We were on a family road trip discovering California. Stuart, the three boys, myself and #1 son’s high school friend, Izi, who just happened to be in California were making a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Stuart and I, like many in our generation, are massive U2 fans. It wasn’t hard for me to convince four teenagers for whom the album Joshua Tree is part of the soundtrack of their childhood that we should visit the park. My personal mission was to recreate the album cover with my four boys.
So we piled into the rented minivan with our packed lunch pulled together in the serviced apartment we were staying in. I didn’t have any bread for the sandwiches so we would have to stop at one of the many grocery stores between San Diego and the park to grab some bread. Easy.
At grocery store #1, the simple fact that I’m using a number is not boding well for our plucky heroes, it was agreed that Izi would come to speed up label reading. I briefed her that the bread was required to have no preservatives and no malted anything as these are migraine triggers. We arrived at the bakery section and worked our way through the 40 plus types of bread to no avail. Just when you think you found one, there an offending ingredient would be at the very end of the list.
We tried seven different grocery stores and bakeries before we came across a bread made solely from flour, water, yeast and salt in a specialist organic whole foods super market. Only one type of bread of their twenty or so choices. To this very day Izi still talks about the time we tried to find bread in America. It was traumatic for her.
We are spoiled in Sydney in terms of our bread options. Most local villages have at least one bakery. We have three in ours, a French Boulangerie, a French/Vietnamese/Australian Cake Shop and an Italian Bakery. Each baker carefully crafting their goods in the traditional way each day. Every morning I stroll up to the shops to get some bread and sometimes a coffee. If I’m too late they’ll be sold out.
We end up with a lot of day old bread and bread ends. I have learned to put these to good use making migraine trigger free pantry staples. Added bonus of cutting down on food waste you ecowarrior.
If the bread is a bit too stale I toss the slices in a paper bag to finish drying out over a couple of weeks. They are really rock hard. Eventually I will grind them all up in the blender, a food processor works just as well for preservative and malted anything free bread crumbs. I store them in an airtight container for months never having a problem with mold.
If the bread is really only a day or two old then I’ll make crostini. These are the crackers of our home. You can recreate that whole bread story trying to find migraine trigger free crackers and dippers. They are crunchy savoury tidbits. A palette for anything your heart desires. I have a hard time keeping everyone’s mitts off them when they come out of the oven. The boys just call them “those things” and like a little bag of them in their lunch boxes as a treat. All from a bit of day old bread. Enjoy my friends.
Crostoni replaces store bought crackers and dippers as a palette for anything your heart desires.
Required skills: slicing bread and chopping herbs without losing a finger; grating without losing any skin; setting a timer and doing things when it dings.
The great thing about making your own crostoni is that you can season them to complement your toppings. Normally I just grab a handful of whatever herbs are fresh in the garden. But plain is just fine too. We like garlic crostoni with artichoke dip, plain crostoni with pates- it’s all up to your imagination.
- Day old bread that is free from preservatives, malted barley, malted barley flour and malted dextrin. A finer textured bread, like a baguette works best. Migraineurs should avoid sourdough breads.
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- Finely grated Parmesan cheese from the block Seasonings to taste such as:
- Finely chopped garlic
- Chopped fresh parsley, sage, marjoram, thyme and/or oregano.
- Freshly ground pepper
- Lemon zest
- Bread knife
- Baking tray
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
- If you are using seasonings combine your chopped garlic, herbs and grated lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Slice bread into 1 cm (½ inch) rounds. If slices are too big cut into half or quarters with crusts on two sides. You want cracker size pieces of bread.
- Drizzle some EVOO onto the baking tray.
- Place bread in a single layer onto the baking tray.
- Cover bread with a good splash of EVOO.
- Sprinkle with ½ the seasoning if using.
- Using the microplaner grate Parmesan cheese over the tray.
- Finely drizzle some EVOO over the tray.
- Place in oven for 5-10 minutes and remove when golden.
- Take tray from oven and flip crostoni over.
- Top with remaining seasoning mixture and then microplane some Parmesan cheese over the tray.
- Finely drizzle with some EVOO.
- Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
- Cool on the tray.
- Can be stored in an airtight container up to a week.
So my friends, what is your favourite thing to do with day old bread?