In Which I Pizza-fy A Monica Pope Dish

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First of all, apologies for the ugly photography.  I was without my camera and had to use my phone.   Anyway, Saturday night we went with some friends to Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, the new iteration of T’afia.  Monica Pope, the chef known now for her stint on Top Chef Masters, is a Houston mainstay and kickass lady.  Her restaurants are among the frontrunners of the slow food movement here in town, which has now exploded.  You can barely go three blocks without finding a kitchen growing their own food out back.  Which is awesome!  Anyway, Sparrow was great all around but everyone’s favorite dish was the Shiitake Dumplings in a bleu cheese, mascarpone, and honey sauce.  Just fantastic and delicate and interesting without being wacky weird.

So obviously yesterday was the Superbowl  (congrats to the Ravens/so sorry, 49ers.)  My friend had asked me to bring some food, and I had planned on bringing pizza.  I was having a hard time thinking about other food after the tastiness of those dumplings though, so I decided to make one pizza based on the flavors in them.  I also made a regular pesto/margherita pizza just in case my Pope homage didn’t turn out.

But it did!  I had to add cheese on top, obviously, but the idea was all there.  I would recommend this for adults – kids aren’t really into shiitakes, it seems.  But pop a bottle of wine and you’re in business.   You could also skip the pizza and pour the sauce over a chicken breast or put it on some pasta.  So thanks Chef Pope for the idea and the fantastic food.

Shiitake Pizza

1 thin pizza crust or flatbread, already par-baked or baked

4 C shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and sliced thinly

1 garlic clove, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 T olive oil or butter

3 oz gorgonzola or bleu cheese (i used gorgonzola for this)

8 oz mascarpone

1/3 c good honey

fontina cheese to cover, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter or heat the oil.   Add the garlic and shallot & saute until softened.  Then add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until softened.   Remove to a bowl.  In the same pan, melt together the bleu cheese or gorgonzola and the mascarpone, then add the honey.  Stir until combined.   Add the mushrooms back in.  Let cook over very low heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until thickened slightly.

Spread the mushroom & cheese mixture over the pizza crust.  Then cover with the fontina cheese.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let cool slightly as the sauce gets really hot when you bake it.  Enjoy!

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