Ciabatta Bread Croutons

Categories: Bread, Croutons
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Published on: September 28, 2011

Ciabatta Bread Croutons

Ciabatta Bread
Ciabatta Bread

You may like bread……..I love bread. And in all seriousness Ciabatta bread is awesome. A great chewy outer crust and a light and airy inside.
I really can’t get enough of this bread. It works well with so many things I make.

In this instance I am making a Ciabatta crouton for the purpose of putting it into my Italian Onion Soup. Normally I wouldn’t make such a huge crouton.

Ciabatta square rolls
olive oil
salt and pepper.

Pre-heat over (or toaster oven) to 350.

Cut the rounded top off of the Ciabatta roll, about 3/4 of an inch from the bottom.

Place on an oven safe tray and drizzle olive oil over top and add salt and pepper.

Ciabatta Bread Croutons
Ciabatta Bread Croutons

Bake for about 15 – 17 minutes, or until bread starts to get brown and crispy. (Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn

Remove from oven and let it cool. As it cools, it will firm up quite a bit and get nice and crispy.
That’s good! It will soak up the soup well.

As so the tops of the bread do not do to waste, I also cube those up, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake along side of the rolls. I usually serve these on the side of the soup, just in case someone wants extra.

Hearty Beef Stock

Categories: Beef, Stock
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Published on: September 21, 2011

Hearty Beef Stock

Hearty Beef Stock
Hearty Beef Stock

I wanted to add a bit more complexity to my beef stock, so I made it the following way.
Usually I’ll do it this way, when I want more flavor, of things that aren’t in the recipe I am using it for. For instance if the recipe does not call for carrots, celery, or mushrooms. I will make the stock with them to get some of the flavor out.
If it does call for them, I will use more of a plain beef stock.

1 lb of beef (cubed)  (I used a cheaper cut of strip steak)
10 baby carrots (chopped) (or 1 large carrot)
1 stalk of celery (slicked)
8 Cremini mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 of a medium onion (sliced)
salt and pepper
1 tbs olive oil

Put oil in a pot and turn to medium high heat.
After oil is heated up, salt and pepper the meat and drop it in.
Stirring frequently so meat does not stick and it starts to brow.
Once meat is browning, add in carrots, celery, mushrooms, and onions.

Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook and stir for about 10 minutes.

Add a healthy pinch of salt and a few more grinds of pepper.

Then add about 6 cups of water. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for an hour.

Run through a strainer to remove meat and veggies.

Use right away or portion off into freezer safe containers to use at a later time.

TIP: Always let stock cool to about room temperature before freezing.

After stock cools a bit, I try to remove some of the fat with a liquid fat separator skimmer.

Italian Sausage

Categories: Sausage, Tips
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Published on: September 16, 2011

How to Cook a perfect Italian Sausage

Perfectly cooked Italian Sausage
Perfectly cooked Italian Sausage

1 lb Italian sausage
2 tbs olive oil
Hot water
This is by far the best way to cook Italian sausage. I do this before I add it to gravy, or make Italian sausage sandwiches or almost every time I am making it.

Put the oil into a non-stick pan. Place sausages side by side into the pan and add the hot water until it is about ½ covering the sausage.
Place the lid on the pan and turn the heat to medium. Let those cook for about 10 – 12 minutes.

Italian sausage cooking
Italian sausage cooking

Take off the lid and keep cooking. The water will eventually cook off and leave the olive oil.
Cook each sausage until it is nicely browned, then rotate to each side until browned all the way around.
Remove from pan.

Homemade Stock and Broth

Categories: Stock, Tips
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Published on: September 7, 2011

First off keep in mind that I usually use the term stock when I am speaking about either stock or broth. (So please don’t correct me.) I understand that the main difference is that broth is usually made with actual pieces of meat, where as stock is made from mostly bones and trimmings of the meat. (Except for vegetable stock, where no meat is used obviously.)

That being said, I usually ALWAYS make my own stock. It’s easy to do and you end up saving a lot of money in the long run.

Any time you have a carcass or left over trimmings of meat, you should always make stock.
Turkey, chicken, ham, beef, etc. It all comes in handy down the road.

Anything with bones, or lots of leftover excess.

Let’s say I roast a small chicken for dinner one night.
After the meal, I remove all the skin and fat from the carcass and throw everything into a large pot. Cover with hot water and add salt and pepper.
Set the heat to medium/low and let it simmer for about an hour or an hour and 1/2.

Then pour through a fine strainer to get rid of all the meat, bones and other material.

Leave it in the pot to cool.
After it has cooled you should be able to skim any fat off the top.

Then measure and pour stock into various sized freezer safe containers and lable. I usually do a large one (4 – 6 cups) and a bunch of 1-2 cup containers.
That way if I need a lot I grab the big one. If I need a little, I grab one of the small ones.

I am a HUGE fan of Turkey Stock. I think it has a LOT more flavor than chicken stock.
Give it a try!

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