By Mike Kazmark
A fabulous garlic bread is every bit as complimentary to a great bowl of pasta as a great icing is to a cake. If the icing is only fair, it is hard for the cake to really stand out. Lets say you go to a restaurant. They bring out an incredible bowl of steaming hot pasta and the first thing you try is the garlic bread. If the garlic bread is only mediocre, the pasta will have a really hard time selling itself. If after the first bite you grab the whole bread basket claiming it as your own, even a fair pasta will at least have a chance!
There are a few components to making great garlic bread. Chief among these is a good bread. I like using a good sourdough from a specialty store. These stores have sprung up all over and carry all kinds of organic products from fruits and vegetables to baked items. These often have great sourdough breads. I usually buy it sliced. I lay out the slices on a cookie sheet and liberally apply butter to just the top of each slice. I then lightly sprinkle garlic powder, and lightly sprinkle ground oregano (not too much or it will taste like a pizza!) on the butter. I then finely grate Sharp Cheddar Cheese and sprinkle enough cheese so as to just cover the bread and butter completely. If you do not cover the bread completely, the edges of the bread will burn before the cheese has melted. But you do not want the cheese to be so thick that it melts into a big glob. I then lightly sprinkle a touch more garlic powder and oregano on top of the cheese. This adds a little more flavor and looks good.
Now comes the critical part. Timing. You want to put the cookie sheet with the bread slices under a broiler long enough to melt the cheese but the difference between perfect garlic bread and burned garlic bread can be a matter of 30 seconds. So you have to stay on it. Serve piping hot and enjoy!
My wife grabbed the keyboard out of my hands and typed in her own thoughts on "the best garlic bread in the world." I think she meant to do this as a joke but I am going to include it because people have enjoyed her approach to garlic bread as well. Her method is not as time sensitive as the above method and can come out a bit more gooey (which many people like).
"This is Mike's wife. I would like to include this garlic bread recipe from my Italian mother. Begin with a round loaf of Sourdough bread (sliced). Take one to two cubes of butter and add garlic to the butter to taste. Start at the end of the loaf and spread the garlic butter on both sides of each piece of bread. Then sprinkle both sides of each slice with grated parmesan cheese. Continue this through the entire loaf. Then wrap in foil and cook at 350 degrees till heated through (approximately 10-15 minutes). Open up the top of the foil and cook till the top is brown and crispy."
Have fun. Experiment. Try both methods and you will soon be on your way to a truly sensational garlic bread that will set the stage for whatever pasta recipes, soup recipes, etc. that will follow.
My name is Mike Kazmark. I started http://www.bestpastarecipes.com . My wife and I found a little hole-in-the-wall place where they really know how to cook in Orange County, CA. The chef there inspired me to start a website where incredible tasting dishes could be presented in a manner that the average person would feel confident preparing. That is how our website began. What I am most looking forward to is hearing someone take one of our incredible dishes, go through the steps and exclaim, "I did it!", and to know that they have just mastered the preparation of a fabulous meal for their family. There is a process that happens that I really like when someone submits a recipe they've developed for others to freely use. The care and love that went into the original, now gets passed on so that other chefs can give back that same care and love in the act of serving their own families. Other families get to enjoy the same meal and build their own memories together. I like that.