Ebensburg’s Lauren Kudlawiec was named the runner-up in the Great American Cookbook Competition on the Monday, May 19, episode of “The Rachael Ray Show.”
Writing a cookbook has been a “bucket list” item for her, but despite just missing getting a cookbook deal, Ms. Kudlawiec said she actually feels as if she won.
“I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and I had a great experience the whole time,” she said of meeting Ms. Ray and other foodies and filming in New York.
“It’s validation that I am a good cook and people like the food I make,” she said Monday after her runner-up status had been revealed to the rest of the world.
And there’s a nice consolation prize: She and her husband will enjoy a culinary vacation in Cancun, a prize all five finalists received.
She already has won some local fame through the experience. WTAJ, a CBS affiliate in Johnstown, has asked her to do a weekly cooking segment on “Central PA Live,” which airs at 4 p.m. weekdays. Her segment will be televised on Wednesdays with a projected start date of June 4.
And given that she’s already got 30-some recipes fully developed as a result of the competition, she still intends to get that cookbook published sooner or later.
The top prize in the competition went to Fanny Slater, a Wilmington, N.C., caterer and food blogger.
Below, we share Ms. Kudlawiec’s stromboli recipe that she uses with her home ec students at Penn Cambria High School in Cresson. She developed it so her basic-level students could learn fundamentals like mincing garlic, sauteeing meat and measuring ingredients. And because it uses whole-wheat dough and turkey sausage, it’s a bit more healthful than standard stromboli.
It’s also the recipe she demonstrated in a video to be named among the 20 semifinalists in Ms. Ray’s competition, so “it’s very special to me,” she said.
Mrs. K’s Sicilian stromboli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces turkey sausage
1 pound prepared whole-wheat pizza dough
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 large slices deli ham
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1½ cups grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
30 slices turkey pepperoni
Tomato sauce for serving, if desired
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Preheat large skillet to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onions and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add turkey sausage and cook until browned and no longer pink. Be sure to break up chunks of sausage to get bite-size pieces of sausage. Remove from heat to cool.
Roll out the pizza dough to fit the length of the baking sheet, about 14 by 10 inches. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with parsley and basil. Lay the ham down the middle of the dough. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the ham evenly. Next, layer on the turkey sausage mixture, Italian cheese and turkey pepperoni. Once the fillings are added, take one long side of the dough and gently pull it over the filling. Repeat with the other side. It should look like a giant burrito. Fold up the ends of the dough and seal edges by pressing lightly. Cut three small vent holes in the top of the stromboli to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until the top crust is golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Slice with a chef’s knife or pizza cutter and serve with warm tomato sauce on the side.
-- Lauren Kudlawiec
Rebecca Sodergren: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @pgfoodevents.