I love garlic bread. Well, I love anything garlic, so I guess that’s no surprise. Roasted garlic, garlic pesto, garlic ice cream (well, haven’t tried that one yet). But seriously, who doesn’t like garlic bread (carb dodgers do not apply). Split a loaf of French bread sandwich style and serve it open face. Warm gooey bread, spread with garlic, spices and a little cheese for extra measure. Or cut parallel slits almost all the way through the loaf, fill the pockets, bake and rip off slices as you go. How could you possible go wrong?
St. Patrick’s Day causes a frenzy of leprechauns, shamrocks, green beer and everything Irish people can get their hands on. I’ve lived in the same building for almost 7 years and while I don’t know everyone, I don’t think we have any Irish, yet I can the scent of corned beef and cabbage is already permeating the halls, and wafting its way into my apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no exception. I already have some brisket brining and the strong scent of cabbage will take over in a few hours.
Any holiday or reason to cook, I’m all over it. And St. Patrick’s Day is no different…with maybe one exception, the Soda Bread. People get so excited about Soda Bread, with its crunchy caraway seeds and plump raisins, it’s almost like a dessert. The first time I visited Ireland, I was astonished to see our version of soda bread is really nothing like theirs. It’s still yeast free, using baking soda instead as a levener, but it wasn’t sweet at all. No raisins, no caraway seeds, just a simple bread, toasted with plenty of butter. I’m not going to pretend I know why the recipe changed to more of a dessert like bread moving across the Atlantic pond, but it did. Soda bread in both forms is good, but it’s not the bread I fell in love with. There was something about a hearty, ridiculously dense slice of brown bread that just made me swoon.
I’m not usually one to judge, but sometimes there are recipes SO EASY that people don’t even think to try. It drives me crazy! So today, I’m going to be a bit judgy. If you’ve never made your own croutons, and don’t do so regularly, well, I might think a little less of you. And if you don’t try them after I go ahead and show you step by step how easy they are to make and take practically NO TIME out of your normal dinner preparation time, well, then you’ll just make me sad. Nothing’s worse than a sad locavore, burying herself in pint after pint of local Blue Marble Ice Cream. You don’t want to be responsible for that, do you? So please, just try it once.
Yes, I realize what you’re thinking. Bananas don’t grow in Brooklyn. So occasionally I slip a bit. I’m not perfect. See I ADMIT it! Bananas are just perfect little breakfast/snack foods. Something I can grab as I’m running late to work and eat on my walk to the subway. So occasionally I get the craving for a banana and buy a bunch at the Park Slope Food Coop. I prefer my bananas firm and a little on the unripe side, so usually go for the ones that are still a bit green on the outside. I make sure to only purchase 4 or 5 so we eat them in time. But as you can see, sometimes my best intentions fail.
I swear I really did try to make a great loaf of bread. I wanted to make something incredibly tasty and pay homage to New York. I came across Smitten Kitchen’s New York Deli Rye. Perfect! I was willing to put in the 8 hours it would take, but sadly never got to that point. The bread involves one fermentation stage and two rises. There isn’t actually 8 hours of hands on work, really about 30 minutes, you just need to be home and around to keep checking on your bread. I set aside my Saturday and was ready.