Thursday, February 9, 2017

White Pizza ~ Sausage, Spinach, Mushrooms, Shallot & Asparagus

     National Pizza Day!
     I have published several gourmet pizza recipes through the years.  I try to demonstrate that there is more than one definition of pizza perfection.  Basically, the perfect pizza is a matter of personal preference.  The pizza crust in my recipes varies and this is intentional.  Some are thick crust, thin crust, stuffed crust, light color crust, golden brown crust, deep dish crust, soft crust or crispy crust pizzas.  The idea is to show as many crust styles as possible and demonstrate a wide variety of gourmet pizza topping combinations.    
     While attending chef school at Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, we had a substitute teacher on the last day of Baking & Pastry Arts Class.  All the school work was done for the entire class session already, so it was a day with no assignments, other than filling out questionnaire forms.  The substitute teacher had no instructions from the other instructor for the last day of class, so he decided to just make it a free form pizza day, with the goal of using up the last of the food items left in the walk-in cooler.  That was a good idea and the students went right to work making small individual size gourmet pizzas with whatever toppings they could find in the cooler.  
     Today's Gourmet Pizza recipe was one I made in the Le Cordon Bleu classroom that day.  I used no printed recipes for the dough or anything else.  I just made the pizza the same way that I did a few decades before while working at a French café, when Gourmet Mini Pizzas were a hot selling item.
     The ingredients that I chose for the classroom pizza were all fresh.  A basic focaccia dough was used for the pizza dough, but the dough was not allowed to rise more than once and the dough was not chilled overnight.  The oven temperature was not extremely hot either.  The result of using freshly made Focaccia Dough is a soft airy pizza crust that remains a light color.  In fact, the light texture was rather angelic.  
     I also decided on a White Pizza.  A White Pizza is made with no tomato sauce and olive oil saturates the crust.  Vegetable toppings and good quality cheese are best for a white pizza.  Sausage is good on a white pizza too, so it was added as a topping in this recipe.
     February 9th, 2017, is National Pizza Day.  This is the day to celebrate the almighty pizza in all of its glory.  Buying a pizza at a restaurant is what most folks do on any given day, but making a good Gourmet Pizza at home always wins top honors!      

     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website.
     • Pizza Dough
     *Use the Focaccia option in the Pizza Dough Recipe.  To make a soft airy light crust like the one in the photos, only allow the dough to rise once, then make the pizza crust with the fresh dough as soon as possible.   

     Rosemary Olive Oil:  
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small 12" pizza.
     Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a sauce pot over low heat .
     Add 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves.
     Gently simmer till the olive oil is infused with the rosemary flavor.
     Pour the rosemary olive oil through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl and set it aside.
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small 12" pizza.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 4 ounces of uncased Italian Sausage.
     Break the clumps of sausage up as the sausage cooks.
     Sauté till the sausage is fully cooked and it is a light brown color.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat,
     Place the sausage in a strainer to drain off any excess grease.
     Set the cooked crumbled sausage aside in a container.
     Wilted Garlic Spinach:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small 12" pizza.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 4 thin sliced garlic cloves.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 3 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté and stir till the spinach wilts.
     Step 3:  Spread the wilted garlic spinach on a platter, so it cools quickly.
     *The same sauté pan can be used to make the rest of the pizza toppings.  Just wipe the pan clean.

     Sautéed Asparagus Spears:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Place the sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 5 peeled asparagus spears that are about 4" long.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Sauté till the asparagus are halfway cooked and still crisp.
     Set the asparagus spears aside. 

     Sautéed Mushrooms and Shallot:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Place the sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin sliced shallot.
     Sauté till the shallot slices start to turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of thin sliced mushrooms.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the mushrooms become tender.
     Set the sautéed mushrooms and shallot aside in a container. 

     White Pizza ~ Sausage, Spinach, Mushrooms, Shallot & Asparagus: 
     This recipe yields 1 small 12" pizza.
     Step 1:  Coat a smooth countertop with a 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 focaccia dough on the counter top.  (About 12 ounces of dough.)
     Press and stretch the dough into a flat round shape.
     Use your finger tips to gently press the dough outward from the center to the edge, to make a flat round pizza dough shape that is less than 1/2" thick.
     Step 2:  Place the flat pizza dough on a pizza pan that is lightly brushed with olive oil.  (Re-stretch the dough if necessary.) 
     Brush the dough with a generous amount of the rosemary olive oil.
     Lightly season with sea salt.
     Step 3:  *When applying the cheese and toppings, try to leave a 1/2" wide bare crust edge.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle the crumbled cooked Italian Sausage on the pizza.
     Place the sautéed mushrooms and shallots on the pizza.
     Step 4:  Place 5 small mounds of the wilted garlic spinach around the center of the pizza.
     Place the asparagus spears on the pizza, so they point outward from the center and drape over the small mounds of spinach.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese over the pizza.
     Drizzle a little bit of the remaining rosemary olive oil over the pizza.
     Step 6:  Place the pizza pan on a stone slab in a 425ºF oven.
     Bake till the crust is fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear on the cheese.
     Step 7:  Slide the pizza onto a serving platter or just serve it on the pizza pan.
     Cut the pizza into pie shaped slices.  (5 slices is best for this pizza.)

     Another tasty Gourmet Pizza!

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