January 26, 2006
My husband is always hungry for pizzas. We tend to alternate pizza and calzones especially on weekends. Ordering pizza is big out here. Almost everyday of the week and mostly on weekends, small pizza delivery cars are a common sight, zooming in and out of the neighborhoods trying their best to reach out to hungry and usually impatient customers. There are several pizza places serving our small town. Aside from the well-known chains like Pizza Hut and Domino's, which are also quite popular around Manila, we also have several other local chains like Hungry Howie's, Papa Johns, Mellow Mushroom as well as smaller family-owned pizzerias like Mama Rosa's, Ciao Bella ( this is a good Italian restaurant serving not just pizzas but Italian staples like lasagna, gnocchi, ravoli, etc ). However, our favorite around here is still Merlin's Pizza. They have specialty and gourmet pizzas like pesto chicken, seafood, shrimp florentine, pollo bella ( with portabella mushrooms ) and cordon bleu in their menu. Unfortunately, they don't make calzones, at least, not yet. We make our own calzones now. I use the same basic pan de sal ( Manila's popular bread ) recipe or one of those store-bought pizza crust mixes. The pan de sal dough is just perfect for the calzones. As for the fillings, there's no set rule for it. Our usual is sauteed sliced mushrooms, sliced onions, chopped salami or cooked Italian sausage. I have also tried vegetarian calzones with olive oil in place of the pizza sauce, chopped fresh basil leaves, sliced ripe tomatoes and cheese and also a sauteed spinach and mushrooms version. For the final assembly, pizza sauce is spread thinly on the crust, followed by a layer of pepperoni, then the sauteed ingredients and topped with cheese. We usually add some Italian seasoning, dried basil and red pepper flakes to the basic pizza sauce. There's a limit though to the amount of filling per calzone. Trying to close and seal the dough with the mound of filling can be tricky at times. After sealing and laying them out on the pan, they're allowed to rest again. I make sure that I brush them with beaten egg and sprinkle them with sesame seeds, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes for more flavor and color before baking. Calzones have become a favorite pizza substitute in our household.