Hey Guys... Have a nice weekend??? So did we. The sun spent a week vacation somewhere else, and we had 6 straight days of clouds and record setting rain. On Saturday morning, the tropical paradise finally returned with bright blue skies and sunny activities abounded.
Maybe it was the weather, but I reread a few of my recent posts, and I want to tell you about a couple of food BARGAINS! Yeap, in the land of $8 loafs of bread, and frozen fish is the freshest (affordable) fish on the island, I have found at least two bargains not to be had stateside.
The first is cheese. No good reason that I can figure out, but those bags of pre-shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese are over $6 for a cup. Now, on the surface, that sounds expensive (in fact, under the surface, that is expensive). But the silver lining is that a 4 oz package of a "better" cheese is that same $6. Blue cheese - $6. Goat cheese - $6. And for this post... Gorgonzolla cheese - $6. Yeap, all those "fancy type" cheeses same price as a lowly bag of pre-shredded mozzarella (and in fact, fresh wet balls of "real" mozzarella are ... you guessed it - $6... But I digress). I never was a big fan of cheddar, and something about those bags of pre-shredded cheeses always bothered me (more oxygen hits the cheese, faster it loses it's flavor, so pre-shred and increase the surface area). So, I have been using lots more blue, goat, Swiss, etc. cheeses. Why not!
Next bargain is a restaurant. Just a quick walk up the beach from us, maybe couple hundred yards is a little burger joint. Right on the beach, great view, cool ocean breeze and lots of ice cold beer and rum. We would be eating there often, even if all we could get on the menu were burgers. But they also have a pizza oven. And the chef doesn't just crumble hamburger on Ragu, he creates... Like their specialty...
Thin crust steak with a garlic oil and Gorgonzola 'za!
Man just typing it makes my mouth water! But it gets just a tad better. A real bargain, $25 gets you a large pizza (actually, they only make one size), and a bottle of wine. This is our "goto", casual night out. And will always be a very fond memory.
So, armed with my two bargains... inspiration and a great price on the cheese, I started pondering how to recreate this all too soon to be Caribbean memory.
I do not have a photo of the original pizza, but here are the highlights that I wanted to replicate...
- The garlic oil is very strong. More than just a garlic infused oil.
- The cheese is sharp (like a Gorgonzola should be), but it was not straight cheese. It was white, creamy sauce; without the overpowering taste that the straight cheese would be.
Here's a close up of my first attempt. Verdict, fair, but a big jump on the learning curve.
My error, I made a garlic paste with the flat of a knife (just mushed garlic), and added that to a couple TBS of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). Mixed, and then melted a couple oz of Gorgonzola in the oil. I ended up with a brown sauce instead of the white. you can see the globs next to the meat in the photo above. Neither the cheese, nor the oil came through as in the beach restaurant pizza. Pizza came out... well, OK, just not close to what I was trying to recreate.
Attempt number 2... Number two in number only, this one worked...
I still made the garlic paste, still mixed the garlic paste in the oil, but drizzled that on the dough first. then added toppings. Last step was the cheese sauce. Instead of straight cheese, I melted 2 ounces (Gorgonzola is a strong flavored cheese, you need to cut it) in a 1/4 cup of heavy cream. It reduced and thickened up naturally. Then, I topped the pizza with a drizzle of the sauce.
Whoop Whoop, it worked great!
I made thin crust pizza first...
I always have a pizza dough ready. I make the dough in advance, freeze it and it is thawed in just a few hours. I use the recipe I made in this post... Pizza Napoletana - Bread Baker's Apprentice #11. No tomato sauce, but I slice some very thin tomatoes. I topped with leftover steak from my recent Philly Steak and Cheese - Well, not really a traditional Cheesesteak, but a Pretty Darn Good Sandwich. Menu planning includes saving leftover items for another meal, instead of just making a leftover sandwich.
If you read yesterday's post for Focaccia Bread - Bread Baker's Apprentice #13, you know I saved half for a special purpose. And special it was indeed...
A Focaccia Bread Pizza!
There is one "trick" I can pass on. Again, check yesterday's post for Focaccia Bread - Bread Baker's Apprentice #13, you will see in the instructions that there is a final 5 minute bake of the bread. DO NOT ADD ANY TOPPING INGREDIENTS UNTIL YOU REACH THAT FINAL 5 MINUTE BAKE. Add your toppings and increase the final cooking time from 5 minutes to 10 minutes and you have a perfect focaccia bread pizza.
Filled with flavor... A Gorgonzola cheese sauce, a garlic paste infusion, the sweet creaminess of the thick bread, the crunch of the outer crust, the herb flavoring from my "not your Grandmother's HERBES de PROVENCE"... Everything came together!
On that sad day when we get back to Kansas, we will miss the view that comes with this pizza, but being able to take back this restaurant recreation will be among our best souvenirs!
So, where did you eat your favorite slice of pizza... Did you ever try to recreate it?