The Best Garlic Bread

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

Garlic bread.  You might be wondering why we even need a recipe for garlic bread.  Mix garlic with butter, spread it on bread, bake it.  Done.  Well, despite being so straightforward I often get well accomplished home cooks asking me how to make it.  Heck, I treat myself to it so rarely that I often question myself when I make it.  So I made my ideal version of garlic bread and wrote everything out so that next time I want to make the best garlic bread ever I can just look back at this recipe!

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

The first step to the best garlic bread is to start with good bread.  I like to grab a loaf of ciabatta because once you’re done baking it the edges get a nice crunch to them, but because of the large holes in the bread’s structure is stays soft in the middle.  The second secret is to let the garlic infuse into the butter for at least 30 minutes, but preferably longer to maximize and evenly distribute the garlicky-ness.

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

The final step is baking.  We start the garlic bread at a pretty standard heat to melt the butter and toast the bottom slightly, but the trick is to finish it off with the broiler so you can get exactly the amount of crispiness that you want.  Not only does it speed up the process, but it ensures that the inside of the bread doesn’t dry out too much.

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

Listen, it’s hard to go wrong with garlic bread unless you burn it to a crisp, but this is just my method to maximize the best parts.  So use whatever bread you prefer and add any extra seasonings that you like.  I guarantee there won’t be any leftovers!  There never are when it comes to garlic bread…

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

And if you’re looking for a good recipe to serve with this garlic bread, hop on over to my everyday meatballs and sauce recipe.  The sauce is cooked with a cup of red wine, so it’s a great excuse to crack open a bottle and have a glass with dinner.

The Best Garlic Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 1 loaf ciabatta or french bread
  2. 1 stick salted butter, softened
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 T. chopped fresh parsley (or 2 t. dried)
  5. ½ t. garlic powder
  6. ¼ t. dried basil
Instructions
  1. Mix butter, garlic, parsley, garlic powder, and basil in a small bowl. Allow flavors to marry for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 weeks (in the refrigerator).
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Cut bread in half lengthwise and spread both halves evenly with garlic butter. Lay bread, cut side up on a baking tray. Bake 10-12 mins to melt the butter, then broil briefly to crispy and brown the bread to your liking. Do not walk away!! Stay right near the oven and check every 30 seconds or so, as it will only take a minute or two.
  4. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into 1-inch pieces.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

 

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic VinaigretteHere we go with another recipe from the Gjelina cookbook.  Last time we made a decadent mushroom toast that was so ridiculously delicious and comforting and would satisfy any meat eater.  (Gotta like mushrooms though, that’s a requirement).  This time I figured I would go for something much lighter.  I’ve been eating a lot of spinach salads for lunch and wanted some new flavor combinations to keep it interesting.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

Flipping through the pages of the cookbook was so inspiring that I had a list of recipes to try before I was even halfway through.  A constant goal of mine is to find new ways to cook and enjoy more vegetables and Gjelina is the perfect cookbook for that since vegetables are their main focus.  I actually checked this cookbook out from the library years ago when it first came out and wrote it off for all the subrecipes and complexity included in the recipes.  This time around I was more in a mindset to pick and choose where to spend my effort.  The recipes are so great that even if you don’t make every single thing from scratch or find each obscure/gourmet ingredient it will still end up so much better than your average recipe.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

What originally drew me to this recipe was the beautiful picture and the contrast between the deep green of the spinach and the golden brown of the croutons.  Remember what I was just saying about choosing where to spend your effort?  Well in this recipe don’t skip the homemade croutons!  Not only is there nothing better than homemade croutons, but I love how thinly they’re sliced.  They end up crispy, but still somewhat delicate.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette
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For the vinaigrette
  1. 3 T red wine vinegar
  2. 1T lemon juice
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2T shallots, minced
  5. 1T honey
  6. ½ c olive oil
  7. 1t Dijon mustard
  8. Salt and pepper
For the salad
  1. Day old bread
  2. Olive oil
  3. Seasonings
  4. Baby spinach
  5. Golden raisins
  6. Goat cheese
  7. Kalamata olives
  8. Castelvetrano olives
Instructions
  1. Combine the shallots and garlic with the vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl or jar and let macerate 5-10 minutes. Then add the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients and stir or shake to combine.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Slice bread very thinly, about ¼” and lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and any other seasonings you like (garlic powder and dried basil would be a nice place to start). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Assemble salad by adding the spinach and golden raisins to a large bowl. Slice the olives in half and add to the bowl. Crumble the goat cheese on top. Break the croutons into bite sized pieces and add. Finally, toss with the vinaigrette, 1 T at a time until you reach your desired level of coating.
Notes
  1. I don’t have any measurements here because in a salad it’s all to your taste. Add a little of this and that, it really doesn’t matter as long as the main ingredient is the spinach.
Adapted from Gjelina
Adapted from Gjelina
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Fancy Mushroom Toasts

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

I have a sort of foodie friend in the office I work in.  We chat about recipes we’ve tried, new ingredients we found, what we’re going to cook over the weekend, cookbooks, pretty much anything food related.  I love finding people who love to cook because talking to them gets me excited about new flavors, cuisines, and ingredients that I might not have been familiar with or known about before.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

A few weeks ago he came into the office on Monday morning talking about a meal he had at Gjelina over the weekend.  He led with the dessert heavenly butterscotch pots de creme then he moved on to the mushroom toast.  I have no idea what else he ate there because we couldn’t move past the mushrooms.  Oh my god, the mushroom toast.  The chef says he can’t take these off the menu because the customers will revolt.  They’re that good.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

Like any obsessive home cook, he had already bought the cookbook and was ready to try to recreate them at home.  I wouldn’t have thought much more about these mushroom toasts except to ask for a follow-up the next week.  But the next week he hadn’t made them.  The week after that he bought a mixture of fancy mushrooms at the farmer’s market, but was stymied by the homemade creme fraiche, which had to be cultured at exactly 78° F…  Three weeks I waited for the report on the mushrooms toasts!  And in the meantime I found myself reading blog posts of people who had recreated them and scrolling through instagram shots from the restaurant just to see what they looked like in their natural habitat.  Yeah, I know I have problems.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

Eventually i had to take matters into my own hands.  A quick trip to my local produce market to pick up mushrooms and good bread and a jaunt over to Trader Joe’s for reasonably priced creme fraiche and I was ready!  I was out of garlic confit, although I have a recipe for my version right over here, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.  I quickly infused some garlic in oil, used that to toast the breads.  You can toast them in the toaster, but for this recipe it’s much better on the stovetop (or grill, as the original recipe calls for) because the outside will be incredibly crunchy, but the inside of the slices will still be moist and springy.  A quick saute of the mushrooms, reduction of some white wine and shallots, and the addition of some creme fraiche and I was eating the best lunch I could ask for!

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

The recipe notes say that the chef enjoys a big slab of mushroom toast with an earthy glass of red wine for dinner and I must say he’s on to something.  Normally you might match the wine to whatever type of wine you used in the dish, but here the earthy meatiness of the mushrooms is perfect with red.  This is a decadent and delicious vegetarian appetizer or main course that I would be more than happy to eat again and again.

So here it is, a doable version of the original.  Although homemade garlic confit and homemade buttermilk creme fraiche would undoubtedly be amazing with this recipe, if they’re holding you back from making this recipe then don’t do them!  If you do want to go the extra mile, you can find the original recipe in full here.

Fancy Mushroom Toasts
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Ingredients
  1. ⅓ c. olive oil
  2. 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  3. 2-4 slices good bread (depending on size)
  4. ½ lb mushrooms (see notes)
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 2 T minced shallots
  7. 1 T butter (optional)
  8. ½ c. dry white wine
  9. 1T fresh thyme
  10. ½ c. creme fraiche
  11. 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Add the olive oil and garlic slices to a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook until garlic slices are beginning to brown on the edges, then remove with a slotted spoon and save for later. Remove oil from heat.
  2. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of garlic oil on both sides of the bread. Heat a frying pan over medium heat for 10 minutes, then add the bread in a single layer. Cook until the bread is crispy and browned on the first side, then flip and cook the second side in the same manner. Remove the toasts to a plate.
  3. Separate or chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. This will mean different things based on which mushrooms you have so use your best judgment of what size mushroom chunks will fit nicely on your toast. Turn the heat under the frying pan to medium high and add 3 T of the garlic olive oil to the frying pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until seared and well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms, add the shallots and the butter if the pan seems like it needs more moisture. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the wine, thyme, and reserved garlic slices and continue to cook until reduced by half.
  4. Stir in the creme fraiche and cook until thickened slightly, 1-2 mins. Stir in the parsley, taste and season again with salt and pepper, then spoon the mushrooms evenly over your toasts.
Notes
  1. Although these are fancy mushroom toasts, you should feel free to use any mushrooms that you have access to or can afford. I really know nothing about fancy mushrooms so I picked these based on looks and price and ended up with oyster and brown clamshell. The original recipe suggests a mix of nameko, hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, or matsutake. However, the mushrooms share the spotlight with the sauce and toast and as I was eating these I thought they would be just as delicious with regular old sliced crimini.
Adapted from Gjelina
Adapted from Gjelina
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Shaved Zucchini and Arugula Salad

Shaved Zucchini and Arugula Salad

I love zucchini year round, but right now, when they’re so abundant that people are practically giving them away, is the perfect time to try zucchini in a form you probably haven’t had before.  We’ve all had overcooked, mushy zucchini.  Many of us have also probably fallen for the trend of spiralized zucchini noodles.  I’ll come right out and say it – I don’t like them!  Raw they’re too crunchy and spongy, cooked they’re too mushy…it seems like there’s just never a good in-between.  Well, here it is!  This shaved zucchini and arugula salad is the perfect balance for a light and refreshing summer side dish. Read More

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Grilled Zucchini Crostini

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Summer is here and with it comes a bounty of produce.  Although my zucchini plant is just at the blossoming stage now, I know that one day i’ll blink my eyes and suddenly i’ll have more squash than I know what to do with.  So, before we get to that desperate stage when we have zucchini coming out our ears, I present to you this simple and delicious grilled zucchini crostini. Read More

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Fig and Arugula Grilled Cheese

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

I was recently perusing the online menus of restaurants near my work, trying to quiet my hunger, when something jumped out at me – “best ever slow-cooked grilled cheese”.  Ummm, what?  What in the world is a slow cooked grilled cheese, how does it differ from how I normally make grilled cheese, and why had nobody ever told me about this? Read More

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Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

It’s Thursday which means you’ve made it over the hump and are sailing towards the weekend.  It also means you’re still two days away from leisurely cooking and cocktail hours – enter this ridiculously fast, cheap, vegetarian dinner to sustain you until you reach weekend indulgence.

Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

These tostadas are simple, but still so satisfying.  They start with shallow fried corn tortillas (you can bake them if you prefer, they’ll just be a little bit drier), then you top them with refried black beans, a cilantro and lime slaw, cotija cheese, and a chipotle crema.  They are all at once crunchy, creamy, salty, refreshing, and satisfying.  Trust me – they seem basic, but you’re going to love them. Read More

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