon dried yeast, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup oil, and 2 teaspoons salt. Leave this for about ten minutes to let the yeast activate. Then, and 6 cups of strong white flour and work it in. I do this on the mixer, but if you’re feeling energetic, you could do it by hand! It should form a sticky ball – add a little more flour if too wet. Leave to rise for a couple of hours. The knock it back, and divide it into however many piece you want – I did 4. Flatted in out onto well oiled baking trays, cover with a damp teatowel, and leave to rise again. Then comes the fun part. The filling. You can basically put anything inside it, as they say, you are only limited by your imagination! The constants are, sauce and cheese. You put your filling on one half to allow for the fold. I made one with ham, one with ham and sweetcorn, and a spicy one with chillies and pepperoni. The last one I decided to get a little more adventurous, and poached a chicken fillet which I sliced, and instead of the pizza sauce, I used pesto. You then fold the dough over the filling and push the edges down. It’s then a case of leaving them to rise again before baking them for 15-20 minutes at 180c.
They are a long process to make but its small things then forget about it for a couple of hours, it’s not like you are slaving away at it for hours on end. you just have to start the process in the morning for teatime!
The smell as they were cooking was amazing, and they look wonderful. When I cut the first slice from the first one, I understood the name as the cheese erupted from it!
M tried the ham & corn, as well as the plain ham. D was curious about the chicken and pesto – he has a far more adventurous palette. He took a nibble off my slice and then devoured a slice of his own! Hubby liked the spicy one, and even old person tried 2 different ones! Everyone was VERY impressed with them. I was too! There was an awful lot of food, and I think next time I might half my dough recipe. It does however mean that I have children really excited about having leftovers for tea tonight!!!! D even took a slice of the ham one in his packed lunch instead of a sandwich today! I think one of these would be a great picnic food, and might have to test that theory in the summer holidays.
I can conclude that we have added a new food to our favorites. Thank you Guy for introducing us to it!