Sometimes all a dish needs is something crisp on the side to make it special.
Salads, soups, and pastas, for instance, often could use a piece of crisp, garlicky toast, something to make them more than everyday eating. These Crisp Savory Toasts are like a spectacular version of garlic bread, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and heated up with a few dried red pepper flakes. They are a good example of a food that you can make far better in your own kitchen than you could ever purchase.
- 4 ounces (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- One 1-pound to 2-pound boule, such as Rosemary–Olive Oil, Olive, Normandy Rye, or Multigrain bread
- Imported Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place the butter, red pepper flakes, garlic, and shallot in mortar and mash with the pestle into a smooth paste.
Slice the bread as thinly as possible, between ¼ inch and 1/8 inch thick. Place the slices on a baking sheet. Thinly spread the garlic- butter mixture on one side of each slice and sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese.
Bake the toasts until the tops are lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. The toasts should be dry but still a bit moist in the center.
The same method can be used with butter, sugar, and cinnamon to make Crisp Sweet Toasts, which would be ideal for afternoon tea, for breakfast, or as a simple dessert. Start by using a sweeter bread, such as the Fig-Anise, Fruit-Nut, or Rye-Currant breads. Follow the chilling and slicing directions for Crisp Savory Toasts.
For the topping, melt butter. Then combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Brush the slices with the melted butter and sprinkle the tops with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Bake according to the directions for Crisp Savory Toasts.
Nutritional information is based on 20 servings, using a 1.5lb Multigrain Bread, does not include the Sweet Variation, and uses 2oz of Parmesan Cheese.