• vegan teese calzone recipe

    August 10th, 2008mr meanercalzone, pizza, recipes

    There’s a Piazza in Rome with a small pizza house in it called “American Pizza Company”. It always makes me chuckle whenever I walk by – the terms “ice to eskimos”, “coal to Newcsatle” and “pizza to Roma” all imply the duplicative, perhaps unwanted and inferior activity of taking something to somewhere where there’s already plenty of it there.

    Now, while Americans don’t (Chicago pizza aside) have much to teach the Italians about making pizza, they did invent an interesting variation called a “Calzone”. When we in the west adapt a food item from another culture we instantly give it an overly authentic name, hence “Calzone” – can’t sound more Italian than that. We British did the same thing with Vindaloo – a fictitious “Indian” curry based upon, of all things, a Portuguese recipe.

    Anyway, while there are plenty of vegan pizza recipes around I thought it would be fun to set about creating a vegan calzone recipe, in honor of the American Pizza Company which serves a damn good, albeit non-vegan calzone.

    A calzone is basically a pizza folded in half with lots of extra ‘toppings’ tucked inside. The secret to a properly prepared calzone is to get the crust just right, and then shove in as many toppings as  you can without the thing bursting or leaking while it’s being baked.
    Let’s start with the crust recipe. I only make bread things in a bread machine because (a) it’s easier, and (b) life is too short to screw around with dough and flour any more than one absolutely has to. So, put all of the following ingredients into a bread machine:

    1 pack of dried yeast (Fleischmans or whatever)
    3 1/2 cups of general purpose flower
    1 cup of warm water
    2 tablespoons of olive oil
    1 teaspoon of salt
    1/2 teaspoon of sugar

    … and press the “dough” button. Come back when it bleeps done, an hour or so later. At this point, put your pizza stone in an oven at 500 degrees (or as high as it goes if your oven won’t go to 11) so it will pre-heat.

    Next, put some flour on a work surface, and roll the dough into a thin circle about 12″ in diameter just as if you were making pizza. Then, paint on a thin coat of olive oil and leave alone while preparing the internals (aka toppings in pizza-land).

    For the sauce I usually use Ragu, or the regular pizza sauce you can find at a grocery store but I add garlic (fresh, bottled or powdered — sometimes all three). Use it sparingly (I use 1/2 cup of sauce, about half what you would if you were making a pizza). The rest of the internals are some fresh cherry tomatoes (use them whole) and coarsely chopped mushrooms. For the “cheese”, I used teese, but any vegan cheese substitute will do. As with the sauce, go sparingly. 3/4 of a cup at most is all you need. Also, feel free to adapt – there’s plenty of room in there for your favorite stuff — olives, roasted garlic, spinach, you name it will work just fine.

    The beauty of a calzone, unlike pizza, is that the internals are steamed together inside the dough, so even raw stuff you’d never dream of putting on a pizza will cook properly without burning or drying out. Group the internals together at one end of the dough, like so:

    Don’t forget a little extra olive oil at this point — it helps the cooking process and makes the calzone easier to fold and stick. Next thing to do is roll the uncovered dough back over the internals making sure the the join is well folded:

    Above you can see some incessant rolling and folding. Pinch the sides together really well into an airtight join. Fold once or twice, and if things don’t stick use a little olive oil in between the dough to aid with moisture and absorption. OF CRITICAL NOTE: before you put it in the oven, use a fork to puncture the top of the calzone every inch or so, meaning you’ll have 5-7 punctures. If you don’t do this, the whole thing will explode in the oven as the steam can’t get out.

    Sprinkle some cornmeal onto your very hot pizza stone before sliding the calzone into place and shoving the whole lot into the oven at the reduced temperature of 450 degrees.

    Leave the calzone in the oven for 10 minutes, and resist the attempt to pull it out and turn it around. After 10 minutes, rotate the calzone on the stone, and put in for a further 10 minutes. When you slide your baby out, the crust should look like this:

    And the insides will look like this, when opened up:

    You can see the crispy, yet succulent crust holding very well cooked internals. Calzone needs to be eaten with a knife and fork, so tuck in and have at it. Bellisimo!

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