When you’re looking for a nice accompaniment to a bowl of hot soup or a refreshing salad, you need look no further than this cheesy garlic bread. I even just eat it by itself for a light meal. It’s so yummy and addictive. It’s hard to stop at one slice.
If you want, you could also slice your loaf in half horizontally, then spread the filling on each bread half and bake them till the topping is hot and bubbly. When done, cut the bread into one-inch slices and serve warm. M-m-m!
THREE-CHEESE GARLIC BREAD
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 stick butter, at room temperature
4-6 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 stalks green onions, chopped
1 loaf French or Italian bread (not sourdough)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine the cheeses, mayonnaise, butter, garlic, and green onions.
Slice bread into ½-inch thick slices.
Spread cheese mixture on each slice of bread and arrange on baking sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly.
Gambas al Ajillo or Garlic Shrimp is one of the best Spanish tapas ever! It’s a favorite all over Spain and is served in homes and tapas bars in practically every city in the country. It’s very easy to make and is sometimes cooked and/or served in a shallow terracotta or clay pot called a cazuela.
I originally learned to make gambas many years ago from my Spanish chef friend, Mari. Since then, I’ve tweaked what he taught me to come up with my own version. For one thing, in Spain gambas are traditionally cooked in plain olive oil but I like to use a blend of half olive oil and half butter. I find that the butter imparts a great flavor to this dish. It may not be very traditional, but it works for me! Mari also slices his garlic cloves in thin slices, but I prefer to mince my garlic. Some people add a little Spanish sweet paprika or pimentón to their gambas. I don’t usually do this (Mari didn’t), but you can if you want to. Also, more often than not, I make this dish without the alcohol at all and it turns out just fine.
Don’t forget the oh-so-important step of serving slices of fresh bread along with your gambas for sopping up the sauce! In my experience, the shrimp disappear fast whenever I make this dish, but they leave behind a bowl of garlicky sauce that is wonderful for dunking bread in. It’s a great way to extend the enjoyment of eating gambas even after the shrimp are all gone.
GAMBAS AL AJILLO
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup butter
10-14 large cloves garlic, minced or thinly sliced
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper (increase to ½ tsp. if you want it spicier)
½ tsp. salt, or to taste
3 Tbsp. minced parsley
3 Tbsp. brandy or cognac or dry sherry (optional)
french baguette bread, sliced
Heat olive oil and butter together over medium heat in a sauté pan.
Sauté garlic and crushed red pepper until garlic is cooked but still tender. Don’t let the garlic brown.
Toss in the shrimp and salt, and sauté just until shrimp turns pink.
Stir in parsley and brandy, if using. At this point, Chef Mari would shake the pan, tilting it slightly so the alcohol would catch fire. You can skip that step. Or not. Totally up to you.
Transfer to a shallow serving bowl or cazuela.
Serve immediately with slices of french bread for soaking up the sauce.
Croutons are cubes of bread that have been coated in butter or oil and then baked or fried until crisp. They’re wonderful sprinkled on soups or salads, or used as a topping for casseroles. You can buy ready-made croutons from the grocery store but why bother when homemade croutons are a hundred, no, a thousand times better and are sooo easy to make?
They can be seasoned in a variety of ways. In place of garlic powder, you could use anywhere from ½ to 2 teaspoons of italian seasoning, herbes de Provence, dried dill, Greek seasoning, chili powder, curry powder, fresh cracked black pepper, or whatever seasoning strikes your fancy. You could make parmesan croutons by adding ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese to the butter, or make fresh cheese croutons using cheddar, swiss, gruyere, emmentaler, or asiago by sprinkling 1 cup or so of the grated cheese over the croutons halfway through baking.
These garlic butter croutons are my family’s favorite. They’re so good and smell divine while they’re baking. It’s all I can do to keep the fam from gobbling them all up before dinner! Feel free to use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder if you like. The garlic powder just makes it super quick and easy to do, but fresh garlic is equally delicious.
HOMEMADE GARLIC BUTTER CROUTONS
1 loaf (about 1 lb.) french or italian bread or texas toast
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
1½ tbsps. granulated garlic or garlic powder
½ tsp. garlic salt, optional (we like a little salt on our croutons, but this is completely up to you – feel free to omit the salt if you like)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
With a serrated knife, cut bread into ¾ to 1-inch cubes.
Combine melted butter, granulated garlic, and garlic salt (if using) in a gallon-size ziploc bag.
Quickly add bread cubes to bag and seal well.
Shake like mad till bread cubes are completely coated with garlic-butter mixture.
Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake about 15 minutes or until golden and crispy.
Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Make sure to use a good, sturdy bread. A light, airy loaf will just turn soggy. This is better made with stale bread so try to purchase your bread a day or two before you plan to make the croutons so the bread will have a chance to dry out a little.
If you’d rather use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder, finely mince 4 cloves of fresh garlic and use that in place of the garlic powder.
Use real butter and not margarine. Margarine has a high water content and could turn your croutons soggy. Also, my family loves the butteriness (is that a word?) of these croutons but if it seems like too much butter for you, just cut the amount down to half a cup.