Thursday, March 13, 2008

Out for dinner & Calzones

Friday night, we went out for dinner with our curling team. I've been having a hard time finding the best restaurants for two of my favourite foods: Chinese and Italian. I've had some good meals here and there - but never a consistently great place that feels like a place I could adopt as a favourite. Maybe part of that comes with moving to a new city.

The Italian restaurant we went to seemed to have potential. I wasn't overly impressed with the decor, but often times the best food comes from places that leave something to be desired in the style department.

I had plans to get to a point of mild numbness with a bottle of wine. Ended up sharing this bottle with the other 3 at the table.

R ordered bruschetta as a starter. Although it's kind of sloppy, it was really tasty. Lots of garlic and acidity.

For the main, R ordered a prosciutto tortellini. He seemed to enjoy it, but the piece I tried tasted pretty starchy.

I ordered a shrimp and goat cheese farfalle with a pesto base. I was not impressed. The dish came with 5 pieces of shrimp, which seems pretty minimal to me. Plus, I did not expect that the goat cheese would be added in big dollops on top of the dish. The goat cheese was cold and after blending it in, my dish was not very warm. I like my food steaming hot. Overall, the taste just wasn't great.

The hunt continues for a great Italian restaurant. Maybe the reality is that Italian food is best made at home. Which, conveniently, leads me to the 2nd goal of this entry: Posting one of my favourite Italian meals.

Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita have come together to host Festa Italiana. This blogging event calls upon food bloggers to create a post featuring their favorite dish or drink.

I am submitting calzones. I don't know if it is my favourite Italian dish, but it's up there.


I always use the Canadian Living recipe for handmade whole wheat dough.


1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or multigrain flour
1.5 tsp quick-rising (instant) dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup hot water (120F/50C)
2 tsp olive oil

In a bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. With wooden spoon, gradually stir in water and oil undil dough forms, using hands if necessary.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface, knead for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise in warm draft-free place for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk

NOTE: these pictures are from a triple recipe. In the past, I have tripled the recipe and frozen 2/3 for future meals. However, I find that the dough is not as good after being frozen.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half and shape into discs.

I add a tomato ragout (all over the calzone) and then add whatever ingredients I desire on to half of the dough.

R likes pepperoni, green pepper, mushroom, onion and cheese

I like pepperoni, mushroom, artichokes and cheese. Fold over the dough to create calzone shape. From there, I fold the edges of the bottom layer of dough over the top layer -- so that the cheese won't seap out while it's cooking. But, I recently watched Jamie Oliver make calzones. He showed proper folding technique that essentially involves alternating thumbfuls of dough over each other. I looked for a video on how to do this because describing the method with words will probably be confusing. However, I wasn't successful - so if anyone knows of a video or photos that explains this technique, feel free to let me know.

If you like a nice brown dough, you can wisk an egg white and lightly spread it on the dough with a pastry brush.

Cook it in the oven at 350 for approximately 20-25 minutes (until dough is a light brown).

Sorry, I don't have any pictures of the inside of the calzone after it's cooked. I usually just eat it without cutting it in half and then save whatever is left for lunch the next day. StumbleUpon


Proud Italian Cook said...

Your calzones turned out great, I like the addition of some multigrain flour too. This will be a great addition to Festa Italiana! Who dosen't like calzones? Yummm, thanks for joining us!!

Peter M said...

I'm totally with you on the filling and Calzones/Panzerottos are A1!

Ever been to Olympic 76 Pizza downtown? Great 'za and panzerottos.

test it comm said...

Calazones are one of my favorites as well. I like that you can put almost anything in them.

That Girl said...

I don't know about this Italian place, it doesn't sound very promising.

Pixie said...

I don't think you can beat great home cooked food. I'm never completely content with most restaurants I go to. Calzones are a perfect entry for a wonderful Italian dish.

Emily said...

Those are huge calzones!
They look great-I love calzones.

Sorry the dinner wasn't great. I totally agree with you on the goat cheese. That seemed like a large amount, and I don't like how they just plopped it into the center.

PG said...

proud italian cook - thanks! Glad that you have organizing this event.

peter - Never been - I'll have to check in out when I'm in your city.

kevin - I know - they're always a hit.

kate - I don't plan on going back. Also, since we went there, R heard from someone who lives in that area that the restaurant had received complaints for leaving their food deliveries outside. Gross!

pixie - the more I eat out and the more I cook, I am coming to the same conclusion. Now, I'm finding that the only worthwhile restaurant experiences are at places that serve ethnic food that I don't know how to make myself.

emiline - I wasn't sure if it was just me being fussy. The presentation really turned me off. Plus, in hindsight, I should have taken half of the cheese and put in on a side plate.

Anonymous said...

I love calzones too. Thanks for joining us for the festa :)