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The power of the fried cheese crouton

June 13, 2012

So, weddings. They lure you in with pretty things and love and a false sense of security from thinking you’ve read allllllll the blogs (and, ahem, watched allllll the episodes of Bridezillas), so surely you’ll be able to anticipate at least the really large problems. So you reserve a venue and a caterer. But then you wake up one day a month later and realize that the state you chose is not going to work at all, and that you’re going to have to re-plan the whole thing, starting with researching everything all over again, and with an added sense of urgency because weddings are so crazed/y that venues book up a full fifteen months in advance.

I’m pretty unclear on why it’s impossible to find a place that 1) costs less than six months’ rent and 2) does not require the rental of a porta potty. Peeing in a box was my dealbreaker, and yet here we are at deadline time, with one place that costs $10,000, and two others without public bathrooms.

So. Portable toilets and a lack of indoor plumbing, here we come. Luckily, we’ve found “The Comfort Trailer.” It has fake wooden floors. It has fake marble walls. It has a sound system.

After all of these adventures in swank bathroom hell, we’re still going to need to feed people, and I refuse to even contemplate what finding catering is going to be like.

As far as I’m concerned, my best plan right now is to make dozens of these cheese croutons, plop them all on salads, and call it good. And it would be great, and anyone who disagreed would be wrong, because these croutons are amazing.

When Deb put this recipe up a few weeks ago, it was like it filled a void in my cooking repertoire I hadn’t known was there. Fried cheese croutons? On spring salad? Of course. Perfect. Out of the past ten dinners we’ve eaten, five of them have been salads with fried cheese croutons.

We’ve been throwing it together with greens, sliced red onion, almonds and a simple vinaigrette made from this chive vinegar (that’s the crazy hot pink stuff below), mustard, honey, and olive oil.  Last night, we tried it with spinach, strawberries, and pecans. Of course, the power of the fried cheese crouton is such that no matter what kind of salad you scrounge up, it’s going to be amazing.

hot pink! chive blossom vinegar!

Fried Cheese Croutons for Salads
Adapted from smitten kitchen
Makes four croutons

This is really more of an idea than a recipe. I measured out in ounces the first time, but in the subsequent rounds, I ended up just eyeballing somewhat equal portions of cheese and then throwing in some extra chèvre. Maybe four parts goat cheese to three parts parmesan. For the breadcrumbs, panko works here, but you can also just toast a couple of slices of bread (I used whole wheat, crusts and all) until they’re hard and browned, and then whir them in a food processor until they’re a consistency that’s slightly coarser than sand. Since you’re  frying, you’d ideally want to pick an oil with a high smoking point, like ghee, avocado or coconut oil. But I’ll admit that I used olive oil since it’s all we had on hand, and taste-wise, it was delicious.

5 oz chèvre (or other soft goat cheese)
4 oz coarsely grated parmesan (or other flavorful hard cheese)
1-2 tablespoons flour
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup panko or other breadcrumbs
several tablespoons of a high-heat appropriate oil (enough to fill the frying pan with about a third of an inch of oil)

–       Mix together the chèvre and the parmesan until they’re completely combined. Divide them into four balls, and then flatten them into patties.
–       Prepare a dredging station by putting the flour into a small dish, the beaten egg into another, and the breadcrumbs into a third. Coat each cheese patty in flour, submerge it in the egg, and finally roll it in breadcrumbs until it’s fully covered. Meanwhile, heat the oil for a minute or so.
–       Fry the patties in the oil for about two minutes on each side, until they’re golden and crispy. Flipping them will be a bit of a challenge, since they’ll be starting to get melty. I took Deb’s advice and used two forks to maneuver, which worked well.
–       Deposit each crouton on to a salad of your choice. Top with several grinds of pepper. Devour.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. hungrycupcakes permalink
    June 14, 2012 3:49 am

    OMG what a good idea! Need to try!

    • FoodLines permalink*
      June 14, 2012 6:59 pm

      Definitely. They’re amaaaaaaaazing!

  2. July 19, 2012 7:34 pm

    Okay I want to try some of that vinegar.

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