Out-of-the-Box

2 Great Uses for Leftover Bread

by Anne Maxfield on August 4, 2014

Accidental Locavore Bread for CroutonsOne of the things the Accidental Locavore has always appreciated about France is the ability to get a demi-baguette at almost every boulangerie. Since baguettes are meant to be eaten immediately, or certainly by the end of the day, their shelf life is in measured in hours (not weeks, like some of our breads). While American baguettes have a slightly longer shelf life, you’re usually required to buy a whole one (and of course, ours are bigger…), so we generally have most of one lying around getting stale. If I remember to catch them before they’re so stale you could use them to hit a hardball, I chop them up and make breadcrumbs. All you do is cut (or rip) the bread into ½” slices, cut those in half and pop them in a food processor. Process until the crumbs are a size that you like. I keep mine in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, ready for action.Accidental Locavore Breadcrumbs

This morning, I started working on our leftover baguette from the great cheese and charcuterie board Frank put together for le 14 juillet. I had cut it into such perfect slices that it occurred to me that croutons might be a better use for this than the usual breadcrumbs. Here’s how they came together:

  • 2/3 of a baguette, cut into ¾” slices and then quarter the slices
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, put thorough a press (optional)
  • Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Accidental Locavore CroutonsPreheat the oven to 450°. Put the melted butter, olive oil, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add the bread and toss until well coated. Put on a cookie sheet or hotel pan and cook until golden-brown, about 8 minutes. Put on a wire rack to cool. Store in a Ziploc in the freezer or toss these in soups or salads and enjoy!

My verdict: True confession, when I make Caesar salad, I generally use commercial croutons. Not anymore! These were so easy and delicious, and a look at the ingredients on the back of the crouton bag just made me cringe. I would have liked a bit more salt in them, but I held back. You could also toss them in some Parmesan, herbs (I kept eyeing a big bunch of basil on the counter), whatever strikes your fancy. You can also flavor them to go with what you’re serving. Almost any type of bread will work, although I’m not a big fan of croutons made with soft white breads.

 

 

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DIY Steak Sauce Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on May 30, 2013

Accidental Locavor Bacon Burger  With Steak Sauce The other night, the Accidental Locavore was getting ready for dinner, which was going to be burgers on the grill, when Tasting Table posted a recipe for grilled bacon with steak sauce. Hmm, I thought, why not bacon burgers with steak sauce, so I made a batch of the steak sauce in question, which seems to originate from Peter Luger’s (an extremely overpriced steak house in Brooklyn, if you by some chance haven’t heard of it). Try it now and make it for your Dad on Father’s Day. Here’s my version:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup onion, minced (about ½ a small onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • ½ a chipotle (optional)

Accidental Locavore  DIY Steak SauceHeat the olive oil in a small saucepan or sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Be careful not to brown the onion.

Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and add the tomato sauce. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add the horseradish and chipotle. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour into a blender or food processor and process until fairly smooth. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: This was really good and easy enough to whip up. I thought it was missing a little heat, so I added the chipotle. For some reason, we didn’t have any tomato sauce, so I used a half a can of diced tomatoes with the juice and that worked out fine. I’m sure it’s good over grilled bacon (that’s kind of a no-brainer), but it was also great with the bacon burgers. Later in the weekend we used it as a straight-up steak sauce, and it was a good if unnecessary addition to a beautiful porterhouse from Brykill Farm. We also thought it would be good on hot dogs, or as a marinade/glaze for pork chops (bacon, get it?).

I might be tempted to use apple cider vinegar the next time, but I’m not sure if that would make it too sweet (which was part of the reason for the chipotle – I wanted a little heat and some smokiness).

 

 

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Accidental Locavore: DIY Butter Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on May 16, 2013

Accidental Locavore Butter and ButtermilkIn the spirit of competition, or something, the Accidental Locavore decided to add homemade butter to the better butter comparison. Making butter is pretty easy, you just abuse heavy cream long enough and it starts to separate into butter and buttermilk. You may have experienced this if you’ve ever made whipped cream and let it go a little too long. The toughest part of the butter-making process is that you need to have heavy cream that’s not ultra-pasteurized and that’s become harder to find in your local supermarket. Luckily, and in the spirit of keeping it local, Hudson Valley Fresh has a heavy cream that’s not ultra-pasteurized. Unfortunately, three out of the four cartons I bought turned out to be past their expiration dates – not so “fresh.” However, they tasted fine so I proceeded on.

Accidental Locavore Making ButterThere are lots of ways to make your own butter, but they all end up being “beat it” or “shake it.” Taking the beating path: put four half pint cartons of heavy cream into a mixer and let it go on medium high for about 8 minutes until it starts to look like whipped cream. Then, turn it up to high and in a few more minutes it will start to separate into butter and buttermilk. You’ll know when this happens because if you don’t cover the top of the mixing bowl, buttermilk will start spattering all over the kitchen (there’s a lesson here…).

Once you’ve got separation, line a colander with a layer of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour the contents of your mixing bowl into the colander. You’ll end up with buttermilk in the bowl and butter in the colander. Pick up the butter in the cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the buttermilk as you can out of it. Store the buttermilk in a container in the fridge and use it for biscuits, salad dressing, or crème frâiche.

If you would like to salt your butter, put it in a bowl, sprinkle a little (1/4 teaspoon) salt on it and knead it until the salt is well mixed in. Now just form it into logs, wrap in plastic or waxed paper and foil, serve and enjoy. My 4 cups of heavy cream made about 12 ounces of butter and 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk.

My verdict: It’s certainly easy enough and it was tasty. Possibly better milk (i.e. cream) would have made a better product. However at $2.99 per half pint, my 12 ounces of butter cost $11.96 – almost a dollar an ounce, about what the expensive butters cost. So, in terms of time and cost, I think I’ll stick to Cabot for daily use and one of the “better butters” for the good stuff.

 

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Making Your Own Ricotta

by Anne Maxfield on September 6, 2012

Accidental Locavore My RicottaThe Accidental Locavore has been meaning to make ricotta for a long time now and the ricotta ice cream was just the excuse to give it a shot. It’s always fascinating what “spoiling” milk does, from yogurt to ricotta and other cheeses. This is super-easy to do and tastes great.

Homemade Ricotta

The Accidental Locavore shares a recipe for homemade ricotta. An easy recipe to make your own ricotta.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (if using for ricotta ice cream, zest a lemon and set aside)

Directions

Step 1
Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and put in the sink. In a 6 quart pot (you need space for the boiling milk to expand) slowly bring the milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to keep it from scorching. Reduce the heat to low and add the lemon juice. Stirring constantly, simmer until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

Carefully pour the mixture into the colander and let it drain for an hour (I put my colander over the pot). Discard the liquid. Put the ricotta in a container and chill until ready to use.

 

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