10 Useful Ways To Use Your Day Old Bread or Baguette
This article is dedicated to Brian, a blog follower and friend, a great dad and cook. Brian was raised one of seven children by a very resourceful mom who was creative with her cooking and leftovers, and knew how to stretch a dollar. Brian this article is for you. You asked me for ideas on using leftovers, here is one on useful ways to use leftover bread and baguette.
Waste not, want not.
So the saying goes. I do feel guilty because sometimes I (we) waste food at our house. This is almost unforgivable, especially with so many people struggling with hunger and lack of food to eat. One food I waste too often is a baguette, the base of a French diet! Sometimes we forget to wrap up the bread and it goes stale. Quelle dommage! Luckily there are some really useful ways to use day-old stale bread. But before I go further, do you know what types of baguette are most commonly available in France?
Baguette in France
In France most of the population eats the typical hard on the outside and soft-like air on the inside baguette or a type of baguette, called a pain de compagne, pain aux céréales, flute ou ficelle. There is also the pain de mie which resembles the typical square-shaped (American type) soft bread that comes in the plastic packs. You must wrap up baguettes or they dry up and are hard after one day. Regular square bread has preservatives, it stays soft for (almost) too long!
10 Useful Ways to Use Leftover Day Old Bread or Baguette
Changing your day-old baguette into breadcrumbs or chapelure as it is called in French is the number one most useful way to use leftover bread. Why? It is easy to make breadcrumbs, easy to stick breadcrumbs in the freezer in a ziplock bag, and easy to slip some out and sprinkle on your favorite casseroles and breadcrumb recipes.
Take your day-old bread and process in a food processor until fine breadcrumbs. Using a new ziplock bag or jar, place breadcrumbs into container and into the freezer. Then use when needed.
One of my favorite ways to use up day-old bread is to make croutons. Cut up the stale bread into squares and toast them on the stove in olive oil, small dash of salt and garlic. You can use them immediately or save them in a covered container for a day or two.
#3 Soup Topping
Add a topping of grated cheese onto a thick piece of day-old bread, toast and slip the cheese covered bread on top of your favorite bowl of soup. This is perfect for French onion soup or any type of bland soup. Doing this moves your soup to a full meal, just add a side salad!
#4 In Soup and Salads
At my house I do the evening meal late and light. We often have soup or salad and just a small something with that, such as an omelet or easy tomato pasta dish. To give the salad or soup more calories and substance, I put pieces of day-old bread into the salad or cut up the bread and the kids plop the pieces into their soup. They love it!
#5 Crostini or Bruschetta
Crostini or bruschetta are Italian little toasts that are topped and served with the aperitivo. Crostino, meaning little toast in Italian or crostini, plurel (more than one) are toasted stale bread and topped with cheese, vegetables, tomatoes, etc. The choice of topping can be exotic and creative. Brushetta are small toasts topped with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and sea salt.
Here are some creative ways to make crostini and brushetta:
#6 French Bread Strata
Similar to how you make bread pudding, stratas are savory casseroles that you layer bread and fillings and bake for a one-dish meal. Here are some inspirations for strata from some of my favorite websites:
#7 Tomato and Bread Soup
This soup is a Tuscany old style dish that evokes a feeling of comfort and real food style. In Italy, like France, the Italian pane or bread, is one of the basic foods in the eating culture. Using stale baguette, Italian bread or your bread you can make this soup one of your basic meals to eat year-round. I have made Tomato and Bread Soup a few times, I am surprised on how good it tastes, because it is so simple and easy to make. Here are three recipes from three of my favorite chefs:
#8 Pain Perdu or French Toast
Pain Perdu or French Toast is literally translated from French to English as “Lost Bread.” Making French Toast is probably one of the best ways I like to use up day-old bread. My kids love it and they are expert Pain Perdu makers. French toast can be so easy to make (make a batter of 1/2 cup milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 beaten egg. Dip slices of stale bread in batter, let soak a minute or two and cook on stove in a buttered hot pan) OR see one of these more gourmet recipes here:
#9 Bread Pudding
In this tasty dessert, the main ingredient is day-old country bread or baguette. When this dish is made right, you cannot just stop and eat one small piece, it is just way too good. Here are two recipes for bread pudding:
#10 For the birds and horses
Finally the last useful and easy way to use up bread. Bring it to your favorite horse (here in France horses are all over!) or crumble up the bread in little pieces at put on your windowsill or in your garden for the birds. Animals are happy and you have helped them with a bit of food!
Have I missed your favorite way to use up bread? Tell me your story!
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