Cheesy Garlic Bread

Growing up in a heavily Italian area of New York, I’ve had every type of garlic bread imaginable. Garlic knots, garlic rolls, French-bread-cut-in-half garlic bread… the delicious list goes on. I have two favorite garlic bread experiences in recent memory. The first was the French bread type of garlic bread at a restaurant called Parm (think old standby Italian spot meets trendy, Instagram-worthy chain). The second was from a pizza place on the Upper West Side, and it entailed six, count ’em, SIX, garlic knots smothered in a melty layer of mozzarella cheese. It was those knots that got me thinking, “I should make this myself so that I can eat them ALL THE TIME!!! Will I gain weight? Probably… but that’s a small price to pay for such a satisfying lifestyle”.

I came down a little from that initial cheese high, but was still craving more. So, you guessed it! I decided to marry these two garlic rich experiences and make my own supply.

fullsizeoutput_1135

fullsizeoutput_1132

If you’re wondering why the end of the baguette looks like a butt, it’s because it was meant to look like a fish tail but the baker had a bad day. No need to buy a fancy loaf for this recipe– I got this butt loaf at my local supermarket!

INGREDIENTS:

1 baguette, cut crosswise and then lengthwise

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup grated parmesan

6 Tbsp butter, melted

5-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

 

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Garlic powder, to taste

Italian seasoning, to taste

1/2 cup red sauce, if desired

fullsizeoutput_112c

fullsizeoutput_1130

DIRECTIONS:

Makes 4 large servings or 8 small servings (i.e. for a non-monster unlike myself)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the cut baguette, crust side down, on the sheet. Set aside.

Sprinkle garlic powder and Italian seasoning into the melted butter. Add the chopped garlic cloves and stir. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, or until the butter has started to harden again.

Spread the butter mixture over the doughy parts of the baguette. Sprinkle the baguette slices with mozzarella, dividing it evenly over each one. Repeat with the parmesan.

Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown. If you don’t have a broiler you can skip this step, but it makes the flavor even better!

fullsizeoutput_1131

Heat up your red sauce in the microwave or in a small saucepan.

Sprinkle the baguettes with parsley and let cool until it is nice and warm but not hot. Dip in your red sauce and enjoy!!

fullsizeoutput_1134

Penne A La Vodka Pizza

Growing up, my family always ordered from the same pizza place. And for a while, we always ordered the same thing: one plain pizza, or one half plain-half black olive pizza. And then, on some glorious day that I do not remember, we threw caution to the wind and ordered penne a la vodka slices alongside the plain. Or maybe, one day we threw caution to the wind and excitedly tried a slice of penne a la vodka while sitting in the plastic booths in the pizza parlor. Like I said, I don’t remember. But the bottom line is, penne a la vodka pizza became a part of my childhood. I usually don’t order it now because honestly I don’t enjoy it as much as a good slice of plain, or plain with pepperoni and mushrooms, but it still has a place in my pie-sized heart.

IMG_0065

IMG_0010

    IMG_0014                 ^This is my best friend Lauren. She was pissed that the pizza was taking so long because I was taking pictures. She eventually got her pizza.

The other day while I was working, I was ruminating about how much I love pizza. Truth be told I spend a lot of time thinking about ‘za; if it’s any indication, my phone case is pepperoni-patterned. On a piece of scrap paper, I feverishly wrote a list of all the types of pizza that I could feasibly make myself. Hopefully over the next few months, I’ll be able to share some of the better concepts with you (I already crossed “breakfast pizza” off of the list- I couldn’t get past the notion of eating scrambled eggs over pizza dough).

IMG_0089

Though I try to cook from scratch as often as possible, I wanted to make this recipe busy-person friendly, so I used store bought dough and vodka sauce. It took me about 2 hours to make, but it’ll probably take you about 30 minutes since you won’t be taking step by step photos or stopping to eat the bacon (jk, yes you will). I didn’t use precise measurements when making this, so feel free to be a daredevil and eyeball it.

IMG_0038

IMG_0071

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag store bought pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s)

1 1/2 cups vodka sauce

1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, shredded (I always use part skim unless it’s fresh mozzarella)

7-8 fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

About 1/4 lb. cooked penne (al dente)

3 strips cooked bacon, cut into small pieces (I prefer it crispy, so it stands out against the pasta and dough)

Garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

IMG_9993

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, or to the suggested cooking heat on the dough package.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimless cookie sheet, and lightly dust with flour. Roll out dough into a 12 inch circle/square/oval/you did your best. Pour 1/4 cup of vodka sauce on the dough, leaving a one inch margin of blank crust. Set aside.

IMG_0020

IMG_0024

Mix the remaining sauce with the pasta. Stir in the bacon bits. Salt to taste. Pour this mixture over the crust, leaving the one inch margin in tact. Lightly season the untouched crust with salt and garlic powder. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the pasta, then follow with the parmesan. If some parmesan gets on the crust, no worries; parmesan crusts are delicious. I learned that from Domino’s.

IMG_0052

Place the whole basil leaves on top of the cheese in desired arrangement. Some people prefer to add the basil once the pizza is cooked, so go ahead and do that if you’d like.

IMG_0064

IMG_0067

Bake the pizza according to the dough package instructions. Using the Trader Joe’s dough, I cooked mine for about 10-12 minutes even though the package said 6-8 minutes. Everyone’s oven is a little different, so take it out once the cheese is melted and the crust is golden and pops back if you touch it.

Once the pizza is out of the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes before digging in.

Enjoy!

Leslie

Pizza

Ya gotta love pizza. Or maybe you don’t, who knows, but I love pizza and I’m going to tell you ALL ABOUT IT. There’s a bit of a debate regarding who actually invented pizza, but whoever it was: thank you. Pizza is fantastic in that it carries with it a lot of fond memories. Childhood ice skating parties (eating pizza signified the end of said torturous ice skating parties), “girls nights'” where my friends and I ordered Domino’s and always finished the pie, a dinner date with one of my dearest friends Thomas at John’s in the city where we similarly finished two large pizzas… the list goes on.

Normally, I order pizza if I’m just too tired to do anything else. But once in a while, it’s nice to make it myself. Kneading the dough is mildly therapeutic and I like putting on multiple toppings without being charged extra. Extra cheese? Hello. Mushrooms? Hey there. Olives? Heyheyhey.

This crust recipe is exceptionally simple, and comes out nice and crispy. A big thank you to The Silver Spoon for introducing it to me. I improvised the topping, so feel free to follow my instructions or make your own!

Buy The Silver Spoon here: http://www.phaidon.com/the-silver-spoon/the-silver-spoon-series/the-silver-spoon-9780714862569/

IMG_8974

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)

1/2 cup lukewarm water

Olive oil, for brushing

1 can Hunt’s diced tomatoes, strained

1 package cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Parmesan cheese, grated

Olives, quartered

1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 tbsp olive oil

Garlic powder, if desired

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Sift the flour, salt, and yeast into a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour the lukewarm water into the well, and mix with dry ingredients using a wooden spoon.If the dough is too sticky, add a pinch of flour as needed.

IMG_8930

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.

IMG_8940

IMG_8948

Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a large bowl that has been brushed with olive oil. Brush seran wrap with olive oil and wrap tightly on top. Put bowl in a warm area for at least an hour, and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size. If you’re making the dough in advance, remove from the bowl after the hour and punch down. Return to the bowl, and place in the refrigerator until needed.

IMG_8963

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and roll out until it is about 16 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. I still haven’t perfected the art of making pizzas round, so don’t worry if yours is a funny shape. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Move the dough to the baking sheet. Reshape to fit the sheet if needed.

IMG_8971

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Sautee garlic until translucent, then add mushrooms. Cook until they are smaller and a deep brown.

Spread tomatoes across dough. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes and garlic powder (if desired) on the tomatoes. Top with mozzarella and parmesan. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and garlic from the pan and place on pizza. Add the olives, and then the parsley.

IMG_8994

IMG_8996

Place the pizza in the preheated oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_9007

IMG_8998

IMG_9041

Enjoy!

Leslie