I can’t help it. I am a sucker for garlic bread. When I was a kid it was a big deal to go a ‘fancy’ restaurant. Not only was Red Lobster or The Olive Garden a good forty five minute drive, but the money just wasn’t there for us to enjoy such things regularly. There is a side of my family that gatherings were not the norm and although Grandma Louise had a healthy appreciation for good food, a cook she was not. So, her birthday usually meant a trip to The City for her celebration – and these eateries always had a bread basket.
I would try to recreate the garlic breads at home, but the ingredients we had on hand at the farmhouse (Nickel’s White Sandwich Bread and garlic powder) where less than sufficient, so I stuck to the good stuff under the linen napkins whenever I had the chance.
In 1999 Mystery Man and I were on the last leg of a road trip from Atlanta when the topic of discussion turned to food, as it did often. I admitted my life long obsession with garlic bread and he eagerly suggested we hurry to Cincinnati so I could try LaRosa’s Pizzaria garlic bread. Both of our eyes turned to the clock on my dash board. Calculating the miles per hour, I quickly determined we could make it before they closed. If we hurried.
I pushed that little gold Saturn sedan to it’s limits, and we slid into the bright red booth with big grins and minutes to spare.
Being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, my passion for garlic bread was kicked to the curb for a short while. But, where there is a will, there is a way. You can use this same method on a ‘normal’ loaf of Italian bread from your local grocer, or go gluten free like me.
CHEESY GARLIC BREAD
Serves 6 to 8
5 cloves garlic , grated
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon Table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 gluten free baguette (18- to 20-inch), sliced in half horizontally
1 1/2 cups cheese (shredded Italian blend)
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a small nonstick skillet, saute garlic, 1 tablespoon butter, and water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until straw colored, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Mix hot garlic, remaining butter, salt, and pepper in bowl and spread on cut sides of bread.
- Sandwich bread back together and wrap loaf in foil. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
- Carefully unwrap bread and place halves, buttered sides up, on baking sheet.
- Bake until just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set oven to broil.
- Sprinkle bread with cheese. Broil until cheese has melted and bread is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Let cool for five minutes.
- Transfer bread to cutting board with cheese side facing down. Cut into pieces.
Serrated bread knives can pull off the cheesy crust. To prevent this, place
the slightly cooled garlic bread cheese side down on a cutting board. Slice through the crust
(rather than the cheese) first – this will keep the cheese in place.