What could be better than bread? Bread and butter? Mmm...sometimes, I guess, but this is even better than that. BREAD AND DIPPING OIL! You know the stuff...you go to that little Italian place and here comes your server, arms laden with a cutting board of crusty bread and a bottle of olive-oil-y goodness tucked in the crook of his/her arm. It's coming to your table, and barring your dedication to to some low-carb eating plan, you'd better eat it. Not only should you eat it, you should make your own at home when the spirit moves you. It's easy!!! I have a basic throw-together recipe that I use. We'll call it my 'winter version', because in the summer I always add bits and pieces of fresh herbs from my garden. You can start with this basic grouping of ingredients and add most anything you want, depending on your meal or just what you have a taste for in general.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff, it really makes a huge difference in taste...stronger extra virgin olive oils will have a definite green hue to them)
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
pinch of salt
pinch of hot pepper flakes
dash of balsalmic vinegar (maybe 1/2 teaspoon)
Whisk it all together and break bread! Recipe is easily doubled, tripled, etc. It can be stored, but I prefer to make it fresh when we're going to eat it. It's nice to let the flavors meld for an hour or so before serving, but not necessary.
This is where I'll admit that I'm not really a baker of bread. I prefer to pick up a loaf or two of whatever artisan bread is fresh at the grocery that day. If you baked your own bread, well, people would probably love you even more. I will just have to live with less love coming in due to my lack of love for baking.