Now That's a Mouthful

Episode 71: Bread Scraps in the Seasonal Kitchen.

Episode 71: Bread Scraps in the Seasonal kitchen.

The best recipes that use bread and bread scraps can take your seasonal kitchen to a whole new level!  You don’t have to bake a loaf of bread to take advantage of a lot of great recipes and ideas for holiday entertaining or, even a weeknight meal. We’ll give you tips on how to make the best cheesy pull-apart bread, bread puddings, delicious croutons, and seasoned bread crumbs – plus the recipes to make them.

USING STORE BOUGHT BREAD AND RECIPES FOR THOSE BREAD SCRAPS

Store-bought bread easily transforms into amazing appetizers, and scraps can become the workhorse of your kitchen. Once you have bread in your kitchen what becomes possible with it, is pretty diverse. You can make everything from sandwiches, to incorporating it into desserts, like bread pudding, to making ingredients for other dishes, like bread crumbs or croutons.

FAVORITE BREAD APPETIZER.
All hands on deck! The cheesy pull-apart bread is one of the easiest, one of the most delicious, and one of the most engaging bread boards you can put on your table. Everyone literally has to grab a piece or cut a piece off. It’s a great ice-breaker, conversation starter, and just plain fun. When you’re thinking about the type of cheese you want to layer in, we recommend Fontina or mozzarella or any good melting cheese. Listen Episode 43 on The Importance of Cheese.  We talk about choosing the right cheese for all your cooking and baking needs

Bread Pudding: Savory AND Sweet
A favorite recipe of our community of home cooks – the herb and apple bread pudding.  This is an Ina Garten recipe, but it’s also a great recipe to work from if you want to trade out ingredients and create your own seasonal version like squash in the winter, fresh vegetables in the spring and summer, and personally I think mushrooms, and sweet Italian or chicken sausage are an amazing addition anytime of the year. And as long as you’re layering in fresh herbs and seasonings, and choosing a different cheese or one that compliments whatever you’re putting into the bread pudding – like gruyere, or cheddar, or really any fresh easy melting cheese. You can CONSTANTLY change up the taste, look, style, texture and flavor of your bread pudding. Like this Strata. Seasonal deliciousness anytime of the year.

Cube your leftover bread and freeze it.
Leftover bread? Cube it, put it into a freezer bag, and keep adding to it.  When you have enough bread saved, then just make your best seasonal version of bread pudding.  Just remember you do need a bit of time – maybe 20 minutes to a half hour, to let that custard soak into the bread cubes…. But just do it. Then  slice it, package it up refrigerator or save in the freezer and you always have a fabulous meal on hand. It’s like eating Thanksgiving stuffing anytime during the year!  As if we needed an excuse to do that!

And, yes…Of course there's sweet, or dessert bread puddings, and our bread pudding with lemon curd is another great platform for any home-cooked to use. This recipe uses custard soaked bread cubes, and then layers in a homemade lemon curd which – by the way is pretty easy and actually worth making and its own right!  But you can add your own jams, or layer in fruit compote or purees, instead of curd. Or for that matter if you’re  looking for ideas for that check out Salt & Straw on our cookbooks page. Some of the recipes we feature from that book include recipes for jams and ideas for fruit purees.

But the beauty of a dessert bread pudding is pretty much the same as the savory bread pudding. You can make it ahead, or make it in smaller individual serving sizes. Refrigerate them, bring them to room temperature and then reheat them. Finish them with a caramel sauce or lemon curd or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. THIS IS COMFORT FOOD personified, and when you make individual servings in those adorable little ramekins or portion out a small serving in a dessert cup… well, that can be the best punctuation mark to any meal.

Scraps of leftover bread.
BREAD SALAD
The classic Italian bread salad panzanella gives you endless ideas and possibilities. Classically made, you can tear everything from Pita breads to Italian loaves, to French baguettes, to sourdough bread and toss it in with seasonal vegetables and greens (fattoush) for a very satisfying main course salad. Our panzanella recipe calls for smoked tofu. Don’t like that? Don’t have that? Why not substitute a dairy-free cheese, or if you’re good with dairy, try our recipe for pickled feta to toss in with your bread salad.

CROUTONS

Leftover bread can easily be cubed for perfect for croutons. And while you may be inclined to just cut them and toast them, you can put them in a bowl drizzle some olive oil over them, season them and lightly toast them in the oven OR your toaster oven! THE TRICK TO EVEN SEASONING is to pour that oil on the sides of the bowl, THEN toss everything. As the ingredients get mixed and rub up against the sides they’ll pick up just enough of that oil to evenly coat everything… try it; you’ll be amazed!

We’ve done exactly that with our skillet frittata with mustard croutons. These croutons are fantastic! Once dried store in an airtight container and they’ll last a good couple of weeks or freeze them for even longer storage.

Or try the idea for croutons in our Italian sheet pan chicken. This recipe is pure genius. It’s from the cookbook Giada’s Italy and in it, she takes her croutons, tosses them onto the sheet pan where her chicken is cooking so that all of the natural juices and oils from that chicken get absorbed by the croutons to make a really fantastic and flavorful accompaniment to dinner.

So I say… just do that… wrap that idea to any sheet pan dinner, or skillet dinner, or even your roasting pans after you take the roasts out to rest; a great way to soak up all those delicious pan juices!

BREADCRUMBS

There is nothing easier than chopping up breadcrumbs in your food processor from the leftover bits and pieces of bread that you gather from week-to-week. Whether the bread is dried or fresh you can easily pulse the heck out of any leftover pieces of bread until they make a COARSE CRUMB. From here, use that coarse texture to thicken soups or make a nice crumb coating for frying or even baking and roasting.  BUT I also have the flexibility to grind those little bread crumbs down to fine breadcrumbs – for fillers, or even for lining my bundt pan for a luscious lemon cake.

Once you have them, you’ll actually find ways to use them! Like in our seasonal frittata. Or, our buffalo drumsticks from skinny taste once and done. 

Chef Donna's one thing to learn from this blog-cast. Bread, in any form, and I mean home-made or store-bought, loaf, shredded and torn, croutons or crumbs, gluten-free or from whole grains… bread can be the best ingredient you keep in your kitchen larder. Get creative, think about what's possible with a loaf, or those leftover pieces, and you just took your next meal to a whole new level. Just commit to the idea that bread can be a FLAVOR VEHICLE, a TEXTURAL CRUNCH, or just the workhorse of your seasonal menus. And we’ll get you the rest of the way there. It’s all on our podcast page and our recipes page at nowthatsamouthful.com.

Join our Community of Home Cooks and Recipe Testers. No special skills required, just an interest to cook new, current, and sometimes different recipes. You’ll always learn something new.

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These RECIPES are referred to in this episode. You can find more information on our Cookbooks Page. Be sure to check out our collection of cookbooks for each Season of Now That's A Mouthful by clicking on the drop down menu.

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