Wednesday, September 26, 2007

croutons

Another really great way to use up stale bread is to make croutons. Years ago I became known in my immediate family as a great crouton maker. I spent a summer working for tree-planting camps - first as a planter in Northern Ontario, and then as an assistant cook in Northern Alberta. The head cook at both camps was a fantastic woman named Elizabeth Evans, who learned to make croutons at the knee of her Italian mama.

Elizabeth made croutons from any kind of bread - stale or not. She cut the bread up into long-ish pieces and then sauteed them in olive oil with chopped garlic until they were well-browned. They were liberally salted when they were done.

When I started playing around with making my own croutons, I stuck to hearty breads that were definitely stale. Lots of olive oil, but generally no garlic. A bit of salt, maybe. I served them in salads. (I was also known for my great salads.)

These days I've been making a lot of croutons again. When my bread gets stale, I break it into large-ish chunks (much bigger than those little cubed croutons you can buy in the grocery store, anyhow), and toss them around in a frying pan with a bunch of olive oil until things are nicely golden. No salt.

These taste AMAZING dipped into soups (which is how I've been eating them, lately).

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