Cool weather immediately prompts me to cook. Well, it really gets me baking. Baking is not my strong suit. I have to take a deep breath and think about proportions and measurements. Leveling flour is the last thing I want to do. I prefer a looser approach to all things culinary...that is if I'm cooking.
What I want today is a warm kitchen filling the house with amazing smells. I opted for the loose approach (but the bananas in my freezer will be banana bread soon...) and made croutons with day old (read many days old and some of it frozen), roasted nuts and pita chips. The croutons we will eat on a salad or I will pulse in the food processor to make bread crumbs for the topping of homemade mac and cheese. Roasted nuts are cooled and stored in the freezer to be eaten as a snack, on a salad, baked in cookies, bread, etc, or used to chop and sprinkle on most anything. The pita chips I am making today are mini pitas. When they are split in half they make a lovely bowl shape that is useful to hold dips, salsas, salads, etc.
Croutons a la Linda
-all measurements are approximate, sutract or add according to your taste
6-8 cups cubes day old bread (I like a mixture of Italian, sourdough, whole grain, etc)
1 stick salted butter
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
sprinkle of poppy seeds
Put cubed bread in a large bowl.
Melt butter over low heat. Stir in herbs. Pour over cubed bread while tossing to coat evenly.
Spread buttery cubed bread on a sheet pan large enough to accommodate bread cubes in a single layer.
Toast in a 350 degree oven until golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and seeds, cool and store in an airtight container or resealable bag.
1 lb raw almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts evenly in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast nuts until you can smell their aroma, 10-20 minutes depending on the nut. All ovens cook differently, so check your nuts after about 7 minutes and give them a shake or stir. Then return them to the oven to complete the roasting.
Cool nuts completely. Place in a resealable bag and store in the freezer to retain freshness.
One bag of mini whole wheat pitas, split in half with bread knife. Spread in single layer on cookie sheet. Sprinkle enough olive oil so that each pita half has been hit. Sprinkle with sea or Kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Toast in a 350 degree oven until golden brown, approximately 10-12 minutes.