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David just can't resist

"The croissant is only acceptable as a breakfast food and, unless you live a life of gilded luxury, only at weekends. It is a matter of time, cost and the fact that if you eat them regularly you will collapse of a heart attack at an unfashionably young age." Tony Naylor - The Guardian

I came back from my walk this morning to find that David was back from the doctor and then the shops with this. Yes it was a bargain - reduced from $10.00 (already a bargain) to $9.00 for 12 croissants which is less that a dollar each. He is always tempted by these big boxes of Coles croissants but if I am with him I can usually get him to refrain because (a) I don't think they are super croissants anyway - probably made with margarine,(actually no - I checked) and (b) what on earth am I going to do with 12 croissants? Every two or three days we have a croissant for breakfast which means that it would take at least a fortnight to eat them all by which time they would be very stale. They're probably stale already anyway - hence the price. Apologies for the not very good photograph by the way.

David tells me he has dealt with them which probably means that most of them have been batched and frozen, which is indeed one way of dealing with them. Nevertheless I thought that besides having my little dig at his frugality, this might be an opportunity to have a look at what you can do with them, because of course there are a myriad of things.

I have sort of done croissants before. Indeed it was one of the very first posts I ever wrote back on July 28th 2016 - just 12 days after I began. I just checked it out and find that I did cover things to do with them a bit, but never mind. It was a long time ago and I might find something else. That post was also inspired by one of David's impulse bargain buys of a box of the things. But I guess "a little of what you fancy does you good" as my grandmother used to say.

The simplest thing to do is the sandwich, but here I totally agree with Tony Naylor who dedicated one of his How to Eat columns to the croissant, and in which he said that a croissant should always be eaten warm:

"A cold croissant is lifeless and stodgy, a literal and metaphorical pale imitation of its heated cousin. In order to reveal its flaky, buttery charms, in order to ensure maximum contrast between that crisp shell and its soft, pillowing inner folds, a croissant needs warming through."

So a platter of croissant sandwiches does not look that appetising to me. They remind me of oysters somehow and I just cannot come at oysters. Nevertheless many swear by them. There are even sandwich shops dedicated to the croissant sandwich. Maybe they warm them, but some of those fillings would not take well to being warmed. I suppose if you were making the sandwich just for you, you could warm the croissant first before filling, but what about the butter? It would melt all over the filling. No this one is not for me, but you will find zillions of examples on the net.

No if you are going to make a sandwich with a croissant then it needs to be the toasted kind. Again there are zillions of suggestions on the net - here are three to give you the idea: Capresi croissant breakfast sandwich from Del's Cooking Twist; Creamy mushroom, brie and pancetta croissants from delicious. and Ham and cheese croissant from The Gunny Sack.

As an aside - this time when looking for recipes to inspire - after checking out the usual suspects - I actually clicked on several, mostly American, blogs to see what the supposed 'home' cooks came up with. There is a certain kind of style to their improvisations, which is somehow very American, and also a very definite style to the appearance of the websites - mostly I think because they use the same Wordpress templates. I don't know why. I tried out Wordpress both for the film society and for my own purposes but always found it incredibly clunky to use.

Anyway the three above would definitely set you off down that particular track. Slice your croissant, fill and bake in the oven seems to be the best way to go here.

Where to now? Apples perhaps and the only two celebrity chefs - Gordon Ramsay and Nigel Slater, who seemed to be much into croissants. I would have expected something from Nigella, Jamie, Donna Hay and Bill Granger - but nothing. Not that I could find anyway. And even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall doesn't mention them in his Love Your Leftovers book. Anyway below Gordon Ramsay demonstrates his Stuffed croissant French toast with caramelised apples

which I have to say look pretty nice. But you will need some leftover custard which is something I never have, although obviously you can either make some custard or buy some. Buying it seems to me to be in the spirit of this kind of dish. He made it in just under 7 minutes.

Nigel Slater, however is even quicker and simpler. It's called Croissants with caramelised apples and caramel ice cream. And that's just what it is. The recipe is not online, but here's a quick rundown:

Melt 50g butter in a shallow pan toss unpeeled chunks of apple (core removed) in the hot butter and cook until golden on all sides. Add 4 tablespoons golden caster sugar and a good slug of Calvados and cook until caramelised. Split croissants and warm under a grill. Remove from the heat, put scoops of ice cream on bottom half, spoon over apple and juices, put on lid and eat. Sounds pretty decadent really - and maybe a bit messy. Hot apples, cold ice cream. He also has a simpler version in which the apples are puréed but I don't think warmed. On top of this you put dollops of crème fraîche before putting the warmed lid on the warmed bottom. People swear by this. But somehow I don't think Tony Naylor would approve.

Back to those American cooks. All of the recipes here are on the Taste of Home website, but from different cooks, and are savoury kinds of bread and butter puddings, but then again kind of not: Mediterranean veggie brunch puff in which the croissants are broken into pieces and baked with vegetables, cheese and a kind of custard; Ham and Swiss egg casserole - the Swiss of the title referring to Swiss cheese; New England bean and bog cassoulet - which is different in that it's not got any kind of custard in it, and I really don't know what the bog refers to maybe the chicken sausages, or the cranberries but quite an interesting sounding dish and finally Spinach feta strata - a sort of classic dish but more usually made with stale bread.

Mind you Tony Naylor doesn't approve of the bread and butter pudding concept:

"using croissants to give a Gallic twist to a traditional British bread ’n’ butter pudding is ludicrous. Croissants absorb moisture like sponges and rapidly turn into a pappy mush. It is a novelty that brings to mind Samuel Johnson’s maxim about dogs walking on their hind legs: “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” Tony Naylor - The Guardian

Well bread turns into mush too. It's just a case of keeping some of the croissants with their heads above water as it were so that you have a crispy top. And heaps of cooks go for this concept. Valli Little's Pear and chocolate croissant cakes look like a good place to start. But fundamentally you can replace the bread in any bread and butter pudding that you can find with croissants.

Still on dessert - you can also make Salted caramel cruffins from a lady called Lucy Nunes on the Taste website. You make a sort of puff pastry though, so this is not a quick and simple thing. Douse it in sugar and bake. So yes, you are making a kind of cross between a croissant and a muffin. Since I am hopeless at both I don't think I shall be trying this one. Mind you, you could probably try with shop-bought puff pastry.

And finally a return to the sandwich - and snickers - that featured stuffed into pickles in my stuffing post. However, in this recipe we are not stuffing stale croissants as you might have thought, but using frozen puff pastry to make a kind of sweet croissant, using crushed snickers bars, flaked almonds and Bonne Maman caramel spread - resulting in Snickers croissants. A cheat's thing like Nigella's Chocolate croissants - which do indeed work. I've made them a few times.

Most likely we shall just gradually eat our way through the croissants for breakfast alas. The sweet things will not be tried because we rarely have dessert other than a piece of fruit, and the others are probably not to David's taste. I'll think about it though.

There was an Ottolenghi recipe for a kind of bread and butter pudding using kale and bread that he called Kale pesto strata with Gruyère and mustard, which could be adapted to croissants maybe ... Although then again some of those American cooks' ideas might be worth pursuing.


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