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Tips to use old bread

One of the most frustrating things on the Earth is buying a loaf of bread, only to find out that it is going stale. Instead of throwing it out, here are some ideas for that day old loaf that would otherwise be tossed.

Things to do with old bread

Soup thickener - Many soups can be thickened by adding bread. Just think of gazpacho or salmorejo, Spanish tomato and garlic soups, or the French onion soup you get in a bread bowl. The consistency becomes top notch when you start scraping the sides.

French toast - No matter how dry the bread is, soak it in some eggs, milk and cinnamon and you have the makings for some killer French toast. This is even truer with breads that have hard outer crusts.

Bread pudding - Of course this has to be in the list, after all, it is the main ingredient. Bread pudding comes in many versions, Irish bread pudding is just one of them. You can use slightly stale bread for the common bread and butter pudding and add other flavors, such as soaked dried fruit, sweet spices, chocolate or coconut.

You can also use the formula of a sweet bread pudding to make cheesy bread pudding, a savory version of the dessert one, or a savory bread and butter pudding with a screamy cheese such as Camembert.

Egg in a nest - If you want a breakfast that will transport you back to your childhood, sitting in your mother's kitchen, try egg in a nest. Make a small hole in the middle of a slice, drop in an egg and flip and you have the makings of a great day.

Panzanella - This is an Italian bread salad, which makes use of cubes of day old bread.

Croutons - Coat the bread cubes with a light drizzle of olive oil and your favorite herbs, pop in the oven around 375º F for 15 minutes and you have the best croutons in the world. If you want to get daring, try tossing them with some roasted garlic, cayenne or dried mint right as they come out of the oven. You can also cook croutons in a pan, flavor with a clove of garlic, pressed.

Use some large croutons to make fatthoush.

Breadcrumbs - Take your croutons and smash the heck out of them. Tadaa, breadcrumbs. Make breadcrumbs using a food processor or coffee grinder if the bread is dry enough. Breadcrumbs always come handy to coat chicken fingers or other meats, to add bulk to burgers or meatloaf, or as soup thickeners.

Toast - It is already lacking a little moisture, why not dry it out some more and put some butter and jelly on it? Good as gold. Or go beyond and make melba toast.

Grilled cheese - The more exotic the bread and cheese, the better. Experiment with Gouda and an Italian focaccia or some other variety you can find.

Cinnamon toast - A little butter, cinnamon and sugar to top the bread and the cereal may make a run for it.

Garlic bread - The all time use for left over French bread, but the idea can be applied to almost any other type of day old bread for a slight twist on an old classic. Try garlic bread with cheese.

Stratta - This is an egg and cubed bread dish that is baked in the oven. A close cousin to the quiche, strata is usually denser and can be made with any number of ingredients, try one with asparagus, mushrooms and goat cheese.

Hamburgers - No, not as a hamburger bun, but chunk it up, slightly larger pieces than breadcrumbs and combine with the meat when you make your hamburgers. The bread will keep the burger light and juicy.

Pangrattato - A crispy topping for pasta and for fried or grilled dishes. Fry breadcrumbs in a little olive oil with 1 whole clove of garlic, slightly crushed, toasted pine nuts, herbs and spices to taste. Remove the garlic before serving.

Bagnet vert - A cold sauce to serve with grilled fish. Soak for 10 minutes 3-4 oz of bread, roughly torn, in 4 Tbs olive oil and 2 Tbs vinegar, sherry vinegar is ideal. Blend with 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, 1 clove of garlic and 1 Tbs capers. Loosen the sauce with a little water, if needed.

Grab a loaf or two of day old bread from your local bakery and get creative. After all, it is extremely cheap and you can never have enough French toast.

If there is nothing else...

Feed the birds - Birds can't really tell the difference between fresh bread and day old bread, or if they can, they are not too picky. Either way, a great repurposing of your day old bread.

Toss it - Listen, there comes a point when you have to say goodbye. If you can crack your granite counter top with it, now is probably that time.