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~ Stranger Things: Revisit Retro French Bread Pizza ~

IMG_5235Binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix started conjuring up fond food memories from the 1980's.  OMG -- the many scenes with the Eggos, not to mention the perfectly-timed Jiffy-Pop explosion, the  invitation to the KFC dinner, and, the Reese's pieces conversation in the shrinks office.  They all left my mind wondering about what's to eat in Season three.  Stouffer's French bread pizza was the first thing that popped into my head -- with frozen yogurt coming in second.

IMG_5115I know everything there is to know about French bread pizza, as back in the '80's, even I dove into the frozen food section of my grocery store once a week to pick up a box -- it was one of my "busy mom late-night snack-attack solutions" -- I usually ate it whenever my husband was on a business trip, sitting with my feet up watching movies in the family room, while my kids slept upstairs (cognizant that Domino's ringing the doorbell would turn my quiet time into a kids party.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb088cbd77970dAs an accomplished cook, I've posted all sorts of scratch-made 'za: Thin-Crust St. Louis-style, Deep-Dish Chicago-style, Detroit-Style Brick Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza, Philadelphia-Style Cheesesteak PizzaPizza alla Puttanesca, French-Style Caramelized-Onion & Gruyère Cheese PizzaThai-Style Grilled Chicken Pizza, a Blast from My Husband's Past Pioneer-Club Pizza, a Nobody's Pizza for the Somebody in All of Us, a holiday Pizza Wreath, plus, the family recipes for Preschutti Pizza Crust, My Guy's Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pie, and, My All-Purpose Time-Saving Bread Machine Pizza Dough, not to mention a host of recipes for making snack pizza using flatbreads like pita, naan, tortillas and boboli as foils.  

IMG_5198French bread pizza of the semi-homemade-type is one of my favorite "what to cook for me" meals or late-night snacks.

IMG_51372  8-ounce, 10"-11"-long French batards, preferably fresh, but, if it has been tightly-wrapped in plastic, 1-2 days old is just fine

4-6  tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature, very soft

1 1/2-2  cups pizza sauce, high-quality store-bought, or, my recipe for Preschutti Pizza Sauce, which is full of fresh basil, onion, garlic, and, is basically a concentrated (reduced) version of  My Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce (Marinara)

1  pound deli-style brick mozzarella, hand shredded

2  teaspoons minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil

a light sprinkling of dried red pepper flakes

my favorite add-on topping suggestions:  crisply-fried sweet sausage crumbles, sautéed mushrooms, and/or thinly-sliced red onion pieces

IMG_5141 IMG_5141 IMG_5146~ Step 1.  Slice each batard in half horizontally, to form four pieces, then slice each half into four quarters to form 16 pieces. Arrange on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan lined with parchment paper.  Place a second baking pan over the top and press down, to remove about 2/3 of the volume from the bread.

IMG_5147 IMG_5147 IMG_5147~ Step 2.  Lightly slather each piece with about 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of the butter, then place pan 5 1/2"-6" under preheated broiler until bubbly and slightly browned around edges, about 2 minutes.  Remove from oven.

IMG_5168 IMG_5168 IMG_5168~ Step 3.  Evenly top each lightly-toasted piece with a generous tablespoon of pizza sauce, followed by a generous 2-3 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of basil and red pepper flakes.  Add your favorite toppings (or none) and bake on center rack of 375º oven until cheese is melted, 8-10 minutes.

Serve ASAP & grab one fast before they're...

IMG_5214... going, going, gone (into the Upside Down*)!

(*In the Netflix series, Stranger Things, the Upside Down is an alternative dimension in the universe that runs parallel to the human world.)

IMG_5250Stranger Things:  Revisit Retro French Bread Pizza:  Recipe yields 4 French bread pizza loaves/16 pieces/6-8 servings at 2-3 pieces per person.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held box grater; skillet (optional); 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper

6a0120a8551282970b01bb07e6f222970dCook's Note:  French bread pizza is one of the newest oldest tricks in the KISS Book of Entertaining (Keep It Simple Stupid). Making pizza on French bread was made famous in the 1960's by Bob Petrillose, the founder of the legendary Hot Truck on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. His experiment not only spread like wildfire, it was eventually licensed to Stouffer's. After that, it quickly made its way into home kitchens nationwide -- mine being one of them.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


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