I stumbled upon this image awhile back, not quite sure where I saw it as it was living in my photo album, but was immediately smitten. My mind went right to a small French village and the local bread maker driving around to all his accounts delivering his passion, bread. A friend Kristi who is co-owner of La Panier bakery here in Seattle said, “Wish we could load our bread like that!” which made me laugh and smile as it is so true. There are no paper wrappers or sleeves, nothing but baguette after baguette waiting to be enjoyed. Bread often gets a bad rap and has gotten lots of attention these last few weeks as folks are once again embracing it. But for those of us who never left it, cheers to breaking bread!
A great loaf of bread can be a game changer. There are so many fab artisan makers who offer their breads at farm stands, bakeries, even specialty sections at the grocery store. Exceptional bread transforms sandwiches, is excellence sliced and added to a cheese board, or toasted for morning toast. When it becomes a tad stale, cut up into small pieces and make croutons or use it for the base of bread pudding.
Turn soon to be stale bread into delectable croutons. Turn oven to 350 degrees to pre-heat while you cut up the bread into bite sized pieces. Scatter them onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper. A winning trio in so much of my cooking. Put tray in the oven being sure to keep an eye on it and move around the bread often to make sure things cook evenly. Pull out when nice and golden. Then liberally dust with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. You now have tasty, tasty croutons for salads or for snacking. These also make fab hostess gifts if you fill up a cello bag with them and close off with an earthy colored ribbon.
I love good bread, and the difference between an incredible loaf and a mediocre loaf can be huge in enjoyment and not always so big in the dollar department. Toast is a big thing in our household. We have started to bring loaves of bread home from our time at Hawthorne. It is a way to stay connected to a place that is growing so fond in our hearts. Sliced bread works well in the freezer, keeping for quite some time. It is amazing how making a slice of this bread for toast brings back thoughts & fond memories of our visit. Food can have such strong connections to a place. When we are in Paris, I always like to bring back bread from Poilâne as a reminder of our trip. Sitting and having a salad with croutons made from it just takes me right back to images of meandering around Paris and that incredibly intoxicating aroma inside Poilâne while you are waiting in line to order. Cheers to good bread & good memories!