Growing up, garlic and olive oil were staple items in my mum’s cooking. No matter where I am in the world, the smell of freshly peeled garlic on my fingertips will always send me back to my childhood home. It also reminds me, even though I have grown up in Australia, to never forget my Spanish and Italian roots.
When I make this cheesy roasted garlic bread, an abundance of garlic and olive oil is used. The smell of olive oil-drizzled garlic baking away fills my home and my heart with a sense of nostalgia.
For me, any recipe that transports me to a certain place, time, person or even feeling will feel like home. My mum’s fish soup, for example, will forever cure any ailment – from a bad day at work to a broken heart – because every slurp feels like a big, warm hug from my mum. My cheesy roasted garlic bread always makes me think of my fiancé, who has the biggest smile on his face whenever he sees me place it onto our dinner table.
Garlic bread is one of my fiancé’s favourite meals. Being the feeder and pleaser that I am, I was on a quest to make the best garlic bread known to humanity – a feat I believe I have achieved. Not only is this recipe filled to the brim with delicious roasted garlic herb butter, it’s also packed with mozzarella. When baked, the mozzarella melts into the bread and oozes out when pulled apart.
Even though 99 per cent of the time I make this dish for my fiancé, whenever I make it in his absence, I am connected to him and the little home we have built for ourselves.
1 ciabatta loaf
120g Roasted Garlic Herb Butter
75g (½ cup) grated mozzarella
Roasted Garlic Herb Butter
4 garlic bulbs
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
250g salted butter, at room temperature, chopped
40g flat leaf parsley (about 1 bunch)
40g parmesan, grated
Preheat the oven to 200°C conventional (180°C fan-forced).
For the Roasted Garlic Herb Butter, slice the top off the garlic bulb, about 2–3cm down from the top, to expose the raw cloves. Place the bulbs cut side up onto a large sheet of foil and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then wrap the bulbs with the foil. Bake for 1 hour.
Leave the garlic to slightly cool until you are able to handle it. Using your fingers, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.
In a food processor, place the roasted garlic, butter, parsley, parmesan and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Blitz until all the ingredients are smooth and well combined. This will make 400–450g – you need 120g here. (Scoop the unused butter onto a large piece of baking paper and roll it into a tight log. Store in the fridge for several weeks.)
Using a sharp knife, cut deep slits into the ciabatta roughly 5cm apart, ensuring you do not cut the whole way through. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the butter and a sprinkling of the mozzarella into each slit. Wrap the ciabatta in foil and place on a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5 minutes or until golden and crispy on top and the cheese is bubbling away.
Pull the bread apart and serve immediately.
DAEN LIA’S COOKBOOK GARLIC, OLIVE OIL + EVERYTHING ELSE IS OUT NOW.
Published in ed#697