Before I tell you how to make croutons, let us look at what they are. This term has been in the French culinary world since the seventeenth century. Croutons are small pieces of bread usually cut in about ¾ to 1 inch squares. Although usually they are “square”, you can cut them in any shape and size you want. It is best to cut them from stale bread preferably sour dough, French or one of our heavier homemade bread recipes.
When learning how to make croutons, one must realize that they are used in different areas of our cooking. For this reason we must learn to prepare them differently. One way for me is to cut my older bread into croutons for dishes like stuffing. If I plan to make these dishes fairly soon, I will place the croutons in a shallow pan after cutting. This process allows the croutons to ‘air dry” by the time I need to use them. If I do not have plans to use them right away, after cutting I will put them in a plastic freezer bag for storage in the freezer. Sometimes I use them as they are or I might choose to toast the croutons. Sometimes I even turn the croutons into bread crumbs if needed.
After I learned how to make croutons I realized they can be turned into great appetizers. I started cutting them in different shapes and a little larger than the ordinary one inch square. I toast the pieces after cutting them. To serve, I each with a little chicken liver, cheese or other spreads. These are easy, delicious and always loved at parties. The larger toasted croutons are great to place in the bottom on soup bowls. After filling the bowl with soup, the crouton is rather like a tasteful dumpling in the soup.
The most popular ways to use croutons is to use as garnishes on top of soups and salads. This is a fairly new concept here in the United States developing only in the nineteenth century. Actually, in my earlier years I never knew about croutons for salad or soup so I never learned how to make croutons. Back then we usually had crackers or bread with soups and salads. I must say, when news of “croutons” got out, everyone went wild over them especially with salads.
At first, when I learned how to make croutons, I would only toast them in the toaster. Since then I have learned to season them with many herbs, spices, cheeses, butter and garlic. I even like ones seasoned with butter, cinnamon and sugar are great to serve with fruit salads. Since I have learned so many different ways to season croutons, I also toast them in the oven on a large tray and also under the broiler. One of my favorite ways of cooking them is to deep fry. The oil adds more calories but they are so delicious. After frying I always sprinkle them with seasoning blends, cheese or a mixture. These are good to eat just like that as a snack!
Toasting under hot broiler only takes a few seconds on each side; CAREFUL watch is necessary.
Toasting in preheated oven at 400F degrees takes 2-3 minutes on each side.
Possible FATS that can be used in skillet for sautéing are butter, clarified butter, olive oil or a mixture of butter and olive oil.
After making croutons cool and place in airtight container; use same day for freshness.
I use almost any of my stale homemade breads; white, whole wheat, multigrain or rye, dinner rolls and for some things baking powder biscuits.
Remove crusts from bread; cut into cubes.
Combine butter and ¼ cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
When mixture is hot add bread cubes and INCREASE heat to high.
Turn croutons frequently with metal spatulas to brown evenly on all sides.
Add more oil if needed; drain on paper towels.
Preheat oven to 400F degrees; drizzle oil over cubes tossing lightly to coat.
Sprinkle cubes with salt and pepper; place on baking sheet.
Bake about 10 minutes turning to brown on all sides.
Combine in small dish salt, garlic, basil and pepper; blend well.
Drop bread cubes in hot oil (About 1 inch deep); cook turning croutons until browned on all sides.
Lift croutons out of oil onto paper towels to drain.
Immediately sprinkle salt mixture over the hot croutons.
Toss croutons and sprinkle a little on all sides.
NOTE: Taste these! The kids will be happy you learned how to make croutons like this. They will want them for a snack.
Heat oil and garlic clove in large skillet over medium heat until golden in color.
Remove garlic and discard.
Add bread cubes to the skillet; cook stirring frequently until bread is crisp and golden brown.
Drain croutons on paper towels.
Remove crusts from bread; cut into small cubes.
Melt butter over medium heat in skillet.
Add cubes to skillet and toss lightly until lightly browned.
Remove from skillet and season cubes with salt.
These are also good with salads.
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
Cut stale bread in 1/3 inch slices; remove crusts from slices.
Spread slices with softened butter on both sides.
Cut the slices in 1/3 inch cubes or 1/3 inch slices.
Place cubes or strips on cookie baking sheet.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes turning over one time to brown on both sides.
Spread toast with butter; cut into cubes and place close on baking sheet.
NOTE: These croutons are good cut to fit inside soup bowls and serve with your soup; especially good with onion soup. SEE ONION soup recipe below.
Sprinkle toasted bread with the grated cheese; place under boiler until cheese melts.
Sautee onion in melted butter in a large saucepan until golden brown about 10 minutes.
Blend in beef broth, salt and pepper; bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 15 minutes.
Serve bowls of onion soup topped with cheese croutons.
Preheat oven to 375F degrees; trim crusts from bread and cut into ½ inch cubes.
Spread in a shallow pan or cookie sheet; bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Heat butter in skillet; add croutons, salt, pepper and parsley tossing lightly to coat.
Sauté over medium heat 2-3 minutes; remove to paper towels to drain and cool.
Preheat oven to 375F degrees; cut bread slices in desired shapes (or croutons) for appetizers.
Spread both sides of croutons with olive oil; place on baking sheet.
Bake on both sides until golden brown; top or serve aside favorite spreads.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add chicken livers, mushrooms, sage, garlic and pepper; cook and stir until livers are no longer red.
Add wine to skillet and cook until evaporated; season with salt.
Add anchovy and capers; transfer to food processor, add egg yolk and puree.
NOTE: Add a little milk if mixture is too thick.
Refrigerate until ready to serve; spread on appetizer croutons to serve.