Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mom's World Famous Garlic Bread

(Photo by Bella)

A few weekends ago Bella was home for our annual Harvest Celebration. She brought along Almira whose company we haven’t enjoyed for quite some time. Almira hails from a little town in Alaska and is back on the East coast studying for her master’s degree.

The evening before the celebration we sat around the table enjoying Marinara and the loaf of my mother’s garlic bread I’d prepared go with it. Almira said, “You know your garlic bread is famous in my home town.” Bella followed up, “It sure is! It was a huge hit at the spaghetti supper at Almira’s church.” Almira chortled, “Yeah, it never made it out of the kitchen.” I looked at Almira quizzically and she explained further, “The kitchen helpers liked your garlic bread so much that they ate all of it before it could make it to the dining room. Yup, your garlic bread was a huge hit!” When I told Bella and Almira that I planned on blogging my garlic bread, they chimed together, “Oh, great!” Bella said, “Almira, you’ll be able to send the link to everyone in your home town.” Almira nodded and smiled and helped herself to another slice of garlic bread.

Bella related another story about her study-abroad time in Italy. One night the students were planning a potluck supper. Everyone was yelling out what they would bring. Before Bella could chime in, the young man organizing the event turned to her and said, “And you can bring the Garlic Bread.” Bella said, "Yeah, Amma's garlic bread is world famous!"

My mother’s prowess in the kitchen was admired by many, and her skill as a caterer was frequently put to use at our church. At least once a year she produced a spaghetti supper as a church fundraiser. These were popular events and required massive amounts of sauce, pasta and...garlic bread. My mother’s garlic bread was famous. I sincerely believe that many people attended the spaghetti suppers just for a slice of her delicious garlic bread.

Notes for this recipe: The bread: Good quality bread is not required. The standard American-style Italian bread in the white paper wrapper will do quite nicely for this recipe.

Mom’s World Famous Garlic Bread
3/4 c. unsalted butter
¼ c. olive oil
6 cloves garlic minced
1 loaf unsliced Italian bread
1 Tbsp. finely chopped basil (optional)
Aluminum foil

Select a medium-sized saucepan with a wide top. Put the butter, olive oil and garlic into it and set on the stove. Turn the burner to medium low and heat gently until the butter is melted. Stir to combine and turn the burner off. Allow to meld for about one hour.

While the butter and garlic are melding, cut two large sheets of aluminum foil and lay them one on top of the other. Fold the edges together once and then twice. Open the two pieces being careful not to pull the fold apart. Smooth them flat.

Place the loaf of bread on a cutting board with the aluminum foil next to it. Cut the bread into 1-inch pieces. As it is cut, place each piece on the aluminum foil, reconstructing the loaf.

If necessary, reheat butter lightly to remelt it, if using, stir in the basil. Dip one side of each slice of bread into the butter replacing it on the aluminum foil reforming the loaf. If there is any butter left, dip the other side of as many slices as possible.

When the butter is gone, use a brush and brush a little bit of garlic onto one side of each slice.

Pull the aluminum foil up around the bread, and fold the ends together to secure them. Tuck up the ends to make a tidy packet around the bread.

Preheat oven to 350 and bake bread for approximately 45 minutes or until the bread is heated through and the crust is crisp. Line a basket with a towel and set aside. When the bread is ready, cut open the foil and place the slices in the prepared basket. Bring the towel up to help keep the bread warm. Serve immediately.