Family Traditions: Garlic Butter

By Andrea Pavee

As a little girl, Garlic Bread was a family treat for special occasions.

A favourite family restaurant, Fujiya (long since closed) served them wrapped, piping hot, in red-checked napkins, placed in dark brown wicker bread baskets. We loved biting down on the warm slices, oozing buttery goodness, straight from the oven.

In those days, readymade garlic bread, or spreads were not as easily available in stores as they are today. Samplings were either homemade or a treat at a restaurant.

Today, we are spoilt for choice. Plus, with our refined palates, garlic bread has been relegated to the back burners (pun intended) of cooking history.

For us, garlic bread has been a generational favourite, and with some creative license, I have tweaked Mum’s recipe.

Malaysia is on a strict lockdown again, the third since the pandemic started back in March 2020. 

Our dear friend, Tracy, sent along a care package last Friday for the family to while away the days. She is truly a godsend, thinking of us, and sending us yummy goodies way back from the very first lockdown.

Thank you, Tracy!

Among the goodies in this care package was a huge loaf of sourdough bread.

Last Sunday, which was Mother’s Day, and since we were on lockdown, I decided to cook up an Italian lunch. Garlic bread made the perfect accompaniment.

I must confess I cheated this time round and slathered on readymade Kerrygold Garlic and Herb butter, since I had bought it earlier to give it a try. I was not disappointed.

Mum’s garlic butter recipe is so simple to make, anyone can do it. Just add fresh pips of garlic to butter and you are done!

Over time, I have dabbled and refined her recipe.

There are cooks who are very precise and methodical when cooking, using measurements with scientific precision. Then, there are those who add a dash of this, or that, to cook up the most delicious offerings.

My garlic butter recipe is mostly a dish and a dash recipe as are most of my dishes. Also, I have discovered that when it comes to garlic, some like more, others, not so. For the health conscious, butter can be a no-no.

This recipe is so easy, you can determine how much garlic you want to use, and substitute olive oil for butter, if preferred.

Any excess can be stored and used to stir fry vegetables, as a marinade for a roast, or to cook up garlic flavoured bacon and scrambled eggs. If you opt to use olive oil, it makes a flavourful drizzle on salads.

I always used salted butter and if you use that as well, there is no need to add in sea salt flakes. If you use unsalted butter, sea salt flakes makes a delectable addition.

Garlic Butter

1 brick of salted butter, softened

1 bulb garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon Italian herbs

¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper

¼ teaspoon white pepper

Sea salt flakes, if necessary

Method

Take out the brick of butter to soften while you get the other ingredients together.

Wash and peel the garlic. Mop up excess water with a kitchen towel before mincing. You want the garlic to be as dry as possible since water affects the taste of the butter.

Add the minced garlic to the softened butter. Then sprinkle in the other herbs and spices, and mix well. For fluffier, and lighter butter, you can use a kitchen mixer to whip it up. 5 minutes ought to do it.

If you are not immediately using the butter, store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. Garlic is a very pungent allium and can cause a high stink every time you open the fridge door!

You can spread your garlic butter on any kind of bread. However, for festive occasions and celebrations, I typically choose a hearty, crusty bread like Farmer’s Bread, or Sourdough as a treat.

Slather the garlic butter generously on top of the bread and toast in either a toaster or oven. Sprinkle over with sea salt and serve immediately.

If using olive oil, add 2 cups of oil to 1 bulb of garlic. Drizzle over sliced bread and toast in either a toaster or oven. Sprinkle with herbs, spices and sea salt just before serving. When using olive oil, you can skip the white pepper.

The flavor of the butter changes with the bread you use. You can try out different types of bread to find what suits your family’s palate. You can also adjust the amount of garlic and pepper to suit everyone’s tastes.

And so, from our kitchen to yours, here is another family tradition for you to try, taste, and enjoy.

Editor’s Note: HomSkil is grateful to Andrea for her dedication and commitment to this blog. We are on a common mission to bring hope in trying times. A lockdown is hard for everyone and brings real hardship to many. Bread and butter pudding, rock cakes and garlic bread become big treats when going to the supermarket becomes difficult, and grocery shopping is limited to what is available. But then, we become resourceful and think of ways to make what is available go a long way and, in some cases, make something special out of simple and ordinary ingredients. In these times, we tend to look at what we have available locally and in abundance. Somehow, there is opportunity for local cuisine to take center stage, even though we live in globalised times.

Posted by Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 12 May 2021

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