May 26

Everyone is used to grilled meat, and even fish and vegetables. What people usually don’t put on the barbeque, however, is fruit, but it too can be grilled as easily as a hamburger, like in the recipe below. Now you can use the grill for every part of your meal!

fruit cartoccini

Grilled Fruit Cartoccini

1 cup cherries, pitted and stems removed
1⁄2 cantaloupe, cubed
1 mango, cubed
2 plums, cut into wedges
1⁄3 cup blanched almonds
honey
peel of 1 lemon
mint leaves for garnish

Preheat a grill to medium heat. In a bowl, combine the cherries, cantaloupe and mango cubes, plum wedges and almonds. Drizzle with the honey and mix well to combine. Take 4 large pieces of aluminum foil and divide the fruit evenly among each piece and place 1⁄4 of the lemon peel on each. Seal the aluminum foil and transfer to the grill. Grill each with the top down, until the fruit is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and carefully open the pouches to release the heat. Transfer the pouches to 4 individual plates, garnish with mint leaves and serve. Serves 4

May 19

Appropriately described as folded pizzas, calzones are easy and fun to prepare. Their name, which means “trouser leg” in Italian, refers to their folded shape. These savory turnovers from Southern Italy use the same dough as pizza, and simply turn the toppings into fillings. Once you get the basics down, you have carte blanche to tailor the ingredients to your taste.

The fillings in calzones are almost always cheese-based, and they often include either meat, vegetables or fresh herbs. The dough is folded over the filling and baked until golden.

Ricotta cheese is almost always found in a calzone and it’s usually best to use the whole milk variety. The lower fat versions will release more moisture and could create a soggy shell instead of a crispy crust. Other cheeses are added to vary the flavor. Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and provolone are good choices.

It’s common to chop cured meats like prosciutto or salami, and add them to a cheese filling. But when using raw, ground meats, like sausage, cook them first, then cool and incorporate them into the filling.

Vegetables, herbs and other aromatics, like garlic and onions, are at home in any calzone filling. Fresh herbs perfume the entire turnover and vegetables can be a welcome addition as a way to balance the heavy cheese and rich meats.

Prosciutto and Ricotta Calzone

Basic Calzone Dough

1⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
3 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a bowl, combine 1 cup lukewarm water, yeast, salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Set aside for 15 minutes, then add the flour and mix until smooth. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary. The dough should feel smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Quarter the dough and shape each piece into a ball. Cover and let rise another 15 minutes. Makes dough for 4 calzones

Prosciutto and Ricotta Calzone

1 pound ricotta, drained
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 ounces thickly sliced prosciutto, diced
3 tablespoons basil, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
flour for dusting
1 recipe basic calzone dough
1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons water

Preheat the oven to 450°. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven. In a bowl combine the cheeses, prosciutto and basil. Season with salt and pepper. On a floured surface, roll out each ball of dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness and form ovals 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Place one-quarter of the filling on one side of each oval. Moisten the edges of the dough with water, then fold the dough over the filling. Seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Brush the tops and edges of the calzones with the egg mixture. Trim the excess dough with a pizza cutter and make a small incision on the top to allow steam to release. Place the calzones on the pizza stone or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Serves 4

May 12

Leeks must be cleaned well before using them, since dirt gets trapped in between their layers, otherwise your dishes can taste grimy and have a gritty consistency. While there are many different ways to prepare and clean leeks, below are two fast and simple ways to help you no matter what form or technique the recipe calls for.

how to clean leeks 1 1 A. Start by cutting off the hair-like root of the leek and about 1⁄4-inch of the white part.
2 A. Thinly slice the white and light green parts into rounds, discarding the tough dark green tops.
3 A. Using your fingers, separate the layers as you place them in a bowl of cold water. Swish the leeks around to help remove the dirt. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then use as directed.
how to cean leeks 2 1 B. After removing the root and top part of the leek, slice in 1⁄2 lengthwise.
2 B. Place the flat side down on the cutting board. At this point the leeks can be sliced into pieces or julienned (as shown).
3 B. Using your fingers, separate the layers as you place them in a bowl of cold water. Swish the leeks around to help remove the dirt. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then use as directed.
May 6

In Italian biscotti means twice baked. This term refers to the method in which the cookie is made. First logs of dough are baked in the oven then the logs are allowed to cool. They are then cut into diagonal pieces, about 1⁄2-inch long. Finally the pieces are arranged cut-side down on the baking sheet and placed back in the oven, until they are lightly golden. Biscotti are commonly made with anise or nuts and are often dunked in coffee or dessert wine, such as Vin Santo.

almond biscotti

Biscotti

1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almonds, toasted and finely ground
3 eggs, beaten 
3 cups flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
salt

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, combine the sugar, butter, brandy and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the almonds and eggs and mix until well-incorporated. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt and mix. Add to the wet ingredients, mixing until a uniform dough forms. Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and shape into an elongated loaf. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the loaf is the consistency of a cake. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Cut the loaf diagonally into 1⁄2-inch slices and arrange the slices flat on the baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.  Serves 8