Friday, 8 March 2013

Plutzing for Panzerotti!

The February blahs came late this year, and landed in my lap this first week of March.

Becca and I were pretty pooped after returning home fresh off our competition high following a whirlwind weekend in Hamilton.  Lucky for me, I have a wonderful husband who is also a wonderful cook.  As I sat with my cousin Kate in a darkened theatre, shepping nachas (reaping pride/pleasure) over our dancing daughters, I received a text from Carlo telling me that sauce was simmering on the stove already.  What a relief.

But that only took care of Sunday!  Being away all weekend meant that I did not plan the week's meals, nor did I shop for the ingredients to make them.  As a controlling Leo, this spelled disaster!

Monday was a tough one...ultimately I did away with the meatless theme, opting instead for Chicken Cacciatore.  As Sara helped me prepare dinner, I decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and we made a chili for the following night.  Phew, one less thing to worry about!

Then, in the blink of an eye, Wednesday crept up on me and I had to come up with a dinner idea....again!!!  Remember, ideally dinner in our house should be transformable into the following day's lunch fare (our kids are not sandwich fans).

What about pizza?  No way!  Sara does not like my pizza - which, by the way, I love!  It is all gooey and saucy and cheesy like the pizza in Eat Pray Love {{sigh}}.  I was craving pizza and trying to figure out how to sneak it in for dinner when a light bulb went off - panzerotti!  I was sure that it would pass muster with Carlo and the girls...and so I started scanning Pinterest, and I found a recipe for baked panzerotti.  I reviewed the baking method and decided that this was something I could do on my own.

After work I rushed to my local No Frills and picked up the few missing ingredients (including prepared pizza dough from Nino D'Aversa) and off I went to try my hand at making panzerotti.

As Carlo sat with me and grated the mozzarella (I told you he was wonderful!), I preheated the oven to 425 degrees, kneaded a double recipe of dough and separated it into 6 balls.  As my chunky tomato sauce bubbled on the stove, I chopped green pepper and green olives and then it was time to assemble dinner.

First I rolled the dough into a circle, on the counter top.  I then layered it with sauce, cheese and veggies.  After one quick flip and a whole lot of pinching, my panzerotto was ready to be transferred onto a greased cookie sheet.  I quickly learned that transferring a full panzerotto from counter to baking sheet is not so easy...the next lesson I learned is that placing a dough circle on a hot pizza stone drastically limits the time you have to fill it before flipping and sealing - the stone starts cooking the dough on contact!!  By my sixth, and final attempt I think I ironed out most of the kinks (by making a new mistake with each one).  Here is what I learned:

1. Fill your panzerotti directly on the baking sheet/pizza
stone; that way you avoid transfer spillage!

2.  It is better to use an unheated baking sheet/pizza stone;
that way the outside doesn't start to cook
before you've had a chance to seal it!

3. Make sure to leave enough space at the
edge of your dough for successful sealing
-and -
4. Do not use "wet" sauce, the thicker the better
to avoid leaking and ensure successful sealing
6. To ensure a tight seal all the way across, pinch at least twice! 
5. Size matters - smaller is better for the personalized panzerotto! 
7. Use a lower oven temperature (350 degrees) and
bake for longer (25 minutes or until golden brown); crispy crust is nice , but you don't
want to  have to use a saw to cut it!!

All in all it was fun to make these panzerotti, and Carlo, Dad and I enjoyed them.  Sara and Becca were not so impressed, but then again, they are not pizza fans these days.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

Until next time, I wish you a wonderful day filled with family, fun, friends, and fantastic food!  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!