Friday, January 27, 2006


I started my career working in Manhattan. Having grown up surrounded by orchards and dairy farms, I was drawn to the bright lights of the big city like a moth to a flame. I couldn't get enough of the energy and excitement. I spent my weekends in the City also. One my favorite activities were the street fairs. I adored the different kinds of people, merchandise and especially the food. I had to try everything. I don't know how I managed to stay thin.
My mother couldn't cook. Seriously couldn't cook. She either boiled things to death or charred them to a crisp. I didn't know that food was supposed to taste good until I moved downstate and was introduced to a whole universe of foods I never knew existed. The best thing about street fairs was that I could literally eat for blocks and never taste the same thing twice.
I recently came across a recipe for stromboli that transported me back to those heady days. I was a bit intimidated at first but the urge to recapture some of the tastes of my youth spurred me on. Turns out this recipe is surprisingly easy to make. Ten minutes is exactly the right amount of time to knead the dough into the right consistency. It rose with no problem, rolled out into a rectangle with no problem and after layering the meats and cheeses, rolled up again with no problem. One warning - layer the meats first and then the cheese. I did it the opposite way and the cheeses oozed out of the slits!
The author also offers some advice: "One hint, however, the more veggies you use, the more liquid they'll release, so too many veggies can make a somewhat soggy strombolil. Use as many different fillings as you like, but it's important to not layer them too thickly, as this will make it difficult to roll the stromboli".
Verdict: Yum! This one's a keeper.
(Source: )

1 1/4 cups warm water (105 F - 115 F)
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour

Fillings (mix and match as you like)
about 1/2 lb. thinly sliced meats such as ham, slami, turkey, pepperoni, etc.
about 1/4 lb. sliced cheese such as mozzarella, provolone, etc.
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Other Options
thinly sliced tomatoes
thinly sliced onions
thinly sliced bell peppers or roasted bell peppers
chopped black or green olives
roasted garlic
fresh basil

1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional)

Makes about 16 slices

Combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining warm water, olive oil and salt. Gradually add 1 1/2 to 2 cups flour, mixing until smooth. Gradually add enough remaining flour until you have a smooth dough that comes away from the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 minutes, working in more flour as needed. Shape into a ball, place in a greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375F and grease a large baking sheet (if you have a pizza or bread stone in your oven you can forego the baking sheet and bake the stromboli directly on the stone).

Punch dough down and cut in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into a rectangle about 10" x 8". Arrange fillings over dough, finishing with a sprinkling of Parmesan. Roll the dough much like you would if you were making a jelly roll. Pinch the edges of the seam and tuck the ends under.

Cut long diagonal slashes, about 1/2 inch deep, along the top of the loaf every 3 inches or so. Brush top of loaf with beaten egg, avoiding the area in the slashes. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if desired. Bake for about 30 minutes or until bread is golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting and serving, or if you prefer to eat your stromboli cold, cool completely on a wire rack before wrapping and refrigerating.

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