Monday, January 01, 2007


At last! The post you have all been waiting for. Holiday food! First up: Experimental cooking. I decided to try a new recipe. Sort of. I saw this being made on "Restaurant Makeover". They called it Pizza Rustica. However, I could not find the recipe on the show's website. So I drew on my Italian heritage and did some internet research. As usual, the recipe varies from region to region. Since there really isn't a recipe, I decided to wing it. I thought about the show and made up my own filling based on my memories of what they did. Pizza Rustica is basically a calzone. I made pizza dough, mixed up the ingredients for the filling and put it together. This is what it looked like before baking.

I baked it for about 50 minutes at 325F. This is what it looked like after:

The filling looked like this:

So, to the recipe. I made my regular pizza dough as follows:


1 package active traditional yeast

3/4 cup lukewarm water. (body temp water. If you dip your finger in it, the temperature of the water should be the same as your skin)

dash of sugar

some olive oil (upto 1/4 cup)

2 cups all purpose flour + some for adjustments


Mix sugar and yeast in water. Stir to dissolve. Let sit for about 10 minutes. There should be a froth on the water at that point. If there isn't, your yeast is dead. Get fresh yeast.

Add olive oil into yeast mixture. Up to 1/4 cup. Less if you want, but do add some, it makes it tastier.

Pour yeast mix into flour. Stir with a fork at first and then dive right in with your hands and knead. After a few minutes you will have a smooth dough. If the flour isn't mixing into a dough, add a touch of water (a tablespoon or so at a time), if the dough is sticky, add some flour. (humidity levels in the air affect how it kneads up, hence the need to adjust)

Get a second bowl and coat with a thin film of olive oil to prevent sticking. Coat dough with thin film of olive oil to prevent drying. Put dough in bowl. I use a large bowl and cover the bowl with saran wrap. Set dough aside to rise for 90 minutes. It needs to be warm, so I put it into the oven with the oven light on. The light provides just a touch of heat and the oven keeps drafts away.

After 90 minutes your dough will have roughly doubled in size. Knead it for a couple of minutes. It is now ready for the second rising. At this point, you have made enough dough for 2 thin crust small pizzas. You can divide it in half and freeze it now, if you want to. When you want to use the frozen dough, take it out of the freezer the day before and put it in the fridge. Then, about an hour before you want to cook, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature. If you are using it today, then let it rise a second time for 30 minutes. After that, it is ready to use.

If you are making pizza rustica , you will need all of the dough.

Pizza Rustica

Make dough as above.

Ingredients for Filling

1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed.

450 gram (1 container) Ricotta cheese

100gram cooked ham chopped.

2 cloves garlic minced

1 small onion chopped

1 egg beaten


Preheat oven to 325F (Please note that if you are making a regular pizza, this temp should be 425F)

Mix ingredients for filling in bowl.

Roll out pizza dough. Place on pizza pan, cookie sheet, whatever.

Dump filling in middle of dough. Spread out a bit.

Fold dough over on top of filling until you have a "pie"

Brush egg over the outside of the dough so it will brown nicely.

Bake in oven for about 50 minutes.

Let cool on counter for 5 minutes or so before you cut into it.

Eat. Mmmmmm.

Please remember that this recipe can be modified pretty much any way you want to. I have seen recipes with sausage, eggs, seafood, you name it in the filling.

The dough is basic pizza dough. If you make a regular pizza, you should bake it at 425F. I know it seems high, but remember that originally pizza was (and often still is) baked in a fire heated oven. Fires are HOT! And lastly, if you can find it and can afford one, get a baking stone. Baking your pizza on that will make it very crispy.

I have more food pictures to share with you, but this post seems long enough as it is! So the paniscia cooking pictures will wait until tomorrow. I already posted that recipe, so if you really want to make it, just go right ahead!