Friday, February 19, 2010
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatball Calzone
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. Firstly, the illustrations. I love these even more having read Molly Bang's Picture This: How Picture's Work （she analyzes lines, colors, shapes... trust me, it's enlightening), but I've always been drawn to the illustrations in this book. I remember flipping through and looking at all the pictures before I was able to read.
The story itself is crafted by our narrator's Grandpa as a bedtime story, and features the far-away town of Chewandswallow. This city is normal in most respects, except that, instead of rain from the clouds, residents get orange juice. Instead of snow, hamburgers and fries might fall from the sky.
There are a few small problems with this - firstly, you don't know what kind of food will fall, or when. And secondly, you don't know how much you'll get. For a long time, residents are ok with this. The weather report would tell you what was for dinner, and sanitation workers would collect uneaten food for the wildlife. Life was idyllic.
But then, the weather stopped being so friendly. One time, they had snowdrifts of cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, and everybody ate themselves silly. Another time, nothing came down but overcooked broccoli all day. And then, the food wasn't just bigger in quantity - it started getting bigger in size, too! The school was squashed under a giant pancake! Meatballs would roll down the road and cause destruction! A giant pickle fell right through somebody's roof! Things were starting to get dangerous... and the residents of Chewandswallow had to decide what to do about it.
I've already ruined so much of this book that I'm not going to tell you what happens. I'm sorry, but you're just going to have to read it.
Anyhow. In honor of this wonderful book - which, incidentally, is one of those that, when people find out I write this blog, people tell me that I have to do something with - I have decided to make a calzone for you today. Okay, yes, I was going to make spaghetti and meatballs. But I did spaghetti with the puttanesca, and it's somewhat predictable. I like to throw a wrench in the works sometimes. So, calzone.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatball Calzone
1 package of prepared pizza dough (this can be found in the frozen section, the biscuit-dough section, or sometimes in the bakery, depending on the store)
1 can of your favorite pizza or pasta sauce
1 lb. of prepared meatballs (fresh or frozen)
1 cup of shredded cheese (I used "Italian Blend")
1 small tub of ricotta cheese
1. Bring the dough to room temperature and roll it out flat. If you have gotten your dough from a tube, it will be a giant rectangle; prepared fresh or frozen dough in blob-form will probably roll out to a rounder shape. Either is ok. After it is rolled out to the desired size, let it sit for about 5 minutes (this will help it settle and it won't tear as easily later).
2. Preheat your oven to 350 and heat up the meatballs in the microwave; I used prepared, frozen meatballs, with 16 meatballs to a pound, and heated them according to the package instructions. After they have been warmed up, cut them into roughly bite- or two-bite-sized pieces.
3. Mentally divide the dough in half. On one half, spread a thin layer of the pizza sauce. Sprinkle on the cheese, then top with the meatballs. Scoop ricotta from the tub and drop at random intervals over the other toppings.
4. Once your toppings have been added, fold the un-topped half of the dough over the toppings, and pinch the crust together to make one large mound of goodness. Brush on a little olive oil (I actually used olive oil cooking spray) to promote browning, and cut a few slits in the top of the calzone so it doesn't explode.
5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (you'll know when it's done, because it will be golden brown and your house will smell amazing). Let it sit for a couple minutes, then slice up and enjoy. You can use the pizza sauce you didn't use inside the calzone for dipping in.
Here are a few photos for you. This is how it will look when it's just out of the oven - perhaps not the prettiest thing ever, but still.
When sliced, you can see the layers inside. Oooh, that's good stuff.
And lastly - yes, that is my hand in the first photo. And my lovely plaid pajamas. You're welcome.