Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ron’s Terrific Garlic Bread

My late husband, writer Lorne Parton, used to tell the true and sadly funny story of a family reunion dinner his distant aunt once hosted. Lornes aunt lived in a warm part of the country where sun-ripened beefsteak tomatoes grew heavy and lush, their vines bent under the tomatoes considerable weight. When his aunt planned the reunion, her home-grown beefsteak tomatoes were naturally on the menu.
Lornes aunt was proud to have cooked and grown the entire dinner herself. Piled high on an enormous table, the food stretched before the diners - the canned beets, the biscuits, the roast beef big as a Volkswagen, the special mashed potatoes, and the many other dishes over which she’d slaved for days.
Having traveled a long way to the reunion, the relatives were ravenous. They attacked the food, cramming it into their already-full mouths and grabbing it with both hands. They ate so fast and so furiously that no one thought to commend the hostess on the marvelous feast she’d prepared. When at last there was a pause, one in-law or outlaw looked up from what could only be called devout attention to her plate, to comment: “What mild tomatoes!”
That was it. No one said another word to acknowledge the poor woman’s efforts. Although there is no parallel, I thought about that story this week, on hosting dinner guests. Yes, I was appropriately praised and thanked, but by far - by far! - the hit of the evening (with me, too!) was Ron’s Terrific Garlic Bread. It is beyond good. It is completely, addictively, out-of-this-world good - by far, the best garlic bread I’ve ever eaten. When we served it, I noticed how everyone’s eyes checked the bread basket, to calculate how many more slices they could have. It is a delight to serve food like this! It is also a delight to confess to you how simple Ron’s recipe is! 
Ron’s Terrific Garlic Bread:
1 c. softened butter or margarine (see Note)
2 large, fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. garlic powder
One long, skinny baguette
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Combine butter or margarine, garlic cloves, and garlic powder at least 30 min. before required. Cover and set aside. Cut the baguette in half, width-wise. Slice each half lengthwise. You will have four long pieces of baguette. Butter these liberally. Spoon with grated Parmesan. Slide under broiler on baking sheet on highest oven rack. Broil about 5 min., (with oven door slightly open) until golden brown. Ovens differ, so check frequently. Slice each broiled quarter into thirds to produce 12 pieces. Serve hot. Serves 4-to-6.
Note: Ron uses margarine; it’s impossible to tell the difference. Prepare the baguette/s 30 min. in advance of the meal so the garlic flavor permeates and blends completely with the butter. Garlic powder permeates fastest; minced cloves need extra time. Ron uses both the powder and cloves because he likes the texture this produces. Who am I to argue with genius?

Combine softened butter or margarine with ...

Gorgeous garlic! Powder and cloves!

Have freshly grated Parmesan at the ready

Slice baguette in half; then lengthwise

Spread generously with garlicky butter or margarine

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

Place on baking sheet under broiler

Prop oven door open slightly with a dish towel

Keep a close watch to ensure bread doesn't burn

Close-up of Ron's Terrific Garlic Bread
Close-up of impartial, Anonymous Woman eating
Ron's Terrific Garlic Bread. More! More! More!

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