Olive Cheese Bread

I don’t think I’ve ever met a cheesy bread I didn’t like, but few of them have lingered with me after I’ve eaten them. But that was probably because I hadn’t yet met this Olive Cheese Bread. It’s more than simply a cheesy bread — though there’s plenty of melty, gooey cheese — it’s also wonderfully balanced with loads of salty black and green olives (and a few other things). In other words, it’s everything you could want in an appetizer and something you’ll remember long after the final taste.

The secret to good cheesy bread is that you don’t want to just throw cheese on top and let it melt. No, it requires a carrier, something to transform it into a spread that truly blends with the bread, and that’s where mayo comes in. Also, butter. They’re the foundation, the vehicle for all that cheese and other nice stuff. Simply combine softened butter and mayo until smooth, then fold in chopped green and black olives, green onion, and plenty of Monterey Jack cheese. I like a rough cut on the olives so they retain a wonderful taste — we’re not trying for tapenade here.

Monterey Jack is the ideal cheese for this dish; it’s melty but creamy, and its taste isn’t overpowering in comparison to the olive and green onion. It’s mellow and gentle, which is exactly what the olives require.Spread that over a loaf of soft French bread and bake it for 20 minutes to get melty. You’ll have the cheese bread of your olive-loving dreams.

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