Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing food in the garbage that is slightly past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. So what can you really do with leftover bread, rolls or baguettes that will turn them into something great, almost if by magic? Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying will give bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. You’ll be amazed.
FRENCH TOAST: In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices of leftover bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden.
CROUTONS: Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a clove of garlic that you have crushed. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
GRILLED SANDWICHES: Make it cheese or chocolate — either way you are in for a fab treat. For grilled chocolate, heat ﾼ cup fat-free evaporated milk just until boiling. Add 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, let stand for 1 minutes and then whisk until smooth. Allow to cool slightly. Spread butter on each of 8 slices of sandwich bread. Divide chocolate on the unbuttered side of 4 slices, leaving a small border and cover each with the remaining slices of bread. Cook sandwiches in large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn, press with a spatula and cook until nicely browned and the chocolate is barely melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Serve Warm.
CROSTINI: Cut that hardened baguette into slices, oil each one with a generous amount of olive oil then toast. Spread each with dijon mustard then top with whatever you have available like creamed kale, tomato slices, sliced meat and top with cheese — Parmesan, Gruyere, Swiss. Slide under broiler to melt cheese as needed. Serve immediately.
SWEET SPICED BREADSTICKS: Preheat oven to 325 F. Cut any kind of flat bread (naan, pocketless pita, sourdough or even the crusts you cut off the kids’ sandwiches) into strips about 1/2-by-4-inch strips. In a medium bowl toss strips with 4 tablespoons melted butter. In a second bowl mix 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves and a pinch of salt. Toss buttered strips in sugar mixture. Lay strips on sheet pan and bake for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Let sticks cool slightly and then serve with jam.
AVOCADO TOAST: Spread any kind of toasted bread with a touch of mayonnaise followed by soft, buttery avocado, a bit of lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Kick it up with these additions: sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers, cilantro, sprouts, sliced olives — whatever you have on hand.
BREAD PUDDING: Preheat oven to 350 F. Break 6 slices bread into small pieces into an 8-inch square baking pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons melted butter over bread. If desired, sprinkle with 1/2 cup raisins. In a medium mixing bowl, combine 4 beaten eggs, 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until well-mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.