In this ever-changing world of food, ingredients and philosophies about how we eat, very few recipes withstand the test of time. But old-school garlic bread, in my opinion, should stay the same forever.
One of my favorite stories is about Rose Pistola, a beloved icon of San Francisco’s North Beach Italian food culture. Rose is said to have passed away peacefully with a wedge of good Parmesan and a cup of olive oil on her bedside table. She was a master of “red gravy” and San Franciscans loved dipping crusty Italian garlic bread in her tomato sauce.
I’ve tried a lot of fancy variations of garlic bread with exotic cheeses, fresh herbs, and even shaved a bit of black truffle that Andrew brought home once, but I always go back to the one I grew up eating. Good food is comforting; I guess that’s why we find the greatest pleasure in the simplest food, and why Rose’s friends comforted her with Parmesan and olive oil.
And so in our house, the garlic bread of my youth will forever stay the same.
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Rose’s Garlic Bread
1/4 pound (1 stick or 8 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt, to taste
1 loaf crusty Italian bread
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a small saucepan combine butter, oil, garlic, oregano and salt and warm over low heat until butter is melted. Cut the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Brush or spoon the garlic butter on both cut sides, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and sandwich the bread together. Wrap the loaf in foil and heat for 10 to 12 minutes, just until warmed through. Unwrap the bread and return to the oven, cut sides up; toast another 5 minutes, or until hot and crusty.
Note: The garlic bread can be made up to 2 days in advance and heated just before serving. It’s also great for leftovers. Benny loves garlic bread for breakfast with scrambled eggs and fruit.
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