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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Parmesan Grissini (Italian Parmesan Breadsticks) & Have We Lost All Connection With Our Food?

Parmesan Grissini (Italian Parmesan Breadsticks)
by Chef Alessandro Bottazzi

Hope Ramadan is treating you well so far. It is a long day, and the summer heat does not help, make sure you are properly rehydrating after Iftar and throughout the night. Don't neglect your health.

In today's episode we are talking breadsticks :)
Who does not love breadsticks? Especially when these are the Italian Parmesan-flavoured breadsticks, absolutely delicious! I like to serve soups with these baked breadsticks instead of the classic croutons or fried pita squares. They make a stylish and delicious side to soups, and you can make them in minis so you can actually drop them inside the soup for a change from the classic options. These breadsticks are also good for snacking with some healthy dips, such as hummus, mutabal, baba ganoush...etc, and you can also use them in fattoush for a twist on the classic. When making these, you can keep them plain or you can coat them with sesame, zaatar, sumac, sprinkle some cumin, chili flakes...etc for variation. They are amazing as is, and work well for adaptation, so let your imagination be your guide. While you are at it, and since the children are off school, why not have them help you make these and roll them for you? Fun for them, and less work for you ;)

Since we are talking Italian breadsticks, who best to show us than an Italian? And not just any Italian, but a famous Chef whose passion and experience precede him, and who runs the show at one of Dubai's best-loved Italian Restaurants, Ronda Locatelli in Atlantis The Palm! Yes this is he, Chef Alessandro Bottazzi whose great love of good real food and passion about Italian cuisine are very well reflected in his creations and words. While he works very closely with one of the icons of inspiration where food is related, Celebrity Chef Giorgio Locatelli, Alessandro himself is not short of inspiration. When he talks food, his love, respect and understanding of its importance and beauty demand your full attention. So watch him in the video below, as he demonstrates the making of Grissini, and shares with us what sparked his passion for food, what really matters, and how important it is to understand, respect and produce real food.

Why does Alessandro recommend that we cook actual food using real ingredients? And why would he, even as a Chef, recommend that we cook at home more and include our kids in the process? How do we stay connected with food? And how does food make us happy? What about bread that makes it such a special food? 

Watch and find out as Alessandro converses with us sharing a slice of his passion.

You will find the detailed recipe below, and I have also included many links for Italian Recipes and Bread recipes at the end of this post, for you to try at home this Ramadan.

Have we lost connection with our food? 
We keep complaining about cooking and its demands, we keep looking for shortcuts to minimise our kitchen time. Some children are raised in homes that feed only on packaged, wrapped food, junk food, fast food... and most do so in solitude! Some children never experienced a family table! Some children don't know that eggs come from chicken, not the supermarket, and some think bread grows on trees! Many children ask to help in the kitchen, but we stop them because it's messy! Some homes never smelled like baking, cooking or food, some kitchens have only coffee.... Then supermarkets sell alternative foods, genetically engineered apples and antibiotic and hormone-laden meats or their unnatural processed alternatives because they are healthier, lower in fat and taste better!!! Many consume protein bars and shakes instead of real food, and some load up on water to keep hunger at bay! Some are life-threateningly slim, and some are stuck obese, and others are running 14 hours in gyms a day, while some are mistreating animals for increased production! Food production around the world increased so much that more than 1/3 goes to waste, literally thrown, while world hunger statistics are sharply rising!!! Waste polluting the seas and rivers while earth suffocates on chemical vapor and forcefully intrusive manufactured genes, super bugs, undefeatable bacterias... and people demonstrating against those who chose to go organic because they are not sustainable, and organic people against chemical people because unhealthy, and natural all of a sudden became unhealthy, and healthy became processed and, and, and, and......

For everyone's sake, or for logic's sake, Let's slow down, and think... What is wrong? Have we lost all ties to earth? Have we industrialised our understanding and appreciation receptors? When did we declare war against all things real, natural and simple (all things good)? Perhaps this is one of those times where a little reflection is in order and perhaps very important!

To Make 
You Need
50g unsalted butter
200g whole milk
10g (1½ packed teaspoons) fresh yeast
375g strong white bread flour (see page 140) or Italian 00
3 generous tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
10g (1½ level teaspoons) fine salt

Preheat the oven to 230°C/gas 8.

Melt the butter in a pan, add the milk and heat it gently until it just feels warm to the fingertips (37-40°C). Whisk in the yeast.

Put the flour, Parmesan and salt in a bowl, then add a little of the milk mixture at a time, mixing it in well with your hands until it forms a dough. Alternatively, mix in a food processor, with a dough hook, for 3 minutes on the first speed, then 6 minutes on the next speed.

Turn the dough out on a clean work surface (you don’t need any flour or oil), and dimple and fold as described above. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 30 minutes.

Repeat the dimpling and folding process and leave for another 30 minutes, again covered with the tea towel. 

Cut the dough in half lengthways, flour your work surface and roll each piece out into a big rectangle.

Cut the dough across its width into strips about 1cm wide – you can use a sharp knife against a clean plastic ruler.

Roll each strip with your fingertips, starting at the centre and moving outwards in three movements, stretching the dough slightly as you roll. Press each end lightly with your thumb, to make an ‘ear’ shape. Lay on a non-stick baking sheet and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 180°C/gas 4, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until crisp and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Come back tomorrow for an episode with well known food stylist and chef Fiona Archibold, as she demonstrates how we can cater for all types of fussy eating in one dish! Yes, leave it to Fiona and you know you got it done! Fiona will also let you in on a secret: How your children will never leave you! all in tomorrow's episode :)

Chef Alessandro Bottazzi joined Ronda Locatelli at Atlantis, The Palm since its pre-opening operations in June 2008 as Chef de Cuisine. Bottazzi is currently responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of Ronda Locatelli and supervising a team of 27 kitchen staff. His role also includes menu planning, budgeting and quality assurance.

Atlantis, The Palm is a 1,539 room, ocean-themed destination resort located at the centre of the crescent of The Palm in Dubai.  Open since September 2008, the resort utilizes the 46 hectare site with 17 hectares of waterpark amusement at Aquaventure. Atlantis is home to one of the largest open-air marine habitats in the world, with some 65,000 marine animals in lagoons and displays including The Lost Chambers, a maze of underwater corridors and passageways providing a journey through ancient Atlantis. The resort also is home to some of the most renowned world-class chefs including Nobu, and Giorgio Locatelli. Atlantis, The Palm offers an unprecedented entertainment centre, an impressive collection of luxury boutiques and shops and extensive meeting and convention facilities. 

Starting his culinary career in Italy, Bottazzi worked in various parts of Italy for over 6 years before relocating to Paris for a year, as the Senior Chef de Partie for Les Cailleux specializing in Italian and French cuisine. In 2002, Bottazzi ventured to London’s famed Cecconi’s taking up the role of Senior Chef de Partie, handling the preparation of cold dishes, pasta and main dishes. Botazzi’s passion for Italian cuisine continued when he advanced his career to Sous Chef for 5 years in Giorgio Locatelli’s Locanda Locatelli. Locanda is one of the most sought-after restaurants in London and was part of a team that had retained its Michelin star since 2003. At Locanda Locatelli, Bottazzi was responsible for the daily operations of the kitchen, menu composition, stock control and food ordering. Bottazzi is fluent in Italian, English and French. During his leisure time, Bottazzi enjoys cooking, photography, swimming and experiencing different cuisines.

Facebook Page: Ronda Locatelli & Atlantis Foodie
Twitter Handle: @Atlantis

Ramadan Mubarak
Appreciate, Love & Giveback a little this Ramadan :)

Relative Links
Italian Recipes
Bread Recipes