My dad is a weeper.
I’m not sure when it started, but for as long as I can remember he’s been the kind of guy who gets teary over everything from the moment the bus driver moved the bus at the end of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to the moment he first heard the news that he was going to be a grandpa. It’s one of my favorite things about him: that he’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.
I’ve been saving these two recipes for August because it’s the month of my birth and I sort of feel like if you’re going to eat this much bread and butter and cheese in one sitting, it better be because you’re celebrating something major. My dad always makes these croutons and this bread with his chicken caesar salad, and for most of my life this meal was what I requested for my birthday dinner.
When my siblings and I were kids, my parents always made sure that our birthdays were extra special occasions. Every year, first thing in the morning, there were gifts and a birthday card on the kitchen table and most years there were parties with cake and ice cream and family and friends. We weren't rich, but my mom and dad always made sure that birthdays felt like celebrations.
One year - I was eight or nine - we took a summertime family vacation to Breckenridge, where I fell in love with a pair of teddy bears in a souvenir shop. They were dressed as a bride and groom, and grossly overpriced. I pleaded to have both, but my parents said no. They told me to choose just one, because that was all we could afford. I picked the bride because she was prettier, but I just knew she would be lonely.
When my birthday rolled around later that summer, the one gift I remember opening was the teddy bear groom, which my mom had snuck back to the shop to buy. I was so excited when I realized what it was, my overjoyed reaction brought tears to my dad's eyes. I can still remember how special I felt.
1/4 cup of butter, melted
1/4 cup of olive oil
Minced garlic to taste (1-2 cloves)
1 loaf of dense bread like sourdough (day-old is best), chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Garlic salt to taste
Seasoned salt to taste
1. Combine the butter, oil, and minced garlic.
2. Pour half of the butter mixture over the bread and toss it, then pour the other half and toss it again.
2. Coat the bread in parmesan cheese and toss it again.
3. Coat the bread in paprika and toss it again.
4. Season the bread with garlic salt and seasoned salt and toss it one last time.
5. Spread the bread into an even layer on a baking sheet and bake at 275-300 for 90-120 minutes. According to my dad: "The idea is to dry em out and brown em." So that's what you're looking for.
Garlic Cheese Bread
1 stick of butter, melted
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 loaf of French or sourdough bread, sliced in half lengthwise
1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Butter it and bake at 300 for 15 min
1) Mix the butter and garlic, cover it, and refrigerate overnight.
2) Butter both sides of the bread and bake it at 300 for 15 minutes.
3) Mix the two cheeses together and sprinkle on the bread, making sure to go all the way to the edges.
4) Put the bread back in the oven for 15 more minutes. The cheese should bubble, but not get brown.
5) Let the bread sit for at least 5-10 minutes before slicing it. According to my dad: "It'll just goo apart if you try to cut it right away." (I believe "goo apart" is a term borrowed from the French.)
One of my goals for 2014 is to write one “Have At It” post per month, to include a story from my dad’s life with one of his recipes. I figure if nothing else, it will give me some motivation to get serious about getting my dad’s stories down, even if I have to write them myself.
Previous Have At It Posts: