Mini Calzoni

Happy New Year!  It’s a busy and exciting week here in Hong Kong, celebrating the Lunar New Year.  For me, this means not only the luxury of 4 consecutive days off but also the joy of having a friend to stay.  It’s a time for dragon dances and fireworks, but also for the locals it’s very much a family occasion, and a chance (like Christmas at home) for good food and get togethers.

The dish I’m posting about today has absolutely no connection to China, but it’s a treat I often make for our family celebratory occasions, so that seems like a good enough reason to share it at this time.

These little calzoni are just delicious.  They can be a little fiddly to make, and are certainly not good for the New Year healthy-eating resolutions, but they’re an absolute joy for party nibbles.  Deep fried pizza, what could be better?

Mini Calzoni

(from The Vegeterranean)

Ingredients:

375g Italian 00 Flour, plus extra for dusting (I just use plain flour usually)

1 tsp salt

218ml warm water

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra

19g yeast (the recipe advocates fresh, but I just use the sachets of dried stuff)

1 pinch sugar

Filling:

180g cherry tomatoes

1/2 tsp dry oregano

12 chopped basil leaves

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 drops extra virgin olive oil

110g mozzarella, drained and chopped quite small

vegetable oil, for deep frying

Method:

1.  Make the dough first:  combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Create a well in the centre and pour in the water and olive oil.  Add the yeast and sugar, and mix well with your fingertips, gradually incorporating the dry ingredients into the liquid centre until it comes together and forms a dough.  Knead well until it’s soft and elastic.  Sprinkle a few drops of oil over the surface, cover the bowl with a cloth and rest it for 35 minutes in a warm, dry place.

2.  While the dough is resting, prepare the tomatoes.  Halve, deseed and roughly chop them, then place them in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.

3.  After the dough has rested, sprinkle the surface with a little flour and turn it – I do this by pinching part of the dough on the side of the ball and pulling them diagonally across the ball.  When you’ve gone all the way around, cover and rest it for another 35 minutes.

4.  When the tomatoes are drained, mix them with the mozzarella, oregano, garlic, chopped basil, oil and seasoning in a bowl.

5.  When the dough has rested again, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick.  Cut out rounds about 8cm across – I usually cut around my ramekins.

6.  Place a teaspoon of the filling mixture in the middle of each circle – try to make sure there’s a good balance of tomato, cheese and herbs in each.  Resist the temptation to heap the filling in – I did so last time and the calzoni wouldn’t seal properly and oozed out.  This means there’s usually a bit of filling left over, but it’s tasty by itself too as a bit of a salad or side dish.

7.  Fold half the circle over to make a little semi-circle, press down the edges and seal with a fork.

8.  In a large pot, heat enough vegetable oil to deep-fry the calzoni.  Once it’s hot enough to make a cube of bread sizzle, carefully lower the calzoni into the pan and fry them for about 1 minute on each side – you’ll need to do this in batches.  When they are a bit puffed up and golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon on to kitchen paper to drain, and season with salt.  Allow them to cool a little (yes, try to resist gobbling them right down) and then serve.

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