Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Garlic Bread

I'm afraid this barely counts as a recipe today. It's more of a serving suggestion. What can I say? This grisly weather (yup, still complaining about it) is driving me to lazy, stodgy comfort food. With some ciabatta nearing the end of its life, there was nothing for it but to make garlic bread. Oozy, anti-social, low-rent but oh-so-delicious garlic bread.

Like any other greedy person with an overactive appetite and an eternal enthusiasm for farmers' markets, I can enthuse for hours about artisan cheese, peasant-cured ham and so on. But we all have weaknesses for the trashy, transfatty foods of our childhoods. Some people like pop-tarts, others go weak at the knees for Monster Munch. Angel Delight can send some people into raptures, while others would be perfectly happy dining off nothing but potato waffles and Alphabetti Spaghetti. Fat wedges of drippingly greasy Domino's pizza; neon-orange sweet and sour chicken with astringent chunks of pineapple and sticky lumps of batter; Neapolitan blocks of easy-scoop brown, yellow and pink frozen froth. There's no shame in admitting any of this.

I have a devastating weakness for cheap garlic bread. The type you get in a plastic wrapper from the supermarket, or as a side dish at an old-fashioned pub to go with lasagne and chips. Made with bright yellow margarine (not butter), a few half-hearted flecks of green and a pallid, flabby-looking baguette, once cooked you get a greasy, crunchy carapace covering pure fatty squish. I love it. I know it's anti-social, and I know it leaves you garlicky for hours, but I can't help it. My mouth is watering even now.

So when we needed to use up a left over ciabatta to accompany some bean chilli, I couldn't resist garlickifying it. The method came from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals, and I was enticed by the idea that the olive oil he uses was less unhealthy than butter. Don't tell me if that's wrong, I've eaten it all now. Anyway, I can't lie - the oil is less tasty than butter. The garlic bread is still good, but I mourned the lack of butter. Or rather, super-cheap margarine.

Anyway, still very simple, very quick and almost as nice as the trashy version. Well, obviously not quite as nice (in the same way as home made breaded chicken goujons might be good, but aren't chicken dippers and shouldn't try to be). But still crunchy, moreish and viciously garlicky. Good thing we don't have to worry about being antisocial any more.

Garlic Bread
From Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals
- 1 ciabatta loaf
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- a bunch of fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to around 200C. Cut slits into the bread around 3/4 of the way through, at 2cm intervals. 

Scrunch a large piece of greaseproof paper or baking parchment under the tap until it's good and wet, then flatten out. Snip the parsley, crush the garlic, drizzle a generous sloop of olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper all onto this wet paper. Then put the loaf on top and rub it around, getting the flavourings into every slice.

Wrap the paper around the bread and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and crunchy. Eat and think about which other trashy foods you like. Any takers for kebab van chips, cheese and beans?

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