1 May 2011

Wonderful after thoughts....

I was going to have a piece of toast with my breakfast but alas the bread by now has gone a bit *hard*. So I decided I had enough bread crumbs and would make instead some croutons for the coming summer salads.

There is no hard and fast rule for me with croutons other than they need to be crunchy. I am all into the crunchy! Anyway, I usually just stick to the basics which might look a bit weird but trust me – you’ll never, EVER, buy anything in the store again once you have had these! And have you checked out how much they cost in the store? There is some serious mark-up on these (think about it - they cost more than a whole loaf of bread!) when really everyone can make them in less than 5 minutes prep time and about 10 minutes cooking. It really is so simple and delicious!

So I cube the bread and put onto a baking tray (cookie sheet for those on the other side of the pond). I have a really sort of basic pan here that I use for anything oily/messy. I find it keeps my good pans in great shape and this one well I don’t care about it so it can get as messy as I like.

I then assemble my flavour enhancers as I call them, things like salt, pepper (always a must!) and a few other spices – namely oregano, ground coriander (I did this myself with my mortar and pestle – I just kept it in the same jar with a card that tells me what it is – I usually use the carton), ground cumin, garlic/onion granules and a good amount of olive oil. If you want them spicy - use some cayenne pepper or how about some sweet paprika? Anything goes in this - just don't use too much and keep it to about 3-4 herbs/spices. Each time I make them I try something different but the basic salt/pepper/garlic is always a pleaser if you just want to keep them plain for your use.

I put on as much pepper as I like, and about a ½ teaspoon of the other spices. I used only a pinch or two of cumin but more coriander as I like this spice. I then added about two to three good pinches of salt. I then add about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and stir this all up on the sheet. You could do this in a bowl but I like less clean-up. I add more oil if needed – sometimes the bread dictates how much is used but never more than another tablespoon or so. As I said – hard to say exactly how much as I just sprinkle or do it till I think – yeah that’s enough.I then put into a pre-heated oven at about 190 degrees Celsius or about 375 degrees Fahrenheit depending on which side you live. I leave this until I begin to smell it – about 10-15 minutes and they come out all toasty and crunchy. I leave to cool and put them into a zip lock baggie for storage until they are needed. The bottom picture is me trying to use the macro setting on the new camera - not bad for a first attempt... =)They keep for about a week at room temperature. They are great for salads and I love how the bread crumbs from the cutting board soak up the spices – I used it all. They are especially great with my blue cheese dressing (recipe given previously). I have done this with store bought bread but usually with my own. It ensures that everything is used and nothing goes to waste. As it ought to be! Enjoy...


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