Yummy-Sunny Calzones and Beyond!

One of the things I love most about cooking is that you can begin with a basic recipe, make a few alteration and create something new for the family to try. Cooking creatively requires little – be brave, think outside the box and use your imagination. If you can envision it, you can create it. Don’t be afraid to try and fail. It’s a learning process. Simply chalk failures up to what doesn’t work until you come up with something that does. Even a minor set backs can serve as their own inspiration.

Sunny Spinach Pie (2)Sunny Pepperoni Pie (10)It began with my rendition of Sunny Spinach Pie. (http://wp.me/p4fk5s-jd) I wanted to make a Spinach Pie that reminded me of sunflowers to bring to a family gathering at my sister’s home. (And once again, to give credit where credit is due; the original inspiration for Sunny Spinach Pie can be had at TORTA RUSTICA di PINACI  blog.giallozafferano.it). From there, the inspiration grew – and I created a special sunflower for my darling brother – a pepperoni version of the original. I shared my wonderful new creation The Importance of Sunny Pepperoni Pie with everyone last month. It’s a long read, but one I felt the need to share. Since then, I had given the Sunny recipe a great deal of thought. The dough is very easy to make. And it occurred to me that you could fill it with just about anything. I already knew pepperoni made a nice filling. Kiddo is a big fan of pepperoni pizza, so that was a no-brainer. Hubby likes Italian Sausage and Mushrooms on his pizza pie. The dough for Sunny Pie isn’t a pizza dough, but I was fairly sure it would work as a calzone.  I especially like the wine in the mix. Why not create a calzone using the same basic ingredients? It seemed only natural, right?

Sunny CalzoneWow! The dough for the sunny pie will create four huge calzones. How you fill them is entirely up to you. Tonight we had two filled with pepperoni and two filled with sausage. These things were so massive, that we have an entire calzone left over. (Which will be test 2 – how does it warm the next day?) To be honest, these were the first calzones I’ve made completely from scratch and best calzones I’ve ever tasted. From beginning to end, it took about an hour to make and bake these beauties. That’s a reasonable amount of time for a week day meal, don’t you agree? You could easily cut the finished calzones in half, serve them with a salad and feed eight people no problem.

The recipe that follows will yield two of each filling. You could double either to create one filling, or make up your own using your own ingredients. If nothing else, I hope what follows will serve as a spring-board for your own wonderful creations. And don’t forget to share, I love hearing from other home cooks. After all; you are my inspiration . . .

Sunny-Yummy Calzones
The Dough
2 1/4 Cups  of flour
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine (more if dough is too dry)
1 teaspoon salt

To Make Dough: Using the dough hook, knead until the dough is smooth and combined. If the dough appears too dry, add a little more wine and olive oil, a splash at a time. You want it to bind together without being too wet. Divide dough into four equal balls. Wrap in plastic while you make the filling.

Sausage and Mushroom Filling
1/2 Lb Mild Italian Sausage
1 Cup Mushrooms, Chopped
2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
2 oz Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup Pizza Sauce (more if mixture appears too dry)
Italian Bread crumbs

To create the Sausage filling: Brown the sausage in a skillet. Add sliced mushrooms, saute for a few minutes. Transfer sausage mixture to a large bowl. Add cheeses, mix well.  Add pizza sauce, mix again. If the sauce seems too dry, add a little more sauce until the mixture is moist but will hold its shape. You can also add moisture with a splash or two of wine if desired. Set aside.

Pepperoni Filling
8 oz Pepperoni, chopped
2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
2 oz Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup Pizza Sauce (more if mixture appears too dry)
Italian Bread crumbs

To create the Pepperoni filling:  Chopped Pepperoni. Place in a bowl. Add cheeses, mix well.  Add pizza sauce, mix again.  If the mixture appears too dry, add a little more sauce until the mixture is moist but will hold its shape. You can also moisten with a splash or two of wine if desired. Set aside.

Egg Wash
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tablespoons white wine to thin

Whip egg in a small bowl.  Thin with wine and set aside.

To Assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Unwrap the dough one ball at a time. Place on a lightly floured work surface. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Using a rolling-pin, roll dough into a thin round disk. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Mound desired filling on half the disk, leaving a small edge to seal. Fold over, pinch edge to seal, then press with a fork. Cut a three vents in the top, one center and two on either side to release some of the steam. Brush with egg wash.

Place calzones on a large baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, loosen with thin spatula. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, plate and serve. If desired, offer pizza sauce for “dipping”.

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