Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Stuffed Italian Bread, YUM!

I'll have to say...
its one thing to move to the other side of town
and its quite another thing to move to another state. 
About 6 years ago my hubby and I pulled up stakes and transplanted our roots
from Southern Connecticut
to Northern Maine.
We wanted to buy a house
 and we were never going to get one in Connecticut.

This is our house in Maine.
Needs a bit of work but,
bit by bit...
we'll get it done.

Now,  I'm no dummy. 
I knew that we were in for an adjustment. 
How could it not be when you are going from a place where there are 100 memories around every corner
 to a place where there are none.
I guess we just figured...
Maine is still New England,
how different can it be? 

Well... I am here to say, it was like moving to another planet.

My hubby and I had been coming to Maine for every vacation since we married in 1986. 
 We thought we knew where we were going. 
 Let me tell you, the spot we chose in Northern Maine is nothing like the L.L. Bean Maine we anticipated.
 We are in
 "The County". 
According to Native County residents
 its the "Real" Maine.
The language is a bit different. 
The culture is different. 
The priorities are different.

 The food is different. 

Here is a funny story that drives home just how much I was a fish out of water. 
A few weeks after we moved I was cleaning an apartment for a little extra cash with a local girl whom I had never met. 
 As we worked we were chatting away. 
She was telling me all about her plans to move to a town that was about an hour north of us,
 when she said...
yeah, I moving because my "band" is up there.
 My response to her was, 
Oh, what kind of music do you play?...
 thinking as I said it,
 that we were going to have a nice chat about music.

Well, this queer little look came over her face, like...


Band of Indians, she said. 
I am a Micmac Indian.  The band here is Malaseet!

Well... didn't I feel dumb!

I eventually got over my embarrassment.

I am adjusting to all the cultural changes. 
I love my new community and the "people" are its best asset!

I wouldn't go back to Connecticut now, even if I could. 

There are some things though that I will always miss and the biggest is the FOOD!

Anything and everything that I could ever want was available to me in Connecticut. 
Now, my options are extremely limited. 
I am learning that if I want something that I am missing,
 I am going to have to figure out how to make it myself...
if I can find the ingredients, that is. 

One thing that I really miss is a good loaf of Italian bread. 
 Here in "the County" they prefer a much softer bread. 
 If I go to the store I can find something that is called Italian Bread but...
its not. 
Its like... Wonder Bread shaped in a long oval.

 I have been searching and trying and trying again,
 recipe after recipe
trying to find something that compares to what I am missing.

I think I have found something close enough. 
Thank you Emeril!
I love to make bread so its been a fun exercise.

So anyway,
 today I wanted to make something yummy!
I wanted to use ONLY what I had on hand.
I want to Love my husband and my family by cooking.
In the fridge I had a small head of broccoli that was about to go bad.
  In the freezer I had a half a bag of spinach that was too small to do much with.

Those things got me thinking… STUFFED ITALIAN BREAD!!

So here I go…

Bread Recipe is as follows…


2 cups water, warm
1 3/4 ounces cake yeast(1/3 cup)
Here is a link to a yeast conversion table.
I use instant yeast so I always need this handy when I am trying a new recipe.
5 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
Add all of the above ingredients to your mixer with your dough hook.  I would leave out at least 1 cup of the flour.  It may not need it all.  Start with 4 to 4 and 1/2 cups and let it mix for a while.  Once it has all mixed together turn off the mixer and give it a feel.  If it is very sticky add some more flour until you get a relatively stiff ball around the dough hook.  When you touch it it may be a bit sticky but it wont come loose onto your finger tips. The ball will feel stiff.  Once you have all the flour you need let it mix for 5 or so minutes.  Lift out your dough ball, remove the hook, oil your bowl a bit and add dough back, cover and place in a warm spot to rise till doubled in bulk.
Once it has risen punch it down, remove from bowl onto a lightly oiled counter.  Split dough in half.  Press out to an oval or rectangle.
Add filling. (See Below for suggestions)
Pull in ends and sides and pinch together.
Place loaf, seems down on the underside of a cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal.
Allow to rise...maybe 1/2 hour...maybe less if it is very warm.
Slice top with a sharp knife just enough to break the skin. don't go all the way through to the filling.
Spray top with water and place in a 375 degree oven for three minutes.
  Spray with water again and cook for another three minutes.
Spray one more time and then cook to an internal temperature of 180 degrees or until top is golden and when you knock on crust it sounds hollow.

Remove from oven and move onto a rack to cool.

Serve warm or cold. 

If you don't want to stuff it,
 just press it out, roll it up,
 turn under the ends and place on the pan to rise.
 Right before you place it in the oven slice the top, brush with 1 egg white, lightly beaten and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
 or topping of choice.

 Always spray with water three separate times at the beginning of cooking.
 This process is what makes your bread nice and crusty.

I stuffed one loaf with...
3 sauteed, Sweet Italian Sausage
2 large Cloves of Garlic, sliced thin and sauteed
1 small head of Broccoli, chopped and sauteed
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
Red Pepper Flakes
Approx. 1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

I stuffed the other loaf with…

1+ Cup of Chopped Pepperoni
2 large cloves of Garlic, sliced thin and sauteed
½ bag of chopped frozen Spinach, sauteed
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
Red Pepper Flakes
Approx. 1 cup of shredded Mozzarella Cheese

What you end up stuffing it with is up to you.
Use what you have.
Use what sounds yummy to you.

Create your own.

 I didn’t go to the store for anything.
  I made do with what I had.
I will not end up throwing away the broccoli or spinach.

I have plenty to keep for us and...
Plenty to give away,

with lots and lots of love attached!




  1. this is a real treat! tim had brought some of your stuffed bread to work,lets just say it didnt last long!! kudos peggy!!!

  2. I love your stories! Wish I had some of the bread at this moment for breakfast !! Hugz from the your left coast tribe !!

  3. Pearl Street heard that "wouldn't move back" comment...and sobbed uncontrollably for about an hour!!!! ~ Guess Who
    (not the "band") ;)

  4. Move Pearl Street here :) Rob

  5. I have to agree with my fellow coworkers at Smith and Wesson! It was absolutely AWESOME!!! Im gonna try to replicate this recipe this weekend! Hope it comes out half as good as yours peggy! =o) Thank you for sharing!