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Plain & simple, good combo for comfort food

At The Culinary Studio we always try to look at ingredients in their most basic form, keeping their integrity by not manipulating them too much so that they lose their original purpose. Bread and garlic, condiments such as capers and vinegar, and even simple ingredients like pure, unsalted butter can be used really simply, without compromising flavour.

In the cold winter months I think that we crave simple, warm dishes. I know I could eat potato soup at least twice a week. The following cooking tips (which they are, rather than exact recipes) work with some of your favourite comfort food recipes to make them feel new again.

Garlic Toast/Croutons

  • Half a baguette or other good quality bread, sliced into 3/4-inch slices
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Butter, as needed
  • 1 good large clove of garlic, peeled and one end sliced off
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

A simple side dish or topping, remember that a crusty piece of garlic toast can go well with a soup, stew, chili, or a pot roast.  The toast can be broken up into croutons to give a nice textural contrast to a creamy pasta dish, baked beans, or even tossed in warm to a romaine lettuce salad.

Place bread on a baking sheet; drizzle liberally with olive oil and spread lightly with butter. Yes, the oil/butter combo may sound extreme, but it’s good;
Toast in a 400°F oven until just golden brown, about 7-10 minutes;
As soon as it comes out of the oven, rub with cut side of the garlic clove; sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired, and serve.

Crispy Capers

  • 2 tbsp capers, patted dry
  • 2 (approx.) tbsp canola oil

Capers are the little green buds of the Caperberry bush. They are harvested, dried and then pickled in brine with vinegar or packed in salt. They have a tart, salty flavour, similar to olives. Less of a snack on their own, they are fabulous in pastas, or as a garnish to a monotonous soup such as potato or squash. By frying them lightly they become a little milder, and pleasantly crispy

In a small frying pan, heat oil;
Carefully add capers (they will splatter a bit);
Fry for a couple minutes until they open up slightly and start to brown;
Drain on paper towels.

Basic Breading Procedure
Try using a fresh, fluffy breadcrumb the next time you want to turn your pork tenderloin, chicken breast or fish into something really special. Soft breadcrumbs become so crispy and flavourful when fried. Here’s just a refresher on basic breading procedure. Enough for about 4 chicken breasts.

In a food processor or a blender, blend about half a loaf of a sourdough bread. Pulse, leaving some larger crumbs. To these crumbs, a couple tablespoons of freshly chopped thyme is really nice;
Breading procedure: in one bowl have about 1 cup flour. In second bowl, 2-3 eggs, beaten well. And in the third bowl, the crumbs. Season each bowl lightly with salt;

Season your product with salt and pepper and then bread, keeping 1 hand ‘dry’ and one hand ‘wet.’ First in the flour, lift out and into the eggs. Lift out with wet hand, and into the crumbs. Lift out with dry hand and onto a baking sheet until ready to fry in medium-hot fat.

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