Last week I shared my pizza dough recipe with the idea that I was going to follow up immediately with some great calzone recipes. Little did I know I would experience a supreme Julia Child Moment as well.
Things don’t always go as planned, do they? Alas! Here is my failed Spinach Ricotta Calzone, which practically flew out of my hands and plopped on the open oven door:
Here it is! In all its hideousness.
You might be wondering why I would post such a dramatic failure on my blog.
I felt compelled to let you know that sometimes you just fail. Sometimes–no matter how hard you try or how badly you want it–you fail.
The Internet has become–in large part–a place of perpetual perfection, hasn’t it? Nothing to see but Instagram-worthy pictures of perfect lives filled with sunshine, butterflies and flowers! On the Internet, no one fails. No one makes a mistake. Everything is perfect. Always.
So instead of introducing you to the history of calzone or maybe even the backstory of my Ricotta Calzone recipe, I wanted to show you my glorious failure! My Julia Child Moment!
Let me start by explaining what a Julia Child Moment is first.
You might recall, from my recent post on French Onion Soup (Julia Child’s French Onion Soup Gratinee I am a huge Julia Child fan. I cut my cooking teeth on her Boston-based PBS program “The French Chef” and I own all of her cookbooks.
I always admired the way Julia was able to simply explain the finer points of French haute cuisine without making you feel like you were simple. Julia knew good food was for everyone and she shared that message wherever she went, even if things didn’t go as planned.
One of the most amazing things about Julia was her ability to “roll with the punches” and make a failure into a triumph.
How could I forget when she first tried to flip an oversized potato pancake…only to chock her failure up to not having the “courage of conviction”?
Or when she tried to teach Dave Letterman to make a gourmet hamburger on Late Night, but ended up getting him to eat raw ground beef and calling it Steak Tartare?
Nothing phased Julia Child and no failure was ever a true failure with her. Julia believed failing was a learning opportunity and a way to adjust your perspective.
In watching The French Chef all those years, I developed many life skills. But the most important lesson I learned was that no one is perfect.
No one is perfect, BUT we must always do the best we can with what we have. Despite our imperfection, we should always “press on” in an effort to always be trying to improve our skills.
And that’s not just a cooking lesson to learn.
And that, my faithful reader, is a Julia Child Moment!
Each batch of dough will make two medium sized calzones. Keep your dough covered while you prepare the filling.
Ingredients for Ricotta Cheese Calzone:
1 batch Pizza Dough
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup or so shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup or so shredded romano or parmesan or a mixture of both
garlic salt and black pepper
cornmeal for sprinkling
olive oil or egg wash for brushing the outside of the crust
Ingredients for Spinach & Ricotta Calzone:
1 package frozen chopped spinach defrosted and dried in a towel to remove liquid
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup total shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses
salt and pepper
cornmeal for sprinkling
olive oil or egg wash for brushing the outside of the crust
Directions for Making Calzone:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone, put it in before preheating the oven.
Separate the dough into two equal balls. Cover the one you aren’t working with.
Flatten your dough ball on a lightly floured surface being careful to form a flat circle shape
Roll the dough out from all directions to maintain the circular shape until it is about the size of a medium pizza. Try not to roll the dough so thin that it could create holes in the dough. If you accidentally make a hole, carefully pinch the dough back together, making sure it is closed up. Holes are bad.
Since the dough is pretty elastic and will be heavy when filled, it may help you to transfer the dough to a pizza peel lined with a piece of cornmeal-sprinkled parchment paper.
Spoon the filling on the right half of the dough circle and spread it out. Keep a good inch of dough around the edge, but spread the filling out within the entire right half of the circle.
Carefully lift up the empty half of the dough and drape it gently over the filled side, lining up the edges of the dough to make the classic half-moon shape of a calzone.
Using water if necessary, pinch and crimp the edges where the dough overlaps. Be certain that you’ve properly closed your seam…remember holes are bad.
Lightly brush the calzone with oil or egg wash (I used olive oil).
Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with the pizza peel and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing, because contents will be extremely hot, extremely gooey and exceptionally delicious!
I do hope you try making your own calzone at home! If this is your first time making a rolled dough remember your Julia Moment and press on! Courage!
And…if you are really just beginning to learn about Dutch Oven cooking in general, it might also be helpful to check out this post: Why I love my Dutch Oven
Now back to the Jalapeño Cheese Bread!!
Note: The measurements are a bit different for this recipe than my other ones. I’m not sure why that is, so I will probably go back and make this again using the measurements of my original recipe. If I do, I will be sure to inform you of the results.
4 cups flour (I always use King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose, but only if you don’t mind “encouraging the liberals”! 😂😂😂)
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast or contents of one yeast packet
1 1/2 tablespoon salt (or less, if you desire)
2 cups lukewarm water
2-3 cups shredded cheese (I suggest sharp cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack and a bit of Parmesan totaling 3 cups)
2 tablespoons or more of chopped pickled jalapeno peppers (We prefer Mt. Olive brand)
Dissolve the yeast into the lukewarm water and stir, let sit in a warm place for 5-10 minutes to allow to bloom.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Once combined add in the shredded cheeses and mix to combine.
To the flour/cheese mixture, add the pickled jalapeño. Mix.
Add the proofed yeast to the flour and stir with a spoon at first. Use your hands to bring it all together and shape it into a nice ball.
Put the dough ball in a clean bowl and cover the bowl with film and then with a dish cloth.
Allow dough to sit in a warm location until it rises to about twice its size.
Punch down the dough and knead a bit to get the air out. Don’t over knead the dough or it will toughen. Put your kneaded dough ball back in the bowl and cover again. Allow to rise about an hour.
Preheat your oven–with covered Dutch Oven inside–to 450 degrees.
When the oven is preheated, remove the Dutch Oven. Place your dough ball in the hot Dutch Oven and cover. You can use parchment paper, if you’d like but it’s not really necessary. You can sprinkle the bottom of the pan with a bit of flour if you’re worried about it sticking.
Put the Dutch Oven in the preheated oven and bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 10-15 minutes longer or until browned to your liking.
Remove the Dutch Oven and tip it over. The bread should pop right out!
Allow to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
One of my readers was so inspired by my bread making posts about the Dutch Oven Bread, she purchased a new Dutch Oven and set about making her own amazing crusty loaf. I’m happy to report her bread turned out amazing and she was very proud of herself–as she should be!
However, since this reader is usually a carb counter, she asked if she could make her subsequent loaves half the size of my original recipe. My knee-jerk reaction was to say “sure”, but I needed to test it out anyway. 😉
I suggested a smaller Dutch Oven–they make a 3.5 quart one that would be darling!–but we must use what we have, right?
I must admit though the half sized loaf looks tiny…especially in the 5.5 quart pan!
However–when popped out on my cutting board–is seems to adjust itself. 😂
Just about every detail with making the half sized loaf is the same as my original recipe, just with quantities halved. So same rise time and same cook temperature. The only thing I would change is the second half of the cooking time. You will still bake it covered for 30 minutes, but I would recommend reducing the uncovered time by 5-10 minutes for a total of 10-15 minutes.
And here is what it looks like inside!
Now…I’m curious. Will you fall under the spell of the Dutch Oven now?