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Archive for September, 2017

TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Uses For Croutons & Jumbo Croutons

Jumbo Croutons
[1] Our idea of croutons on salad (photo courtesy MorningStar Farms.

Ciabatta
[2] If you want to bake your own ciabatta, here’s a recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.

Dried Oregano

[3] Premium dried oregano from Rancho Gordo.

 

We love good bread. Buttery or cracker-dry, fine or rustic crumb, plain or seasoned, tall or flat, soft or crusty, made with any type of flour, with or without inclusions (cheese, dried fruits, nuts…): All are welcome.

If you’re a bread lover, you’re likely a crouton lover, too. Can there be too many croutons served with salad or soup?

Maybe, but the bar is high.

When we saw this photo from MorningStar Farms, we were decided that our lunch would be salad with a topping of croutons. Big, garlicky ones, like crunchy garlic bread.

You don’t have to toss them on the salad. If you prefer, serve them on the side.

RECIPE: HERBED CROUTONS

You can make croutons in whatever size and shape you like—even using cookie cutters for hearts or other shapes. The ingredients are similar; only the size of the bread varies.

For jumbo croutons, look for an oblong loaf so you can cut biscotti- or mini-biscotti-size slices as shown in the photo. We used a ciabatta loaf.

Preparation

1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F, with a rack positioned in the center.

2. ADD the oil to a saucepan, along with the the garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes; discard the garlic.

3. TOSS the bread cubes in a bowl toss with the seasoned oil. Spread them onto a jelly-roll pan (a baking sheet with a rim) and bake them for 8 minutes.

4. SPRINKLE the croutons with the parmesan and bake them for another 7 minutes, or until they are golden brown (if you’re not using cheese, simply bake for the additional 7 minutes). Remove from the oven.

5. TASTE a crouton and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper as desired. Cool. Croutons will keep in an airtight container for a week. for tossed green salad.

 
Ingredients

  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (we used truffle salt—use whatever flavor you have)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (substitute butter)
  • 1 loaf of bread of choice: baguette, ciabatta, Italian bread, cut as desired
  • Optional: 1/4 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan
  •  
     
    10 USES FOR CROUTONS

  • Cheese grits/polenta garnish
  • Crouton snack mix (like Chex Party Mix, but with croutons)
  • Green salad garnish
  • Grilled fish garnish or pulsed for a crust
  • Pasta with olive oil, mac and cheese (pulse into coarse crumbs as desired)
  • Sauce thickener
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soup garnish
  • Stuffing
  • Stuffed* pepper or stuffed tomato garnish
  •  
    Too many croutons? You can pulse them into bread crumbs.

    _______________

    *Stuff with a protein salad: chicken, crab, egg, tuna or shrimp salad.
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream Donuts

    A fun project for a long weekend: ice cream donuts.

    There are two ways to look at them. One requires a donut pan and some fabrication. The other requires nothing but donuts and ice cream.

     
    RECIPE #1: DONUT ICE CREAM SANDWICHES (Photo #1)

    Ingredients

  • Donuts of choice (without frosting or filling)
  • Garnishes of choice: chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, mini-chips, sprinkles, etc.
  • Optional: chocolate chips or chopped chocolate for a chocolate dip
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SOFTEN the ice cream by leaving the container on the counter for 10 minutes or more.

    2. HALVE the donuts. Pile ice cream on the lower half and smooth the edges with a spatula. Add the top donut half.

    3a. ROLL the ice cream in a dish of garnishes. Wrap in plastic and return to the freezer to harden – or –

    3b. MELT the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Dip part of the donut in the chocolate, then in garnishes as desired.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: ICE CREAM DONUTS (Photo #3)

    These donuts have no cakey component; they’re solid ice-cream shaped like donuts. You can add a crumb bottom for some donut effect.

    Ingredients

  • Ice cream of choice
  • Frosting
  • Garnishes of choice: chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, mini-chips, sprinkles, etc.
  • Optional: cookie crumb or cake bottom (we used purchased coffee cake crumbs, which we broke into smaller pieces)
  •  
     
    Preparation

    1. COAT the wells of the pan (photo #2) per manufacturer’s instructions.

    2. SOFTEN the ice cream by leaving the container on the counter for 10 minutes or more.

    3. SPOON the ice cream into the donut wells. Level with a spatula. Add the optional cake or cookie crumbs and lightly tamp down. Place the pan in the freezer.

    4. ASSEMBLE: Invert the pan to remove the donuts. Quickly frost, garnish and serve. Alternatively, just frost and serve the garnishes separately, in DIY fashion.
     
     
    DOUGHNUT VS. DONUT

    An old word for ball was nut; a doughnut is literally a nut (ball) of dough.

     

    Donut Ice Cream Sandwich
    [1] The easy way: slice a donut, add the ice cream. Paper ‘N Stitch Blog uses glazed donuts with colorful ice creams, like black cherry chip and mint chocolate chip.

    Donut Pan - Wilton
    [2] With a donut pan, you can soften ice cream and fill the circles. Refreeze, then frost and decorate (photo by Hannah Kaminsky, Bittersweet Blog.

    Ice Cream Donuts

    [3] If you invest in a donut pan, you can use it for other things. Check out 101 Donut Pan Ideas.

     
    The term “doughnut” was first used in print in 1809 by American author Washington Irving in his satirical “Knickerbocker’s History Of New York.” Irving wrote of:

    “…balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks*.”

    These balls, or nuts of fried dough, are what we now call (in a smaller size) doughnut holes.

    Because the center of the cake did not cook as quickly as the outside, the softer centers were sometimes stuffed with fruit, nuts, or other fillings that did not require cooking (think of the chopped onions in the center of a bialy).

    What about the hole?

    Per Smithsonian, a New England ship captain’s mother made a notably delicious, deep-fried doughut that used her son’s spice cargo of nutmeg and cinnamon, along with lemon rind. She filled the center with hazelnuts or walnuts.

    As the story goes, in 1847, 16-year-old sailor Hanson Crockett Gregory created the hole in the center of the doughnut. He used the top of a round tin pepper container to punch the holes, so the dough would cook evenly.

    He recounted the story in an interview with the Boston Post at the turn of the century, 50 years later.

    He effectively eliminated the need to fill the less-cooked center, and provided an inner cut-out that enabled the dough to be evenly cooked.

    Who changed the spelling to donut?

    The first known printed record of the shortened word “donut” appears (likely an inadvertent misspelling) in “Peck’s Bad Boy And His Pa,” a story by George W. Peck published in 1900.

    The spelling did not immediately catch on. That impetus goes to Dunkin’ Donuts, founded in 1950.

    Donut is a easier to write, but we prefer the old-fashioned elegance of doughnut. Take your choice.

    Doughnuts didn’t become a mainstream American food until after World War I. American doughboys at the front were served doughnuts by Salvation Army volunteers. When the doughboys returned, they brought their taste for doughnuts with them [source].

    The name doughboy wasn’t related to the doughnuts, by the way. It dates to the Civil War, when the cavalry unchivalrously derided foot soldiers as doughboys. Two theories are offered:

  • Their globular brass buttons resembled flour dumplings.
  • They used flour to polish their white belts.
  • ________________

    *Olykoek is Dutch for oil cake, i.e., batter fried in oil. While dough was fried the world over, we can thank the Dutch for the sweet balls fried in hog fat that became modern doughnuts.

      

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