5 garlic cloves, finely minced (click here for a tutorial on working with fresh garlic)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 18-20-inch baguette or loaf of french bread, sliced in half horizontally
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend of Parmesan and mozzarella and my aunt uses just Parmesan – you can tailor this to what you have on hand but I think a mix of white cheeses would be best)
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400.
In a small nonstick skillet, cook the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the butter and water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is straw colored, 7-10 minutes. It is important to keep the heat low or the garlic will burn and turn bitter. The garlic should be lightly browned but not burned!
In a small bowl, place the remaining 7 tablespoons softened butter and the salt and pepper. Mix in the hot garlic mixture and stir to combine. Using a rubber spatula, spread the butter mixture on the cut sides of bread. Sandwich the bread back together and wrap the loaf in foil. Place the wrapped loaf on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and turn the oven to the broil setting.
Sprinkle the bread with the shredded cheese. Broil until cheese has melted and bread is crisp, 1-2 minutes. (As my Aunt Marilyn points out, don’t take your hand off the oven door while the bread is broiling – it can burn quickly!) Transfer the bread to a cutting board with the cheese side facing down. Cut into angled pieces and serve. Please try to exert self-control and share the bounty with others at the table.