Friday, March 6, 2015

Apéritif Friday - Stromboli and Alakai Wine

Have you ever seen a food item and thought, "Man. I gotta try that some day?" 

Lately I've morphed into a master list maker - of foods to make, drinks to concoct, books to read, movies to watch, and with a heatwave disguised in thirty degree weather, I've even made a list of outings and adventures to tackle between now and the beginning of summer.

Oh my ever loving, unsuspecting family. They don't even know what's in store for them.

Stromboli graced my "meal to take on" list for years before I finally did it. I mean, come on. Cured meat, gooey cheese, tangy sauce with a side of red wine? I could make a meal simply out of the solo ingredients, but when combined? And a little Caesar Salad on the side?

The beauty of this meal is that it can be completely constructed from scratch or you can shortcut the heck out of it. Pressed for time? No sweat. Just pick up your favorite pre-made pizza dough and sauce at the store along with the other ingredients and you'll be diving into this savory cross between pizza and a calzone in no time. We opted for a simple apéritif on Stromboli night - Alakai wine by Joel Gott. I originally purchased this nectar in the Northwoods, then sent Mr. Musky back in the fall to buy a case of it. 

I nearly cried real tears when he came back with the wrong stuff.

A month later I found it at Whole Foods, and bought six bottles. Then went back to snatch up their last two.

Now I'm sobbing for real because I can't find it anywhere. If you see Alakai by Joel Gott - the red blend from 2011 - please buy a case and call me. I'll happily pay you a finder's fee!

This was, hands down, an all around family fave. Once my people read this post they're all going to be asking when we can have it again. I'd better get cracking on some dough. 


For the dough - makes two Stromboli crusts
4 cups all purpose flour
1 T active dry yeast
1.5 cups water at 115 degrees
1.5 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp kosher salt

Pour the flour into a large bowl and make a little well in the center. Dissolve the yeast into the water. Pour the water/yeast mixture into the well, and gently turning the bowl, combine the dry into the wet ingredients until a shaggy dough starts to form. Add the oil and salt, then knead the dough a few times until it becomes smooth. At this point, you may need to add a little more water or flour. I usually have to add a few more tablespoons of water, one at at time, to get the proper consistency. Coat the dough with a little oil, place plastic wrap over the top, and let it rise in a warm spot in your kitchen for at least 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can place it in the refrigerator to rise for at least five hours.

For the Sauce
1 medium shallot, quartered
4 medium to large garlic cloves, smashed
1/3 cup basil - loosely packed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tst red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
28 oz tomato puree
6 oz tomato paste (not pictured above - airhead moment)
1.5 T olive oil
1 T Honey

Combine the shallot, garlic and basil in a food processor and blend until chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust red pepper flakes, honey and olive oil to your liking. This makes an abundance of sauce and the leftovers freeze beautifully.

For the Stromboli
1 Onion, sliced
1 Green Pepper, sliced
1 Red Pepper, sliced
1 Jalapeno Pepper, sliced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
Sliced Capicola (we used hot)
Sliced Pepperoni
Sliced Provolone cheese
Shredded Asiago, mozzarella or monterey jack cheese
Fresh Basil Leaves
Egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 T water)
Italian Seasoning (or dried oregano)
Cooking spray
Sauté the vegetables in your fat of choice (butter, olive oil, ghee) over medium heat until softened, season with salt and pepper, then cool. I didn't use NEARLY all of these vegetables, but cooked them all anyway because I wanted them for a vegetable frittata in the morning. You probably only need 1/4 of each pepper and onion, and 2 oz of mushrooms.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the dough in half with a pizza cutter. Pat it out, forming it into the shape of a rectangle, then place it on a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top, and gently roll out the dough, from the center outward, into an approximate 9x13 inch rectangle. Thinly layer your ingredients...
...starting with the sauce, then the sliced provolone, followed by the capicola and pepperoni, the grated cheese, then at the end closest to you a row of basil. We made one with vegetables and one without - the sauteed peppers and onions go on as a layer before the grated cheese. Be sure to leave a border all around (about an inch), and a larger border furthest away from you (about 1.5 inches - see picture above - the end without the basil has a larger border).

With a pastry brush or your fingers, lightly coat the edges of the dough with egg wash. Then carefully roll the Stromboli, starting at the end closest to you, into a cylinder. Use the parchment paper to help you roll - peeling it off the dough as you roll the pastry. Roll it as tightly as possible. Pinch the ends closed, tuck them under, and ensure the horizontal seam is snug.
Place the Stromboli seam side down on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Brush it with the egg wash. Using a serrated knife, make diagonal vent cuts across the top and sprinkle with Italian Seasoning or oregano.
Repeat to make the other Stromboli. Let them rest for 20 minutes on the sheet pan.

Place them in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the Stromboli is bubbly and golden. Remove from the pan to cool - it is imperative that you let it cool for at least ten minutes so when you slice on the vented marks it doesn't all ooze out and make a big mess.
Serve with a crisp, Caesar salad and extra sauce for dipping. If you don't care for pepperoni and capicola? No big. You can substitute cooked Italian sausage, sliced turkey, ham, just cheese, whatever. There are no rules on the ingredients.
Enjoy, and Happy Friday!


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