Here, this day, is our daily bread


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Bread is the main feature in French toast, but adding a topping of fresh fruit makes it extra special.

 

Just the other day, my mom was wondering what to do with a loaf of sliced bread that was in her freezer. I thought about it for a bit, then suggested that we make some old-fashioned bread pudding.

Well, that was an idea I did not regret, as bread pudding was a treat I enjoyed all through my childhood, and to this day I still love it. That led me to ponder how bread is part of our everyday life, and can be a part of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts and even snacks. So here are some recipes that feature bread as an ingredient.

Being that I am cutting back on eating carbs, let’s just say I decided to take a little break. Hope you enjoy at least one of these recipes.

Bread pudding with vanilla sauce

I like to use golden raisins in this recipe.

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup butter, cubed

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 1/2 to 5 cups soft bread cubes (about 9 slices)

1/2 cup raisins, optional

Vanilla sauce:

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cups cold water

3 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Combine milk and butter; add to eggs along with sugar, salt, spices and vanilla. Add bread cubes and raisins if desired; stir gently.

2. Pour into a well-greased 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

3. Meanwhile, for sauce, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Stir in water until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, vanilla and nutmeg. Serve with warm pudding.

Clam chowder in a bread bowl

10 ounces canned clams, chopped

3 cups bottled clam juice

2 to 3 slices bacon, diced

1 onion, diced

3 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled, and diced into 1-inch cubes

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup half and half

1/4 cup cooking sherry

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 bay leaf

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Black pepper, to taste

A few dashes Worcestershire sauce, to taste

A few dashes Tabasco, to taste

4 sourdough bread bowls (the small type)

1. Saute diced bacon in a heavy bottomed stock pot, or Dutch oven, stirring often, until browned.

2. Add diced onion to the bacon and saute until onions become translucent. Add flour to onion and bacon mixture and mix until well coated. Add clam juice to mixture and stir to dissolve flour. Allow mixture to come to a boil for approximately 5 minutes. The mixture should become slightly thickened, approximately the same thickness as cream. If it is too thick, add additional water.

3. Add thyme and bay leaf to stock. Add chopped potatoes and simmer, covered, for approximately 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.

4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring cream and half-and-half to a simmer. Add clams and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes. Once potatoes are fully cooked, combine with cream and clam mixture.

5. Bring entire soup to a simmer for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add sherry, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and Tabasco to taste. Ladle into heated sourdough bread bowls. Makes 4 servings.

Tuscan bread salad

Also known as panzanella. See *notes.

2 1/2 pounds mixed tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

3/4 pound ciabatta or rustic sourdough bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups bread cubes)

10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped

*Notes: Salting and draining the tomatoes produces a lot of flavorful liquid to build up a lot of vinaigrette, essential for rehydrating the dried bread. Drying fresh bread in the oven produces a better texture than using stale bread. The tomato juice combines with vinegar to create a flavor-packed vinaigrette.

1. Place tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl and season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature to drain, tossing occasionally, while you toast the bread. Drain for a minimum of 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 and adjust rack to center position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and firm but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. Remove colander with tomatoes from bowl with tomato juice. Place colander with tomatoes in the sink. Add shallot, garlic, mustard, and vinegar to the bowl with tomato juice. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Combine toasted bread, tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Add basil leaves. Toss everything to coat and season with salt and pepper. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally until dressing is completely absorbed by bread. Makes 6 servings.

French toast

Don’t allow the bread slices to soak a long time or they will be too soggy and take a lot longer to cook.

2 large eggs

1 cup milk, half and half, coconut milk, or almond milk

Pinch salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar, honey or maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 slices sandwich bread (or any type you prefer)

Butter

1. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a flat-bottomed pie plate or baking dish. Place bread slices, one or two at a time, into the egg mixture and flip to make sure both sides of bread are well-coated.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet or on a griddle. Place bread slices in skillet or on griddle and cook on medium heat until golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Serve immediately or keep warm in oven until ready to serve, but no longer than about 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.