If you have been following my blog, you might have figured out by now that I really like batch cooking food and re-purposing it into various dishes. A few things about me – I get bored of food pretty easily, so it is difficult for me to eat exactly the same thing many days in a row. Like most people, I also am too busy to be cooking every day, for 3 meals a day. Even though I know that cooking at home is healthier and cheaper than eating out. Usually, the thought of cleaning up after a long day at work is usually a big turn off. I don’t like to waste food either, but at the same time going to the supermarket to buy one carrot to make one dish, and then returning the next day isn’t the most efficient use of time in my books.
Which brings me to the recipes that I have been sharing thus far – I discovered that by bulk buying, batch cooking and thinking creatively throughout the week, I am able to enjoy a variety of foods without getting sick of eating the same thing every day. Cooking time overall is reduced, clean up is easy, I eat better, AND I save money to boot. (For an idea on how to get it done, you can check out my roast chicken recipes, and citrus cooking series)
Accessibility of Food Today
We are pretty lucky though. We live in a world where Wagyu and Angus beef are now exported globally, as with many other fine foods such as Truffles, Caviar and Lobster. Chicken, beef, pork and fish, which used to be a luxury not too long ago, is now available in abundance. My dad used to tell me that growing up, he would only get to see (and eat) chicken on someone’s birthday, where a whole roasted bird would be served. “Chicken used to be a treat!” He used to say. Most other days, his meals would consist or rice/taro/noodles and a small piece of fish with vegetables.
I was reminded of how lucky we are today, and how much food is taken for granted and wasted when I watched “Theatre of Life” on Netflix the other day. As a documentary, I did not feel that it was anything special. But what really stood out to me was the vision of Massimo Bottura and his intention in creating “Refettorio Ambrosiano”. It was genuinely… inspiring.
The Celebrity Chef
In this day and age, famous Chefs appear to hold as much celebrity status as Hollywood actors. They have TV shows, product lines, fan clubs, scandals… The whole lot. While most of them focus on being commercially successful (which I totally understand), a select few have used their star power to send a greater moral message to people.
I first got to know of Massimo Bottura from Chef’s table, where he talked about how he raised awareness to the millions of pounds of damaged Parmesan during the 2012 Earthquake in Northern Italy. And how during a busy dinner service one night, his pastry chef Kondo Takahiko accidentally dropped a dessert, which became his now famous dessert – “Oops! I dropped the lemon tart”. While I have never met Chef Bottura in the flesh, I was awestruck with his effervescence and approach to using food. Watching him always inspires me to cook better, and think of food in a more dynamic way.
The Theatre of Life
Going back to “Theatre of Life”, Refettorio Ambrosiano is a soup kitchen that was created to re purpose the food waste that was coming out of Expo 2015 in Milan at that time. Chef Bottura didn’t have to create the soup kitchen; his restaurant is rated 3 Michelin stars, and was named the World’s Best Restaurant in 2016. He is famous! But he did it anyway, I believe because he could not stand to see food go to waste. Oh and what a glorious Refettorio it was, with over 60 famous international chefs such as Rene Redzepi, and Alain Ducasse going down to share their cuisine and do their part. If you have any interest in food and are aware of the modern challenge of food waste, I would strongly encourage you to watch the documentary. (An excellent food documentary to those keen on Netflix is “Cooked”, based on Michael Pollan’s Bestselling Book. But I’ll save that for another time.)
In this part of my Citrus series, I would like to share a recipe that I developed from inspiration watching Theatre of Life – Panne Refettorio. Stale bread toasted till crisp with fresh rosemary, lightly coated in sugar and tossed in orange zest. The crisp bread cubes sit atop cream cheese that has been folded into some gently whipped cream. Cutting through the fat with its acidity is our summer fruit star – The naval orange. Peeled, sliced and marinated with mint; It is the perfect fruit to compliment this dish.
This dish was conceived as a tribute to Bread – which is a staple in every European household. In Asia, we usually have it as a sandwich or with a spread for breakfast. But there is usually a lot left over as the humidity spoils the bread quickly, turning it mouldy before it has a chance to get stale. Keeping it in a cool dry place, away from heat and moisture does help. You can make this dish right before your bread’s expiry date (if it has one). It makes a satisfying appetizer, or light morning brunch.
TL:DR This is a cool recipe that uses stale, leftover bread and transforms it into a restaurant-worthy dish. Fo shizzle!
Get the recipe HERE!