Monday, March 19, 2012

happy st. joseph's day

My family has a dish, sfincione, that my grandmother used to make on holidays, but no one can really remember if it was associated with Christmas or Easter or that we just begged her to make it whenever there was a large group of us getting together. Over the weekend I caught an old rerun of a Molto Mario where Mario Batali prepared Sicilian dishes for St. Josephs Day, including a version of sfincioni.

Aha! that makes total sense, as  my grandmother used to send my father Joseph a St. Joseph's Day card every year. Our house always commemorated March 19th rather than the more widely popular Saint of two days previous.

Mario made his sfincione with broccoli, and more like a calzone, where Grandma made a higher filled bread and used salami and prosciutto and even tiny meatballs, but it is clear that the filling could consist of anything the heart or stomach desires. Here is his recipe, courtesy of the Food Network:

Note: Prepare basic bread dough recipe using semolina flour. I recommend buying a prepared tile baking stone for all pizza and bread working at home. They are available at gourmet shops and specialty chef supply stores. 
1/2 basic bread dough, recipe follows
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound broccoli, broken into 1-inch florets, stems sliced 1/4-inch thick
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 pound fresh ricotta 
Preheat oven and baking tile to 500 degrees F. 
Split dough into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other, and roll out into 2 rounds about 12-inches in diameter, again 1 slightly larger than the other. Coat the paddle with the sea salt. Place the larger dough round on the paddle spread with coarse sea salt. 
In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the broccoli and cook until softened and light brown, stirring constantly, about 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool. Season with several gratings of fresh nutmeg and salt and pepper. 
Smear the large dough round with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Spread ricotta over the dough and smear within 1-inch of the edge all around. Place the broccoli pieces on top of the ricotta, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil and breadcrumbs. Place the second dough round on top and press down on the edges to seal. Poke holes in the top layer. Drizzle lightly with water and some oil and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. 
Basic Bread Dough:
1/4 cup light red wine or white wine
3/4 cup warm water
1 package yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups semolina flour 
Combine the wine, water, and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt, and the olive oil and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible. 
Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have a smooth, firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes. 
After 45 minutes, cut the risen dough into 2 equal pieces and knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rise for 15 minutes. The dough is now ready to be used.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour

It may not be just like Grandma's, but I definitely have to give this a try.

Happy St. Joseph's Day!


march is women's history month — my grandmother gertrude


grandma's list
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