Sourdough croutons – and what to do with leftover sourdough

CroutonsCroppedNever, never throw away the ends of your sourdough loaf! There’s always something you can do with the almost-stale bits.

Mind you, it never gets a chance to go stale in our house, especially as by using wild yeast and good quality flour, sourdough loaves will keep longer than any other loaf you make yourself (or buy from a bakery).

My other ideas on how to use up those ends of sourdough are:

  • French toast
  • Cinnamon toast
  • Bruschetta
  • Garlic bread slices
  • Made into breadcrumbs for stuffings
  • Made into breadcrumbs for gratin toppings, eg for cauliflower cheese, pasta bakes etc

If all else fails and you really think it’s past it, at least leave it out for the birds in your garden! Just don’t go near that bin with it 🙂

Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Slotted spoon
  • Large non-stick frying pan
  • A couple of wooden spatulas
  • Large-ish bowl lined with a sheet of kitchen paper

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 slices (ends) of sourdough
  • Anchovy fillets – 3 or 4
  • Smoked back or streaky bacon or pancetta – two slices, cut into fine strips
  • Shallot, finely diced – 1
  • Garlic cloves, finely diced – 2
  • Sea salt, freshly ground to taste
  • Black pepper, freshly ground to taste
  • Fresh parsley, a small bunch chopped or torn finely to decorate
  • Olive oil or rapeseed oil for frying

Method

  1. Heat a little oil over a low-medium heat and gently fry the shallots and garlic until see-through (do not over cook)
  2. Remove the shallots and garlic with a slotted spoon and set to one side (the reason we cook them separately is so they do not overcook/burn)
  3. Turn up the heat and fry off the bacon until almost crispy – just before the bacon starts to crisp up, finely chop the anchovies and through them in the pan with the bacon
  4. When it’s all nicely browned and caramelised (ie when the Maillard reaction has occurred) remove with the slotted spoon and place with the shallots/garlic
  5. Slice up the sourdough into 1 cm cubes or 1 cm wide strips that are about 3 cm long (I like to do this as it looks a little different than typical croutons)
  6. You may need to now add some more oil to the pan – you need a thin coating covering the base
  7. Turn up the heat to about 3/4 of it’s full setting
  8. Test the oil temperature by chucking in a small piece of sourdough – it should start sizzling
  9. If the oil is hot enough, tip in all the sourdough pieces and keep them moving as they fry
  10. You may find it easier to use two wooden spoons, one in each hand, to sort of ‘flip’ the croutons between them to make sure they cook on all sides evenly
  11. When the croutons are nicely browned and crisp, take them off the heat and tip them into a bowl lined with a sheet of kitchen paper to catch the excess oil
  12. Remove the kitchen paper and grind the salt and pepper over the croutons.
  13. Now toss the croutons with the garlic, shallots, bacon and anchovies
  14. Sprinkle on the chopped parsley

A great accompaniment/topping to any pastas, soups or salads

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Spanish-style leftovers flan

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Spanish style leftover flan

This is a cross between a quiche and a Spanish omelette (tortilla) and uses up leftover salad potatoes, ham and cheeses.

This is a regular feature for our Saturday lunch: it’s quick and simple to knock up the pastry and sometimes I may even have a pastry case pre-made and stashed in the freezer. You do need the cheese and the potatoes, but the ham can be replaced by a number of leftover pre-cooked meats such as chicken, bacon, sausages or the last remnants of some salmon or tinned tuna. Alternatively it can be made totally vegetarian by replacing the meat with what you have left in the fridge: mushrooms, green beans, peas etc.

It’s a very frugal and tasty way to use up leftovers. It’s so adaptable that if you don’t have the pastry (or want to cut a few calories) it can be made as an omelette and finished off under a grill.

I would normally pimp up the pastry a little, such as using part polenta or spelt flour but because the theme of this recipe is frugality I’ve kept it as vanilla as possible – so that’s 100% plain flour.

Equipment
  • Bowl
  • Rolling bin
  • Flan tin, greased and lined
  • Baking beans or dried pulses
  • Frying pan
  • Baking sheet
  • Pastry brush
Ingredients – pastry
  • Plain flour – 250g
  • Unsalted butter – cubed and at room-temperature butter – 125g
  • Egg, beaten  –  1
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Paprika or cayenne pepper – a teaspoon
  • Water to bind the dough – about 1 tsp or so
Ingredients – filling
  • Cold, pre-cooked salad potatoes thinly sliced –  5 or 6 medium sized salad potatoes
  • Eggs – 5
  • Grated cheese – 100g. Use up any remnants of cheese – for the flan in the image I used 70g Cheddar and 30g gruyere
  • Double cream – 50ml
  • Ham, chopped – 200g (or replace with other leftover cooked meats or make vegetarian with mushrooms, green beans, peas)
  • Shallot – 1 large
  • Garlic clove – 1 or 2
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper – 2 teaspoons
  • Black onion seeds – 1 teaspoon (does add an extra flavour element, but if you don’t have these in your cupboard either use 1 teaspoon onion granules or omit)
  • Red peppers – a handful of diced red pepper, de-seeded and with the pit removed. This is roughly 40g
  • Olive or rapeseed oil for frying
Method – pastry shell
  1. Heat your oven to 180C (fan) or about 200C conventional
  2. Put the baking tray in the oven
  3. Rub the butter into the flour
  4. Mix in 3/4 of the egg and the salt, pepper and paprika (leave the rest of the egg to one side for later)
  5. Add in the water a little at a time to help you bring the dough together – don’t over add the water
  6. Squash the dough down into a disk shape and chill in the fridge for 10 mins
  7. Grease and flour the flan tin
  8. Fetch the dough out of the fridge and place onto a floured surface or a sheet of baking parchment
  9. Add a little more flour on top to stop the rolling pin sticking or roll out under some cling film
  10. Roll out to about 3mm thick
  11. Line the flan tin with the rolled out pastry, lifting the edges up to ease the pastry into all the crevasses press down so that the pastry fits the shape of the tin.
  12. You can neaten the edge of the flan now (or after it’s been baked if you prefer to ensure that the pastry does not shrink) with a knife or by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the flan tin edge (any of these will cut off the pastry at the level of the flan tin)
  13. Prick the base all over with a fork and scrunch up enough baking parchment to cover the whole tin. Un-scrunch this and lay it out onto the pastry (scrunching helps it fit to the shape of the tin more easily). Fill with the baking beans or dried pulses
  14. Put the prepared pastry case in the oven, on top of the now-hot baking tray (this will help crisp up the bottom)
  15. Cook for about 15 mins
  16. Remove the beans/pulses and parchment
  17. Brush the rest of the beaten egg over the base of the flan
  18. Return to the oven for five minutes to ensure the base is crisp
  19. Remove from the oven.  If you didn’t trim the flan case before it went into the oven, now is the time to do this with a sharp knife
  20. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling
Method – filling
  1. Leave the oven on the same temperature from pre-baking the flan case
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in a little oil over a medium heat until they are translucent. Set to one side
  3. In a bowl whisk the eggs, cream, salt, pepper and cayenne lightly together with a fork
  4. Chop or shred the ham finely and add to the egg mixture
  5. Grate the cheeses and add to the egg mixture as well, reserving a little to sprinkle on top
  6. Add the black onion seeds, the potatoes and the fried shallots and garlic and mix well
  7. Pour the filling mixture into the pre-baked flan case
  8. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and chop up the red peppers and sprinkle those on top too
  9. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned and the flan is set
  10. Can be eaten warm, but can be left to cool and served cold