The Great Stromboli

One of my favorite nutrition classes in NCNM’s Master of Science in Nutrition program is aptly named, Culinary Skills. I love this class because…

  1. It is a wonderful break from the sometimes mundane studying required to achieve a Master of Science in Nutrition. I get to participate, stand (as opposed to sitting in a lecture), be physically involved and eat yummy food.
  2. Each week in Culinary Skills, we learn basic kitchen and cooking techniques being taught by the lovely and wonderful professional chef, Lauren Chandler.
  3. It is a hands-on course with the intention of helping students to develop a solid foundation of kitchen essentials so that we can then promote culinary proficiency and to better help our clients.

This class allows me to pretend, for one incredible moment, that I am enrolled in cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu.

Each week we cover different kitchen and cooking-related topics, such as…

Week One: We began with learning the importance of Mise en Place, “all things in their place.” Mise en Place is a highly valued concept that refers to the necessity of when working in a kitchen to remain organized and properly prepared for the meal preparation ahead.

Week Two: We journeyed into the realm of learning about Mother Sauces. And then we taste tested our sauces while taking note of the acute and subtle differences of flavors, textures and techniques created by sautéing, steaming and blanching vegetables such as carrots, cabbage and broccoli.

Week Three: VEGGIE WEEK. We baked veggies, roasted veggies, broiled veggies and braised veggies.

Week Four: We were visited by the co-owner and pastry chef, Annie Moss, of Seastar Bakery.

Annie described the virtues of grains and her lifelong experience leading to a love affair with local, whole grains. We baked butternut squash granola and butternut squash muffins. Everything was perfectly moist, crunchy where it needed to be and, simply delicious. A fun fact I learned is that one way to keep honey from sticking to a measuring cup is to use a fat to lubricate the cup, or container, first – and then the honey will drip right out into your batter!

NEXT, OUR HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:

Bake a bread or pastry of your choice, that includes a leavening agent, and create an instructional blog post detailing the process in words and in photos, that is appropriate to share with a client.”

I chose to make a Stromboli.

WHY, you may ask? Pretty simple reason: I will be moving back to Philly in December and hence, the Stromboli just felt appropriate. It is a food that not all clients will be able to enjoy because of its incredibly high gluten-content, but for those with no food restrictions; it is my pleasure to present to you my journey of baking a homemade Stromboli.

BEFORE we begin and out of respect to the Stromboli, I would like to take a moment to reflect on:

A Brief History of the Stromboli

ACCORDING to an article written by Nick Vadala in Philly.com, the creation of the now incredibly popular Stromboli birthed from the genius mind of Nazzareno Romano back in 1950.  Romano’s Pizzeria, established in 1944 in Essington, Pennsylvania (a neighboring town of Philadelphia) is a family-owned and run local pizzeria.

Who Created the First Stromboli?

WHILE many pizzerias around the USA like to make a claim to fame for the creation of the Stromboli, the most reliable Stromboli legend leads us back to Romano’s Pizzeria. In 1950, Nazzereno “Nat” Romano came up with an undisclosed and perfected recipe for bread dough. He filled the dough with a variety of Italian cheeses and meats. The dough then was rolled into a log-shape and baked to perfection. Homemade marinara was served on the side for dipping the sandwich into, and completed this new dish.

FUN FACTOID: THE PLURAL OF STROMBOLI IS STROMBOLI!”

How Did the Stromboli Get its Name?

CUSTOMERS of Romano’s Pizzeria were hard pressed to learn the name of this new and delicious sandwich. William Schofield, a close friend of Nat’s, had the final say. He was an avid fan of the 1950’s film starring Ingrid Bergman, called “Stromboli,” (directed by Roberto Rossellini).  And from all this excitement, a traditionally meat and cheese-filled hot decadent sandwich was forever dubbed the “Stromboli”.

AND LET’S GET ONE LAST THING STRAIGHT HERE

THE STROMBOLI IS NOT A FOLDED PIZZA

A Folded Pizza Example

A Folded Pizza Example

A FOLDED PIZZA IS CALLED A CALZONE, WHICH OFTEN GETS MISTAKEN FOR STROMBOLI

A True Calzone

A True Calzone

THE STROMBOLI IS A “SANDWICH.” END OF STORY.

And Now Onto: The Making of the Stromboli…The Ingredients:

For the Dough: 

  • 1 1/2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 cups flour for the dough
  • 1 cup flour to keep the dough from sticking to the table when you roll it out
  • A couple tablespoons of softened butter

 

I didn't actually use any EVOO, but it happened to make its way into the photo shoot!

I didn’t actually use any EVOO, but it happened to make its way into the photo shoot!

THE INSIDE OF THE STROMBOLI IS TRADITIONALLY FILLED WITH…

  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 lb pepperoni, sliced
  • 1/2 lb ham, sliced

*feel free to get creative and stray from the traditional Stromboli norm

Ham, Pepperoni and Shredded Mozzarella are the keys to a traditional Stromboli.

Ham, Pepperoni and Shredded Mozzarella are the keys to a traditional Stromboli.

TO MAKE THE TOPS OF THE STROMBOLI SHINY:

USE 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water, whisked

whisking away with a spoon! (a fork would've worked better...)

whisking away with a spoon! (a fork would’ve worked better…)

MARINARA TO DIP YOUR STROMBOLI INTO ONCE IT IS DONE AND READY TO EAT 

16 ounces tomato sauce (or make your own! I used store-bought San Marzano Marinara Pasta Sauce to save time)

Deliciousness in a Jar! If you are going to buy your marinara in a jar, get a high quality product. Higher quality may equal higher cost but it will also equal higher nutritional content, less toxic ingredients, and a much higher flavor quality

Deliciousness in a Jar! If you are going to buy your marinara in a jar, get a high quality product. Higher quality may equal higher cost but it will also equal higher nutritional content, less toxic ingredients, and a much higher flavor quality.

 

FUN FACTOID: Some Stromboli makers like to put the marinara sauce into the Stromboli before it gets baked. This may cause the dough to be soggy on the inside of this heavenly sandwich.

 And Now, How it’s Done:

First: Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Yeast are amazing! By fermentation, the yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae converts carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and alcohols – for thousands of years the carbon dioxide has been used in baking and the alcohol in alcoholic beverages.

Yeast are amazing! By fermentation, the yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae converts carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and alcohols – for thousands of years the carbon dioxide has been used in baking and the alcohol in alcoholic beverages.

The yeast is being activated by the H20 molecules and a chemical reaction is happening!

The yeast is being activated by the H20 molecules and a chemical reaction is happening!

2) Next add sugar

3) Then mix in 1/2 the flour and salt. Blend well until thoroughly mixed.

Adding the Flour and Salt

Adding the Flour and Salt

Add: The rest of the flour and continue mixing.

I blended by hand...you may want to use an electric mixer or spatula though!

I blended by hand…you may want to use an electric mixer or spatula though!

Getting ready to flip dough mix onto floured board

Getting ready to flip dough mix onto floured board

Flip the dough out of the bowl onto the table (sprinkled with flour) and knead until completely blended together.

4) Place the dough in a buttered bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm room for 1.5 to 2 hours and allow to fully rise.

Buttering the bowl up

Buttering the bowl up

The Dough is in the buttered bowl, covered, and given time to rise

The Dough is in the buttered bowl, covered, and given time to rise

5) Once the dough has risen, punch it down.

The dough has risen!

The dough has risen!

Punching the dough down after it has risen

The best part: Punching down the dough!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 

6) Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into 6-12 balls, depending on how big you would like your Stromboli to be.

7) Roll out the dough balls on a flour-covered board (to prevent from sticking). Place a couple pieces of ham, pepperoni and the shredded mozzarella on the rolled out dough pieces.

rolled out dough

Adding the Fixin's

Looks weird, like a sunny-side-up egg right now. And I totally forgot to put flour down on the board. Whoops!

9) Fold the dough over, closing in the meats and cheeses (or whatever ingredients you choose) inside and pinch the edges tightly closed.

The Closed Stromboli

This was one of my better examples…

10) Place closed Stromboli onto a greased pan, brush the tops with egg white and water mixture, and place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Baking away! My kitchen smelled delicious.

Baking away! My kitchen smelled delicious.

11) Serve Hot and enjoy Stromboli with a side of heated marinara for dipping the sandwich into.

The final product: my first homemade Stromboli! And my first time baking with a leavening agent (yeast). Very rewarding. Now, time to eat!

The final product: my first homemade Stromboli! And my first time baking with a leavening agent (yeast). Very rewarding. Time to eat!

The author of this blog, Brenda Levin, would like to thank Tonkcats from Food.com for her Stromboli recipe inspiration: http://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-stromboli-3230. Brenda Levin also acknowledges that her kitchen photography is not the greatest, due to using her iPhone camera which was covered in grease and flour the whole time. Please excuse the not-so-appetizing images.

You may also like

6 comments

  • Susan Levin November 11, 2015   Reply →

    Wow! What an amazing undertaking! Working with yeast is, in itself, an adventure, and all those ingredients can be a challenge.

    I am very sad that I cannot eat this, being GF, but I sure can appreciate how delicious it must be (from previous experience).

    I loved reading your process and learning of the history of the Stromboli.

    • Brenda Levin November 17, 2015   Reply →

      Thanks mom 🙂 Maybe we can make a blogpost about how to make a delicious Challah next!

  • Patrick November 17, 2015   Reply →

    wow…i am hungry!!! looks and sounds wonderful!
    P.S. I recommend you make a breakfast stromboli – they are YUM

    • Brenda Levin November 19, 2015   Reply →

      Hi Patrick 🙂 Do you make egg and cheese breakfast Stromboli? I am curious to know what kinds of ingredients you use? Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  • Tisha Nickenig April 8, 2017   Reply →

    YUMMMM!!!! Can we make one soon???? And what an interesting history lesson!

    • Brenda Levin April 10, 2017   Reply →

      Absolutely – it was so fun and we can get creative. This would be a fun activity for us to do on a rainy day!

Leave a comment