When I lived in London there were several favourite Italian restaurants that I would frequent from time to time. There is something particular about entering such an establishment, the clamour and enthusiasm, the noise and bustle, the smell of herbs and garlic cooking that fills the air. Following the greeting and seating a proper treat awaits you. The grissini – slender, crunchy breadsticks all the better for gouging through the butter. Not as filling as the proffered focaccia but the perfect nibble with a glass of wine whilst perusing the menu. I love them and so do my family so we make our own.
Now I can’t pretend that dining in my kitchen offers quite the same experience. Different certainly but just as much fun I would hope. These grissini however are definitely up to those of nostalgic, rose or should that be frascati touched memory. Crispy, savoury and in this case taken to new heights with the addition of chopped rosemary. I serve these before and alongside lunch or dinner, take them on picnics and they are much in demand for packed lunches. Very delicious and moreish to eat and so easy to make. The rolling out takes me back to the days of plasticine and playdoh and is repetitive and relaxing, in a black clad Italian Mama sort of way. Think Sophia Loren….
Grissini with Rosemary
Children love making these which is always a help and last week, rather than making the traditional stick shapes, my daughter fashioned each dough snake into an initial to place in each diners place at the table. It looked charming and went down a storm.
250g plain flour
250g strong white bread flour
7g sachet yeast
7g fine salt
300ml lukewarm water
25ml olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
Preheat the oven to 200. Put both the flours, yeast and fine salt into the bowl of a stand mixer, turn it on and then add the water and oil until it comes together in a ball (you may need a drop more water). Leave it kneading away in the machine for 10 minutes, adding the chopped rosemary for the last minute so it is evenly mixed through the dough. Pinch off pieces the size of a large cherry and roll these out until about a foot long and pencil thin on a non-floured table or surface. Gently and with fingers splayed seems the best way to do this. Put them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 15 minutes. After this time they should be golden brown and crispy, leave to cool on a wire rack and then store in an air tight container. Makes around 40 grissini but if you get bored whilst rolling these out the dough will sit happily in the fridge for a day until you feel like making some more. I’d say they last for a week but I’ve never had any hang around for more than a day or two.
Finally, they make a fabulous present to take if you are going to friends for supper.