These homemade croutons are completely addictive. I named them Elle's croutons because I first made them up when Elle was over for a playdate with the girls (they've designed a model of their dream Parisien apartment and are currently building it together). It was lunchtime, we were having soup and were out of crackers, so I improvised and made croutons. Normally I would have combined olive oil and butter, but I made these without due to Elle's dairy allergy. I love it when a restriction becomes an improvement! My family (and Elle) can eat these in huge quantities, snacking on them like potato chips. 
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Crusty bread sliced into half to one inch squares.
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Heat about 2T olive oil in a pan and sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Toss repeatedly and drizzle more oil and more salt to taste.
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The more browned the better, and don't skimp on the salt! But be sure it's kosher salt* (see note below) which is milder than table salt and offers a much larger margin of error so you don't have to worry as much about over-salting.
*Special Note about Kosher Salt
When I started using Kosher salt a few years ago, I luckily picked up the Diamond Crystal brand which recently I've learned is the preferred salt in many a professional kitchen. It has a course texture and is much less salty per volume than table salt, and even compared to different brands of kosher salt. Diamond Crystal has a patented method of stacking salt crystals, instead of flattening, which creates a grain size that, although larger, is less compressed and so not as strong flavored. 

Therefore, you can't use equal amounts of table salt when a recipe calls for kosher or koshering salt, and you can't use equal amounts from different brands. Deb from Smitten Kitchen has a great article about salt where she sites Jill Santopietro's article and conversion between different brands and types. I've listed the conversion below for convenience, but you really should read both articles! Ultimately, you can be a lot more liberal when sprinkling with Diamond Crystal without worrying about over-salting.

As for baking, my friend and food professional, Peter Degnan, uses kosher salt for savory and Morton's table salt for baking. This has worked well for me. Thanks, Peter!
Salt Conversion from Jill Santopietro's Research:

1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt = roughly 1  1/4 teaspoons Morton's kosher salt = roughly   1  3/4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
Now, back to the croutons. 

They're best with a quality sweet batard (like Acme's Italian batard or Semifreddi's sweet batard), loads of olive oil and generous sprinkles of kosher salt. It's a great way to use up old bread (extra olive oil is required), but the flavors soak in better with a fresh loaf. 

Equipment
serrated knife & cutting board
Large frying pan

Ingredients
half loaf of crusty bread (we like sweet batards but sourdough would be delicious, too)
1/4 C olive oil, approx.
1/2 to 1 tsp kosher salt, approx. (table salt or iodized salt is too harsh. Course sea salt would work fine)

Procedure
1. Slice bread into 1/2"-1" rough squares. 
2. Pre-heat pan on medium-high heat.
3. Drizzle olive oil across pan to coat (approx 2T) and heat well.
4. Add half of the bread. A single layer is best for better browning.
5. Sprinkle with kosher salt (about 1/4 tsp).
6. While one side is browning, drizzle more olive oil on top of bread (about 1T).
7. Toss to brown other side, sprinkle more salt (about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp).
8. Keep adding more olive oil and salt to taste until well-browned.

Be sure to heat the olive oil in the pan before adding the bread for better browning. I let them brown on one side and then toss while in the pan, adding more olive oil and salt as I go. I'm not sure how chefs codify a recipe. It's so hard to measure exactly how much salt I'm using when I'm sprinkling. So I encourage sprinkling and tasting, rather than getting out your measuring spoons! You can always sprinkle more table side if you find they aren't savory enough.

The saturated pieces taste the best -- first you crunch through the browned exterior, then a satisfying little gush of olive oil. Don't be shy with either ingredient, and be sure not to overcrowd the bread in the pan. I usually make these in two batches, or else there are never enough! Even with two batches, we always want more. Enjoy!
 
 
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It's another Saturday afternoon, and I haven't been to the store. I look in my pantry and find a great stand-by, canned tuna!

My tuna sandwiches don't have mayonaise. A simple vinaigrette with a few chopped vegetables then eat it on toast, over a salad, or if feeling indulgent, add cheddar and make a tuna melt. I prefer tuna packed in olive oil though I drain off most of the oil in the can and replace with fresh when making the dressing. I add whatever vegetables I have left in the fridge. Any combination of red or yellow peppers, carrots, green onion & celery work great. 

How do you like the retro, 50s, original-to-the house countertop? Our kitchen has matching linoleum on the floor! 

It's definitely not my first choice as the counter is a pain to keep clean–huge gaps at those metal seams along the edges that just collect gunk. I'm still working on my zen attitude towards leaving my work space spotless and not complaining about the clean up. There's always tomorrow!

Someday, I will have a gorgeous, easy-to-clean countertop.
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Mise en place. All ready to go with my crunchy , my heat, my melt, my protein and my acidic.
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First the vinaigrette. 1 tsp. dijon or other ground mustard and a squeeze of lemon juice.
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Add a pinch of kosher salt, a couple turns of cracked pepper, and about 1T of olive oil.
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Whisk continuously while adding the olive oil. The mustard works as an emulsifier and holds the whole vinaigrette together.
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Chop vegetables. A green onion (scallion) or a shallot is always good to include. It gives the tuna salad a little kick.
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Flake the tuna with a fork (separate the layers of packed tuna, instead of smooshing it all together which makes it resemble cat food!)
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Using a cheese planer makes for thin slices which assist in a quick melt.
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Heat 1T olive oil in a pan, or butter bottoms of one side of bread. Layer cheddar and cover with lid to encourage melting.
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Spread tuna mixture atop the cheese, after cheese has melted. *Note: I could have waited until the cheese was more melted. I like to have the tuna cold and vegetables still salad-like and cold while the cheese is very melty. Next time!
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Cover briefly to allow the tuna to sink into the melted cheddar and help the whole sandwich to adhere together.
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Light flavor from the vinaigrette, a bit of crunch from the red peppers, melty goodness from the cheddar, atop my favorite bread from Acme Bread Company in Berkeley!