Garlic & Herb

Greetings again, everyone. It’s the weekend, oncemore, and time for another recipe.

This one, like many of my recent uploads, was something of a spur of the moment decision. Which is a pleasant example of how this year’s “mini recipe” focus has changed the way I work. I have a lot more freedom to post simple recipes and the occasional adaptation of a previous dish (like last week’s blueberry vindaloo), most of which would never have graced my site before. It’s somewhat liberating and I hope that you lot enjoy it as much as I do. Feel free to drop a comment down below or hit up my contact page if you have anything to say about the matter.

Today, though, my simple recipe isn’t even my own. It’s a collaboration with a friend of mine who was convinced that I was making garlic bread wrong and just had to prove it.

Personally, I still disagree. Garlic bread doesn’t need herbs or spices to be enjoyable. You can turn a baguette into something wonderful with just garlic and butter.

His herbs and peppers were far from necessary but, in the end, they were also far from unwelcome. If basic garlic bread is a wonderful treat, his french herb and mixed chilli twist is pure bliss. A far more nuanced flavour with all the same garlic punch as before, alongside that touch of heat that we all crave.

For the maybe five minutes of extra preparation time, the difference that my friend’s additions made were utterly unbelievable. And he has no problem with me sharing what he did.

You will need:

HerbBreadIng

1 baguette

150g salted butter

2 cloves of garlic

1 dried cayenne

2 teaspoons green jalapeño powder

And 2 teaspoons of herbes de provence

The last one of which is a pre-crafted blend, not a single herb or spice. Something that I’m not normally a fan of, since I like to have complete control over what goes into my recipes.

Here, though, it makes sense. It keeps the recipe so much quicker and simpler than mixing up the 8+ ingredients that go into such a blend, yourself. And, given what we’re making, that’s a big deal.

No-one wants to spend half an hour just preparing what should be a twenty minute recipe in total.

So yes, today’s cooking will require you to pick up a special herb blend but, once you have that in your cupboard, you can throw this recipe together in an instant, needing nothing else that shouldn’t already be in a chilli lover’s kitchen. Let’s get to it.

Peel your garlic cloves and crush them with the flat of your knife to release their juices. Chop the results finely and add to a bowl with the butter.

Flake in your dried cayenne and add all but the bread, before mashing the lot together with a fork.

HerbBowl

Once you’ve reached a nice, smooth, even paste, then it’s time to prep the baguette.

To do so, cut into it with a serrated bread knife at two to three centimetre intervals down its entire length. Stopping just short of the other side, so that each slice remains attached. Though you may have to make one full cut mid way to fit it in your oven.

If you don’t understand, don’t worry. You’ll see what I mean in a moment. I just forgot to take pictures before cooking.

Now, take a more standard knife and spread the spiced, herbed and garlicked butter into each cut, trying to ensure that each gets an even filling.

Then wrap the bread in silver foil and bake at 180°c for fifteen minutes. It should come out looking like this:

HerbBread

And here’s the best close-up that I could muster:

HerbBreadClose

Warm, golden-brown, lightly toasted french bread, still soft in the middle and not quite dripping or oozing but definitely wet with melted butter. Butter that carries the bold flavour of just-cooked garlic and the warmth of cayenne for a

2.5/10

Heat

with a difference. Because, while it might be mostly chilli, that chilli has mixed with what remains of the pungent, aromatic spice from the garlic for an all-over mouth warmth. One with a definite upper-mouth focus and a slight nasal tingle.

And it doesn’t really grow but it doesn’t fade for a while, either. It simply changes placement slightly as the garlic begins to die down and the jalapeño comes in, its flavour pairing beautifully with the green, yet lightly floral, herb blend.

Neither the method nor the ingredients for this recipe are complex but the resulting flavour and heat profiles most certainly are and it’s an amazing twist on a classic appetiser or side.

Serve it with soup, stew, casserole, con carne, marinated meats and seafood, patatas bravas or just about any other saucy dish you can think of. Or simply enjoy it alone as a snack. I won’t tell.

Just make sure to give this recipe a go. It’s far, far better than anything that’s this quick and simple deserves to be.

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