In the most general sense, sippets are simply cubes of bread that have been crisped up to provide a textural contrast to a dish, usually a soup or salad. As always however, there are sippets and there are good sippets. The latter are those that you make yourself.
Once made sippets will keep for a week or two in an airtight container to scatter at will. If you choose good quality, stale bread and flavour the oil with garlic and herbs, the sippets will not only add textural interest, but extra flavour at the same time.
These tasty morsels differ from other crisp bread treats such as croutons and bruschetta. The former are thin discs of bread that are dried in the oven, the latter a delicious Italian snack of garlic rubbed slices of ciabatta (Italian country loaf), grilled and topped with a flavorsome tomato and basil mixture.
1 loaf good quality bread, stale
1 clove garlic, peeled
125 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
1 sprig rosemary or marjoram
Slice the crust from the bread and cut into small cubes, around 1cm sq. In a large frying pan, gently heat the oil, then add the garlic clove and herbs. Gently heat for a minute or two to let the flavours infuse. Add the cubes of bread and spread out in a single layer. Increase the heat a little and watch that the garlic does not burn. When the bread is crisp and lightly brown on the base, turn over to do the other side.
Remove from the pan when evenly browned and drain well. When cool pack into an airtight container.
How to use your sippets? Try this scrumptious salad that is a perfect late night meal.
Poached egg salad
200 gm soft lettuce leaves (butter, mignonette, rocket)
4 slices streaky bacon
A good handful of sippets
50 gm shaved parmesan cheese
3 Tbs mayonnaise (homemade if possible)
2 Tbs Olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash the lettuce, a matter that is dealt with here. Grill or pan fry the bacon until crisp. Poach the eggs until just slightly runny in the centre. The yolks will run and help form the dressing. Mix together the oil and vinegar with the seasonings. Place the salad leaves in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss to combine. Thin the mayonnaise down with a little hot water so it has a drizzling consistency. Pile the lettuce onto four plates and scatter evenly with the cheese, sippets and crumbled bacon. Drizzle with the mayonnaise and top each with a well drained poached egg. Top the egg with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.