October – Amazing Croutons

October – Amazing Croutons

Ok, I know…croutons are those little crisp squares you buy in bags at the grocery store. Mostly boring, right? What if I told you how to build a better crouton? A crouton that would elevate your salads or stews or soups to an entirely new level. Our house is famous for this crouton. The crouton jar is always the first stop for visiting teenagers, or used to be when there were teenagers in the house. I was forced to make these almost every day, there was not a stale baguette to be seen anywhere that wasn’t turned into croutons. These croutons have crispy peaks, and valleys, yummy extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt. That is all. They have a crisp exterior and a softer interior (not too much though). I once found my son eating the leftover crumbs left in the pan with his fingers. That batch never even made it to the crouton jar.

What is the secret? Tearing, that’s all there is to it. Who knew it could be so simple?

The best ever croutons

Don’t ever cut your croutons again. These are torn, not cut. No bread knife needed.

Take a look at the wonderful crispy crouton pictured above. Can you imagine how it would be in a caesar salad? The dressing would melt itself into all those little cracks and crevices, but the edges would stay crisp. That salad would be memorable. These croutons are not going to get soggy in soup, at least not right away, and are perfect for soaking up a sauce but staying crips on the edges.

You can make them with any kind of leftover stale bread (although any kind you slice yourself is best). Sourdough is very nice. What about rye or walnut bread for pumpkin soup or a salad with cranberries?  Pumpernickel anyone for a salad with goat or blue cheese? Brioche bread makes wonderful croutons to use in your Thanksgiving stuffing. Tear the bread into small pieces or really big pieces, your choice. I once had a caesar salad at a restaurant in Seattle that had one very large crouton, torn not cut. Delicious, different, and inspiration.


I don’t really have a recipe. Simply tear your bread, stale is good but not required, into pieces. Place on a large baking pan, coat with a generous slug of olive oil and use your hands to make sure the pieces are coated (but not swimming in oil), sprinkle with sea or kosher salt, and bake. I use 375 degrees F for 10 minutes, take the pan out and turn the pieces, then return them to the oven for another few minutes. How long will depend on the size and type of bread, but not usually more than another 5 minutes. They can burn easily at this point. You don’t want the croutons to be completely dried out, there should be some difference in texture within each crouton.

croutons – before

before baking

After baking

Once they cool, you can put them into an airtight jar and they will keep for a few days, if they last that long.

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday #195 might enjoy these as a snack or a garnish on any of the soups or salads. I’m linking this post to Angie’s blog site, the co-hosts this week are , Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Sandhya @ Indfused. Click on the link to Fiesta Friday to check out the fun.

August – Gluten Free Oat, Nut and Seed Bread

August – Gluten Free Oat, Nut and Seed Bread

This gluten free, dense, healthy, and flavorful bread is very like a Scandinavian black bread. Cut it thinly to serve with cheese, toast it for avocado toast, or pop a poached egg on top. It will delightfully satisfy your hunger and hold you over until your next meal.

There are many versions of this bread on the internet but they are all similar. David Lebovitz calls his Adventure Bread (his inspiration was from Josey Baker and his book Josey Baker Bread), My New Roots calls it The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread, and Deliciously Ella calls it Superfood Bread.

What they all have in common are sunflower seeds, chia seeds, almonds, and psyllium husk. Are you familiar with psyllium husk? I had to look it up myself, here is a short tutorial:

“Psyllium /ˈsɪliəm/, or ispaghula /ˌɪspəˈɡlə/, is the common name used for several members of the plant genus Plantago whose seeds are used commercially for the production of mucilage.

Psyllium is mainly used as a dietary fiber to relieve symptoms of both constipation and mild diarrhea and occasionally as a food thickener. Research has also shown benefits in reducing blood cholesterol levels.

As a thickener, it has been used in ice cream and frozen desserts. A 1.5% weight/volume ratio of psyllium mucilage exhibits binding properties that are superior to a 10% weight/volume ratio of starch mucilage.” Here is the link to Wikipedia if you want to learn more.

In this bread the binding power of psyllium replaces the gluten in flour. It has the added benefit of being a powerhouse of fiber. I am anticipating surgery at the end of this month and know how all those antibiotics and pain killers effect my intestinal health. Food is medicine, right? This bread will find a place in my freezer, ready for me when I come home from the hospital.

I baked David Lebovitz’s recipe and intend to try the others as well. I will let you know which I prefer.

Note: Start this bread the day before you plan to bake it. Most of the “didn’t work” comments are from those who ignored either this step or the one to let it rest for 2 hours after baking. 

Gluten Free Bread

Gluten Free Nut and Seed Bread

Ingredients – Dry:

  • 2 1/4 rolled oats, gluten free
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds, hulled
  • 3/4 cup of almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup of flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup of psyllium seed husks
  • 3 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt

Ingredients – Wet:

  • 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of olive or other neutral oil
  • 2 1/2 cups of water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. Spread the sunflower and pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast until they start to brown. This took about 10 minutes in my oven, stir them around half way through. This is also a good time to toast the almonds on another sheet.
  2. When brown, remove from the oven and cool, coarsely chop the almonds.
  3. While they are cooling, prepare your 8 or 9-inch by 4-inch loaf pan. Line it with baking paper so the bread is easy to remove when baked. David recommends greasing the pan but I didn’t find that adequate and the bottom stuck. The bread was good but not so pretty.
  4. Measure out your ingredients and place all the dry in one large bowl. Mix them up and then pour in the wet stuff. Mix everything very well with your hands or a large spoon. You need to really mush it up.
  5. Scoop it into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Cover and stick it in the fridge overnight and up to a whole day. You want the psyllium to completely absorb all the liquid.
  6. When you are ready, take the bread out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  7. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.
  8. Bake the bread for an hour on the middle shelf.
  9. When done, remove the bread from the pan and cool for at least 2 hours on a rack. This is very important, don’t hurry this step.
  10. Slice thinly to serve.

Avocado Toast

You can slice this bread and pop it in the freezer.

“In My Kitchen” – March

“In My Kitchen” – March

This post is part of a regular monthly gathering of food loving bloggers. “In My Kitchen” is hosted by the lovely Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. It’s a wonderful welcoming community and a facinating look at what is happening in kitchens around the world. Come join us and tell us what is happening in your kitchen.

Here is what’s new in my kitchen this month.

Sourdough starter from Celia, who has gifted the blogging community with little packages of promise. Her starter has gone around the world and I am a bit intimidated by the loaves the children of Priscilla (the name of Celia’s starter) have birthed.

Son of Priscilla

Son of Priscilla

Meet Sam, named after Sam Spade (of “Maltese Falcon” fame) and the gifted writer who created him, Samuel Dashiell Hammett. He lived in San Francisco from 1921 to 1929 and used city locations for his novels. My Sam has returned home, as one of Celia’s original starters came from San Francisco. Sam is also one of those names which can be either male or female, appropriate for yeast.

Here is Sam after the first feeding, bubbling away and ready to go.

Meet Sam

Meet Sam

Also new in my kitchen is a Falcon enamel baker, recommended by Celia for baking crusty sourdough. It came all the way from the U.K., I’ll be using it for the first time today.

Falcon enamel baker

Falcon enamel baker

My first two efforts were rated a C to C+ by the resident critics. I’m hopeful that the enamel pot will increase my score.

This loaf just came out of the oven, it’s 11 pm (well past my usual bedtime). Sam definitely has my number and is in control. But, I think this loaf will get an A from the in-house critics. It smells divine and the falcon baker has made all the difference. Thank you Celia.

Sam - son of Priscilla

Sam – son of Priscilla

Also new in my kitchen is an Emile Henry clay baker. I’ve been reading a lot about cooking in clay lately and am excited to try it.

Clay Baker

Clay Baker

New in my kitchen are two bottles of wine. These were made by my friend Barry Snyder from Crawlspace Cellars. I helped pick and crush the grapes for the rose and we bottled them both this past Saturday. The labels are not ready yet, the two bottles were a reward for an entertaining afternoon of work with the winemakers.

Mouvedre Rose and Zinfandel

Mouvedre Rose and Zinfandel

From my kitchen I can see my orchids blooming, the white one has been in bloom since early December and is still gorgeous. The pink orchid came into bloom the end of last month.

Amazon just delivered the March/April cookbook selection for the Cookbook Guru, an online cookbook bookclub. “The Food of Morocco” is by Paula Wolfert, one of my favorite cookbook writers. I’ve already settled on chicken tagine with prunes and almonds in the style of the Rif mountains as my first dish. Doesn’t that sound delicious? The bookclub is open to everyone if you would like to join in.

The Food of Morocco

The Food of Morocco

Lastly in my kitchen are two sauces, spicy lemon salsa verde and avocado sauce, ready to give instant pizazz to dishes of simple roast meat or vegetables.

Thank you for visiting my kitchen, what is new in your own?