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Infused Roasted Garlic Oil

The better the olive oil, the more it should stand alone as a flavor. This dish is always a favorite at cocktail parties. Experiment with different herbs -- rosemary, thyme, sage -- and salts to match your taste. I've found that sticking with one herb per batch works best. Use a bold, peppery oil for this appetizer.

Makes 6 appetizer servings

5 cloves of roasted garlic (see recipe below)

1/4 cup fine extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

Chopped fresh herbs (optional)

1 fresh baguette or kalamata olive loaf, warmed and cut into square chunks

Mash garlic (and chopped herbs, if you're using) in oil. Salt and pepper generously to taste. Serve in a small dipping bowl with pieces of crusty bread for dipping.

Roasted Garlic

Cut one head of garlic crossways. Sprinkle exposed garlic flesh with kosher salt and extra-virgin olive oil. Combine the two sides to form the head again and wrap loosely in aluminum foil. Roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until roasted garlic oozes out of its skin with a slight squeeze of the fingers. The roasted garlic cloves should be soft to the touch but not mushy.

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