I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, in which celebrity chefs discuss the restaurant that makes their favorite cheeseburger, chocolate cake, fois gras, whatever. Well, if I had to choose it would be Kruse and Muer bread (also the Brazilian coconut shrimp soup from Shuga’s, but that’s another post). Kruse and Muer is one of a family of restaurants in metro Detroit, where I grew up. Their bread, universally called “Kruse and Muer bread”, is famous, and AMAZING. I don’t think there is a single person within a ten mile radius of a Kruse and Muer restaurant that doesn’t love this bread. One time when Cat still lived by one, I made her cut up a loaf and put it in a Ziplock and bring it to me in Denver. When it got here, I wouldn’t share it with anyone. If Cat still lived near one, I would make her send me some weekly. It is THAT good.
Beyond the bread, Kruse and Muer has a fantastic menu. They have an amazing cheese tortellini in a tomato cream sauce that tastes like no other tomato cream sauce you’ve ever had. Not to mention their famous pizza, with a crust made from the famous bread. One of my other favorites was their gazpacho, which they only served in the summer during the height of tomato season. I should disclose that one of the many components that made their gazpacho fantastic was the croutons made from the famous bread.
I would love to say that I have learned to replicate the bread, but I haven’t. What I do have is the “bread blessing” recipe. This is not top secret, it has been floating around Rochester, Michigan for years and years, and it’s in a cook book by Chuck Muer, restaurant founder. The bread recipe provided with the blessing, unfortunately, comes nowhere near the chewy crusty deliciousness of real Kruse and Muer bread, but if you are looking for a flavor that reminds you of that beloved bread, this will do the trick. This bread blessing tossed with a good French baguette, will make some fantastic croutons; one of the key components to their amazing gazpacho. Are you wondering what a bread blessing is? Simply, it’s herbed oil or butter that is brushed on to bread after it is risen and before it is baked, it is also commonly brushed on just after it comes out of the oven.
Now that I have rambled on and on about bread for a page, we should probably talk about gazpacho. Gazpacho is a cold tomato and bread based soup. It is of Spanish origin, and can vary widely from recipe to recipe. One of my favorite things about Kruse and Muer’s gazpacho was the tangy, acidic bite. It’s taken some time, and lots of tasting to develop this recipe. To me, 1,298 miles from the nearest Kruse and Muer, this is the closet replication I could make (yes, I Googled that exact location).
Kruse and Muer Bread Blessing/ Crouton Recipe:
Blessing Ingredients (1/2 recipe):
½ cup olive oil
½ large garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbs poppy seeds
1 French baguette, which you can find in the deli section of most grocery stores, I recommend white. Cut about 2 inches of each end and set aside (to be used in the gazpacho). Cut the rest of the loaf into small cubes. On a large baking sheet drizzle the blessing over the croutons and toss with your hands to coat.
Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside (You can bake your croutons longer to be crispier, but this is similar to how Kruse and Muer’s are).
4 cups of chopped tomatoes, whatever is the ripest **see note at the bottom**
3 cucumbers, stripe peeled (peeling some skin, leaving strips of some skin, or just peel it all if you like)
2 bell peppers, any color you like
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 ½ cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Ends of the baguette from the croutons, or 2 medium slices dried crusty bread
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste (at least ½ tsp of salt and 4-5 grinds of black pepper)
Sour cream (or Greek yogurt) for serving.
In a food processor puree 2 cups of the chopped tomatoes, along with the bread. Drizzle in olive oil and blend again. Pour the puree into a large bowl.
Slice the cucumbers in ½ and scrape out the seeds, then dice. Dice the onion. Remove the ribs and seeds from the bell pepper and dice.
Add diced vegetables to the puree, along with the remaining 2 cups of chopped tomatoes. Add garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and spices, mix with a large spoon to combine.Test mixture and adjust spices, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice to taste.
Serve chilled, topped with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, and croutons.
Will keep in the fridge for a week.
A few notes:
** For the puree of tomatoes I used fresh large tomatoes from the farmers market, and for the additional two cups of chopped tomatoes I used quartered cherry tomatoes, orange and red. I LOVE those baby orange tomatoes, especially this time of year. If you find that at your local market, I highly recommend using them.
-Bell peppers and I are not friends. I would love to love them, but my tummy thinks otherwise. Despite the recipe above, I used just one yellow. You can use whatever color, and up to three if you love them.
-The original bread blessing does not include the poppy seeds. Before the bread is “blessed” it is rolled in a poppy seed and salt mixture. Poppy seeds are key to Kruse and Muer bread, so since I wasn’t baking the bread, I added them to the blessing.
– If you live anywhere near Kruse and Muer and you are reading this- send bread immediately.