Stale like this bread that I turned into croutons to perch delicately atop this caesar salad accompaniment to a delicious french onion soup topped with more stale bread and some defrosted comte.
Stale like this blog which at last update belonged to March and now belongs to November, having seen a late May marriage and no small part of business and bustle since.
Seriously, though… that bread is homemade, and about the easiest thing you could imagine. Its only fault is that it requires 12 hours advance notice, but it is easy enough to start in the morning and turn out for dinner, and if you don’t eat it all (hah) before the next loaf is ready- well, it really makes delicious croutons. The recipe is from Jim Lahey, via Smitten Kitchen, via The New York Times
*3 cups all-purpose flour (we usually use 1 whole wheat, 2 white)
*1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (or 1/3 tsp regular yeast)
*1 1/4 teaspoons salt
*1 5/8 cup water
1) Combine all ingredients and stir to mix into a wet dough. Let rise 12 hours at room temp.
2) Turn out onto a floured surface (or use a Silpat) and let rest 2 hours.
3) Turn oven on to 450°F 30min before baking. Put a 8qt pyrex or other oven-safe baking dish with lid in the oven to preheat.
4) When oven is ready, scrape dough into baking dish, cover, and bake 30min. Remove lid and bake 15min until nicely browned.
4 ingredients, 4 steps. How easy is that?!
Turning this bread into croutons is super easy, too. We usually save the awkward round ends in the freezer until we fill up a baggy. I chop the ends into inch-square cubes, toss them in olive oil, and toast them under a broiler until they start to brown. Then I take them out and toss them with minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, grated cheese, whatever I feel like, and pop them back under the broiler for a minute or two.
The soup is just as simple and spectacularly tasty, especially on a cold, drizzly day like today:
*1lb onions, quartered and thinly sliced (3 good-sized onions)
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 cup flour
*8 cups stock (preferably beef)
*1 cup dry white wine
*1 bay leaf
*1 sprig thyme
*6 crusty bread slices
*1 cup grated cheese (Comte, Gruyere or Swiss preferred)
*Salt and pepper to taste
1) Melt the butter in a medium soup pot over medium heat and add the onion. Saute 15 minutes or until the onion starts to brown (don’t burn!). Add the garlic and the flour. Stir for a couple minutes as it browns.
2) Add the wine and stock while stirring. Add the thyme and bay leaf and simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste.
3) Dish into oven-proof bowls, floating a slice of crusty bread on top of each. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top, and toast under a broiler for 5 minutes or until the cheese just starts to brown. Serves 6.