Sunday, 10 February 2008

Croutons and crostini

Bread is central to our life here in France. Like the French we buy it every day which means endless bits to use up. The village baker makes really great sourdough baguettes* which I slice at the end of the day and put in the freezer. When I have a big batch I make croutons or crostini.

The difference between the two is that crostini - bases for patés or spreads - need to be crunchy whereas croutons need to be baked hard, especially if they're going in a soup. Otherwise you get soggy bits of bread floating around. So the croutons are best baked plain and unadorned (at about 180°C/Gas 4 for 15-20 minutes - slightly longer from frozen) while I spray the bread rounds that are destined to be crostini with a fine mist of olive oil before I bake them. Both keep crisp in a sealed container for about a week.

Yesterday - apart from the morning bread purchase - was a real leftovers/storecupboard day. Various odds and ends of charcuterie, hard boiled eggs, cheese and a salad for lunch. A jar of Provencal-style fish soup with rouille I unearthed in the cupboard for supper. With the croutons and some grana padano as I didn't have the more usual accompaniment of gruyère. It worked perfectly well though.

* In the UK I use ciabatta.

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