Tofu Feature Month: Tofu-Spinach Calzones

Tofu Spinach Calzone

[Note from Photographer’s Ego: Yes, I know these pictures fail to follow that number one rule of food photography: use natural light!  I will be building myself a light box soon, not to fret.]

This will be our final tofu recipe for you folks for a while.  Our digestive systems are not used to so much soy and they have unequivocally had enough.  The Pie especially so.  Poor man.  Pity him that his wife cooks new things for him on a regular basis.  Tsk.

The last time the Pie and I attempted calzones, we ended up with floor pizza.  I was determined to get it right this time.  The recipe below, with some modifications, comes from the Savvy Vegetarian, and it’s pretty easy.  The dough is nice and stretchy, and I could definitely use it again for a calzone with a different filling, which is exciting!  The yield for this is 10 hand-hold-able calzones, and I halved it (because there’s only the Pie and myself — Gren doesn’t get people food).

For the dough:

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in 1 1/4 cups warm water.  Stir in 2 teaspoons active dry yeast and allow that to sit for 10 minutes.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Or until it gets all foamy.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

In a larger bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to 3 cups flour and mix well.

Rub in (exactly how it sounds) 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Rub it between your fingers until there are no large clumps left.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Stir the water/yeast mixture into the flour until it forms a shaggy ball.  Make sure to get all the floury goodness at the bottom of the bowl.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

On a floured surface, knead the ball for about 10 minutes.  The more you knead it, the tackier it will get, so you will need to add more flour on occasion.  Also, keep in mind that the more you knead it, the more elastic it will be (because you worked all the gluten together).  You want your dough to be nice and stretchy.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with a clean cloth and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

For the filling:

Dice up 1/4 cup onion, and about 8 mushrooms and toss them in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons minced garlic.  Sauté until soft.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

In a small bowl, mix up 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon powdered vegetable stock, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, a pinch of cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Toss that on the vegetables in the pan and stir it around.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Plop in 16 ounces fresh baby spinach (you can use frozen spinach, if you thaw it and drain it first), as well as 2 12-ounce packages of firm silken tofu and a dash of soy sauce.  You can break up the tofu before you toss it in, but it gave me something to do while I waited for the spinach to wilt.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

I had some leftover chèvre, 8 ounces worth, so I tossed that in as well.  So if you’d like to add that to this recipe, chuck in 8-16 ounces goat’s cheese and stir it around until well-incorporated and completely melted.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Calzone Assembly and Baking:

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Punch down your dough.  Literally.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Divide it into 10 equal parts, rolled into balls (remember, my recipe is halved, that’s why you only see five).

Tofu Spinach Calzone

On a floured surface, roll each ball out into a 6″ round.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Divide the filling into 10 equal parts and place each portion on a round, slightly to one side.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Wet the edges of the dough with your finger and fold over each round to make a half circle.

Squish down the edges with your finger and crimp with a fork to seal them.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Place the calzones on a baking sheet.  You can brush them with oil and sprinkle them with salt if you like, for a crusty, salty top.  I chose to cook ours on our pizza stone, which I put in the oven when I turned it on. Cut two diagonal slices in the top of each calzone to let the steam escape.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the filling bubbles up through the holes.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Be careful, they’re HOT!

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Artisanry: French Bread

After some successes with Peter Reinhart’s Lean Bread, the Pie and I decided to branch out a bit and try the French bread in time for a Victoria Day dinner with KK, Il Principe, and the Norwegians.

This recipe uses the same ingredients as Lean Bread but a slightly different technique, so I really hoped I could get this right on the first try.  I recommend you start with Lean Bread to get used to the whole process before you venture into French Bread, which requires a bit more concentration.  Check out the photos from the Lean Bread experiment to familiarize yourself with the basic steps and baking preparations.

Day One

Because this recipe involves hand kneading I decided to do my initial mixing by hand as well, as I’m not entirely sure how to use the dough hook on my stand mixer.  I also decided to measure my flour by weight and not volume and it worked out really well.

Put, in a bowl, 5 1/3 cups bread flour (24oz/680g), 2 teaspoons salt (or 1 teaspoon kosher salt), 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast, and 2 cups lukewarm water.Mix ’em up, for about a minute.  If your spoon gets too doughy, dip it in warm water.

Let your dough rest for 5 minutes.  It should be a coarse, shaggy ball at this point.

Now, knead the dough in the bowl by hand for about 2 minutes, getting in all that excess flour.  If it becomes too tacky, add more flour.  If it becomes too dry, add some warm water.Now move onto a lightly floured surface.Knead the dough for another  minute, pushing and folding it together.

If you find that the dough is still pretty tacky at this stage, don’t add more flour.  Instead, stretch it and fold it once or twice, just like we did with the Lean Bread, until the surface texture evens out.

Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight.  If you are going to make the bread over the course of several days, now is the time to separate it into separate chunks for individual fermentation.

Day Two

Take the dough out of the refrigerator at least two hours before you plan to do your baking.  I woke up early just to take it out of the fridge.  Then I went back to bed.

Be gentle in transferring the dough to your floured work surface.  You don’t want to disturb the bubbles.

Shaping

Divide the dough into four equal pieces by cutting it gently with a knife.

Shape the pieces into bâtards (like we did with the lean bread):

Flatten the dough into a rectangle by pressing it gently.Roll it up.Seal the seam by pinching it.  Then rock the dough back and forth until you have your desired loaf size.My bâtards still look demented.I wanted to do more with my loaves, so after leaving the bâtards for five minutes to sit, I took two of them to make épis (wheat stalks).

Flatten out the bâtards that you have created.Make a crease along the middle.Fold the front of the dough towards the centre.  Use a wet finger to kind of glue it down.Fold the back of the dough over as well and seal by pinching.Rock the dough back and forth until you have created the desired length.  Use more pressure towards the ends so that they are tapered.  These baguettes are the first stage of the épis. Place your dough in proofing cloths sprayed with oil and dusted with flour, or on parchment paper dusted with semolina or cornmeal.Proofing

Mist the top of the dough with spray oil, cover with plastic wrap (loosely), and proof at room temperature for an hour and a half.  They should be about 1 1/2 times their original size after that time.

Baking

Prepare your oven for hearth baking, just like the Lean Bread.  Place your baking stone in the oven along with your steam pan and turn up the heat to as high as it will go before broiling.  Because my pizza stone isn’t long enough for the shapes I’ve created I’m using the back of a sheet pan instead, which means if you proof your bread on the sheet pan (on parchment paper dusted with semolina or cornmeal), then you can just stick it straight in the oven where the stone would be when it’s time to bake.

Remove the plastic wrap from the dough about 15 minutes before baking.

Right before baking, score the bâtards with a razor.To make the épis, take your long baguettes and a pair of scissors.  About 2 1/2 inches from one end, cut almost all the way through the dough (like 95%) at a 45° angle.  Pull the cut section of dough to one side.  Repeat the cut a further 2 1/2 inches in, and pull that cut dough to the opposite side.  Repeat down the length of the loaf.My first one turned out kind of funny, but I got the hang of it by the second one.Transfer the dough to the oven, and pour one cup of water into the steam pan before reducing the heat to 450°F.

Bake the loaves for 15 minutes, then rotate and bake for a further 15-25 minutes.  A finished loaf will be a rich golden brown and sound hollow when you tap the bottom.  For a crisper crust, turn off the oven and leave the bread in for an additional 5 minutes.

Cool your loaves on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing and serving.The bâtards came out demented, as expected, but the épis both looked fantastic.We took ours on the road for a Victoria Day luncheon with KK and IP.  Very popular.