Sometimes I have a little extra time….not very often, but when I do, I put out the word to my regulars that I will have Ranch dressing on the shelves. What makes this dressing wonderful, versatile and delicious is the fact that it’s based on buttermilk and that it has one of those amazing annual herbs, fresh dill leaves, in it. You either love or hate fresh dill…there’s no in between. To me, there’s something very special with most of the tender annual herbs. It’s because they make you wait, and then when they appear we can all rejoice in their specialness. These days it’s possible to get all the tender annual herbs year round, but they don’t taste the same as when they are in season and picked growing naturally as opposed to forced. Anyway, this dressing is brilliant as a dip, spooned over baked or steamed potatoes, with fresh asparagus, cucumber salad and it also marries very well with fish.
We are very lucky in Kilkenny to have the locally produced Goatsbridge Trout…such a wonderful product perfect on its own, but also delicious made into a calzone, as I stumbled upon doing for the Knockdrinna café a couple years ago. I knew as I was inventing it, that I would be making it again and again for years to come, because it ticks all the satiating buttons. You know- when you need the salty, oily fish with the lemon and the dill, and you want the pastry, (but you want it light), and you need your salad too. It doesn’t take long to make, in fact you make several when you make them…so you’ll have left-overs in the fridge (big bonus)…but I would say take the time to reheat them and serve them warm. They’re nice cold, but what’s ‘nice’ when you can have wonderful? Trust me …warm them.
One of the usual drawbacks of eating trout is the tiny bones. Mags Kirwan, of Goatsbridge, has that one sorted. They have a special pin-boning machine, and I for one, have yet to encounter a bone in their trout. So happy days. Take one package of the trout and flake it into a bowl with 200 grams cream cheese, 2 Tablespoons each chopped fresh dill, finely chopped red onion, chives or scallions and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice. Grate or press 1 very large clove garlic into the mix and combine well. This is also really nice with some chive flowers in the mix if they happen to be out and about. Season with Sea salt and black pepper to taste (it won’t require much salt, as the trout is salted…so make sure to taste).Cover, and set aside in the fridge while you make the pizza/calzone dough.
For my pizza dough (This amount makes 2x 10″ pizza bases, or approx. 6 or 7 calzones…depending on how large you like to make them): 500 grams 00 pizza/foccaccia flour , 2 teaspoons dry active yeast, 1 dessertspoon sugar, 2 teaspoons fine sea salt , 2 fl. oz. extra virgin olive oil, 2 fl. oz dry white wine, warm water.
Mix all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. In a large measuring jug, add the olive oil then the wine and then add warm water to come up to the 12 fl. oz. level…in other words 8 fluid ounces of warm water.!! (Just checking to see if you were really paying attention). With your right hand, make a claw shape and incorporated the liquid until the mixture comes off the side of the bowl. You can use your left hand if you like, just leave one clean in case you need to turn the tap on for more water (!!). Then transfer to a lightly floured surface and start kneading the dough (both paws now), until it’s really smooth and when you press you finger into it, it bounces back readily. Pour a teaspoon or so of olive oil into the bowl, swirl the dough around in it to cover it in oil, then cover with clingfilm and allow to double in size. By rolling the dough around in the oil, you’re preventing it from sticking to the bowl and to the clingfilm. A lot of recipes will tell you to oil the clingfilm, but then you need to dirty a pastry brush. Cut down on the washing-up, right? When it has doubled in size (see pic), punch the dough down and begin dividing it into balls a wee bit smaller than a tennis ball. (approx 130 grams). Roll them into rounds and place a heaped Tablespoon of the filling, and more trout, and more dill, if you have some, off-centre of the pastry as such:Moisten the edges of the calzone and fold over into a half-moon shape.Crimp the edges together and place either on a pizza baking sheet, or a baking tray or use a peel to transfer onto very hot pizza tiles. OR GET YOUR HUSBAND TO BUILD YOU A WOOD-FIRED OVEN SO YOU CAN MAKE EVEN TASTIER PIZZAS, BREADS AND EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN…just a wee request/hint type of thingee there. Failing that, and let’s face it, that would take some time- heat your oven to maximum (oven cleaning temperature!!)When hot put the calzones in the oven and mind carefully. It takes about 6-7 minutes to cook these in our Smeg on fan….it shouldn’t take longer than 10 in any oven. Remove from oven and immediately brush with X.V. Olive oil.I like to serve this with quite a substantial salad. Ideally one that has avocado, beetroot, cucumber, etc. Ranch dressing can hold its own with all the above so make it hearty but not interferring of the delicate flavours.One like that would do perfectly. Dress the salad and serve the calzones warm with a little more of my Ranch dressing.