Friday, February 19, 2016

Garlic Smelts, Fresh Basil and Mushroom Pizza

     Gourmet Pizza!
     A pizza can be made from scratch in 2 to 3 hours.  If the dough is made ahead of time, then it only takes 25 minutes to make pizza.  Pizza dough can be refrigerated in a sealed container for 2 to 3 days.  When planning meals ahead of time, making a batch of pizza dough is the way to go, especially when a craving for a gourmet pizza strikes!
     Lake Smelts on a pizza?  Sure!  Smelts have a clean delicate whitefish flavor.  Garlic Smelts actually are a nice gourmet pizza topping.  Arranging the toppings in a way that creates eye appeal is easy to do when Lake Smelts are featured.
     When making gourmet pizza at home, money can be saved and guests will certainly be pleased.  I walked into a local pizza shop yesterday and the first words out of the shop owner's mouth was the prices on the menu went up by $2.  Paying $21 for a small 12" pizza with 2 toppings sounded like a rip-off, so out the door I went.
     Today's gourmet pizza is a 10" to 12" pizza, depending on how thin the dough is rolled out.  The total cost of the dough, sauce and toppings is less than $5.  When considering that the current trend of grossly inflated restaurant prices is taking all the fun out of dining out, making a gourmet pizza at home for guests really makes sense!
     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website:
     • Pizza Dough
     Pizza Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 2 cups.  (Enough for 2 individual size 10" to 12" pizzas.)
     This pizza sauce is like a pizza sauce that is found at an Italian pizzeria. 
     Do not heat or cook a pizza sauce!  Classic Italian pizza sauce is a cold mixture.
     Step 1:  Place 1 3/4 cups of imported Italian canned crushed tomatoes into a mixing bowl. 
     Add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of oregano.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of sea salt and black pepper. 
     Step 2:  Whisk till the ingredients are blended together.
     Chill the sauce for 1 hour, so the flavors meld. 
     Garlic Smelts: 
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small pizza.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic just starts to turn a golden color. 
     Step 2:  Add 6 to 8 Lake Smelts.  (Smelts vary in size.)
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté the smelts till they are fully cooked.  (This only takes about 1 or 2 minutes.) 
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the pan of Garlic Smelts aside.  
     Garlic Smelts, Fresh Basil and Mushroom Pizza:
     This recipe yields 1 individual size 10" to 12" pizza.
     This gourmet pizza needs to be baked in 3 stages.
     Be sure to arrange the toppings in a way that creates good eye appeal!
     Step 1:  Coat a smooth countertop with a very thin film of olive oil.  (Just a few drops of olive oil wiped on the counter is plenty!)
     Place a mini pizza size portion of the dough on the counter top.  (A dough ball that is about the size of a softball ... 7 to 8 ounces)
     Press and stretch the dough flat.
     Use your fingertips to gently press the dough outward from the center to form a flat round pizza dough shape that is about 3/8" thick.
     Step 2:  Place the flat pizza dough on a pizza pan that is lightly brushed with olive oil.  (Re-shape the dough if necessary.)
     Step 3:  Par-bake the pizza crust in a 450ºF oven.
     *Bake the pizza till it is only partially cooked and so the crust is still a white color.  The pizza crust dough will rise and it will be firm to the touch.  
     Step 4:  Remove the pizza pan from the oven and set it on a countertop.
     Spoon about 3/4 cup of the pizza sauce on the center of the partially baked pizza crust.
     Use a ladle or a spoon to spread the pizza sauce outwards from the center of the pizza.  Leave the outer crust bare.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiana Cheese on the sauce.
     Sprinkle 1/3 cup of grated mozzarella cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of grated Asiago Cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 1/3 cup of grated provolone cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated Romano Cheese on the pizza.
     Step 6:  Place 10 large whole basil leaves on the pizza.
     Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of thin sliced Button Cave Mushrooms on the pizza.
     Step 7:  Carefully arrange the Garlic Smelts on the pizza.  (Handle the smelts gently so they are not damaged.)
     Spoon any excess garlic and oil from the pan over the smelts.
     Step 8:  Place long thin pimiento strips between the smelts as a garnish.
     Step 9:  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil over the pizza.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese over the pizza toppings.
     Step 10:  Return the pizza to the 450ºF oven.
     Bake till the crust is golden brown and the bubbling cheese just starts to get a few golden highlight.
     Step 11:  Remove the pizza from the oven.
     Slide the pizza onto a cutting board.
     Cut the pizza into 4 pie shaped slices.
     Place the sliced pizza on a large plate and serve.

     Viola!  A great tasting aromatic Garlic Smelts Gourmet Pizza!

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