Like their Italian cousin pizza, calzones originated in Naples, Italy during the 18th century. The calzone’s original purpose was to serve as a ‘walk around pizza‘ that were not meant to be eaten with utensils. This Italian style turnover is created by folding a pizza in half. When correctly prepared, the calzone’s outer crust is baked to crispy perfection while the inside filling contains a warm, gooey blend of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses along side an assortment of hearty meats and vegetables. The crust of calzones, traditionally made with yeast, olive oil, water, flour, and salt, makes them extremely portable. Calzones, are always baked. The original calzones of Naples, were most likely much smaller than the modern calzones seen in North American restaurants today, because the pizzas created in 18th century Italy were for a single person to enjoy.
Calzones are similar to stromboli and the two are sometimes confused. Unlike calzones, which are always stuffed and folded into a crescent shape, a stromboli is typically rolled and folded into a cylinder. Both are pizza derivatives. They utilize the same ingredients to achieve different versions of a sealed, portable meal. Calzones are traditionally stuffed with cheese, tomatoes, and marinara. But much like the pizza, any sort of toppings can be added inside the calzone.
Today, I wanted to put a bit of a different spin on the calzone idea. I’m making a potato/leek yeast dough, filling them with chicken & mushrooms & adding a bit of pizazz to the shape. What’s old is new again!
Chicken & Leek Calzones
Rinse & slice leek. In a skillet, place oil, sliced leek, sage leaves, garlic, salt & pepper. When the garlic is fragrant & the leek is tender, turn off heat & transfer to a dish to cool.
In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm water; allow to stand for a few minutes until frothy. In a large bowl, combine butter, salt, sour cream, cooked, mashed potato & 1/2 of the leek mixture. Beat together well.
When yeast is ready, add it to the wet mixture. Mix in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is blended, turn onto a lightly buttered work surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough ball in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. While dough is rising prepare filling.
In a skillet, fry bacon to a cooked but not real crisp stage. Transfer to a paper towel, reserving bacon drippings to sauté mushrooms in. When mushrooms have cooked & released most of their moisture, remove from heat.
In a bowl, combine remaining other half of cooked leek mixture, bacon, cooked chicken (or turkey), & mushrooms. Add Ranch dressing & salt to taste. Set aside.
Assembly & Baking
On a lightly greased work surface, divide risen dough into 8 balls. Roll each ball into an OVAL shape, about 7 x 6-inch size. Divide filling into 8 portions. On each oval, place a portion of the filling in a straight line on the middle of the dough.
Keep one side free & cut the other side of the dough into thin strips using a knife. Fold the uncut side over the filling first, then continue rolling over the cut side.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper & place the 'calzones' on it, curving them into a C shape. (Place the side with the 'strips' curving to the outside). Brush calzones lightly with egg wash; cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise for about 20 minutes.
Bake calzones for 40 minutes until a golden brown. Serve hot or room temperature.
Shortcake is such a classic dessert that is perfect for spring and summer. True shortcake has history, even pedigree, but there is some confusion as to its name. ‘Short’ is an English word that means crisp. Or, more specifically, something made crisp with the addition of either butter or shortening.
Another issue with shortcake is whether it should be cake-like or biscuit-like. Some culinary researchers claim that’s a regional preference. Even though the name has English origins, most sources agree that shortcake was a North American invention. Being so versatile, this simple, elegant dessert can be made with any number of fruits and served warm or cold.
I am using some of the LorAnn company’s Blueberry Emulsion today, to add a real pop of flavor to the glazed blueberries. These should be so good!
Glazed Blueberry Shortcakes
Spray mini Bundt pans with baking spray. Then, add some all-purpose flour to each cavity, shake it around, and discard the excess.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Then add the vanilla, softened butter, milk, and egg. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for about two minutes. Gently fold in the fresh blueberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cavities in mini Bundt pans. Each cavity should be about 3/4 full.
Bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pan before attempting to remove them. Gently loosen each cake with your fingers then invert the pan to release the cakes onto a wire cooling rack.
Glazed Blueberry Topping
Place 1 cup of the blueberries in a saucepan with 1/4 cup water, sugar & cornstarch. Bring to a boil & simmer until juicy & thick. Place the remaining berries & blueberry emulsion in a bowl; add glaze mixture & toss to coat.
In a bowl, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and 2-3 tablespoons milk. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time to achieve the desired consistency.
Place shortcakes on individual serving plates. Drizzle with lemon glaze & top each cake with some glazed blueberries. Garnish with lemon zest.
- LorAnn's Blueberry Emulsion tastes like fresh ripe berries.
- Add instead of using blueberries or in addition to the fruit to add a punch of blueberry flavor and color. Use in any recipe as you would an extract - and experience better results. 1 teaspoon baking extract = 1 teaspoon emulsion
Its probably a bit too early for butterflies in our part of the country but these spring cookies are so special. Who could resist them when they’re naturally flavored with orange juice and zest and decorated with mandarin orange segments?
I have always loved cookies of all shapes, sizes and flavors. Today there are hundreds of cookie recipes throughout the world. Often geographic development was reflected in popular cookie recipes. It gave homemakers access to items not available previously. Around the turn of the century, the Kellogg brothers in the USA, invented cornflakes and cookies were made with cereal products. In the 1930’s, with the advent of electric refrigerators, icebox cookie recipes reached new heights of popularity. I’m sure that no one book could ever hold the recipes for all the various types of cookies that have been created.
These little filled cookies might seem quite basic but the flavor is amazing!
Mandarin Butterfly Cookie Bites
In a saucepan, combine filling ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened and translucent, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cool completely. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls & place on lined baking sheet 2-inches apart. Flatten balls with the bottom of a glass; dipping glass in granulated sugar to prevent sticking. Using a fork, prick top of each cookie making 3 rows.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool completely.
Fill & Decorate
Spread about 1/2 tsp filling on bottoms of half of the cookies. Gently press bottoms of remaining cookies against filling to for 'sandwiches'. On the top of each sandwich put a drop of remaining filling. Carefully lay two (towel dried) mandarin orange segments on it to form a butterfly.
- We found these just got better after a few days.
Today, March 28th, our family honors the birth date of my mother. Over 40 years has gone by since her passing and she still is a never ending song in my heart …. sometimes I may forget the words but I always remember the tune. As children we think we are invincible, that nothing can harm us. Innocence is bliss and makes our childhood carefree and happy as it should be. Little do we know of the worry we cause our mothers as soon as we step out of the door.
I grew up in a time when we would sit down to supper with the entire family and relate our adventures of the day. So much has changed since then and I feel so fortunate to have experienced a time when life was much gentler.
As I’ve mentioned many times on the blog, my mother was an amazing ‘baker’. Although, my siblings & I just took her cooking and baking skills for granted then, I realize now just how amazing they were. If she ever had any ‘failures’, I sure can’t remember them. Yeast goods were her forte. She baked bread every week and there was always something special with one little piece of that dough such as a pan of cinnamon rolls etc.
I recall some raised potato doughnuts that my Dad called ‘spudnuts’. Potato bread or doughnuts are supposedly a creative way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. The truth of the matter is, it is the secret ingredient to incredible tasting, light & airy potato bread.
Spudnut Shops were North American, 1950’s franchised stores selling doughnuts made with potato flour called Spudnuts. The original recipe is based on a folk recipe that traces back to Germany. I’m presuming Germany calls them ‘fastnacht‘.
To make a long story short, when my mother made these potato doughnuts, they were to die for! So here’s my version of the taste of a memory.
BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES OF OUR DEAR MOTHER!
Raised Potato Doughnuts w/ Blackberry Glaze
In a small bowl, combine lukewarm milk, & 2 Tbsp of the sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in the yeast & allow to sit until frothy.
In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes, eggs, salt & butter. When yeast mixture is proofed, add to potato mixture, combining well.
In another bowl, whisk together flour & remaining sugar. Combine with wet mixture until dough forms a ball. Knead on a work surface for about 10 minutes then place in a greased bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap & a towel. Allow to rise in a draft-free place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Lightly butter a 12-hole doughnut pan; set aside.
Punch down the dough & cut into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece into a strip long enough to fit around each doughnut hole mold. Lay them in the molds & pinch the ends together so the dough rounds are more or less even.
Cover the tray with plastic wrap & a towel & allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake doughnuts for about 20-25 minutes. The bottom should only be slightly browned while the top is still pale as they will be a bit chewier then.
While doughnuts are baking, place blackberries in a food processor & puree ; strain. Place in a small bowl & add lemon juice, vanilla & sifted powdered sugar. Combine until fully incorporated & no lumps remain.
When baked doughnuts a still slightly warm, drizzle glaze over them & allow glazed doughnuts to set about 20 minutes before serving.
- I wanted to give my little doughnuts a bit of a fancier look today so I baked them in mini Bundt pans. Same great flavor wearing a new look!
Roly poly pudding also known as shirt sleeve pudding is a traditional British pudding. It was probably created in the early 19th century. The dessert was traditionally made with a ‘suet’ (hard animal fat) dough that was spread with jam and then rolled up and steamed or baked. It got the name ‘shirt sleeve‘ as it was steamed in an actual shirt sleeve.
The pudding is a nostalgic one for many British adults, as it was very popular 30-40 years ago as part of British school dinners, topped with a custard.
Today, roly poly is not only made with a jam filling but also with fresh fruit and served when one needs a comforting ‘retro‘ dessert.
Blackberry Roly Poly Pudding
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Cut in shortening & butter until crumbly. Add sour cream & blend until ball forms. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15" x 10" rectangle. Spread with 1/4 cup softened butter, sprinkle with remaining filling ingredients. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with the long side. Cut into 10 slices. Place slices, cut side down, in a 13" x 9" baking pan.
In a saucepan, combine water, brown sugar & cinnamon. Bring to a boil; remove from heat & stir in cream. Carefully pour hot topping over filled slices.
Bake, uncovered for 35 minutes or until bubbly. The center will jiggle when dessert is hot out of the oven but will set as it sits for a few minutes. Serve warm.
For many, orange juice and oatmeal are seen as breakfast food. I like both, so using them in baked goods works for me.
Most of the time, when it comes to cake or cookies, extract is where your flavor will come from. I recall an orange loaf my mother made by first cooking the sugar with orange zest and adding it to the batter. It gave the loaf such a bold orange flavor.
In these cookies, I’m using both the zest and juice of a fresh orange and a tiny bit of lemon zest to add another dimension of citrus. The oatmeal is processed to an oat flour.
The use of both butter and olive oil further enhances the flavor of the cookies. Butter is smooth and creamy, adding the dairy richness, while the oil provides a unique flavor and aroma.
Once the cookies are baked, a glaze using more fresh orange juice and zest makes these orange slice cookies ‘addicting’ as Brion says.
Orange Slice Cookies
Combine remaining orange juice & zest with enough powdered sugar to make a glaze consistency. When cookies are cool, brush with glaze,
Its hard to imagine we have already reached the end of October. Much like the leaves swirling in the crisp autumn breeze, we are reminded of the fickle nature of time. It really doesn’t wait for anyone.
A few years ago, while Brion & I were on vacation in Mexico, we picked up a bag of popcorn called ‘Chicago Mix’. We had not tasted it before as Brion usually makes his popcorn at home in an air popper.
This Chicago style popcorn, which is a mix of both cheddar & caramel corn, is a ‘dangerous’ sweet-salty combination that is totally addictive! It was made famous by Garret’s popcorn in Chicago and up until recently it was sold as Chicago Mix. Their loyal customers would stand in lines around the shop to buy the caramel crisp and cheese popcorn bags, each sold separately. The customers would then mix the two bags together. Noticing this trend, Garret began mixing the popcorn together and the start of Chicago-style popcorn began.
Originally created in 1988 by Candyland, Inc, ‘Chicago Mix’ was trademarked as being a mix of caramel, cheese & traditionally seasoned popcorn.
Of course, when we returned home that year, I wanted to see if I could replicate that irresistible flavor. If you are having a Halloween party at home this year, here’s a few easy ideas for the occasion.
Chicago-Style Popcorn / Spider Rice Krispie Treats
Spider Rice Krispie Treats
Pop corn, place in a large bowl & set aside.
Place butter, sugar & corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar is melted. Boil for 3-4 minutes while stirring & scraping the bottom continuously.
Remove saucepan from heat & immediately stir in vanilla, salt & baking soda. The sugar mixture will bubble up & froth. Continue stirring until it forms a thick, glossy sauce. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn, stirring until corn is evenly coated. Pour the popcorn onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, breaking up any clumps if necessary. Cool completely.
Pop corn, place in a large bowl & set aside.
In a small dish, combine cheese powder, salt & dry mustard (if using). Melt butter & drizzle over popcorn; toss to coat. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the popcorn & stir until evenly coated.
Combine the caramel & cheddar popcorn to make what is called 'CHICAGO MIX'. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Spider Rice Krispie Treats
Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine marshmallows & butter; heat 1-2 minutes or until puffy. Stir until blended. Add the rice krispies to marshmallow mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until cereal is evenly coated. Transfer to prepared baking pan & press firmly. Allow to chill for 1-2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut rice krispie mixture into circles using a round cookie cutter; place in a single layer on parchment paper.
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat candy melts for about 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Scoop melted chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a tip that has a small opening.
Unwrap peanut butter cups & apply a small amount of the chocolate on the top of the cups. Stick each cup onto the center of a rice krispie circle, carefully pressing to secure.
Use the remaining chocolate to draw spider legs on each treat. Apply a small amount of chocolate onto the back of candy eyes then apply them to the top edge of each peanut butter chocolate cup, carefully pressing to adhere.
In a country where sugar has historically represented both the agricultural and industrial goals, desserts are found everywhere. Generally they are very simple, made mainly with fruit and sugar.
Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. It differs from other Latin American cuisines and has almost nothing in common with Mexican cuisine. Cuban recipes tend to share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. A small, but noteworthy, Chinese influence can be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area.
The fact that most Cuban desserts are extremely sweet (usually fruits and sugar are in equal quantities) has inspired the custom of eating them along with salted or cream cheese to help offset the sweetness.
The use of the lime and rum flavor in these cookies makes their taste distinctly Cuban. Brings back memories from a past vacation we spent in Cuba.
Cuban Sugar Cookies w/ Guava & Lime
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon & salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugar with a mixer until light. Beat in lime zest & egg followed by lime juice & rum. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work, until it comes together.
Divide dough into three portions, wrapping 2 in plastic wrap & place in refrigerator while you are working on the first piece.
Place the first piece on a lightly floured surface & roll out to 1/3-inch thickness. Using a lightly floured 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of the dough. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Cut pieces of guava paste into dime-sized circles or squares ( depending on what shape your guava paste comes in), making each approximately 1/4-inch thick. Lightly press one piece into the top of each cookie.
Bake for 13-16 minutes, until cookies are light gold at the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you wish you can dust the cookies with powdered sugar.
- As an alternate idea, assemble them similar to a 'linzer' cookie. Roll half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness; cut with a circular (more decorative) cookie cutter. Repeat with remaining dough but cut small circles in the center of these.
- On top of each plain cookie, place one with a hole in it. Press a guava 'circle' in the hole & sprinkle with a few chopped pistachios if you wish.
- I used this method for the blog picture. Same cookie just a bit fancier.