The secret to easy homemade pizza The Denver Post

By Dawn Perry, The New York Times

Making pizza at home sounds fun, but homemade pizza dough can be finicky, even if you’ve had a lot of practice. Still, that doesn’t mean delivery is the only way to satisfy a craving.

Solution: French bread. Squishy supermarket French bread is a ready-made vehicle for your favorite pizza toppings. Sure, you could just buy a box of Stouffer’s, but with a little planning, homemade French bread pizza makes a great meal after a day’s work.

Store-bought French bread can vary pretty widely in size. The measurements offered in these recipes should cover larger 16-ounce loaves, but trust your gut when topping: Smaller loaves may require a thinner layer of sauce or slightly less cheese. Dig out some of the soft interior of the loaf as well. Toss it into a food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs, or tear it into bite-size pieces, toss with olive oil and salt, and bake at 350 degrees until dry and golden for croutons.

Here, you’ll find three versions: pepperoni lover’s, four-cheese, and pesto and mozzarella. Feel free to mix and match sauces and to play around with different cheese combinations. Then, top as you like. Thinly sliced red onion adds bite, hot chile or a pinch of red-pepper flakes cut the richness of the cheese in almost every case. Dried oregano and grated Parmesan lend pizzeria vibes, while fresh basil brightens things up.

The most important step — and this is crucial — is letting the pizza cool before cutting and eating. There are few things hotter than the marriage of molten sauce and cheese atop a steaming slice. Searing the roof of your mouth is almost guaranteed if you aren’t patient, so wait at least five minutes before digging in.

Whatever direction you choose to go with your French bread pizza, what you’ll get is a little bit sophisticated (it’s French, after all!), crowd-pleasing meal or snack perfect for game days, Fridays or any day when you might need a reminder that home cooking can be as fun and delicious as it is easy.

And to Drink …

My general position is that pretty much any good wine with lively acidity goes with pizza. Champagne and riesling are both great. So is Lambrusco. The question is not so much whether to change your tune depending on whether a pizza is topped with mushrooms or pepperoni. It’s more basic than that, as in whether the pizza is made with cooked tomatoes. For these French bread pizzas, the four-cheese and pesto toppings call for lively whites. It could be any number of Italian whites, like Verdicchio di Matelica or vermentino from Liguria, or aligoté from Burgundy or a sharp sparkling wine, whether Champagne or a pétillant naturel. For the tomato-and-pepperoni pizza, Lambrusco, Chianti, dolcetto or barbera would be my choices. Then again, Champagne would be delicious, too. — Eric Asimov

Four-Cheese French Bread Pizza

By Dawn Perry

Each cheese plays a special role in this French bread pizza: A combination of Parmesan and pecorino makes it especially nutty and salty; mozzarella melts evenly and a sharper deli-style provolone bridges the gap between them. Once you learn how to make the classic white sauce (technically a Mornay, which is a béchamel with cheese added), you’ll find dozens of ways to use it beyond pizza: Swap in an equal amount of grated cheddar and toss it with pasta for an easy stovetop mac and cheese, or use Gruyère, slather the sauce over ham on toast, and broil until bubbly and browned. The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead of time; store tightly covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes, plus 5 minutes’ cooling

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • A few grinds of black pepper

For the Pizza:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 loaf soft French bread, split lengthwise, insides mostly dug out
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, low-moisture and part-skim, or fresh (drained and patted dry, if necessary), grated or torn
  • 4 ounces sliced provolone (from the deli), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • Red-pepper flakes or dried oregano, or both, for serving

Preparation

1. Make the sauce: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until starting to turn golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, a few splashes at a time to start, until evenly incorporated. Bring to a full boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened and the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. (It will continue to thicken as it cools.). Remove from heat, and whisk in Parmesan, pecorino, salt and pepper. Let cool.

2. Prepare the pizza: Combine olive oil and garlic in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the garlic starts to sizzle but doesn’t brown, about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Place the French bread cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush cut sides with garlic oil. Bake until edges are golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Toss together the cheeses in a medium bowl. Spread sauce over the two bread halves all the way to the edges and top with cheese.

5. Return to the oven and bake until melted, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to broil. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and browned in spots (watch carefully!), 1 to 2 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve topped with red-pepper flakes and oregano, if you like.

Pesto and Mozzarella French Bread Pizza

By Dawn Perry

Basil is the classic choice for this alternative to red sauce, but blend in any tender, flavorful herbs or greens like parsley, spinach, or arugula depending on what you have around. This pesto recipe doubles easily and freezes well, too: Transfer the finished pesto to an ice cube tray and freeze until firm. Pop the frozen pesto into a resealable bag, and keep it in the freezer for up to three months. Defrost whenever a pasta or pizza craving calls, though you can certainly use store-bought pesto to make things even easier. Fresh mozzarella creates excellent cheese pulls, but feel free to play around with other soft cheeses: A crumbling of feta or goat cheese would make delicious variations.

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes, plus 5 minutes’ cooling

Ingredients

For the Pesto:

  • 4 cups lightly packed basil leaves or other tender herbs or greens such as parsley, arugula, baby spinach, or a combination
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)

For the Pizza:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 loaf soft French bread, split lengthwise, insides mostly dug out
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, low-moisture and part-skim, or fresh (drained and patted dry, if necessary) thinly sliced
  • Red-pepper flakes, dried oregano or grated Parmesan, or a combination, for serving

Preparation

1. Make the pesto: Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Combine basil, 1 garlic clove and pine nuts in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, stream in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add Parmesan and salt, and pulse to combine.

2. Prepare the pizza: Combine the 1/4 cup olive oil and grated garlic in a small pot over medium. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the garlic starts to sizzle (but doesn’t begin to brown), 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Place the French bread cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush cut sides with garlic oil. Bake until edges are golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Spread the pesto over the two halves all the way to the edges and top with the cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is evenly melted, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to broil and broil (watch carefully!) until the cheese is bubbly and browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Top with red-pepper flakes, oregano and more Parmesan, if you like.

Pepperoni Lover’s French Bread Pizza

By Dawn Perry

An easy no-cook sauce works as a tangy base for pizzas of all kinds. Draining the tomatoes before seasoning ensures the sauce won’t create any soggy bottoms, no matter what type of crust you build your pizza on. Use an equal amount of crushed or whole peeled tomatoes instead of diced if that’s what you have on hand. Just use your hands to break whole tomatoes up a bit (and drain off any additional liquid). The sauce will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for about five days. But feel free to use your favorite jarred marinara in its place. Leftover pizza reheats beautifully in a 350-degree oven until warmed through.

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes, plus 5 minutes’ cooling

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A few grinds of black pepper

For the Pizza:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 loaf soft French bread, split lengthwise, insides mostly dug out
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, low-moisture and part-skim, or fresh (drained and patted dry, if necessary), grated or torn (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 2 ounces sliced pepperoni, quartered (about 1/2 cup)
  • Red-pepper flakes or dried oregano, or both, for serving

Preparation

1. Make the sauce: Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Combine tomatoes, garlic, salt, oregano, olive oil and black pepper in a medium bowl, and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use.

2. Prepare the pizza: Combine the 1/4 cup olive oil and garlic in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the garlic starts to sizzle, but doesn’t brown, about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Place the French bread cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush cut sides with garlic oil. Bake until edges are golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Toss together the mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni in a medium bowl. Divide tomato sauce between the two bread halves all the way to the edges and top with pepperoni and cheese.

5. Return to the oven and bake until melted, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to broil and broil (watch carefully!) until the cheese is bubbly and browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve topped with more Parmesan, red-pepper flakes and oregano, if you like.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.

Source: Read Full Article