The natural by-products of all this breadmaking I’ve been doing are crumbs and flour everywhere, especially when my constant kitchen companion asks if she can “help Mummy?” Flour I can cope with – it’s like silky dust – and crumbs underfoot are a small price to pay. But some weird genetic impulse to avoid wasting food also means our freezer has been filling up with small plastic bags full of crusts and the nobbly bits at the end of a loaf that are too chewy for the Small Girl to eat.
I decided I had enough of these bags in the weekend and blitzed several of them into amazingly delicious breadcrumbs that can be pressed onto thick pieces of white fish or scattered over pasta. You could, of course, use crusts from bought bread, but you won’t feel nearly as smug.
These transform the most boring dish into something a bit more exciting – such as the “emergency pasta sauce out of the freezer tossed through penne and put into the oven” dinner we had last night. They’re the breadcrumb equivalent of dangly earrings or a shiny new lipstick when you’re wearing an old t-shirt and harassed working mother frown.
A few decent handfuls of crusts and bread bits
A couple of cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
A handful or so of fresh parsley (out of your own garden for extra smugness)
Optional: stoned black olives, lemon zest, finely chopped chilli
Throw the crusts into a food processor and blitz them into crumbs (you can do this with frozen bread but it makes a hell of a racket). Add the garlic, parsley and optional extras (if using) and whiz again. Dribble in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and pulse to mix. You want the crumbs to be moistened, not a sticky paste.
Use as directed above. You can also freeze these crumbs and use them direct from the freezer. Bash them against the counter to break them up a bit if they’ve frozen into big clumps.