Quick poultry update: We aren't sure what's going on with Fanny. Her "due date" came and went this past Wednesday (we may have figured wrong) and then two days ago one chick hatched and promptly died. We have some theories on why this time isn't looking successful. I'll bring those up another time.
One of my favorite things my parents (my mom and dad almost always worked together to make this) made for dinner while I was growing up was stromboli. It was their version of stromboli. Similar and yet quite different from most Italian restaurants' versions. I think the main difference was that theirs was and is never a greasy coronary nightmare like some stromboli I've had when I've been out to eat. You know how that is. You see something on the menu and you immediately think back to another time you've had that particular dish (when it was so very good) that you just have to order it, not even stopping to imagine how it likely will be very different. This has happened to me several times with stromboli. I don't think I have ever had a restaurant version that lived up to my memories. I just don't like the grease.
Jamey and I were still vegetarians during the first few years of our marriage. I remember thinking I was pretty adventurous to try making my parents' stromboli vegetarian (they almost always made it with venison or beef). It turned out just fine when we used steamed broccoli and carrots. We weren't very adventurous when it came to vegetables yet. Over the years, we have made it again and again using all kinds of fillings. I really don't think you can mess this up.
What I'm about to give you is less of a recipe and more of a guideline. Stick to the basics of it and use your creativity or some of our suggestions when it comes to the fillings.
Stromboli, Our Version
These instructions look rather lenghty. I just went into a lot of detail. Skim these over and you'll come away with the gist.
1) Start with bread dough. Your options are homemade dough (I would suggest a French bread recipe that makes two small/medium size loaves) or two store-bought frozen white (it just works better) bread loaves. If you make homemade, let is rise to the stage in the recipe before rolling it out into loaves. If you use the store-bought (we did this time), set two frozen loaves out on the counter in a greased, covered bowl the morning you want to make stromboli for dinner, giving it a chance to rise until tripled. If you use the dough before it's risen enough, you will just get a flatter, less puffy stromboli. We like ours puffy.
2) Choose and make your filling. I often make my filling ahead of time. This way, all you will have to do before baking the stomboli is assemble it. What works well is a combination of steamed vegetables and meat, or just meat or just vegetables that are coated with some type of sauce. The key is to not allow the filling to get too wet- it will just leak out during baking. Some ideas of fillings are:
~ 1/2 pound ground venison or beef, browned, with sauteed peppers, onions, fresh spinach, coated in tomato sauce (this is what we used this time)
~ cooked, shredded chicken, sauteed onions, spinach or chard, coated in barbecue or sweet and sour sauce
~ your choice of steamed vegetables, coated in salsa or tomato sauce
~ think of your favorite pizza toppings and use those
Set your filling aside, making sure to drain off any excess liquid.
3) Roll out your dough (both loaves worth) onto a floured surface in the shape of one large rectangle, roughly 1 1/2- 2 feet long and 1 foot wide.
4) Choose your first cheese. Cheese slices (of any kind) work best. They make a nice liquid-proof platter for your filling to sit on. You can use american, swiss, monteray jack, etc. A cheese that melts nicely works best. Lay the cheese slices down the center of your dough (length-wise), from one edge to the other, overlapping them about 1/2 inch. You are going for a solid stripe of cheese.
5) Spread your prepared filling on the cheese stripe (if you will). Sprinkle the top of the filling with another cheese, this time shredded or crumbled. We often use mozzarella, but you could use any kind.
6) To finish the assembly, lay 1/3 of the dough rectangle (length-wise) over the filling third. Then, lay the other dough third over the filling third, tucking that third under the far side of the filling third. I really should have taken pictures here- I'm sorry. Basically, you want to end up with a long roll about the size of your initial cheese stripe. Seal each end by pinching them closed, using a bit of water to help make a seal. We use a pastry brush to dampen the top of the stromboli and then sprinkle Lawry's seasoned salt on top. Transfer it to a large, greased cookie sheet, bending it into a "J" if it's too long to lay straight.
7) Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
Do you make stromboli or something similar? If so, I would love to hear what you fill yours with.