Yesterday´s bread today´s gnocchi

crispy bread gnocchi with sausages in a spicy tomato sauce
"Food waste is one of the biggest problems of our century and our generations cross to bear.Almost one billion people are undernourished.One third of the food we produce globally is wasted every year, including nearly four trillion apples".
 Yes four trillion.Just think how many tarte tatins we could make? If we dont do something now and make some positive changes to the way we treat food,things will only get worse.
 With a little bit of effort and creativity, salvaged, overripe or bruised and beyond expiration dated food,as well as scraps and trimmings,that would have otherwise been thrown away can be turned into not only edible but delicious dishes.
Anyone who is interested in cooking has a social responsibility more than ever before.We are responsible for the community at large. It is important for us to support artisan producers,the farmers and the cheesemakers.There is much more we can do to make our world a better and more delicious place.We were given for Christmas, a copy of Massimo Bottura´s book "Bread is Gold, extraordinary meals with ordinary ingredients".
 This book is a call to act, a wake up call.A way to look at what is happening in the world and find solutions to fight the terrible tonnes of food waste we put out there every day,with absolutely zilch regard to the homeless sleeping rough on the streets of big cities.It is an absolute disgrace. Each time we throw left over bread away our conscience should be pricked that as consumers we could have done something to prevent that food from being wasted.Perhaps for a start we should only buy what we know we will consume within that foods lifespan.
 This book gives us everyday recipes using all those discarded,undervalued,and neglected ingredients that play a central role in a kitchen, bread, cheese,milk etc.It is about making nourishing meals from what we would normally waste, like chickpea water.
The most valuable lesson you can learn from this book is to make the most of everything and to never throw anything  edible away.I have learnt to make pesto with popcorn instead of costly pine nuts.I have learnt to make a ragù out of almost anything and everything.Like Massimo I will never look at a banana in the same way ever again,having learnt that I can make chutney out of banana skins.Brown overripe bananas make the best banana bread.Ice cream,one of the great joys in life is one of the best ways to reclaim ingredients that are no longer perfect.
The resounding message that comes from this book, loud and strong, is "Improvise,experiment,and cook with urgency".This book is a guide and a starting point for cooking out of your pantry and refrigerator.It is noticeable since Christmas how our food bills have dropped dramatically.
Many of the recipes in the book come with condiments,sauces and side dishes and all these elements can be taken as individual elements and applied in a different context.The first recipe that caught my eye was fish soup with bread gnocchi.
I know stale bread dumplings mightn't sound too appetising, but swimming in a rich piquant tomato sauce they are an absolute delight. Comfort food at its finest I would say.
I passed on the fish soup as it would mean me making a special journey to the market to buy fresh fish.So I took the bread gnocchi made from yesterdays loaf and served them as they would have been served with the soup but instead I used sausages I had in the refrigerator and made an Italian style tomato and sausage based stew ( salsicce al sugo di pomodoro).This is a dish I would  normally have served with mashed potato. I awarded myself brownie points for being resourceful.As I said this book is about improvising and experimenting.Having made the "Gnocchi" from the book I found another similar, but more traditional Italian recipe for bread and pecorino dumplings,so I tried this too,but with more cheese and without the sausages.
To make the bread gnocchi from"Bread is gold" 
 Bread Gnocchi are typical from Trieste, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region near the border between Italy and Slovenia.They are typically served  two ways ,either in broth or sautéed with butter and sage

To serve 6
500g stale bread,chopped
11/4 cups(300ml) milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup (100g all purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp flor de sal
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup (50g) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
In a large bowl,soiak the bread in the milk for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC / gas mark 4
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Squeeze the excess liquid out of the soaked bread.Discard the liquid and return the bread to the bowl.Add the eggs,flour,salt and pepper and mix them thoroughly to form a dough.Shape the dough with your hands to form gnocchi.In a medium pan of boiling water,cook the bread gnocchi until they float to the surface,about 5 minutes.Drain.Transfer the prepared baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the parmesan.Bake until golden brown about 40 minutes.
Alternatively use this recipe....

Bread and pecorino dumplings (pallotte cacio e ovo) 

An iconic dish from the Abruzzo region got its start as a way of using up leftover bits of cheese and stale bread. The mixture is then bound together with egg and formed into balls and, just like meatballs, fried and simmered in tomato sauce. As they simmer, the pallotte swell and absorb the flavour of the sauce. You’ll be surprised how much they actually taste like ‘real’ meatballs. Its a perfect example of how the poor in Italy would take simple, humble ingredients that others might discard and then turn them into something incredibly tasty.

Originally served as a vegetarian second course to replace costly meat, in these times of austerity this dish is just as likely to show up again as an antipasto.
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, skin on, bashed with the back of a knife
1 clove garlic, extra, finely chopped

1 small celery stick, finely chopped

¼ red or green capsicum (pepper), coarsely chopped
2 x 400 g tins tomatoes

salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
200 ml water

torn basil leaves, to garnish

200 g day-old Italian bread (such as pane di casa or ciabatta), crusts removed, cut into chunks

1 cup (250 ml) water or milk

2 cups (160 g) finely grated parmesan or pecorino

1 egg , lightly beaten

3 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 tbsp roughly chopped basil

salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil, for deep-frying
 To make the dumplings, soak the bread in the milk for 20 minutes or until soft. Squeeze out any excess liquid then, using your hands, break down the bread to a pulp. Add the cheese, egg and herbs and mix to form a sticky batter. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the spring onion, garlic, celery and capsicum and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes or until fragrant. Add the tinned tomatoes and water, season with salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 20 minutes or until reduced slightly.
To cook the dumplings, half-fill a saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium–high heat to 180ºC or until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds. With wet hands, shape the dumpling mixture into 5 cm balls.
Add the dumplings to the oil in batches and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Add the cooked dumplings to the tomato sauce, cover with the lid and stand, off the heat, for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavours to mingle and the dumplings to soak up the sauce. Reheat if you like or serve warm, garnished with torn basil leaves. 

• This dish tastes even better the next day – if you have any leftovers, that is...


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