First, an apology: the story accompanying the Baked Potato Soup recipe was terribly long and, I'm afraid, somewhat boring. Hopefully, that won't keep you from trying the recipe--it really is fantastic! In an attempt to redeem myself and keep you as a loyal reader (whoever you are...Mom), I offer this next recipe with a much briefer explanation.
Yesterday, I had scheduled Steakhouse Salad for dinner. Part of the joy of a steakhouse-style salad is the big, fat, garlicky croutons that adorn it. Knowing we don't enjoy boxed croutons (too hard; can't spear with fork), I thought I'd make my own.
I purchased day-old french bread from the grocery store, at a cost of only 77 cents, cubed it, and made a batch of fresh croutons. I ate a few and offered a few to Abe before I left to get my hair cut. When I returned, Abe held out the depleted bag of croutons. "There might be enough left for your salad. Sorry. They were a bit too tasty, and we ate them."
In desperation, I cut up five cheapo hamburger buns, used the same crouton-making method, and thereby supplemented our crouton supply for dinner.
By the end of the evening, we had polished off all but FOUR croutons. Which means that, between the four of us, in the span of three hours, we polished off an entire loaf of french bread and five hamburger buns. And also dinner.
So they're really tasty, and phenomenally easy. Try them! You might never go back to store-bought.
Simple Garlic Croutons
1 french baguette, or bread of your choice, cut into 1-in. cubes
4 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp. juice from the bottled minced garlic
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.**
Spread bread cubes onto a large jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides). (Line it with parchment paper to facilitate easy cleanup!)
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and garlic juice, and saute for a minute or two, stirring frequently to keep butter from separating.
Drizzle bread with the butter/garlic mixture, and toss with hands (or spoons, whatever) to make sure all the bread has butter on it.
Bake for about 7 minutes, stir, and bake for another 5-7 minutes, or until the cubes reach your desired level of toastedness.
Serves as a lovely snack for 2 adults and 2 toddlers, or as croutons (and then some) for a salad for 6.
**My new favorite way to preheat the oven is to crank the broiler to high for a few minutes, then switch the oven over to bake. In my gas oven, this method cuts preheating time in half or less, since the broiler typically heats more or less immediately.