Saturday, December 26, 2015

Portobello, Artichoke, Plum Tomato & Gorgonzola Pizza

     The Pizzas That Inspired Starting A Food Blog!  
     Because of the 2007 economic depression, I had to leave Las Vegas to take on a different occupation in another city.  While being transferred, I lived out of motels for five months while being trained at 2 job sites.  I lived on a company relocation expense account, which covered the cost of dining out everyday because there were no kitchen facilities in the motel rooms. 
     First I was sent to Baltimore, where the seafood and local East Coast style pizza was really great.  Then I got transferred to East Chicago.  There may be some good restaurants somewhere in the Chicago region, but I gave up looking for a good place to eat after getting one bad restaurant meal after another in my end of town.  
     I tried a few local East Chicago pizza shops and the experience was disappointing.  The pizza crust texture at each shop was like eating saltine crackers and it tasted like old cardboard.  The pizza sauce was heavily sweetened with sugar.  The cheese on each of those pizzas was a mixture of imitation cheese and highly processed commercial mozzarella.  The toppings were pre-packaged frozen fast food pizza toppings.  I soon gave up on the local pizza shops because the quality was so low.
     After the 30 day relocation period was over, I settled into a new apartment near my job at the East Harbor Steel Mill.  I decided to start cooking in the kitchen of my new apartment, rather than suffer through more bad restaurant food in the local area.
     The first food that I cooked at my new place was 2 East Coast style pizzas!  One was dinner for myself and the other pizza I brought to work for my fellow office workers to try.  The coworkers liked my pizza and they honestly said it was better than the pizzas at the local Chicago pizza shops.  All I could think of was how that accomplishment was fairly easy to do.

     To make a long story short, I photographed the first 2 pizzas that I cooked at my apartment in Chicago.  While snapping the pictures, the thought of starting a recipe blog crossed my mind.  I had plenty of recipes to share after cooking for more than twenty years in the restaurant business.  If it was not for the lousy restaurant experiences in East Chicago, I probably never would have thought about starting a food and recipe blog.

     I had 2,000 subscribers at my old Myspace Food Blog before transferring those recipes to Google Blogger.  My food and recipes became popular worldwide and recently my original Google Food Blog hit the million views mark.  Now that original blog site got too big and the recipes are being transferred to several new food category websites, which includes this Street Vender Food Blog.
     The success of the food blogging project provided inspiration to resume my chef career.  I ended up doing 4 years at a culinary arts school and the income from the food blog advertising commissions came in handy.
     It is funny how making a couple gourmet pizzas 7 years ago turned out to be the start of something big.  It just goes to show that settling for the status quo will get a person nowhere.  All it took was a little bit of culinary passion to get the food blogging projects off the ground.  To be more precise, all it took was a passion for some good pizza!    
     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website:
     • Pizza Dough

     Garlic Olive Oil:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 small pizzas.
     Heat a small sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of olive oil.
     Add 5 cloves of minced garlic.
     Gently cook the garlic in the oil, till the olive oil becomes infused with the garlic flavor.
     Take the pot off the heat.

     Portobello, Artichoke, Plum Tomato & Gorgonzola Pizza:
     This recipe yields 1 small 10" pizza.
     Neatly arranging pizza toppings creates good eye appeal!
     Step 1:  Cut 1 small portion of dough.  (About the size of a softball or small grapefruit.)
     Step 2:  Brush a light film of olive oil on a pizza pan.
     Place the pizza dough on the oiled pizza pan.
     Pat the dough out with your fingertips, till a round thin pizza dough crust shape is formed.  (About 10" in diameter.)
     Brush the pizza dough with the garlic infused olive oil.
     Step 3:  Par-bake the pizza crust in a 450ºF oven, till the dough is less than half way cooked and so the crust still is a white color.
     Step 4:  Remove the partially cooked pizza from the oven.
     Place 2 thin sliced plum tomatoes on the pizza.
     Drizzle about 3 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil over the tomatoes and pizza.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle these items on the pizza:
     - 2 pinches of oregano
     - 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper
     - 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil leaves
     - 1/4 cup of crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
     - 1/3 cup of grated Mozzarella Cheese
     Step 6:  Place 3 or 4 thin sliced portobello mushrooms on the cheese.
     Place 5 thick sliced artichoke hearts on the cheese.
     Drizzle 2 to 3 teaspoons of the garlic olive oil over the vegetables and cheese.
     Step 7:  Return the pizza to the 450ºF oven.
     Bake the pizza till the crust turns a golden brown color.  (Try not to let the cheese brown!  Gorgonzola Cheese tastes very bitter when it is browned.)
     Step 8:  Let the pizza cool for 1 minute.
     Cut the small pizza into 4 to 6 pie shaped slices and serve.
     The cool looking wine glass in the picture is from the Rio Casino in Las Vegas.  One simply must have some good Italian wine with a gourmet pizza!

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