18 August 2015

Quick Cheap Easy Way to Improve Almost Any Meal ~ Pangrattato!

Pangrattato (plural Pangrattati) 
Italian ~ breadcrumb

I had lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen at Watergate Bay the other day (with a long time no see good friend which was great) where, on reading the menu, I realised that I’ve been at the pangrattato for many, many years without knowing it! Although pangrattato seems be the normal term on menus I think if I was still cheffing I might say pangrattati as just one sounds a bit meagre!

Fifteen-menu

Pangrattato/ti (from grated bread) is/are crispy flavoured breadcrumbs which are a fabulous way of adding deliciousness and texture to all sorts of meals; I find you can’t go wrong with a crunchy sprinkle! It’s also Very Cheap as you can use stale bread and the additions are a great way of using up other leftover bits and pieces.

This simple garnish (to say the least) can be varied in ways too numerous to mention but I’m going to have a go. I think this is another one of those genius recipes that once you know the basics you can go on to make any number of wonderful things.
how-to-make-pangrattato

Different breads can, of course, be used and all sorts of things such as nuts, seeds, herbs, spices etc. can be added to create the perfect pangrattato for your chosen dish. Make the breadcrumbs by grating the bread, chopping it finely or coarsely, or it running through the food processor. The advantage of this last method is you can add other additions such as nuts or herbs to the crumbs and chop them in at the same time. The disadvantage is the faff of setting it up and the subsequent washing up.

Olive oil is the most commonly used oil in pangrattato, flavoured oils are good, nut oils make a nice change and butter works too, especially for sweet pangrattato.

The breadcrumbs should be crisp which can be achieved by either baking or frying them. Either way you need about 2 tablespoons of oil or butter per 100g of crumbs and if you are adding garlic or herbs or spices it is a good idea to gently warm them in the oil over low heat before tossing with the crumbs, thus infusing the oil and making everything even tastier.

Baking – moisten the crumbs with the oil, flavoured or otherwise and toss with other additions, spread on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4 for about 5 minutes. If you are cooking something else a slightly higher or lower temperature is fine, just keep an eye on the crumbs.

Frying – it is far better, in my opinion, to moisten the crumbs with your chosen oil and then fry them in a dry pan rather than heating the oil in the pan and then adding the crumbs.  My way means that the crumbs have time to absorb the oil and so become uniformly crisp rather than the first bit to hit the pan frying hard and the rest having to catch up!

Don’t forget to taste and season your pangrattato before serving.

 Some Ideas ...

~   Just salt and pepper can be good – warm the oil with some coarsely ground black pepper, cook the crumbs then stir in a little crunchy sea salt.
~   Warm chilli flakes in a similar manner, perhaps with a little orange zest too.

~   3 Garlic Suggestions ...

     1.  Warm finely chopped garlic in the oil or butter before tossing with the crumbs.
     2.  Use the oil from roasted garlic instead of plain oil or butter.
     3.  Black Garlic Pangrattati, (were you expecting this?) stir a little finely chopped black garlic or a teaspoon of black garlic paste into the oil, good dose of black pepper would be good in this.

~   One or two coarsely chopped anchovies and a little garlic – this is an interesting alternative to croutons in Caesar Salad.
~   Bacon or ham or chorizo etc. – coarsely chop and toss with the crumbs in the hot oil, particularly good sprinkled over macaroni cheese type dishes.
~   Pesto Pangrattato – warm a little finely chopped garlic and some coarsely chopped basil in the oil. Add some coarsely chopped pinenuts to the crumbs and as soon as you have cooked them and they are hot and crisp stir in some grated Parmesan.
~   Nutty Pangrattato – actually my first ever Sudden Lunch! post concerned cobnut pangrattato (although I didn’t realise it at the time!) and it was so delicious I remember it to this day. Might make it again in a minute, I’ve got some cobnuts.  
~   Lemon and Parsley – great for fish dishes, warm finely grated lemon zest and some coarsely ground black pepper in the oil and stir in chopped parsley once cooked. Maybe add a few chopped capers and sprinkle over smoked salmon with sour cream!

Sweet Pangrattati

Best to use butter for these and stir in a little sugar too.

~   Hot Cross Bun Crumbs! When making my Hot Cross Bun Ice Cream (our new favourite!) I like it if I have a few cooked crumbs left over; they are great sprinkled on fruit dishes or other ice creams.
~   Stollen Pangrattato, maybe add some crumbled marzipan and/or some chopped almonds – good over peaches, for instance.
~   Brioche Pangrattato – butter, sugar, perhaps some cinnamon or a little vanilla paste.
~   Etc.

As I often say with these genius recipes – “Your turn”!

What to do with your Pangrattato

You can of course sprinkle it willy nilly as the mood takes you but here are a few suggestions ...

~   Add crunch to perfectly cooked fresh veggies eg. asparagus or broccoli or green beans. Anchovy pangrattato is excellent with cauliflower.
~   Egg dishes as in my Toast on Eggs recipe here.
~   Toss with gnocchi – in my opinion they need all the help they can get!
~   Top risotto.
~   Sprinkle a little on cheese (maybe let it cool a little first if using on a cheeseboard), walnut pangrattato would be good on blue cheese, for instance, or pesto pangrattato with goat cheese.
~   Use instead of more traditional croutons on thick creamy soups.
~   Makes an almost instant gratin topping!
~   Sprinkle on salads.
~   Pangrattato is a perfect addition to creamy dishes such as pasta in an Alfredo Sauce.

pasta-alfredo-pangrattato

Pasta con Pangrattato

This is a great emergency meal if you haven’t got much in!
 
~   Whilst cooking your pasta (any pasta will work) make a pangrattato with whatever you fancy but being a little generous with the oil or butter. It is best for this dish to cook the crumbs in a pan on top of the stove.
~   When the pangrattato is crisp and golden stir in some grated Parmesan (or blue cheese or mature cheddar or nothing) and any other additions you fancy.
~   Set a few of the crumbs aside to garnish.
~   Drain the pasta then toss with the pangrattato in the pan.
~   Sprinkle with the reserved crumbs and serve immediately whilst still crisp.



An alternative to breadcrumbs is tiny weeny croutons (lots more info on Croutonology here).




Sweet Pangrattato Ideas ...

sweet-pangrattato



~   Sprinkle over ice cream or top a sundae.
~   Porridge!
~   A quick crunchy topping for cooked fruits.


strawberry-cheesecake


Jamie Oliver's Fifteeen 

Lunch at Fifteen was good and the dessert, a sort of white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake in a jar, was both large and gorgeous which is one of my favourite combinations!










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6 August 2015

A Game of Scones!

I have been playing with my genius scone recipe a lot recently because so successful was publishing my ice cream book as a paperback  (I made about £6 last month) that I decided to convert The Secret Life of Scones to paperback too; in the case of reference books I think a hard copy is really the way to go.  As a friend recently posted on Facebook …




Buy Now

or at least have a 
Look Inside!
If you don’t know about my genius scone recipe (which I think might just be the most useful dough recipe in the world) let me tell you! Not only can it be varied to create any sweet or savoury scone, American biscuit, griddle cake or rock bun you can think of, not only is it the base recipe for many traditional and ancient dishes but it also make lovely fluffy dumplings, crisp doughnuts, cobblers, turnovers, pie crust (nicer than pastry, I think, as it’s so short and crumbly) and more. 

It can also be mixed up in a moment or held ready in the fridge or freezer in case of emergencies. 

Whilst working through the original manuscript re-sizing margins and photos, indexing etc. to get it ready for print I also came up with some new ideas and recipes so added them to both the book and to the kindle version.   

Here are some of those ideas (more details in the book) ...

~   Pecan and Brown Sugar Scones – obvious when you think about it!



~   Peanut Butter Scones – this was an inspiration wot I suddenly had; I used crunchy peanut butter to replace most of the fat in the original recipe.

~   Chocolate Scones  no idea why I didn't do these earlier! Replace some of the flour with cocoa and add chocolate chunks.



~   Sticky Orange Buns – rolled with brown sugar and cooked in a sticky orange syrup.  Gorgeous with clotted cream!



~   Roasted Garlic Scones – very yum! Replace some of the liquid in the genius recipe with roasted garlic.

~   Black Garlic Scones! – yes, my favourite ingredient again, made with the black garlic paste I wrote about recently  these cry out for blue cheese and a modicum of red wine. Just add 6 cloves of black garlic coarsely chopped OR 1½ teaspoons of paste to the genius recipe (leaving out the sugar!)



~   Roasted Tomato Scones – for these I used squashed roasted tomatoes to replace most of the liquid in the original genius recipe.

~   Panko Crusted Balls – just a quick idea which I made a s a cook’s treat but was so pleasant I added it to the book, just roll little balls of the dough in panko crumbs before baking. Good for dunking in things.

And quite a few more!

In Other News ...

Whilst on the subject of scones I would like to clear up the jam or cream on top question.

In Cornwall we do as nature intended; the jam is spread onto the scone first and then topped with clotted cream. I believe they do things differently in other parts of the country. There is, however, a mathematical formula for creating the perfect cream tea. Dr. Cheng, a mathematician at the University of Sheffield’s School of Mathematics and Statistics did some research on the subject and came up with the following info:

 ~  Jam, due to its density, needs to be spread prior to the application of the clotted cream.  Putting it on after the cream may cause the jam to run off – creating sticky fingers.
~   The thickness of the cream should also not be thicker than the scone, as the scone will become off balance whilst trying to eat it.
~   If r is the radius of the scone, then we have the following formula for the thickness of the jam and the thickness of the cream.”




2 Apologies ...

1.   I feel I must apologise for the intrusive cookies thing that you may be seeing at the top of this blog, apparently it is now law. If I can work out how I will try and make it more attractive.  I hate pop-ups, I like a nice clean looking blog and if there has to be an intrusive cookie thing I’d rather it looked like this!
2.  Also a small apology, if you pronounce scones as I do to rhyme with gone, about the title of this post but it was worth a try! I also considered Scone with the Wind but feel that may give people a distorted impression of how very good this recipe is!


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