Thursday, October 30, 2008

Calzones and Pizza

(This is a little long to read, but is much easier to make. I guess I get a little too 'wordy' sometimes)

I made calzones tonight, and they were a hit with the boys and one of their friends. This is the same recipe I follow for pizza dough.

Dough, Ingredients
1 1/2 Cups - Warm Water (110° -115° F)
2 Tbsp. - Sugar
1 - 1/4 oz. Packet or 2 1/4 tsp. - Active Dry Yeast, (Fresh, not out-dated)
1 1/2 Tsp. - Salt
2 Tbsp. - Olive Oil
4 Cups - White, All Purpose Flour

Calzone Directions
Pour the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and package of yeast. Stir the mixture slowly until yeast and sugar are dissolved. Let sit to allow the mixture to "mature" for about ten minutes or so (this is important.) The mixture will begin to react; clouding and forming a foamy "head" on the surface of the mixture. Add the salt and olive oil and stir again to combine and dissolve the ingredients. Add 1 cup of flour and whisk in until dissolved, I use a KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook.) Add the second cup of flour and whisk it in. Add the 3rd cup of flour and combine. By now the dough mixture should be fairly thick. Add the last cup of flour, and if necessary, with your hands, begin to combine and knead the dough.
Remove the dough ball to a tabletop to knead it. You may need to add a dusting of flour from time to time to reduce the stickiness of the dough. Be patient, folding the dough ball in half and then quarters, over and over again for about 8 to 10 minutes, (or about 100 "cycles".) Kneading by hand is laborious, but very important. Better to over-knead than under-knead. You'll know you've done well when the ball no longer sticks to your hands. It will become a smoothly-textured ball slightly larger than a large grapefruit.
Coat the dough ball with a thin layer of olive oil, and place it in the bottom of a large mixing bowl which has also been coated on the inside with olive oil. Stretch a piece of kitchen film over the top of the bowl and set it in a warm place such an as unlit oven, (ambient temperature of 70°F to 80°F). Allow the dough to rise, undisturbed, for 60 to 75 minutes. The dough will have grown to at least twice its original size. Take the dough out of the bowl and cut in half with a knife. You now have two pizza dough balls, enough to make two (2) 12" deluxe pizzas. Take each raw dough portion and hand-mold them into balls. Press each dough ball flat to squeeze and release any air trapped inside. Form the portions back into balls, smoothing the outer surface and tucking each ball "into itself" from underneath, (like folding a sock into itself), before storing or going on with the next step.
If you wish to store the dough, by either freezing or refrigeration, you can place the dough balls in zip-lock bags. Squirt a little olive oil into each of the bags to keep the balls moist and pliable and to ease removal when ready for use. If you choose to freeze or refrigerate: the dough balls may continue to rise until they are substantially cooled down or frozen, which is OK as long as they don't break out of their bags. If they do, mold them back down into balls and re-bag them.

For calzones I use all of the dough, and cut the entire batch into eight equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, I roll out each piece into an oval about 8-10 inches long. Spread the filling longways into the middle of the oval-shaped dough, leaving a space on all sides, this space will be used to attach one side to the other when folding over.
For filling, use whatever you would like, whatever you like on pizza. Tonight I placed a line of pepperoni slices, small ham pieces, mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce (probably a couple of tablespoons.) Don't fill it too much or it will be hard to fold over and seal.
Lengthwise fold one side over the filling and to the other side of the dough. Press the rim of both pieces of dough together and slightly crimp it by rolling the edge over itself.
Place the calzones in a preheated 450 degree oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until nicely browned. I use a pizza stone for this type of baking. When using a stone, allow it to heat up in the oven for at least 15 minutes after the oven has heated up to 450 degrees. The stone is very hot, so be careful and use a spatula or other tool to avoid touching the stone.

Pizza hints
If you have a very large stone, at least 16" diameter, use the entire batch of dough. Otherwise use the dough to make 2 pizzas.
Spread the dough out in a circle but do not put any toppings on it yet. Place on pizza stone for about 6 or 7 minutes in the oven at 450 degrees. It's tricky to get pizza dough onto a hot stone, but here is a trick. I spread the dough out on a separate pizza pan that has been oiled well, then sprinkled with corn meal. The dough slides off easier this way.
After pre-baking the dough, then I add toppings. Top any way that you like, be imaginative!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The BEST fish batter ever, period.

I have tried everything trying to make a good fish batter/coating. I've never really liked too many things I have tried until I tried this one. This was good with largemouth bass, white bass, tilapia and I have used this for deep-frying vegetables and such too. Deep-fried pickles are fantastic when you use this too.

Fish Batter
Any beer will work in this recipe, even nonalcoholic beer, with the exception of dark stouts and ales. Serve with traditional malt vinegar or with tartar sauce.

Enough peanut oil(or canola oil) to deep fry, plus 1/4 additional cup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 pounds 1-inch-thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish) cut into eight 3-ounce pieces
1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold.

Whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt in large mixing bowl; transfer 3/4 cup of mixture to rimmed baking sheet. THEN add baking powder to bowl and whisk to combine.

Heat oil to 375 degrees. Thoroughly dry fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in flour mixture on baking sheet; transfer pieces to wire rack, shaking off excess flour.

Add 1 1/4 cups beer to flour mixture in mixing bowl and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until batter falls from whisk in thin, steady stream and leaves faint trail across surface of batter.

Using tongs, dip 1 piece fish in batter and let excess run off, shaking gently. Place battered fish back onto baking sheet with flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with remaining fish, keeping pieces in single layer on baking sheet.

When oil reaches 375 degrees, increase heat to high and add battered fish to oil with tongs, gently shaking off excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer fish to thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Homemade Sauerkraut

Got cabbage?


25 lbs cabbage
3/4 cup canning or pickling salt


Work with about five pounds of cabbage at a time. Discard outer leaves. Rinse heads under cold running water and drain. Cut heads in quarters and remove cores. Shred or slice to a thickness of a quarter. Put cabbage in a suitable fermentation container (see page 1), and add three tablespoons of salt. Mix thoroughly, using clean hands. Pack firmly until salt draws juices from cabbage. Repeat shredding, salting and packing until all cabbage is in the container. Be sure it is deep enough so that its rim is at least four or five inches above the cabbage. If juice does not cover cabbage, add boiled and cooled brine (1-1/2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water). Add plate and weights; cover container with a clean bath towel. Store at 70 to 75 degrees F while fermenting. At temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees F, kraut will be fully fermented in about three to four weeks; at 60 to 65 degrees F, fermentation may take five to six weeks. At temperatures lower than 60 degrees F, kraut may not ferment. Above 75 degrees F, kraut may become soft.

If you weigh the cabbage down with a brine- or water-filled filled double-bag, do not disturb the crock until normal fermentation is completed (when bubbling ceases). Bags with brine are safer than water in case the bags break. If you use jars as weight, you will have to check the kraut two to three times each week and remove scum if it forms. Fully fermented kraut may be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for several months or it may be canned as follows:

Hot pack--Bring kraut and liquid slowly to a boil in a large kettle, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and fill jars rather firmly with kraut and juices, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process.
Hot Pack processing times: Pints 10 minutes, Quarts 15 minutes

Now that I have posted this and the corned beef recipe, how about a nice Reuben sandwich?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Garlic Jelly ??

Every year when I do my canning I like to attempt to make something different, something I have never made before. This year I decided to use some of the incredible amount of garlic that I grew, and make garlic jelly. Yes, it sounds very strange, but it is really good when served with cream cheese and crackers. This is also the way I serve my Hot Pepper Jam, and it is really tasty this way. I'm thinking that it would go well with a plate of bread, cheeses and olives also.

Garlic Jelly Recipe


1/2 cup fresh garlic, finely chopped
2 cups white wine vinegar
5 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups water 1 (2 ounce) package dry pectin
1/4 teaspoon butter or oil
2 drops food coloring (optional)


Combine garlic& vinegar in a 2 qt. kettle. Simmer mixture gently, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Remove pan from heat& pour mixture into a 1 quart glass jar. Cover& let stand at room temperature for 24-36 hours.
Pour flavored vinegar through a wire strainer into a bowl, pressing the garlic with the back of a spoon to squeeze out liquid. Discard any residue.
Measure the liquid and add vinegar, if needed, to make 1 cup. Measure sugar into a dry bowl. Combine the garlic-vinegar solution& the water in a 5 or 6 quart kettle. Add pectin, stirring well. Over high heat, bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Add sugar,& stir well.
Bring mixture to a full, rolling boil. Add butter to reduce foaming. Continue stirring.
Boil the mixture hard for exactly 2 minutes.
Remove pan from heat& skim off any foam.
Add red, yellow or orange food coloring if desired. Pour jelly into prepared glasses.
Place in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Homemade Salami

I started a batch of this homemade salami last night.
First, I will admit that this is not the same as deli-bought hard salami. However, it is still pretty good. I've made this with venison and had good results with that also.

Homemade salami

Ingredients: 2 cups water
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
5 pounds freshly ground chuck (ground beef is ok too)
5 tablespoons Morton's Tender Quick


Combine water, liquid smoke, spices, and Tender Quick. Add beef and knead with hands, mixing well.

Divide meat into 3 rolls. Wrap each roll separately in heavy-duty foil. Meat will be soft and moist, so be sure to use heavy-duty foil. Wrap foil tightly closed down center and seal ends.

Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Using a fork, make holes through the foil on the bottom of each roll, about one inch apart.

Place rolls on the rack of a broiler pan with the hole pierced part on the underneath. Place hot water in the shallow pan of the broiler, underneath the rack.

Bake in center of oven at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Remove foil and set rolls on rack to drain and cool. Slice as desired. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to ten days, or freeze.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homemade Buttermilk And Sour Cream

I started a batch of buttermilk today. Now this is easy. In a quart canning jar, add 1/2 cup of cultured buttermilk to 3 1/2 cups of milk, whole milk is preferable. Allow to sit on the counter for 24 hours and it's done.
To make sour cream use heavy cream in place of milk.
Save a little from each batch to start another fresh batch, as in making sourdough.
Easy enough eh?

Corned Beef

I discovered how to make corned beef and really enjoy it now without having to pay $10-15 per lb. This takes 2-3 weeks to make but most of the time the meat is just sitting in a brine in the fridge. It's fairly easy though.

Buy at least a 5-6 lb brisket though I have used cheap roasts that I have found on sale. They all seem to work well.
Cut the beef into about 1.5 lb chunks. A 6 lb piece of beef will cut into 4 pieces and can be put into 4 freezer bags with brine added
Place each chunk into a gallon-sized freezer bag.
For the brine, start with a gallon of water. Add one cup of either canning salt of kosher salt.
To the brine add 3 tablespoons of Instacure (also known as pink salt, Prague powder) pickling salt, 8 smashed garlic cloves, and 8 bay leaves.**
Add the brine to the each of the freezer bags, equally distributing bay leaves and garlic. Remove as much air as you can when sealing the bags.
I double-bag each piece of meat, just in case one of them leaks. Or you can place all 4 bags in a large bowl in the fridge.
Place the bags in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. I hear 3 weeks is better than 2, but I usually run out of patience at the 2-week mark. Each day, squeeze the bags slightly and shake spices around to help work brine into the meat.
When you reach the 2 or 3 week mark, take meat out of the bags and rinse the meat well.


Place the meat into a large pot. You can be creative here, cooking it in just about anything you want to cook it in. I usually stick to this basic idea though. Add a bottle or two of any beer. Add a couple of smashed garlic cloves, two bay leaves, and freshly ground pepper. Again, be creative.
Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours, covered.

This is good served in Reuben sandwiches, corned beef hash or with potaotes, onions and cabbage, and many other recipes.

** Fresh bay leaves are SO much better than store bought. Buy a bay tree at your local nursery and grow them yourselves. Here in growing zone 5 I put mine in a container and have to bring it in during the winter.



I have started this blog where I can relate my gardening, cooking and canning that I do here at the Junker Ranch(all .2 acres of it.) to you.
I started gardening about 1985 after I moved to central Ohio from Cincinnati Ohio. After starting a garden, I wanted to preserve my harvest. At first I was just freezing things, but got curious about how to do home canning. I learn while doing, so I asked my friend Chris B. to show me in person. She showed me how to pressure can beans in her home and I was off to the races. I quickly bought canning equipment for both water bath canning and pressure canning. I learned how to make jams and jellies, vegetable canning and fruit canning.
I moved into this house in 1996 and it is now a lot easier to do vegetable gardening and canning. I used to have to travel to a friend's property and bring the produce home. I have a 25 by 40 foot garden, and of course wished I had a lot more. The thought of a 5-10 acre piece of property for growing fruits, berries and veggies appeals to me quite a bit. Oh well. True contentment is being happy with what you have.
I hope to keep current with my cooking, canning and gardening activities with this blog even though we are in the advent of fall/winter. Stay tuned for recipes, hints and the activities that I am up to around here.