Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fancy Pants App: Stromboli

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This weekend my big Italian family said goodbye to my Uncle Mike.  He was a man who invented work hard, play hard.  His whole life revolved around his family.  He looked like a mafioso but was a teddy bear inside.  And him and my aunt were a role model for all of us as an example of love and marriage.  They never had a lot, they worked hard, they raised three children, but they were always so happy together and were together over 50 years.

When we were very young, Mom tells us we used to be scared of Uncle Mike with his gruff exterior and tattoos everywhere.  But, as we grew up, we got to know him more than just that and loved his jokes (not all of them kid appropriate), his skills on a griddle (no one makes egg sandwiches like Uncle Mike), and, we grew up with his grandkids - 5 boys who are just about our ages - who adored everything about him.  He was a great man who showed us generations of kids what family means.  In large part to him and my aunt every one of us holds family as the most important thing we have.

One of Uncle Mike's mainstays was his stromboli.  Every Christmas he would make more than last year and every year we would eat it all.  It was impossible to have leftovers.  John and my sisters' husbands have come to love this tradition too and when I think about how much our family has lost, this symbolizes it all.  Whether you called him uncle, or dad, or grandpa, or even great-grandpa.  Or if you are my aunt who for 50+ years has called him her husband, our family is a close-knit group.  To the outside of the world, we are one (just the crust) but inside there are a lot of layers.  Today we're mourning the loss of one layer and although he has left us, he will go on in all of us.  Family is everything.
Stromboli (the secret recipe)*
Serves:  12 (or in my family, 6)
Pizza Dough:
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil (the good kind - don't skimp)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons water

Filling:
12 ounces mozzarella cheese
12 ounces pepperoni
12 ounces salami
12 ounces ham
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Pizza Dough:  In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and 1 tablespoon oil.  Leave for 5 minutes or until the mixture is foamy at the top.  Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and salt.  Mix by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Slowly add the rest of the flour (the dough will still be sticky).  Knead the dough 3-5 minutes with well-floured hands.  It will be smooth but slightly tacky.  Place into a well greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. 

Stromboli;  Roll out the dough into a large rectangle.  Don't let the dough get too thin, about 1/4 of an inch should be the thickness all the way around.  Layer thin slices of mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, salami, and ham.  Season with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.  Then, slowly roll up the dough into a large log.  Place onto a greased cookie sheet.

Break the egg into a small bowl and combine it with the water.  Mix well.  Brush the top of the stromboli with the egg wash and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  Let rise for 20-30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cook 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Let cool about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  You can also premake this and put it in the freezer after cooking.  Slice it frozen and bake it.  Still delicious!  

*As an aside, I'd made this stromboli a few months back for a football party but every time I sat down to write a blog post, I couldn't.  I kept telling John I was just "stuck".  But this morning I woke up and knew that the blog post would write itself.  RIP Uncle Mike - we miss you.


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