I know there are some major Panera haters out there but J and I love Panera. We were there for dinner the other day before grocery shopping and talked about how we needed to eat more vegetables. One easy way to do that is salad, which we actually love eating when we think about it. I am going to admit something slightly shameful but we love Good Seasons Italian dressing packets. A million leaves of lettuce are rolling over in their graves but I love the flavor and texture of the Good Seasons shake your own salad dressing. Made with a mixture of cider vinegar and olive oil instead of the distilled white and vegetable oil, it's really divine. But to encourage salad eating even more, I decided to make some homemade croutons. Panera was selling its honey oat bread for a reasonable $2.69, on par with the multigrain breads at the supermarket. I bought one and had it sliced for sandwiches (it sits in our freezer) and the other I left whole for croutons. Homemade croutons give me a serious salad craving. You basically slice the bread into 3/4 inch slices, cut the crusts off (breadcrumbs!) and then slice them into cubes. Toss with a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper, and any herbs you find appealling and then throw it in the oven 350 degrees for 15 minutes to crisp up. I must have had a mixing bowl size serving of salad and loved every minute. I am slightly afraid of making panzanella because that just seems a way to minimize the vegetables and just have giant croutons.
On the tv front, I've been emailing the divine Stef about Top Chef. As I've said before this season was pretty unwatchable towards the end. I came into the finale knowing that Ilan was the winner thanks to some unintended spoiling at the Food and Wine website. Even without that knowledge, the outcome felt like a forgone conclusion once Marcel left the fish in the other kitchen. As I as telling stef, kitchen management is a key factor in the decision and Marcel left himself wide open. On the actual food I agreed with the judges that Ilan was the more competent chef FOR NOW but that Marcel had more potential. Here's to next season being one I can recap.