Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas meal... the extras

By the extras I'm referring to the croutons, mainly, as there were no sauces involved in this Christmas meal. On that topic, there will be no turkey as well, in case anyone's wondering. My family, namely my father, mother, sister and myself, don't have a snowball's chance in hell of finishing a whole turkey, even one of those smallish ones. Since we also do not relish weeks of left-over turkey meals, we generally skip it. So anyways, back to the croutons. I don't know about you guys, but I LOVE croutons. The few miserable pieces most restaurants grudgingly sprinkle over your soups and salads just don't cut it for me. I need A LOT of croutons, and I took this chance to make my own. It is ridiculously simple, except that it is also tedious and time consuming, but well worth the effort. I love croutons so much I made a crouton salad for myself. I'll include the recipe later for any other crouton maniac out there, but our star, the crouton, first.


As many slices of bread [any kind of bread] as you want, preferbly stale.

Good amount of oil, olive/vegetable/butter/whatever, as long as you can coat the bread cubes with it.

Seasonings such as powdered garlic or cajun spice mix if desired. Only requirement is that they have to be dried and powdered, so that they are light enough to stick to the bread cubes and dry enough not to wet the bread. Optional, the croutons are good enough on their own.

First, cube the bread slices. Some recipes call for the crust to be cut off, and I can only assume its so that the croutons look even. I find cutting off the crust to be a waste of food, time, effort and texture. The crust actually crisp up better than the meat, and tastes divine. So if you are bothered by the odd dark brown against the other faces of golden brown, off with the crusts. If not, leave them on.

Once cubed, tumble into frying pan and drizzle over with the oil, and the seasonings if using. How much oil to add is up to you. If you like them sinfully fragrant and oily, add more. Otherwise, add enough to coat. Stir around to coat everything. Turn on the stove and commence with the cooking. Stir frequently. These tasty cubes really need to be watched, as they can burn in a matter of seconds. Just stir them around constantly if you can, really not much point to nipping off for a break that can only last a minute.

Once done to the point of browness you desire, remove from pan into another tray or plate to cool. If left in the pan the croutons would continue to cook, and croutons that were perfect when you left them would be charred when you return for a snack.

And there's how to get nice crunchy croutons. Now for the crouton salad! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture in my haste to gobble it up. I'll be sure to return with a picture if I make it again, but meanwhile here's the recipe:


As much croutons as you want

Small amount of vegetable, tomato is ideal

Your favourite salad dressing.

Its dead simple and a little misleading to call this a recipe. Basically chop up the tomato and whatever veggie you want to add, mix with the croutons and toss with your favourite salad dressing. Mine's a kind of Japanese sesame multi-purpose sauce. I don't have a favourite brand, all the brands I've tried so far are divine. The sauce is really amazing, you can use it in a ton of different ways, drizzled on a sandwich, tossed into a salad, as a dipping sauce for barbequed meat, as a marinate, etc. Best of all, as a cold dish drizzled over silken tofu. In a Japanese restaurant you'll get the exact same dish at 5 times its cost price, when its so simple you can make it in your sleep for a quick snack or even a simple lunch. This is the bottle in my fridge right now:

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