Croutons

September 11, 2011

Baking


There I was with The Husband sitting in our favorite Italian eatery over in Lexington I had run out of dried herbs for my massive pasta sauce cook off  last week so I took advantage of the opportunity to escape my cooking for that of someone else’s.  I truly enjoy having a meal at this place and will take just about any opportunity to eat there.  So there we sit enjoying our starters when I came across one of my biggest pet peeves of eating out.  It seems like no matter where we eat if I order a salad I end up with the HUGE teeth breaking bricks masquerading as croutons.  C’on you know what I am talking about…slightly browned, stale, little flavor cubes of “bread” that are so large you could almost take a chain saw to them to reduce them in size to what is considered “bite sized” pieces. You can hear them clunking around in the serving vessel as you are eating your greens, how one is supposed to macerate both salad greens and those bread bricks on one forkful is beyond me.

These restaurant croutons could almost be used to build a house, a little spray sealer, some paint and away you go…but seriously when you think about it what happens when you try and spear one with your fork?  Hmmm?  You know what happens, you poke and poke at the prehistoric chunk of  “bread” hoping against hope that your fork tines will not break off while you are stabbing away only to end up chasing around the salad bowl (if you are lucky) or plate.  Am I not right?  So let’s put an end to rock hard over sized croutons.

These croutons we are about to jump off into are super easy to make and as far as the east is from the west when it comes to tenderness compared to what you get at your local restraunt.  Oh and they will fit on your fork along with the salad greens.  Personally I like a rather basic crouton some olive oil salt and pepper.  Now you can spice these up just about any way you like, red pepper flakes, grated Parm some dried herbs.  Really you can pull just about any spice you would like on them.  If you are going to use them on say Tomato Soup  or the like you can pull some of the spices you are using in your soup to marry the two things together.  The recipe for these croutons is really more of a guide than a recipe, in that you can adjust the amounts of oil and spices to get them to the perfect flavor profile you like.

Croutons

1 loaf Texas Toast

Salt & Fresh ground Pepper to taste

Olive Oil ( I used Garlic Olive oil produced by Luinci)

Ok super easy… Normally I cut off the crusts from the bread but you don’t have to I just like it that way. Using a serrated knife cut the slices of bread into 3/4″ cubes or so, make them truly bite size.

Look croutons that will fit on a fork!

Toss the cubes into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with your olive oil, how much as much as you would like, I go for middle of the road.

The amount of oil is totally up to you

Toss the bread cubes to distribute the oil on the bread cubes.  Add in the salt & pepper or spices of your choice and toss well.

Ahhh look at those bits of pepper

Pour onto a cookie sheet and get as much as you can into a single layer, bake at 350 for about 20 minutes stirring half way though to allow for browning evenly.

Now those are croutons!

So how are your going to spice your croutons?” Ranch flavor?  Salt and Vinegar?  Onion?  Chipolte?

Now go play with your food.

WikiJan

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