Breadcrumbs

breadcrumbsNever ever throw away a stale bread, otherwise you may throw away the most delicious thing. I used a whole stale bread including the crust, cut them into small pieces then put them in the food processor or blender, blitz it until the consistency that you wanted to achieve. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Spread the processed breadcrumbs on the Swiss roll tin, let it dry for 20 minutes (to drying it further) while waiting for the oven to heat up.

There is several type of breadcrumbs you could make it yourself.

  • White breadcrumbs – Remove the crust from some stale bread and rub it through a fine wire sieve, using the palm of the hand.
  • Brown breadcrumbs – Put the crusts or any pieces of the stale bread there may be into a moderate oven, and bake them brown. Then crush them with a rolling pin or pound them in a mortar, pass them through a fine sieve, and keep them in an air-tight tin.
  • Mollica (Italian) breadcrumbs  – Soft breadcrumbs: the inside of a loaf or roll, as distinct from the crust. Mollica is used principally as a binder in Polpette and Polettoni, in fillings for Ravioli and other pasta shapes and in stuffing for vegetables, fish etc. In Calabria and Sicily fried breadcrumbs are the main ingredient in many pasta sauces as a substitute for the more expensive Parmesan. The taste is, of course, different, though not necessarily less good, but the appearance is similar. There is one dish in southern Italy, in the poor regions used this breadcrumbs, even still serving today.

The French breadcrumbs (panure in French) are made from fresh bread and are soft and large-crumbed. Dried breadcrumbs (chapelure in French) are finer, made from bread that has been dried in oven or slightly stale, or by drying fresh breadcrumbs and crushing them. Browned breadcrumbs are dried crumbs that are lightly toasted. (Alternatively, the bread may be baked until browned before it is crumbed.) Breadcrumbs are used in cooking for coating food or as a topping for dishes. They are also used for binding mixtures or thickening soups or sauces.

  • Coating with breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are used to coat delicate foods before frying, typically fish or seafood, chicken breast fillets, croquettes or fritters. Dry white crumbs do not absorb as much fat as fresh crumbs; they produce a fine, crisp coating and turn golden on cooking. The food is first dusted with flour, then dipped in beaten egg and finally coated with breadcrumbs. This gives a secure coating, ideal for soft mixtures which may melt during frying. Less delicate items can be moistened with melted butter or milk before a fine layer of crumbs is pressed on – this is useful when baking or grilling (broiling) the food. Dishes coated with fresh breadcrumbs must be cooked slowly so that the crumbs do not brown before the foods are properly cooked. The French are prefer their fresh breadcrumbs, making that misnomer!

If you had a very tired or lazy day, you could even ignore the step of drying the bread in the oven. You can cut the crust off and cut the bread into chunks and lacerate  into crumbs in the food processor, and then leave the crumbs in a shallow bowl or spread them out on a plate to dry and get staler naturally. You can keep breadcrumbs in a freezer bag in the freezer and use them straight from the frozen. An average slice of good bread without crusts, should be weights 25g; this in turn yields approximately 6 tablespoons of breadcrumbs.

Spaghetti with olives & anchovies

IMG_0206AThe authenticity of this dish is about your elbow grease to make the sauce from pestle and mortar, it reminds me about my Mother using pestle and mortar for special sauce making, and takes hours to get the fine consistency, but now with machinery it had become easy. The thing that I love to use authentic method simply because you will see the wonderful transformation and the beautiful scent while you are working on it, I call this the good relationship between the cook and the ingredients.

This look alike pesto sauce for is very easy and it is no cooking involved, taste like I had been transport to coasts of Italy because it content anchovy. Anchovy has a delicate and tasty flesh, when fresh, its back is a lovely blue-green colour and its sides silvery grey, but when it is not so fresh its back turns deep blue or black. You can eat it raw when is really fresh. Mine I get it out from a can, all the flavour has locked in with olive oil and lemon juice.

The best kind of pasta to go with this is spaghetti and made from spelt, the reason to use spelt spaghetti is the earthiness texture is perfect with the pungency of the olive-sharp anchovies. In fact, it has a smoky, subtle strength that doesn’t overwhelm less feisty sauces, indeed it is ancient wheat, either. Some regular wholegrain pastas work well, I had run out mine so I stick with regular spaghetti, it got to be spaghetti I insist because the sauce will cling to every strand of spaghetti.

You can easily serves two greedy people in this recipe here is what you need

  • 200g Spelt spaghetti or wholegrain pasta
  • salt for pasta water, to taste
  • 10 pitted green olives
  • 10 anchovy fillet (from can or jar), drained
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • small bunch of parsley
  • zest and juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
  • 60ml olive oil
  • pepper (only if you like some extra heat)
  1. Put a pan of water onto boil for the pasta. When the pan comes to the boil, salt the water generously, or to taste, and add the pasta and cook until al denta.
  2. Make the sauce put the olives, anchovies, garlic, pine nut, parsley, lemon zest and juice and olive oil in a small bowl and blitz with the stick blender (mini food processor). Don’t worry about the odd unmashed pine nut or olive, they rather beautiful and appealing.
  3. After the pasta had been in their hot bath, just before you drain the pasta remove a cupful of the starchy cooking water and immediately add two tablespoons of it to the bowl of the sauce, then give it another brief blitz to combine those last ingredients.
  4. Tip the drained pasta back into its pan, then pour and scrape the sauce on top and toss to mix, adding more of the cooking liquid if you feel need the sauce to be loosen.
  5. Season to taste you may want pepper or more lemon juice, but I can’t see salt being necessary then toss again and turn out into a warm serving dish or divide between two plates or bowls.

I just adored the green of the parsley that gives fresh grassy taste, the lemon has contras with the anchovies otherwise it might be too salty. It looks healthy instantly! Why not give it a go!

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Pea Soup (Potage Saint-Germain)

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Potage St-Germain, my easy supper when I need some push in the evening. It is creamy and thick, but I used pancetta as topping instead of  cheese and crouton. This recipe you could easily serve for four people.

  1. If you topping with pancetta, dry pan fry the pancetta in medium heat until is golden brown and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the stock, peas, sugar and salt and pepper to taste and bring to the boil, uncovered. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the peas are very tender.
  3. Strain the peas and reserve the cooking liquid. Processs the peas in a food processor or blender, then return the purée to the pan. Gradually stir in the cooking liquid until you have the desired consistency.
  4. Reheat the soup. Stir in the crème fraîche and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately with blue cheese and croutons (pancetta) sprinkled over.

This are one of the everyday cooking, or as a starter for a party. I think kids will like it too when their sort of refuse to eat their green. Bon appetit!