{Baking/Vegetarian} ROASTED BELL PEPPER, MUSHROOM & RICOTTA CALZONES … l♥ved ‘em!

“Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?”
Author Unknown
Happy ‘hump day‘!! Am battling the flu and a flu ridden family but seem to have gotten the better of Wednesday. Wordless Wednesdays prove elusive as always, maybe because I have too much to say. For that matter I never seem to make it to a ‘Meatless Mondays post either; guess that’s fine because my food isn’t ruled by days of the week. That said, I make sure the grub is meatless at least 3 times a week, and these calzones proved to be just the thing. The combination of the filling, the depth the roasted bell peppers provided and the yumminess of the ricotta in here was a winner! This is one recipe I shall make often! {By the way, Tuesdays mean ‘Tuesdays With Dorie‘ for me, even though I haven’t had the courage to join the group!}
Saw them on FoodGawker the other day, and something about them stuck in my mind. The very thought of ricotta and bell peppers had me captivated, and I imagined how good they must have been! A trip down to Nummy Kitchen had me sold as she said “Calzones are such a fun dinner and are easy to personalize for the kids and picky husband. This recipe is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food and starts with his basic pizza crust recipe”. So here I am, having made these delicious calzones as soon as I could.

The basic dough is Mark Bittman’s pizza dough. I loved that I could make it the night before and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. Seems to make bread and pizza making so much more appealing. No need to worry about it being warm enough to double rise, done or not done etc? Let it slowly rise in the fridge, while you sleep over it, and wake up the next morning to magically well risen dough! I just love the option. Of course, you can do it the normal way of letting it rise n a warm place for a couple of hours too!
As Andrea writes, Mark suggests using ricotta and spinach, but leaves the options wide open, suggesting the use of pizza toppings mixed with the ricotta. She chose to use roasted bell peppers, and why ever not? These roasted beauties tasted absolutely rustic delicious in there. I went a step further and sautéed some sliced mushrooms in EVOO with garlic and red chili flakes, and added those too. They tasted just wonderful, and me thinks next time I might just double the mushrooms in there. The filling had the most beautiful flavours possible!
Do you make your own ricotta? I made the ricotta at home from a David Lebovitz recipe, and you can too. Do make sure you drain the ricotta well, else you just might end up with soggy calzones. Making ricotta at home might sound tedious, but I assure you it’s not. I made it 2 days prior to making the calzones, and let it drain, wrapped in cling-wrap in the fridge for 2 days. I roasted the bell peppers in advance too, and having done the dough the previous night, I was left with just basic mushroom filling to make, and assembly for the next day! Easy and breezy!
I think these will make handsome little bites for a kids birthday party too, and great snack box fillers! My kids had them for an after school snack, and then later for dinner too! I absolutely loved the option of a vegetarian calzone that would win over a non vegetarian option. Pizza toppings as filling? YES PLEASE!!

Roasted Bell Pepper, Mushroom and Ricotta Calzones

1 recipe Mark Bittman’s pizza dough {recipe follows}

Filling
Adapted from Nummy Kitchen
2 cups ricotta cheese {homemade from 1 ltr of whole milk, 1/2 cup yogurt and 200ml low fat cream; recipe here}
4-5 red & yellow bell peppers, roasted and chopped
1 cup shredded mature cheddar {I didn’t have mozzarella, but this worked great}
200gms button mushrooms, finely chopped / sliced
4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
A handful fresh basil leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil { I used Borges from here}
Salt and Pepper
I got 6 medium sized calzones from the dough. You can even make 4 large ones.

Method:
Heat the olive oil gently with 1/2 -1 tsp of roasted chili flakes and chopped garlic. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté on high flame till the liquid evaporates. Add the chopped bell peppers with their juices and sauté again until dryish. {Not bone dry, but not drippy either, else they will make the calzone soggy}
Reserve in a large bowl until just warm. Now add the basil, grated cheddar and ricotta to this, stir well to mix. Adjust seasoning if required.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Divide the dough into 6 equal balls, and roll out into circles about 8 inches each, by rolling or patting the dough down.
Divide the filling equally among the six rolled out bits of dough. Fold over and pinch the sides to seal.
Bake for about 30 minutes until nice and risen, and brown. {You could give them an egg wash for a rich colour. I just gave them a brush of olive oil}
Cool for 5-7 minutes, and serve. {Be careful when you serve them to kids, as it might have hot air trapped within as they tend to puff up.}

Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough
3 cups all-purpose plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1¼ cups water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Method:
Combine the yeast, flour, and 2 teaspoons salt in the container of a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons of oil through the feed tube.{I did this in a large bowl, using the hand mixer with dough hooks}
Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. {In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour, a tablespoon at a time.}
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Grease a bowl with the remaining olive oil, and place the dough, in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise in warm; draft-free area until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. You can, cut this rising time short if you are in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours. {I made the dough at night and let it rise in the fridge overnight… and how it rose!!}
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
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{Baking} OLIVE OIL WALNUT BROWNIES … darned good bites!

“Other things are just food. But chocolate’s chocolate.”
 Patrick Skene Catling
Can there ever be enough chocolate goodness in our lives? Not a chance, so as promised I’m back with another chocolate recipe. This time it’s Chef  Darren Conole’s Olive Oil Brownie recipe that he created for us to sweetly wrap up lunch at the Borges Olive Oil Meet for Food Bloggers and Critics at the Shangri-La Eros Hotel, New Delhi.
The banter over lunch that day went from the poor pumpkin which is ever so neglected, to Michelin star chefs and food trends in the UK, and then to the chefs cute as a button toddler who turns his nose up on veggies, and can survive on yogurt every single day! Since the meet was over olive oil, Darren had the olive oil brownies served in style, beautifully plated, complete with vanilla ice cream etc. I tragically had to race off as they were served, as I had to pick the lad up after school. Managed to grab the recipe off Darren while at lunch, and he was good enough to pack a serving for me as I left.
About these brownies in the Chefs words, ‘This is an old fashioned brownie. Because of the air whipped into the first stage of this recipe, it comes out crunchy and chewy To make these brownies even more decadent, add half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I can’t eat a brownie without a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you shouldn’t either.”
With more olive oil in a goodie bag from the good folk at Borges, I knew the brownies weren’t far from being made. These are the first bakes in my new kitchen, but electricity played spoilsport and did the number on me 15 minutes after I popped the tin in. They rose beautifully in the first 15 minutes, but then settled back once the power went. It was back in a while though, but they didn’t seem very ready  in 25 minutes, so I ended giving them another 10-15 minutes, with a piece of foil slipped over to prevent extra browning.
The texture was fabulous, slightly different from the one that I had from the batch Darren made. Those were more even and fudgy all over. Mine has this light crisp, almost crunchy top, and the inside was dense and gooey. So delicious that I couldn’t resist nibbling off all the edges. BIG HIT with the kids too. I have a mocha version on my mind which I have to try soon.
Few changes as always … I added a heaped tbsp of Valrhona {yes, it’s still going strong, but have reached the bottom of the bag now}, and reduced the sugar by a 1/4 cup. Will probably try with just a cup of sugar the next time, with a sachet of vanilla sugar sprinkled on top. And yes, I added a few chopped toasted walnuts and they really added to the depth of flavour! All in all, it was a delicious, good looking brownie, which I’m going to be making once again, and soon.

Olive Oil Walnut Brownies

Minimally adapted from recipe by Darren Conole, Executive Chef Shangri-La-Eros Hotel, New Delhi
4oz dark chocolate
1/3 cup pure or light olive oil {I used Borges from here}
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa {I used Valrhona}
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a 11 x 7 x 2 or 8 x 8 x 2 pan with parchment {or spray with olive oil cooking spray. I lined mine with baking parchment.
In a small bowl melt the dark chocolate and olive oil in the microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds. Mix well with spoon. Set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt.
Place eggs, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat well for 5 minutes, until nice and fluffy.
Blend in the chocolate mixture with a spatula. Fold in the sifted flour until just incorporated. Add walnuts and blend gently.
Pour the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle over with a few toasted walnuts and vanilla sugar
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. {mine took a lot longer, so make sure you test if it is ready}.
Cool in pan, and then cut as desired.
Serve with vanilla ice cream and berry sauce.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
I like to give a shout out to to Rob Hrytzak’s who wrote to me a few days ago about Sifted Recipes. Rob’s passion for food and cooking in general has been steadily growing over the past couple of years; one of the main reasons why he started sifted recipes. With this interest, he naturally went to the internet to find recipes and trends within the foodie community. 
Do stop by at Sifted Recipes, where Rob harnesses the power of the internet to let the user community and foodies of the world submit and vote on the latest recipes from around the world, from many different blogs and websites.

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{Food Bloggers & Critics Meet} FUN, FOOD & OLIVE OIL … Bagna Cauda, Aioli, Panzanella & Chilean Sea Bass served with Garbure Catalane … recipes included!

‘The belly rules the mind.’
Spanish Proverb
The Delhi food bloggers got together once again, this time for a meet hosted at the beautiful 19 Oriental Avenue, Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi, with Borges India. Borges is making large forays into the Indian consumer market, trying to increase the acceptability and thereby the adoption of olive oil in Indian cooking, more as a lifestyle change. Olive oils have the highest amounts of mono-saturated fats in the world. Being rich in anti oxidants, the use of this oil helps fight cancer, and increases life expectancy.
The food and critics meet was an interactive session co-hosted by Borges India, Chef At Large and the Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi on ‘Olive Oil in Mediterranean and Indian Cuisine‘. Also present were with Ritika Samaddar, renowned  nutritionist on  the Borges, and Darren Conole, the Executive Chef of Shangri-La. The food sojourn included an open  kitchen format where we could potter around, applying our culinary skills if we so wished.
The meet saw an eclectic mix of Delhi food bloggers and the best food critics, the MD & Marketing Manager of Borges India, as also a nutritionist  and an executive chef! The discussion was thrown open inviting comments about the acceptance of olive oil in India, particularly in the Indian kitchen, its acceptance in India cuisine, how we as food bloggers use it at home etc. Marryam Reshii, a gastronomy writer counted amongst India’s finest food critics, hijacked {in her own words} the discussion in a delightful manner, and set the floor on fire. Her in depth knowledge about ‘olive everything’ was by far amazing; for me an eye opener in many ways. 

LuvOlive’s Photos – Fun & Food Meet

We took off on a delicious note with some delectable Bagna Cauda {also known as hot oil fondue} stirred together by Darren Conole. This fondue is a wonderful hot  sauce from the Piedmont region of Italy. The name comes from bagno caldo which means “hot bath”.  

It is made by combining butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies. The mixture is heated and guests use wooden skewers or fondue forks to spear a variety of fresh vegetables which are dipped and warmed.

Bagna Cauda

Recipe Courtesy Darren Conole, Executive Chef Shangri-La, New Delhi
1.5 liters olive oil
6 tablespoons {3/4 stick} unsalted butter, room temperature
12 fresh anchovy fillets
2 slices of style white bread
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
Assorted fresh vegetables cut into bite-size pieces
1 1-pound loaf crusty Italian or French bread, cut into 2-inch sections
Method:
Blend oil, butter, anchovies, bread and garlic in processor until smooth. Transfer oil mixture to heavy medium saucepan. Cook over low heat 15 minutes, stirring, occasionally. (Sauce will separate.) Season with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce into fondue pot or other flameproof casserole. Set pot over alcohol burner or gas table burner to keep warm.
Serve with the vegetables and bread fondue style.

The Delhi Food Bloggers included Anoothi, Sid, Pamela, Rahul Verma {a food columnist and critic too}, Nachiketa, Apeksha and me.

I soon dumped my camera, and a couple of us poked around in the open kitchen, chopping up some garlic, dipping bread, stirring up salads; the chefs stood by and bravely {read straight-faced} bore our hysterical laughter and noisy chatter! The open kitchen at the event made the meet more fun. The amicable Darren, a passionate chef who hails from Melbourne, kept the session alive. 


Live demos are always fun for foodies and a good way to drive the point home. Darren demonstrated how to poach some Chilean sea bass fillets in a flavoured olive oil, a poaching of this sort was a first for me. We were served the same dish for lunch, cooked to perfection, served over a ‘bursting with good flavour’ Catalan vegetable stew. Amazingly the vegetable stew had the rather underrated pumpkin, which lent beautiful flavours to the dish, and balanced the meal beautifully.

Chilean Sea Bass Poached in Olive Oil with Herbs and Liquorice

Recipe Courtesy Darren Conole, Executive Chef Shangri-La, New Delhi
180gms Chilean sea bass fillets
2lts of Virgin OO
Bay leaves
Parsley
Thyme
Garlic cloves
Liquorice root soaked in warm water
Salt and crushed black pepper
Method:
Place the OO in a heavy bottom saucepan with the herbs, garlic and liquorice root. Season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil to a gentle 170F, just bubbling mildly around the edges, place the fillets and poach for 7-8 minutes until tender and flake easily. Make sure you don’t let the oil come to a boil.
Serve over a Catalan Vegetable Stew {recipe follows}
~
Catalan Vegetable Stew
500gms Tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cut in leaves
500gmd Onion cut in large pieces
1.5kg Pumpkin cut into 1×1 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic
Hand full of herbs
Bay leaves
300 mls of OO / 150mls virgin & 150mls EVOO
Water
Method:
Sauté the herbs, garlic, onions & tomatoes in 150ml virgin olive oil.
Add a little water and allow the stew to simmer until the pumpkin has softened. Don’t let it overcook. Once done, adjust seasoning, pour over the extra virgin olive oil. Serve on a platter with poached sea bass

Lunch began with a Panazella, a day old brown bread salad, followed by the Chilean Sea Bass. There was also the vegetarian option of grilled cottage cheese served over the same veggie stew. The final glory or dessert was charmingly plated Olive Oil Brownies and ice cream which I missed as I had to rush to fetch the lad from an after school photography class. Darren was sweet enough to pack me a serving {sans the ice cream of course}, and I grabbed a picture in the cab. He shared the recipe with me too; will make it soon! It was lovely!

The exchange of ideas, threw up new ways to use olive oil. Interestingly one way to cook veggies Indian style is to add a few spices to cut veggies {squashes and gourds work well here}, simmer covered until tender as the vegetable cooks in it’s own juices. Once done, give it a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and enjoy! Or then like Marryam, sprinkle a crisp ‘roti‘ with sea salt, dip it in EVOO … new ways and all exciting! 
Borges India, a fully owned subsidiary of Borges, has recently launched a diverse range of olive oils in India, including balsamic vinegar. As the company’s core focus is on health & nutrition, and in the wake of lifestyle ailments in India, it plans to throw light on healthy living and healthy options. Olive oil is gradually gaining acceptance in the Indian kitchen as a cooking medium for Indian food, something I would go with completely, but for the prohibitive cost. 
That said, having used different versions of Borges Olive Oil quite often in the past month, thanks to a  bag of product samples from Borges India, I love its appeal. I used it in just about everything from  Eggless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Plum Fro Yo Popsicles, Whole-wheat Chicken Basil Wraps, Ottolenghi’s Preserved Limes, Pizza Dough, Slow Roasted Oven Tomatoes, Olive Oil Schiacciata, Cottage Cheese & Bell Pepper Quesadillas … and then breakfast French Toast /Hot House Eggs,  to everyday ‘zeera-aloo‘, cottage cheese/paneer stir fry etc! Of the different versions, EVOO is my first love!

I am partial to EVOO, and do not mind the deep flavours it lends to Indian food. In ‘economic terms‘ though, I’d rather use olive oil, or extra light olive oil as cooking medium. It is a matter of evolving tastes, and I like to balance EVOO  using minimum spices, letting fresh flavours speak for themselves. It’s a quite revolution in my kitchen, a choice I actively seek to make whenever possible, and love the outcome. My experience teaches me that a little goes a long way, and surprisingly enough, I use a lot less olive oil as compared to other refined oils.

Do you have a favourite Indian recipe that you think works better or as well with this cooking medium? Do you like to experiment? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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