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Herb Croutons

 

I brought a tossed salad to a Father’s Day BBQ today.  I gathered most of the ingredients from the Morristown Farmers’ Market this morning, and had intended to make my own salad dressing and croutons, too.  I vaguely remember having done both before, but not being pleased enough with the results to repeat the process.

I made the simple mustard vinaigrette from A Homemade Life last night and sampled it on my supper salad.  It was ok, but I didn’t love it enough to inflict it on Neil’s whole family, so today’s dressing is store-bought. No big deal.

The croutons, on the other hand, came out exactly as I’d hoped – crunchy and herby (is that even a word?) so they came with us to the BBQ.  They were pretty easy to make.  Here’s how:

First, make a loaf of bread.

I made this herb bread in my bread machine:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon  sugar (I used demerara)
  • 1 tablespoon gluten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried bouquet garni
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Directions

  • Place all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Set crust on “light” and program for the “basic” cycle
  • Remove bread from the machine when finished, and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Next, cut up the loaf

Slice off the entire rounded top of the bread and stand there at the counter, tearing it apart with your fingers and eating it like a barbarian.  You won’t need it for the croutons, and it’s entirely too soft and delicious to eat in a refined, ladylike manner.

You might also want to set aside a few slices for sandwiches.  You really only need half a loaf for the croutons.

Cut 3/4-inch slices, and further cut each slice into 3/4-inch cubes.

Lastly, make the croutons

Ingredients

  • Enough bread cubes to fill up a cookie sheet
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Spread the bread cubes out on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Drizzle the butter over the bread cubes.
  • Bake for 5 minutes, remove the cubes from the oven and stir them up a bit.
  • Return to the oven, bake for another 5 minutes, stir again.
  • Return to the oven for 5 more minutes, or until the bread cubes are crunchy all the way through
  • Cool completely and store in an airtight container

I got a lot of guidance on this process from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook.  Both recipes were adapted from it.

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