At home we tend to have a very organised Sunday afternoon. After a relaxing morning, we receive our food delivery for the week which I am in charge of. I love doing it for then I know what is missing or has been swapped or is simply below standards (I have seen mouldy mushrooms, Spinach which was as wet as dead and more). It allows me to know what is going on in my cupboard and fridges and to sort out small glitches. Having worked in the food industry for 6 years to finance my university fees gave me a FIFO (First In First Out) organisation down to a habit. From planning meals to cutting the cost to getting the best products during the right seasons, passing by emergency plan to find or replace any missing ingredient are just skills I acquired then which are so useful now in my household.
|Home Made Chilli Jam|
But after all the tedious tidying, after putting everything in the right places, I just love to sit down for a treat, proper brunch or a snack. Sometimes it is unusual, sometimes it could be bog standard potatoes skins filled with cheddar, cream and chive. This time, I fancied very much finishing Gino's week with his Salt and Pepper Bread Sticks to dip in chutneys and chilli jam.
|Pic from Ethical Bread.|
I love making bread. I find it so rewarding. But also the diversity of breads around, from culture to culture, generation to generation, worldwide is mesmerising. As I write this, going back into my cooking diaries, it is January 2016 and the start of a new year. I have only started making bread in the past two years, not many: the amount could be counted on the fingers of a single hand. Yet each time I did, there was a contentment which is hard to describe. From the kneading to tucking into a slice of bread you made, passing by taking your bread out of the oven, you get a peaceful sense of pleasure and achievement in its simplest terms.
So in this first post of 2016, I made a resolution which will fill me all year round with plenty of satisfaction. No, it is not running miles and losing the dear old beer belly panting and sweating. No, it doesn't involve climbing Mount Everest to work my bingo wings, it just involves to make at least one or two breads a week. By the way, the proof will be in the kneading, and I bet on the bingos to be muscled up by the end of the year. I will let you know about the hard and fleshy result even if it is flabby enough to make me fly away in shame.
Gino's Bread Sticks were such a treat that it convinced me back in October that I should do more 'bready' things. I expected them to turn out a bit like cheese twists. Yet they were more consistently delicious: the perfect dipping bread. The book's pic looks scrumptious enough to give those breadsticks a good go. I must say I enjoyed very much making that recipe.
|Yeast and Salt on opposite sides.|
It is easy to follow. First you make the dough with the strong white flour (400 g) in a large bowl, 7 g fast action dried yeast on one side and 2 tsps of salt in the other. In a well in the middle you pour 3 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil. Then you pour 250 ml of warm water. Gino's tip to use the handle of the wooden spoon to mix the dough is an excellent one. I was amazed by the result.
Then you pour another 100 ml of warm water, gradually while you keep stirring. I would say that this first stage is the easiest of them all. The second is more demanding for it involves a little bit of elbow grease: it's a good kneading of the dough for 8 minutes. I must confess that I kept an eager eye on the clock. We don't want to over-knead the dough nor do too much exercise: smile, I don't think there was any risk for this to happen here anyhow...
|The Puffed up ball of Dough.|
|Sourdough Yeast Starter.|
|Something went pear-shape...|
I stretched the dough into a rectangle and cut it into twenty strips. It sounded easy enough yet I found that part the hardest. The reason is you do not know how large and how flatten your dough needs to be at that stage. The following task was to roll the strips into 20 cm long sausages... My strips were already 20 cm long and when I rolled them up well they grew even longer sometimes so much so that I folded them and started again.
It is fair to say that I must have cocked up that dividing and rolling part somewhere, yet my not heaven batch went onto the lined baking trays. You do need two of those. I brushed the breadsticks with the egg white mix ( 1 egg white + 1 tbsp of water). Then comes the seasoning with the sea salt and the crushed black pepper. Simple yet wonderful to the taste-buds.
|Home made Chutney.|
The breadsticks had a Ciabatta like texture. They were Fantastico to take one of the trademark words of Gino D'Acampo. I will definitely do those little babies again. They are awesome as a snack or as part of a party food buffet.