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~Italian-Seasoned Caesar-Style Salad/Soup Croutons~

IMG_9737Not too big, not to small, not too hard, not to soft, buttery-rich and bold-flavored from plenty of black pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning, I make all sorts of croutons from scratch, and, while I often use firm-textured and rustic store-bought bread, I also make them using homemade bread, which I use my bread machine to bake.  Being the Caesar salad snob that I am, without exception, I always bake my own bread for my croutons.  Why?  Because, just like store-bought dressings, I take Ceasar salad-making seriously, and, that means: no short cuts.

Baking bread in the bread machine is my secret to...

IMG_9713... simple, straightforward & spectacular Caesar-style croutons:

IMG_96051  pound loaf, 1/2"-cubed Bread Machine Herbed-Pizza-Dough Sandwich Loaf

2  sticks salted butter

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c95305a4970bFor the bread:

3/4 cup warm water

1  tablespoon olive oil

2 1/4  cups all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1  teaspoon each:  garlic powder, Italian seasoning blend and coarse-grind black pepper

1  teaspoon granulated dry yeast

~ Step 1.  Place all ingredients, in order listed, in bread machine.

Follow the instructions in your machine's manual for baking a 1-pound loaf of white bread.  Got questions?  Click on the the link provided above to get my directions and step-by-step photos.

IMG_9608 IMG_9608 IMG_9608 IMG_9608 IMG_9619 IMG_9619 IMG_9619 IMG_9619~Step 2.  In a 12" skillet, melt the garlic powder into the butter over medium-low heat.  Adjust heat to medium-high and add the bread cubes.  Using two large, slotted spoons, tossing constantly until butter is all absorbed and almost-constantly thereafter, brown and crisp the bread, about 15-18 minutes, lowering the heat as necessary toward the end of the cooking process.  Remove the skillet from heat and allow the bread to cool in the skillet for about 1 hour, where it will continue to crisp up.  Use one of the slotted spoons to transfer croutons to a shallow bowl that has been lined with paper towels, then remove and reserve the smaller crouton bread bits for plate garnish.

Keep stored, uncovered & a room temperature, 4-5 days:

IMG_9710Make my Creamy, Garlicy & Peppery Caesar Dressing...

IMG_9767... & try my chilled gazpacho & gem Caesar-style-salad combo:

IMG_9803Italian-Seasoned Caesar-Style Salad/Soup Croutons:  Recipe yields 3 cups, fork- and mouth-friendly, croutons.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; serrated bread knife; 12" nonstick skillet; 2, large slotted spoons; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b016767f23475970bCook's Note:  If you've never been a fan of your bread machine, it's time to take it out the closet, dust it off, and give it another whirl.  I've developed several foolproof recipes for bread machine bread, pizza dough and fruit preserves. To learn more, click hear to read ~ Bread Machine Basics & Melanie's Brioche Recipe ~. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


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