Archive for December, 2012

December 11, 2012



Four vol-au-vents,
Three duck spring rolls,
Two for one Pringles,
And a Tex-Mex snack banquet!

Or so the TV ad breaks tell me I ought to be serving people, because Christmas is coming so suddenly their stomachs don’t care what lands in them.

I don’t know about you, but I like most people too much to feed them an oven-ready variety pack of items that look like deep-fried used tissues. Instead, for a simple but highly effective substitute that takes only a few minutes to prepare, may I recommend stromboli.

I made it the other night and my friends went absolutely apeshit for it, even though it is essentially a classy version of a McCain’s Pizza Roller.

Stromboli sounds Italianate, but my Italian friend Rachele says it was invented by Americans. She doesn’t know why they named it after the volcanic island Stromboli, so I venture a guess that it’s because stromboli erupts with volcanically hot cheese if you’re not careful.

Here’s the recipe, which should make one a bit bigger than a Pringles tube or about the size of Santa’s calf.


For the dough:
225g strong white bread flour
7g quick yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1tbsp dried herbs – I usually use some combination of thyme, rosemary and/or oregano
filling – see below

To make the dough:
• In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt and herbs. Make a well in the centre and pour in 150ml (1/4 pint) warm water and 1tbsp olive oil. Stir together.
• Tip out onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes until smooth.
• Return to the bowl, cover with a tea towel, then leave it in a warm place to rise for a couple of hours or longer until such time as you need it. You don’t have to knead it a second time, but if you pass by, punch it down in the bowl.

While it’s rising, decide a filling. You could try:
• one torn mozzarella ball, five or six slices of ham and a couple of cubic inches of grated gruyere or cheddar
• a mozzarella ball, 500g chopped fried mushrooms, torn sage
• a paste of slow-roasted tomatoes with garlic, capers and black olives (one of my favourite flavour combos AND vegan-friendly!)
• roast onions, gorgonzola, pine nuts
• or any combination of ingredients that would be at home on top of a proper pizza ie NOT PINEAPPLE YOU MONSTER.

To assemble:
• Heat the oven to 200c.
• Use the heels of your hands to gently stretch the dough out into a square about 1/4 inch thick. Use a rolling pin if you need, and if holes appear, pinch them together.
• Distribute the filling evenly over the square, leaving about an inch margin on all sides.
• Roll up into a bolster shape. Pinch the edge shut and place on a baking tray. Brush with beaten egg if you want it to be shiny. Mine remained matt, which ruined nothing.
• Bake for 40 minutes or so until puffed-up and brown.
• Leave to cool for a few minutes then slice and serve. The slices will look like spirals. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo as proof.
• Enjoy the the fact that everybody thinks you put in far more effort than you did.

Incidentally, you can use the same dough recipe for pizza or focaccia:

For pizza, just leave it to rise for as long as possible – you could make it in the morning then use it in the evening – so when you come to cook it the crust will be very snappy.

For focaccia, leave to rise for 45mins-1 hour, then shape it into a roundish square or squarish round 1 inch thick on a baking tray and leave to rise for another 30ish minutes. Just before baking at 200c, poke it with your finger all over the top and drizzle olive oil into the holes, sprinkle with more herbs and salt flakes, and bake for around 30 minutes.
You could also add chopped olives, onion, capers, roast garlic etc during the poking stage.