The other day, while enjoying some garlic toast for dinner, my husband and I had a brief discussion of toaster ovens and toasters that led to each of us Googling to learn more about the history of the toaster. One of the interesting sites we located is the Cybertoaster Museum, which contains many excellent photographs of the various stages in the toaster's development.
Creative Commons license, is a very early model dating from 1909. The toaster oven, which is based on the same principle of an electric-heating-element-in-a-metal-box, appears to have been invented in the 1960s. My home has one, supplied by one of the previous owners. That's the only way I'd be likely to own a toaster oven, since most of the things a toaster oven can do are either out of fashion or have been co-opted by more recent inventions.
So what use is a toaster oven? It's a wonderful way to make impromptu garlic bread. We do so this way:
- Cut two (toaster ovens rarely will fit more) generous slices of crusty French or Italian bread.
- Spread the slices generously with butter or margarine (the closer your spread is to actual butter, the better the result will taste).
- Sprinkle each slice with garlic powder.
- Place on aluminum foil in toaster oven, spread-side up, and toast until crunchy and/or lightly browned.
The same type of recipe can be used in an ordinary home oven, but a toaster oven is great for making a single-serving batch of garlic bread very quickly. It is, needless to say, impossible to make garlic bread in a conventional toaster, and would have been dangerous to try to make it in an early toaster such as the 1909 version above.
Flavored breads (try a rosemary and olive oil loaf from Wegmans, if there's one near you!) produce the most interesting results, though a simple boule will work well. Bon appetit!