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Uses For Stale Bread Beyond Croutons


zoramargolis
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It didn't seem like we had many leftovers from Thanksgiving, but they have stretched a good long way. Even after I cut a hunk from the bread to freeze, the part that was left seemed to last forever. We finished it last night, but it needed to be toasted because it had dried out too much to be eaten as is. I will grudgingly throw out stale bread when I've run out of uses for it, but I truly hate throwing out bread I've made myself.

As long as the bread has not gotten moldy, there are lots of things you can do with "stale" homemade bread: a strata, or savory bread pudding. Just allow the egg-milk mixture to thoroughly soak into the bread before baking. Lots of additions work well with this: thinly sliced winter squash, onions, mushrooms, cooked greens. A sweet bread pudding. Cubed and sauteed with olive oil, garlic and sprinkled with cheese for croutons. As a thickener for rustic soup with a thin stock, like ribolitta or garlic bread soup. Put a hunk of the bread in the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top.

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As long as the bread has not gotten moldy, there are lots of things you can do with "stale" homemade bread: a strata, or savory bread pudding. Just allow the egg-milk mixture to thoroughly soak into the bread before baking. Lots of additions work well with this: thinly sliced winter squash, onions, mushrooms, cooked greens. A sweet bread pudding. Cubed and sauteed with olive oil, garlic and sprinkled with cheese for croutons. As a thickener for rustic soup with a thin stock, like ribolitta or garlic bread soup. Put a hunk of the bread in the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top.

The use I find most effective (though I usually only do it with plain bread/bagettes) is to toast slices up for croutons to go in soup and store them in a ziploc. They keep a while that way. Adding too many seasonings seems to shorten the shelf life, but it keeps well as toast. Sometimes I grind up old bread up for bread crumbs, but those have a tendency to turn moldy if I don't freeze them.

I've pretty much given up on bread pudding for a use since it makes a lot more food, and I end up throwing that out. Another application is French toast, which also ends up creating excess food. If I have room in the freezer, though, I vacuum seal extra French toast and freeze it. I just have to remember it's there to use it in the future. That's a good use for a bread like the one we just finished--with fruits and nuts--but I still had other French toast made with similar bread in the freezer from an earlier loaf :(.

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The use I find most effective (though I usually only do it with plain bread/bagettes) is to toast slices up for croutons to go in soup and store them in a ziploc. They keep a while that way. Adding too many seasonings seems to shorten the shelf life, but it keeps well as toast. Sometimes I grind up old bread up for bread crumbs, but those have a tendency to turn moldy if I don't freeze them.

I've pretty much given up on bread pudding for a use since it makes a lot more food, and I end up throwing that out. Another application is French toast, which also ends up creating excess food. If I have room in the freezer, though, I vacuum seal extra French toast and freeze it. I just have to remember it's there to use it in the future. That's a good use for a bread like the one we just finished--with fruits and nuts--but I still had other French toast made with similar bread in the freezer from an earlier loaf :(.

I see a need for more potluck dinner parties in your life...

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A whole loaf of bread is tough to use up for Mr. MV and me. Our favorite ciabatta bread is great on days 1 and 2, but then we need to make something with the rest of it, or store it. I usually wind up storing it sliced in the freezer. It will never be "fresh" bread again, but I can pretty much use it for anything else once thawed-from crumbs to custard-based dishes.

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I've pretty much given up on bread pudding for a use since it makes a lot more food, and I end up throwing that out. Another application is French toast, which also ends up creating excess food. If I have room in the freezer, though, I vacuum seal extra French toast and freeze it. I just have to remember it's there to use it in the future. That's a good use for a bread like the one we just finished--with fruits and nuts--but I still had other French toast made with similar bread in the freezer from an earlier loaf :angry:.

But if you don't eat all the bread pudding, you can make bread pudding souffle, which is far superior to bread pudding as far as I am concerned. The recipe from Commander's Palace for both bread pudding and the souffle is really good with the whiskey sauce.

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When I was growing up, my father kept a grocery bag on top of the fridge and would toss stale bread into it. Periodically, he would break it apart and soften it up with some water and toss it in the backyard for the birds to eat. It used to gross me out, and over time we have learned that this is not the best bird diet. Then again, with the snow covering everything edibile, they might just be grateful for a few crumbs.

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Pappa al pomodoro

Make a tomato sauce with only a touch of garlic fried in olive oil with chopped rosemary or sage until the garlic starts to color. Add some cans of peeled whole tomatoes in juice. COok until the tomatoes are falling apart and you can use a potato masher to help the process along. When the tomatoes have a good, saucy density, add cubed stale bread and cook until the bread falls apart. again, the potato masher might be of help. At this point, the soup should be thick enough that almost nothing drips from a slotted spoon. Serve in soup plates or pasta bowls and drizzle with really good olive oil.

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Pappa al pomodoro

Make a tomato sauce with only a touch of garlic fried in olive oil with chopped rosemary or sage until the garlic starts to color. Add some cans of peeled whole tomatoes in juice. COok until the tomatoes are falling apart and you can use a potato masher to help the process along. When the tomatoes have a good, saucy density, add cubed stale bread and cook until the bread falls apart. again, the potato masher might be of help. At this point, the soup should be thick enough that almost nothing drips from a slotted spoon. Serve in soup plates or pasta bowls and drizzle with really good olive oil.

The best version I ever made of Pappa al Pomodora was made with Kensington Bakery's rye bread (long ago at Courthouse market-don't even know if they're still selling there), once the majority of it got a bit old. Odd, I know, but it added tang and depth.

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I think my Tuscan friends would

a. cringe at bread with salt

b. cringe and shake their head at makeing pappa with salted bread

c. shudder at teh idea of rye bread in general

d. I don't know what but it would not be pretty at the thought of rye bread in pappa. But I oculd see it working as rye & tomato is a wonderful combo. I won't tell!

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I had never made home made bread crumbs before.  I used to use progresso long ago, especially the Italian flavored bread crumbs.   But their both stupidly expensive for what you get and I don't think the current progresso versions have enough seasoning.  Meanwhile I don't like Panko.

Hey...up above...rye bread crumbs are excellent as are several other versions of bread into bread crumbs.  I also did a version of pappa al pomodora with stale rye pieces.  Turned out well.

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Pain Perdu literally means "lost bread." It's a classic French dessert, and if you Google it, you'll find all the information you need and more. The first time I ever saw it was at L'Amandier de Mougins (originally the casual sibling to Moulin de Mougins), and it was simple, yet great - in the same class as Profiterolesor even a step lower since it has its roots in peasant cuisine.

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