Stromboli

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A baked sandwich roll of pizza dough, marinara sauce, meat, and cheese, stromboli is an easy dinner idea that will make your kitchen smell delicious. Working with the pizza dough takes a bit of practice, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. You can vary the meats and cheeses however you like. And if you’re feeding a crowd, just make two of these at the same time.

I learned the hard way that being a baker doesn’t necessarily mean you know pizza dough. The gluten makes it stubborn and stretching the dough requires patience. (You can’t be stubborn if the dough is, too.) The first night I tried to make this, I failed — I was so determined to get the dough into the shape I wanted that I pushed and pulled and ended up ripping the dough, which never got much bigger than the size I started with anyway.

The key, as I then learned, is to take the dough out of the fridge two hours before you need it and to take your time stretching it. Be gentle. Lay it down between stretches and return to it five minutes later. In a while, it will get to the size and shape you want.

Inspiration for this recipe came from Guy Fieri and Bon Appetit magazine. Amounts for the meat and cheese are approximate.

Serves 4

1 lb. refrigerated prepared pizza dough
Olive oil
3/4 cup marinara sauce, plus extra for dipping
2 cloves garlic, minced
Grated Parmesan
2 large spoonfuls basil pesto
3 oz. thinly sliced salami
3 oz. other thinly sliced deli meat, like ham or turkey
8 thin slices mozzarella
8 thin slices provolone

Remove pizza dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

The goal is to get the dough into a large rectangle, roughly 9 x 12 inches, or even slightly larger. With floured hands, start by flattening the ball of dough, then picking it up and holding it from the edges, moving your fingers around the circle, pausing for a few seconds each time to let gravity gently pull down the dough.

Set it down and wait 5 minutes before starting the stretching process again. You will need to do the stop-and-wait about 3 or 4 times before you achieve the right size. Be patient! At some point during the stretching process, turn the oven to 375F degrees.

As your dough stretches, keep in mind that you want it to become a rectangle. Stretch the dough as best you can into the rectangle shape.

When the dough is the right size, lay it on top of a large piece of parchment. (Work swiftly so the dough doesn’t decide to shrink again.) With one of the long edges closest to you, brush the dough with a little olive oil, then spread with marinara, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Top with minced garlic, Parmesan, and a ribbon of pesto going from one side to the other.

Cover the sauce with slices of meat (I had room for four rows lengthwise, 2 rows for salami and 2 for ham). Cover the meat with the cheese slices in the same way.

Starting with the end closest to you, roll it into a log, using the parchment paper to help you roll if needed. Gently pinch the sides together as you go. When you reach the end, gently press down on the seam and turn the log seam-side down on the parchment. Lift the parchment with the log on top onto a baking pan, then bake 25-30 minutes.

Let cool about 5 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut into slices. Serve with some marinara sauce on the side for dipping.

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Hard-boiled Eggs

There isn’t much to say about this recipe, but it’s a basic one that ought to be in your cookbook somewhere. I’ve been making more of these lately so we can dye them for Easter eggs.

1. Wash eggs to be hard-cooked in warm soap and water.

2. Place eggs in a single layer in an enamel, glass, or steel pan.

3. Add enough tap water to come at least 1 inch above the eggs.

4. Cover the pan and rapidly bring the water to a boil. Then turn off the heat. If you’re using an electric range, take the pan off the burner.

5. Leave the cover on the pan. Let large eggs sit for 15-17 minutes; medium eggs about 3 minutes less; extra-large about 3 minutes more.

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6. Heat retained in the water will continue to cook them, so remove eggs with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Cooling helps prevent the green rings that sometimes form around the yolks.

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Notes:
Don’t worry if the eggs crack a little during boiling, because they are still cooked and perfectly edible. If you dye them, part of the egg underneath the shell will be colored, but since most egg dyes are food-safe it won’t matter.

To eat them, tap the eggs gently on a hard surface to make cracks, then gently peel off the shell.

Slice or cut them into chunks, sprinkled with a little salt. Chop them for an egg salad sandwich or crumble them for a salad. Or make them into deviled eggs — see my recipe here.

Grilled Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and Basil Sandwich

This delicious grilled sandwich makes a filling lunch, but it can also be a nice dinner — just add a couple of sides, like oven fries (we like the sweet potato ones) and a salad. This recipe is for one sandwich. When making it for more people, I make an assembly line on the countertop for easy preparation.
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Makes 1 sandwich

2 slices firm white bread (from a ciabatta or good sourdough loaf from the bakery)
1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. butter, divided
4 thin slices mozzarella (from a fresh ball of mozzarella, not the kind in a bag)
2 thin slices prosciutto
3 large fresh basil leaves
2 thin slices fresh tomato, or about 3 slices from a plum tomato
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Melt 1 tsp. butter and brush it very lightly over the two slices of bread. On one slice, stack 2 slices of mozzarella, the prosciutto, basil leaves, and tomato slices. Season with pepper.

Top with the remaining 2 slices of mozzarella. Finish with the other slice of bread, buttered side down.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter with the oil and cook the sandwich until browned. Turn with a spatula and brown it on the other side. Press it down lightly with the spatula.

(The sandwich may also be prepared in a toaster oven, but it won’t come out as well.)

Chicken Souvlaki Salad

This is an absolutely delicious chicken salad that would also be perfect inside pita bread or on some crispy pita crackers. It’s not traditional souvlaki — more like a Greek salad — but who cares when it tastes this good. It’s also super easy.

I made this with chicken breasts I boiled the other day. That’s my new favorite way to cook chicken — it leaves it moist and there is no fat involved. If you don’t have any on hand, it’s easy enough to make: Just boil some water, add trimmed chicken pieces, take them out when cooked through, and let cool.

Makes 4 servings

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless chicken, cubed
3 cups cubed, peeled cucumbers (2-3 cucumbers)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 black olives, pitted and chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated peeled cucumber
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
Salt and black pepper

Combine first seven ingredients (garlic through chicken breast) in a large bowl. Mix in cucumber, onion, feta, olives, and tomatoes.

In a separtate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then pour over chicken mixture and toss well.

Luxury Tuna Salad

The phrase “tuna salad” probably doesn’t conjure up images of luxury, but this recipe may change that. I happen to love tuna salad — not just for the taste, but also because it can be healthy and adapted in various subtle ways. This is a great example.

I made this recipe last night for the first time in a while and was reminded of how delicious it is. I ate it on top of toasted wholemeal bread, but it could also be good on crispy lettuce leaves or as part of a sandwich. If you use fat-free mayonnaise, it also fits perfectly with a low-GI or Weight Watchers diet.

It’s so easy to make that it’s also worth noting this makes a good appetizer, put in small spoonfuls on crackers or in the crevices of celery sticks.

Makes enough for 4-6 sandwiches, depending on how much you fill them with.

3 celery stalks
4 canned artichoke hearts, either in water or marinade, but well drained
1 can tuna, in water or brine, well drained
3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. mayonnaise
Mustard powder to taste

Dice the celery and put it into a bowl. Chop the artichoke hearts into eighths, then cut each slice in half and add it to the celery (you want slightly bigger chunks than the celery, but not too big). Add the tuna, mayonnaise, and mustard powder. You probably won’t need salt and pepper, but taste to be sure.