Photo from Reviews.com

Back in the ’90s, my parents lived in Boston and one of my favorite expeditions when visiting them was to a Newbury St. housewares store I loved. I no longer remember its name–and it probably isn’t there anymore–but back then they had an astounding array of reconditioned knives. I built my knife collection there and still have many of them, including a chef’s knife.

But back in San Diego at Great News!, a much-loved housewares store that finally did go out of business, I bought what immediately became my favorite, go-to, pack-when-I-evacuate-for-a-fire knife. It’s a Wusthof Dreizack Culinar santoku knife. I didn’t even think I needed a new knife until a friend who worked there put it in my hand. It fit perfectly. I have small hands and this knife made me feel for the first time that I had control.

You can talk about materials, craftsmanship, and price–all of which are important. But ultimately if a knife is going to be an extension of your hand, what makes a perfect chef’s knife is very personal.

“My mother-in-law bought me a Wusthof Ikon Santoku because she liked how it looked,” said personal chef and food blogger Carol Borchardt. ‘I’ve been in love with this knife ever since. It feels great in my hand because of the shape of the handle.”

For personal chef Suzy Dannette Hegglin-Brown, it was important to find a great knife guy and build a relationship with him. Hers, she said, is old school and knows what she likes.

“I like a well-balanced knife. I do not like a heavy knife,” she explained. “So my knife is a cross between a Global and a Henkel. The brand is an F. Dick. It fits my hand well. Not too heavy so I don’t get tired… Not so light that I feel like it’s cheap. It is an extension of my own hand. I love this knife. I have two of them. One for home and one for work.”

Photo from Suzy Dannette Heglin-Brown

San Diego chef Christian Eggert is a knife fanatic. He has been collecting them since he was a kid and said he has about 40. For Eggert, the quality of the steel is his first priority. “It equates to the knife’s ability to hold and edge and be resharpened.” However, he suggested that less experienced cooks should go with a Kyocera ceramic knife.

“They need to be careful with the brittleness of the ceramic as far as impact and cuts that require blade flexibility, but the warranty and inexpensive repair far outweighs the cost of a real knife,” Eggert said. “If you go for steel, though, I would recommend nothing less than a S30V or VG10 steel. These hold a true edge and can take a fair amount of abuse. When they want to get to a top layer steel R2 is world class along side D2 or other steels that add resilience and sharpen ability.”

Christian Eggert’s Mr. Itou knife

Then there’s grip. Linen micarta, Eggert said, is the best. “It gets grippy when wet and wears like iron. Ideally it should just about balance on your pointer finger. I like a little weight in my knife so I use a full tang custom (Mr. Itou). But again, even though they are very light, the Kyoceras are the knife I would recommend to most people for their ease of use, edge holding, and they are very light which reduces fatigue overall.”

Of course, a light knife isn’t for everyone and it can take time to get used to it if you’ve been a longtime user of heavier knives. Personal chef Jim Huff picked up an 8-inch Wusthof classic chef knife at Sur La Table because it felt “right” to him (and he got a nice discount as a student taking a class there). But he’s since picked up a Wusthof Pro Chef’s Knife that is much lighter. “I’m still adjusting to using it at home,” he said. “Up till now I’ve always preferred the heavier knives.”

Almost every quality food magazine invariably has stories dedicated to how to buy a good chef’s knife. Do a Google search and dig in. But you might also want to check out Reviews.com’s recent piece that lays out various features that aren’t subjective. They culled a list of 170 knives to 11 top performers. Then they put the knives through a series of tests–cutting herbs, carrots, butternut squash, and chicken. And they found that, just like the rest of us, the test wasn’t going to work as planned since right out of the factory, they would all perform well. Instead, it would be fairly subjective.

“Were we able to grip it comfortably? Was it too light or too heavy? Did the spine rub awkwardly against our index fingers as we chopped? These are the details that can make or break a cook’s relationship with their kitchen knife.”

But, even given the variety of testers, they were able to narrow the field down to some favorites, based on the user’s experience.

For many of us, of course, some of these choices come down to price. For Carolyn Tipton Wold, she went with what she was used to when she was training to become a personal chef and it wasn’t the most expensive. “I have a set of Wusthof and another well-known brand, but they couldn’t hold their edge when sharpened. Professional sharpeners wouldn’t sharpen them because the steel was too soft. I went back to my training knife and for $25, I haven’t been disappointed!”

Eggert noted that a Kyocera santoku will cost less than $50. Depending on the material, a Mr. Itou santoku will range from $400 to $600. More familiar names, like Kramers, Shuns, Henkels, and the like have a high price based on branding. But, Eggert said, there are far superior knives with a smaller price tag.

Serious Eats has a terrific guide by J. Kenji López-Alt. Here’s his list of things to consider (aside from personal preference). To my mind, these will help get you to personal preference:

  • Style: Do you prefer a slim-and-maneuverable modern gyutou-style hybrid knife, a rough-and-tough Western-style knife, or a more precise and delicate Japanese-style santoku?
  • Design: A good knife should be as fine-tuned as a race car with every aspect, from the curvature of the blade to the weight of the bolster to the shape of the handle, taken into consideration for optimal balance and performance.
  • Craftsmanship: Do the pieces all fit together tightly and firmly? Are the rivets going to fall out or is the blade going to separate from the handle? Is the finish on the handle smooth and pleasant to hold, and is the blade properly honed straight out of the box?
  • Materials: Is the steel hard or soft? Harder steels in Japanese and hybrid-style knives retain edges for a longer time but are tougher to sharpen. Softer steels are easier, but need to be honed and sharpened more frequently. Is the composite or wood in the handle durable and comfortable?

Once you hit all your priorities in terms of these four issues as well as price, then it comes down to how it feels in your hand and how it makes you feel about getting the tasks done with it. (And keep that feel-good condition. Don’t neglect sharpening and honing them!)

What chefs knife do you use and how did you come to choosing it?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

If you’re a personal chef who is starting to get requests from clients for vegan meals, chances are you freaking out just a little. Because while there are plenty of meat- and dairy-free dishes out there in the world that would be considered vegan—salads, sautéed or roasted vegetables, pasta and tomato sauce just for starters—that’s not the stuff of a well-rounded diet. People need protein, for starters, and they want complex flavors that are so easy to come by when you add in animal-based proteins.

So, where do you start?

A brief survey of some of our members yielded some favorite websites. And I’ve also included some I’ve found.

  • You might want to start at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, which has a list of the Top 50 Began blogs. This directs you to blogs that will teach you how to make vegan yogurt to nut-based “cheeses.” Their top pick? Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows. Their favorite recipe? Sundried Tomato, Mushroom and Spinach Tofu Quiche.

  • Member Jennifer Zirkle of The Ginger Chef in Michigan likes Forks Over Knives. This plant-based diet website evolved from the documentary of the same name. The site offers a meal planner, cooking course, articles, and, of course, recipes—435 of them. They also have an app you can download. So, you can be inspired by Smoky, Saucy Black-Eyed Peas; Pesto Penne; Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese; or a Festive Vegetable Pot Pie.

  • Member Suzy Dannette Hegglin-Brown of The Brown Bag Nutrition & Chef Services in Northern California is a fan of the blog Vegan Richa. Richa Hingle is its author. She’s been featured on Oprah.com, Huffington Post, Glamour, VegNews.com, The Kitchn, and many others. She’s also the author of Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. On the day I visited her site it featured Peanut Butter Cauliflower Bowl with Roasted Carrots. She includes Instant Pot cooking, as well. And check out her Indian Butter Tofu Paneer. It looks divine.
  • The Vegan Society is committed to making veganism easily adopted. They publish a magazine, The Vegan—and if you subscribe, you also get access to a website that addresses nutrition and health, food and drink, recipes, shopping, travel, and more.
  • Cooking for vegan kids? Check out the list on Hummasapien. They include a range of kid-friendly recipes like Zucchini Tater Tots, Vegan Carrot Dogs, Vegan Broccoli Cheeze Chickpea Burgers, and Summer Vegetable Lasagna Rolls.

  • Chickpea Magazine is a vegan food and writing quarterly. Love the idea of Cauliflower Wings? Get the recipe here!
  • Chefs like Jamie Oliver have developed vegan recipes. Oliver has well over 100, from Whole Wheat Maple Cinnamon Buns and Sweet Potato & White Bean Chili to Homemade Mustard and Spiced Plum Chutney. He also has videos that will teach you how to make vegan gravy, chocolate pots, and raw “spaghetti Bolognese.”

Because vegan eating has gone so mainstream, you’ll also find plenty of resources on conventional food websites, like Food Network, Serious Eats, Food and Wine, and even Good Housekeeping.

Finally, we have a lovely recipe for you to try from member Carol Borchardt’s blog From a Chef’s Kitchen. This Thai Red Curry Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup will surely make your clients warm and cozy in these chilly winter months. (Note that Carol offers a choice of chicken broth or vegetable broth. Use the latter, of course, to make this dish vegan.)

Thai Red Curry Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup
from Carol Borchardt
Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons red curry paste (or to taste)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2-inch cubes)
1 can (15-ounce) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups red lentils, picked over
1 can (14.5-ounce) coconut milk, light or regular
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro plus more for garnish if desired

Instructions

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy pot such as a Dutch oven. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until onion begins to soften.

Add the garlic and red curry paste, give it a quick stir, then add the broth, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and lentils. Bring to a boil, cover slightly and simmer until potatoes and lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and heat through.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in cilantro.

MAKE AHEAD: Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool thoroughly. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave for individual servings. FREEZER-FRIENDLY: Cool thoroughly and package as desired. Freeze up to 2 months.

 

Do you have vegan clients you cook for? What dishes are in your repertoire? What were your biggest challenges?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Last week I wrote about a long-time favorite recipe of mind: The Vegetarian Epicure’s Eggplant Soufflé. It caught member Suzy Dannette Brown’s attention. The owner of The Brown Bag Nutrition & Chef Services loves eggplant and decided to add more Middle Eastern flavors–and make it for herself. That same day the eggplant was in the oven roasting and her creative juices flowing. Suzy added caramelized red onions, Mediterranean oregano, substituted grated parmesan for fresh sheep feta (love this idea), cow’s milk for almond milk, and oats for wheat flour.

I asked her why she made the changes.

“Well, I love roasted eggplant to the point of almost burnt,” she explained. “This is why I roast it till it is collapsing. I find it is easier if you cut it in half versus leaving it whole. I prefer this method. The end product is to my personal liking. I know roasting it whole until very very soft other people like better. That is, I think a personal choice. 

“I love red onions so deeply caramelized (just before burning) with brandy. Sometimes you may need more fat in the pan so they do not burn. I use a small red onion. I think red onions caramelize better than their yellow and white siblings. I also prefer the flavor. 

“Putting the two together is amazing.”

Suzy also added the garlic to the roux to permeate the roux with the garlic flavor. Adding in the chopped caramelized onions, she said, darkens the roux. “It’s a quick way to turn it from blond to brown,” she said.

Because eggplant to her is so Mediterranean, Suzy used the oregano and feta. In fact, she suggests using a zaatar spice mix to really hike those flavors.

Finally, she doesn’t drink cow’s milk and so chose almond milk and prefers oat flour to all-purpose wheat flour.

Suzy’s next step is to work with aquafaba (chickpea water found in canned chickpeas), whipping the aquafaba to replace whipped egg whites.

“I love taking traditional recipes and see how I can make them vegan,” she said.

Eggplant Soufflé for 2
Suzy Dannette Brown, The Brown Bag Nutrition & Chef Services

Ingredients
1 cup roasted eggplant, pat dry and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon avocado oil
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/2 teaspoon Mediterranean oregano
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oat flour
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup almond milk
1 ounce fresh sheep feta, crumbled
2 large eggs, separated
Middle Eastern chili sauce (optional)

2 10.5-ounce ramekins, buttered and sprinkled with salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°.

Slice 1 small eggplant in half lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a lined sheet pan flesh side down. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the pulp is soft and caramelized. Cool to room temperature. Scrape out all the pulp and discard the skin. Place the pulp on a paper towel to drain a bit and chop it. Season it with salt and pepper, as needed. This can be done a day in advance.

In a small skillet heat a ½ teaspoon of butter and ½ teaspoon of avocado oil. Add red onion. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté onions on low until they begin to caramelize and turn golden brown. I like to add a splash of brandy to give the onions a bit more depth of flavor.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the oat flour and let the roux cook for a few minutes. Add minced garlic and caramelized onions to combine well into the roux.

Slowly whisk the almond milk into the roux. When the sauce thickens, remove it from the heat and stir in the oregano, feta and the eggplant pulp. Season with salt and pepper. Add the egg yolks and fold in until everything is well combined.

Whisk the egg whites until they are quite stiff but not yet dry. Stir about a third of the egg whites into the eggplant mixture thoroughly. Gently fold in the remaining whites.

Pile the prepared soufflé ramekins. Place ramekins on a rimed baking sheet, place in oven and fill with some warm water (just enough to bing up ¼ inch of the ramekins). Place in a preheated, 400-degree oven. Bake the soufflé about 10 to 12 minutes. The soufflés should be firm to touch but not dry. Serve at once.

I like to top them with a Middle Eastern chili sauce

Are you a chef who likes to turn traditional recipes upside down? What have been your successes? What didn’t work out quite the way you wanted?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

The girls

This week we have a treat for you. As increasing numbers of people are getting involved in the “urban farming movement,” raising backyard chickens is becoming part of the equation. We have a member who not only has her own flock in her Northern California backyard, but is eager to share what she’s learned about raising them. So, here’s Suzy Dannette Brown on her “ladies”:

I certainly am no expert but this year I have been learning a lot about caring for chickens. The first thing I would say about raising them is, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions!” There never is a silly question. Of course, everyone has an opinion, so listen, but do what your gut feels is best for your flock.

How did I get into raising chickens? Well, I’ve wanted them since we bought our home in 2000. I have friends who have chickens and the thought of having fresh eggs sounded great. Dave, my husband, kept saying, “When we level the back part of the lot I’ll build you a coop.” I knew that was going to be a long time coming so I just kept on dreaming. Then last summer my next-door neighbor, who had a flock, moved to Modesto. The first thing I learned about chickens was that they can’t survive a move from one climate to another. So we inherited five lovely ladies. And so our journey began.

Today our flock includes one New Hampshire Red, one Rhode Island Red, two Black Sex-Links, and our newest one, an Americana. And the eggs we get from them are marvelous. The two reds lay brown extra large to jumbo eggs. The Black Sex-Links lay medium to large brown eggs. And our Americana lays blue or green eggs. And, by the way, if you’re going to raise chickens you must have at least two; they’re flock animals and won’t thrive alone.

I love raising my ladies; they are fun and bring me joy. People say chickens are not that smart. I will argue that they are very smart, at least about some things. For instance, they have a sophisticated flock hierarchy that involves eating order and leadership while roaming the yard—hence the phrase “pecking order.” I learned quickly that the sweetest hen you have can become the BIGGEST BITCH to new flock members. So properly introducing hens and chicks into the flock is so important.

For information on introducing new hens, chicks, and pullets to your flock go to the website Fresh Eggs Daily, a blog/website that is packed full of useful  information that is very simple to follow. They espouse the strategy of isolate, segregate, acclimate, and integrate. This is how I introduce new members now. In fact I am now trying to introduce my eight-week-old chick, the Americana, to the hens. We are in the segregation portion of the process. I am thinking maybe this weekend I will integrate her with the ladies. She seems ready, and a little lonely.

Amelia (aka Peep Peep)

Amelia (aka Peep Peep)

Feeding the Ladies
So, what do I feed the hens?

Well, as a personal chef you know I’m going to give them nothing but the best. I bring all my veggie scraps home for them to eat.

Chickens LOVE:

  • Herbs
  • Lettuce
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach, kale, chard
  • Pumpkin/Squash seeds
  • Sweet potato skins

I give them fresh veggies every day. They also get a mix of organic laying pellets, a natural supplement to help the hens molting, mealworms and dried crickets, scratch blend (organic scratch, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit), and oyster and egg shells.

Once the little peep peep is integrated with the flock the laying pellets will stop for 14 weeks and they will get organic grow crumble since lay pellets have a high calcium content that chicks shouldn’t eat.

And, they always need fresh water.

To Name or Not To Name?
Well we tried not to name the ladies for the longest time. But then something happened. We would be talking about the chickens and could not differentiate between them. So now they have names, but we truly don’t consider them pets. However, I warn you. Chickens are livestock; the elements will kill them. Predators will take them. It happens and there is no way around it. I had a coyote take two and a neighbor dog take two.

So, even with that in mind, we have Sarah, Rhoda (of course), Phyllis and Flo, and Amelia, our new Americana peep peep.

How to Protect Against Intruders
I don’t have a fenced yard so I have to keep an eye on them when they’re let out of the hen yard—our enclosed open area attached to the hen house—to roam free. But I also have strategies in place to protect them, even when they’re in the hen yard, that I highly recommend.

I find that sprinkling cayenne pepper all around the outside of the hen yard and  house is effective. Skunks, raccoons, and some other rodents don’t like the smell and will stay away. This won’t guard against coyotes, however. They will stalk your house to learn your routine. So you have to be smarter than them and make sure that your chickens are completely enclosed when you’re not around to watch them.

If snakes are an issue in your area, you need to make sure that your fencing holes are less than one inch in diameter. Snakes will take the eggs and the chicks.

Coop

Rats and mice are a part of chicken raising. Rodents stress the chickens, will steal the eggs, and may harm your hens. I’m still working on how to eliminate this threat, but here are a few tips:

  1. When building your hen house and safe hen yard place one-quarter-inch metal fabric down as a foundation and make sure you run it up on the foundation board. This will keep the rodents from burrowing under the yard.
  2. Around the entire bottom of the fencing place the same metal fabric all around. This will help keep rodents and other intruders out of the hens’  safe zone.
  3. Keep your hen yard clean of debris. I rake the yard once a week to keep  uneaten food out of the yard. This will attract the rodents.
  4. NEVER leave food out; when I first got my hens there was a hanging feeder full of pellets. That is just a 24-hour buffet for the rodents. Only put out what the chickens will eat that day.

These things won’t totally stop the rodents but it will help keep them away. I live in the forest; this is part of my life.

Of course, there is another means of protection: get a cat!

Chicken Hawks and Other Birds of Prey, Plus Weather
Our current hen yard is covered, not only with chicken wire but also with opaque filon panels. We will be adding an unpaneled yard so the hens can bathe and bask in the sun. It is important that they have sunshine, and they like to look up in the sky to check for predators. But be sure to keep it covered with chicken wire.

Chickens don’t like mud and puddles, so make sure you have a dry spot for them during wet winter weather.

We’ve spent a lot on the hen house and caring for the ladies. We will never get that back in eggs. The joy these ladies bring our family is spectacular. I am having fun. Dave loves gathering the eggs and seeing who laid today and who didn’t. Watching the hierarchy is amazing. They play follow the leader, which  is funny to watch. The hens are sweet and some of them love a good butt scratch and neck rub. But the chicken bath is my favorite thing to watch.

Until next time! Be happy with your chickens!

Eggs

APPCA member Suzy Dannette Brown is the owner of The Brown Bag Personal Chef. She lives and works in Northern California.

Do you have chickens? Do you want to raise chickens and have questions for Suzy? Be sure to leave a comment!

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

Note: Photos courtesy of Suzy Dannette Brown

When did you get your start in the kitchen? Personal chef and APPCA member Suzy Dannette Brown of The Brown Bag Personal Chef in Felton, Calif., wishes she had photos of herself at age four when she first started cooking. “I come from a long line of cooks,” she says. “In fact, my great grandmother had a cooking show in Montana–long before Julia Child.”

Suzy 1 (2)

Suzy’s first job was as a busboy at age 16 at the Ridgemark Country Club in Hollister, Calif., where she was raised. In less than a year she’d worked her way up to third cook on the line. Ambitious, she manned the snack bar before school, then hustled back after school to cook. On Sundays she’d work brunch, take a few hours off, and then return to run the dinner crew. That stopped when a new chef was hired who didn’t like women in the kitchen.

Suzy's unofficial debut at 16 as a "personal chef"

Suzy’s unofficial debut at 16 as a “personal chef”

While she’d intended to go to culinary school, she did what she thought was practical and ended up going to college for her degree in architectural computer-aided design, or CAD, and then got a series of corporate jobs. But that ended in 2006 and she returned to her true love, the kitchen.

“I decided life is short and I wanted to get back to cooking. I thought I wanted to launch a catering company, but while doing research I stumbled across APPCA. I ordered some of their books. I met Candy (Wallace) and I liked the program. I fell in love with everybody and haven’t looked back. Now I run a personal chef business serving Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Monterey, and San Benito counties in Northern California.”

Long self taught, Suzy decided to take culinary classes at her local junior college and when she took a nutrition class she had her “aha” moment. “That’s when I knew what my direction would be,” she says. Time wasn’t her friend when it came to going the traditional route for her BA, so she enrolled in the Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, which allows her to go to school remotely. When she finishes in December, she’ll be certified as a holistic nutrition consultant.

A variety of Suzy's dishes

A variety of Suzy’s dishes

Building her business didn’t come easily. She admits she struggled for the first few years. “But then it just turned around and exploded my fourth year and it’s been a crazy train,” she laughs. She attributes a lot of her success to avid networking and promotion.

“Networking is extremely important but not all groups will work for you,” she acknowledges. “You have to take the dollar signs out of your eyes and realize that our business is about building relationships first. If you continue to show up and be a part of your networking group and take yourself out of it by helping others, it’ll come back to you. The important thing is to get your name out there and be generous with referrals. Offer to do market cooking demos. Donate dinners at fundraisers.”

Suzy loves being a personal chef mostly because she likes the people she works for. “I enjoy visiting with them and being a part of their family–because in doing this work I become an extended part of the family. I appreciate helping clients with dietary needs and restrictions. That’s why the nutritionist component is so compelling to me. Plus, it’s broadened my spectrum of cooking.

“I love having something different to do everyday,” she says. “Being a personal chef is great because I get to follow my own path.”

Suzy has given us her calzone recipe below:

Vegetable Calzones
From Suzy Dannette Brown
Yield: 3 calzones

Basic Pizza Dough
1 package yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces warm water, 110°
1 cup whole grain flour (I use spelt or wheat)
1cup all purpose flour (I use Einkorn)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
¼ cup of favorite fresh chopped herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, chives)
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a small bowl or measuring cup dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes.

In a food processor pulse flours, spices, and herbs four to five times to combine all ingredients. Add olive oil to yeast mixture. While processor is running pour yeast mixture in slowly and with a steady stream until a dough ball forms.

Turn dough out on a well-floured surface. Knead just enough to combine dough into a nice ball. Rub with olive oil and place in a clean bowl. Cover with a tea towel, place in a warm spot, and let it rise.

Basic Pizza Sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, left whole
5 to 6 medium tomatoes, quartered (I love Kumatos or Cherokee Chocolates)
½ cup Fume Blanc
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (I will use a 18 year)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon or so dry oregano
Pinch or so of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste<
Fresh basil

Rough chop onion and toss in a large sauce pan that has olive oil heated over medium heat. Caramelize onion until golden brown. Toss in garlic and continue to sauté.

Add tomatoes and wine. Deglaze pot. Let tomatoes and onions continue to cook until they break down and a sauce starts to form. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano.

Place tomato sauce in food processor. Add tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, and a handful of fresh basil. Pulse until well combined and smooth. Set aside.<

Note: If sauce seems a bit loose for pizza sauce, place back into pot and reduce down to desired consistency.

Basic Vegetable Calzone Filling:
10 ounces (284g) fresh spinach cooked down and squeezed free of water
12 ounces (170g) artichoke hearts, chopped
2 to 3 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4” half moons, slightly sautéed to help remove moisture
1 large red onion, sliced and caramelized in olive oil
Feta: I use a goat/sheep
Fresh mozzarella, grated
Manchego or any of your favorite hard cheeses, grated

Making calzone

To make calzone:
Preheat oven to 500° F. Divide dough into three balls and roll out into circles. Spoon some sauce on dough. Add enough mozzarella to cover 1/2 of the dough.

Layer vegetables on cheese. Top with an ounce or two of feta and mozzarella. Fold over and seal. Create a hole on the top to release steam.

Brush with olive oil, manchego cheese, salt and pepper. Bake on a pizza stone at 500° for 12 to 15 minutes.

Note: For a client, par cook for about 8 minutes. just enough to get the dough firm. Remove from the oven and let cool. Then package for freezing. They freeze better par cooked than fully cooked.

Calzone5

Last updated by at .