Sunday, March 28, 2010

Waste the Whey: No Way!


The Local Beet has a new cheesemaker, Keighty Alvarez. I'm looking forward to reading more of her cheese recipes. Her first, Lemon Sage, is a variant on ricotta, the one cheese that I have made (other than yogurt cheese, which isn't really cheese making so much as straining). Ricotta is a super simple cheese to make, especially if you pick up one of these home cheesemaking kits from Zingerman's. In my view, however, the best result of cheesemaking isn't the cheese - I can get great cheese at a multitude of outlets in Chicago, I'm a fan of the whey. Substitute it for water, in your bread or pizza dough to give it a real boost in flavor. Fill your pizza dough with the fresh made ricotta and sausage for a Sunday night calzone.

Serves 4

1 cup whey
1 ¼-ounce package yeast
½ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon white wine
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out the dough
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Coarsely-ground cornmeal
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes
1 large clove of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
½ teaspoon good red wine or balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups ricotta
1/2 pound Italian sausage, cooked until just no longer pink

Heat the whey in a microwave for approximately 30 seconds until 110° F. Sprinkle yeast on top and add honey, stir to combine. Let the yeast mixture sit for 5 minutes while it foams. Scrape the dissolved yeast into a large mixing bowl. Add white wine, the flours, olive oil and salt to the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon or with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook until the water is absorbed. If kneading by hand, remove the mixture from the bowl and knead on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, but slightly tacky. If using the mixer, knead with the dough hook for approximately 2 minutes. Remove from the bowl before the dough is completely smooth and knead by hand for a few minutes or until smooth and elastic, but slightly tacky. Put the dough into a large bowl coated with oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven at this time. Preheat the oven to 500° F. Uncover the dough, punch it down and let rise for another 45 minutes.

While the dough is rising, make the sauce. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, preferably in a blender. Finely mince the garlic clove. Heat the oil in a medium-size sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté approximately 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until slightly reduced, approximately 20 minutes. Add vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes.

Cut the dough into four pieces with a chef’s knife or a dough scraper. Press or roll out each piece on a lightly-floured surface to an approximately 9-inch circle. Fill each circle with equal amounts of ricotta and sausage. Fold in half and crimp to seal.


If using a pizza stone, sprinkle a sheet pan or a baker’s peel with coarsely-ground cornmeal. Set the calzone on top. With a flip of the wrist, transfer unbaked pizza to stone in the oven. If you do not have a pizza stone, bake the pizza on a baking sheet. Close oven and reduce the temperature to 450° F. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes until the calzones are browned.

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