Monday, April 30, 2012

Homemade Croutons

I love good croutons.  A while back my girl and I went to dinner at a restaurant, a rare occurrence anymore.   Both our meals included a trip to the salad bar.  As I looked over the offerings I could tell just by looking the croutons would be good and boy were they ever.   After finishing my salad I made the comment that I would come back again just for those croutons, they were that good.    

I have tried many store brands over the years and find most to be rather bland, offering up not much more than a bit of a crunch to whatever I am adding them to.   So I decided to try to duplicate the ones I  had at dinner out.  I've been making our own bread so with that as a base it would be an inexpensive way to dress up salads, soups and use as a savory snack.

I knew the ones I had were probably not baked but fried.  I had seen a friend make some that way once and decided to give that a go.  Hers were absolutely delicious too.

I let 2 baguettes dry out for a few days on the counter.   Cut them into appropriate sized pieces.  Where the baguette was too hard I popped it into the microwave for 25 seconds to soften it enough to cut up.

I heated up some olive oil to medium high in the cast iron fry pan and then added enough bread to cover the bottom of the pan a single layer deep.  I sprinkled heavily with dried basil, thyme, garlic and salt.  I turned them a bunch to cover all sides with oil and herbs and then let them sit to brown a minute without turning.  They brown quickly.   After browning as best I could on all sides I put that batch in a bowl and made another until all the bread was gone.   I was very heavy handed with the seasonings.

They came out deliciously.   I used them on a plain tomato soup that night.   I had left them on the counter in a bowl but because neither of us can pass without grabbing a couple I've bagged them in put them in the cupboard.     It's nice to have something on hand that can make something ordinary like tomato soup become something you crave.

My next batch is going to be seasoned with herbs de provence to go with homemade cream of broccoli  or cream of celery soup.   Yum.

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