Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Homemade Croutons

Have you ever wondered what to do with your old buns?  Your old, stale, dried out buns?  And by this I mean hot dog, hamburger, and sandwich buns.  The buns that always seem to come either too many or few to the package and you either never have enough or you have way too many.  If you have too many, consider yourself in luck!  Stale sandwich buns make the best croutons, bar none. They make a great addition to salads, to top soups, as a tasty snack, and the best part is they freeze beautifully so you can make them now to serve at Thanksgiving!

Select an assortment of buns that have seen better days.
Using a bread knife, slice them into half-inch squares.
Gather the spices you'd like to use to season them.  These are the ones that I use, but it's really a personal preference.  Try not to use too many with heavy concentrations of salt or your croutons will be too salty.
One secret to good croutons is butter.  Be generous, but not overly so or they'll not dry properly in the oven.  Put a stick of butter into a large saute pan and add your spices.  Stir everything together as the butter melts.
Add the bread cubes and stir to coat well.  After sauteing them in butter and seasoning, they'll bake in the oven for an hour or so to dry out.
Bake them in a slow oven (250 degrees F) for an hour to an hour and a half.  They should look like this when they're finished, i.e. dry and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool.
Now enjoy them in your favorite soup or salad.
Here's a recipe that I like.

Cream of Spinach Soup with Onions and Mushrooms
(With homemade croutons)

1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and very thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 T. flour
1 cans chicken broth (14.5 oz.)
1/2 pkg. frozen chopped spinach (10 oz)
1 cup cream
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste

In a large pan or Dutch oven, place first 5 ingredients and saute mixture over low heat, until mushrooms and onions are soft and all the liquid rendered, is evaporated. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Stir in flour and cook and stir for about 2 minutes, turning all the while. Stir in broth and spinach and simmer soup for 2 minutes. Add cream and simmer soup for 10 minutes, uncovered. Add seasonings to taste.

(Aren't these little bowls the cutest? I picked them up in the clearance section of Anthropologie for half off! Now I wish I'd have bought more than two, but I always feel guilty picking up yet another dish of some sort even though I love them. I love them ALL!)

Bon Appetit!

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Linda (More Fun Less Laundry) said...

Pattie, thank you so much for this recipe for the croutons! As easy as it is I never really knew how to make them, and we always have leftover buns and especially italian or french bread! As a matter of fact I have some now, so I will try this! Linda

Renée said...

F A B U L O U S ! Thanks Pattie.

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

Just keep in mind, Linda, that the cheaper the bread the better the croutons. I've used all kinds, even the expensive artisanal breads that I couldn't bear to let go to waste and they came out like rocks. Use the better bread for bread crumbs (whir in food processor and then package and freeze), and save the cheaper breads for croutons.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! said...

I could eat croutons like popcorn, thanks for the soup recipe. Spinach seems to be the veggie of the day, fine by me, I really like it.