Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chicken Alfredo Pizza Roll



     The Kingdom of Jordan, as a whole, does not celebrate Christmas with Christians comprising a mere 6% of the population; and even though it is a member of the Holy Lands and claims a shore of the Jordan River, Santas and decorated trees are hard to find.  Oddly Santa-masked volunteers decked out in red suits and elegant lighted and bedecked Christmas trees do mark the season in the big western hotel lobbies, but we found it was best to stay inside one's own home and create our own Christmas magic on Dec. 25th.  To go outside on a shortsleeve afternoon amid the everyday bustle, quickly dilluted the holiday illusion.
     On one particularly lonely Christmas, far away from traditional family celebrations and festivities, in our efforts to create holiday memories, my family realized we were actually very near the site of the first Christmas, just 45 miles as the crow flies and also that there were forests of Christmas trees in-the -raw, on  some of the mountainsides near Amman.  One quandry remained:  we all insisted that we must have the traditional turkey dinner with hot mashed potatoes and gravy but how to keep our dinner warm in the cool forest?  The solution: our large picnic cooler could serve equally well as a picnic warmer ......and the Christmas Picnic was born!  Sitting eating warm candied yams as we shivered among the pine trees, the day became "Christmas" for us as we gazed toward the west in the general direction of Judea and sang every song our children knew with the word"Bethlehem" in it.  
      What does the Christmas Picnic have to do with a pizza roll?  Just an illustration suggesting that sometimes we make great memories and great foods by shaking up tradition a bit.  This hand-friendly rolled pizza is a delicious way to do that. It serves up equally well as a "grab a bite and sit by the fire" snack on a cold evening.  Reminiscent of other filled breads, such as the Russian pirowshki, the Arab fateyah or even Panini, it pairs nicely with soup. Admittedly, you could pick up a pizza on the way to your picnic venue, but a rather prosaic choice, lacking in imagination.  There is just a certain breed of cook possessing a singular gene that wants to create and share - it is the "love language" of such types, that speaks, "I did this for you" and relishes watching the eater enjoy it!







Chicken Fettucine Pizza Roll:
1 large shallot, peeled and finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 large red pepper, diced
1/3 cup quartered artichoke hearts
3 tab. butter
3 tab. flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
4 oz. sliced mushrooms, sauteed in 1 tab. butter until soft
2 tab. minced parsley

-Melt 3 tab. butter in medium saucepan and saute shallots and garlic about 5 minutes, until soft.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring about 2 minutes.  Mix in chicken broth and bring to a siimer, until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in cream and parmesan cheese.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper.  Add red pepper, artichoke hears, cubed chicken, mushrooms and parsley to alfredo sauce and stir.

-Roll out pizza dough to a rectangle about 14 by 10 inches.  Spoon filling down lengthwise center of dough.  Beginning at a long edge, carefully roll dough around the filling to form a long filled bread roll.  Press seams firmly together and place on well greased heavy cookie sheet with raised edges, sprinkled with cornmeal.  Cover and let rest for 25 minutes.

-Place the pizza roll in a 380 degree oven and let bake 30 - 35 minutes, until the roll is puffy and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes.  Brush the surface with olive oil and sprinkle on garlic powder/and or Italian seasonings and coarsely grated black pepper.  Let continue to rest another 10 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.  Slice to serve.  Serves 8.


Pizza Crust Dough:
1 tab. yeast
1 tab. granulated sugar
2/3 cup warm water (warm but not hot to the touch)
1/2 cup warm milk (warm but not hot to the touch)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour, more or less

-In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook), mix the yeast, sugar water, milk, oil, salt and one cup of the flour until well combined.
-Gradually add the remaining flour until a soft dough is formed. It will pull away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball but still be slightly soft to the touch.  Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes until it is soft and smooth.
-Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap; let rise until doubled, about an hour or so.  Punch dough down and shape into a smooth long roll, about 8 - 10 inches.  Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes (this helps relax the gluten so it is easier to roll out).
-On a lightly greased or floured counter, roll the dough about 1/8-inch thick into a large rectangle, about 14 by 10 inches. 






Italian Sausage, Pepper and Mushroom Pizza Roll:
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup each, chopped red and green pepper
1 cup pizza sauce
2 cups grated mozarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sliced olives
4 ounces, sliced fresh mushrooms

-Crumble sausage in lightly oiled saute pan and cook over medium heat, until browned, breaking up with wooden spoon.  Drain well and set aside.

-In another saute pan, heat 2 tab. olive oil.  Add onion and peppers and saute until soft, about 5 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and continue to cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In separate sauté pan, heat 1 tab. butter and saute mushroom slices until soft.


-Roll out dough according to directions.  Spread sauce evenly over the dough then sprinkle ingredients down one long edge of the rolled dough. Beginning at a long edge, carefully roll dough around the filling to form a long filled bread roll.  Press seams firmly together and place on well greased heavy cookie sheet with raised edges, sprinkled with cornmeal.  Cover and let rest for 25 minutes.

-Place the pizza roll in a 380 degree oven and let bake 30 - 35 minutes, until the roll is puffy and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes.  Brush the surface with olive oil and sprinkle on garlic powder/and or Italian seasonings and coarsely grated black pepper.  Let continue to rest another 10 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.  Slice to serve.  Serves 8.




Persnickety PS:

**Purchased pizza sauce could certainly be used as a shortcut as well as prepared pizza dough found in some stores in the refrigerator or deli section.

**When shaping the roll, try to keep the dough from being rolled in with the filling.  The dough should encase the filling - otherwise the dough in the middle will not cook evenly.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Red Pepper and Caramelized Onion Pisaladiere


Wading my way through a bed of roasted red peppers and caramelized onions is a taste expedition I would courageously undertake with anticipation of a sweet trip!  Will you join me? Particularly, if the bed is made of airy, buttery- crisp puff pastry?  The following recipe is is an easy take on a dish from Provence, usually made with a heavier, more time consuming short pastry. This version, using pre-made puff pastry, is faster and lighter and with the addition of red pepper, and artichoke hearts, sweeter and smokier.  I would never presume to improve upon the original but this is another version that may be less intimidating to some; that is unless you've never worked with puff pastry - "pâte feuilletée" (leaves of pastry).  According to those that know, this French pastry used for making incredible desserts , should be composed of 78 layers of flour and butter, which may prove intimidating to most.

 I have studied how to make puff pastry, and I have made it on occasion but I would only recommend doing so when you have several spare hours, derive great pleasure from doing it yourself, or relish being able to say, "I made it myself!" I almost exclusively purchase the pre-turned frozen pastry.  However, when I recently discovered a pastry from the Brittany region of France, "Kouing Amann", I wanted to delve into making that delicious confection by rolling up my sleeves, putting on a good movie in the background and started at the very beginning.  It is an experience worth the effort and if nothing else, makes you grateful for the advent of industrial machinery. You should make puff pastry on a dry cool day - not on a muggy, warm day as I originally did.  But until that day arrives, venture to the freezer section of your grocery store, lovingly select a frozen package of Puff Pastry sheets, take it home and place it in your freezer until ready to use.  If you follow the steps below, you should be successful and this delicate pastry can be your friend for composing dishes such as Bouchee a la Reine (Chicken A la King), Napoleans and palmiers.

Tips for Working with frozen Puff Pastry Sheets:


1 - Remove each sheet from it's wrapping and place it on the counter for about 10 minutes.
2 - Gently, with careful coaxing, unfold the tri-folded sheet and stand it up on the counter in a tent shape for an additional 15 minutes, to thaw.
3- While the dough is still chilled but somewhat malleable roll it out to a slightly larger rectangle, sealing the seams closed with the rolling pin as you go.
4 - Place the dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
5- Do not roll any leftover dough into a ball but keep it flat, or you destroy the butter - pastry layers created in the dough and it will not puff up when you bake.
6 - Return the prepared pastry to the freezer for about 20 minutes before baking to allow the pastry to become cold again, thus keeping the butter solid so that more layers will form and puff during baking.   





Red Pepper and Caramalzied Onion Pisaladiere
2 sheets frozen puff pastry sheets
1 package Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs, 
              (room temperature)
2 large sliced onions, slivered
2 tab. olive oil
1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers
              (from a jar or prepared yourself)
1/2 cup roughly chopped, canned or frozen artichoke hearts
1/4 cup roughly chopped Kalamata or Nicoise olives
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

-In large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and toss with 1/2 tsp. salt for about 5 minutes to begin the caramelizing process.  Reduce the heat to low and slowly caramelize the onions for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool.

-Follow the directions for using the puff pastry above.  Place one rolled out sheet on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll out the other pastry sheet and cut 4 - 1 inch wide strips down the length of the pastry.  Brush a bit of water along each edge of the original sheet and lay a 1" strip along each edge, overlapping and trimming strips to fit, to create a raised border around the edge of the pialadier. Preheat the oven to 380 degrees.  Chill the pastry in freezer while the oven is preheating.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the pastry is puffy and golden brown.  Allow to cool about 15 minutes.

-Gently spread Boursin cheese over the cooked pastry.  Distribute onions, red peppers and artichoke hearts evenly over the cheese layer, then scatter olives and parmesan cheese over the top. Return to 375 degree oven and heat for 12 - 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Cook's Notes:  Although you could use creme fraiche or mascarpone cheese to spread on the pastry, I chose Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs.   Easy on the olives - the bold taste of the Kalamata olives can demand your attention so insistently that the silky, subtle flavors of the onion are overwhelmed.  But a little briny pop creates a nice contrast.