Sunday, 11 November 2007

Freezer clearout (Ξεκαθάρισμα καταψύκτη - Τηγανίτες)

When the deep freeze is over-used, and in our house, so much of summer goodness is used to store winter nutrition, it does suffer from being defrosted infrequently. To speed things up, today's meals - starting from breakfast - were all concocted with a near-future freezer cleanout in mind. We started the day with frozen croissants for breakfasts, something I had bought on impulse from the supermarket, but would never buy again. On being cooked, the croissants were tasteless, and went hard almost as soon as they were cold. They needed 20 minutes cooking time, and as a treat, I cut them open and filled them with the Greek-brand Merenda chocolate-hazelnut cream (the well-known European equivalent of Nutella), which I noticed, had gone quite stiff at the bottom of the jar, a sign of its going bad. It's not just freezer foods that are forgotten about. Apart fromt he freezer, if you look into your larder, pantry, fridge, biscuit tin, breadbox and kitchen benchtop, where you might store little jars of various seasonings, as well as pickled peppers picked from your own garden, you'll find a number of items that need to be eaten or thrown out because they were not used before their expiry date, or they have taken on a stale appearance, making them completely unappetising.

For lunch, we enjoyed a "healthy" fry-up of food that would normally be classified as home-made fast food: stuff we buy from the supermarket to try out and forget to do so, lone frankfurters, stranded sausages, supermarket spring rolls (I won't be buying that brand again) and Cypriot meaty sausages (they were quite tasty), accompanied by a pan of fried potatoes. I added some stuffed aubergines (papoutsakia) that had strayed from their original tin, and pulped a couple of soft garden tomatoes with some olive oil to make a light sauce. The tin went into the oven. We washed this down with a couple of beers and a lettuce salad (from our own garden).

Dinner was more entertaining. I was clearing out the CD and DVD racks on my shelves - newspapers come these days with so much junk in them - when I came across a couple of UNICEF cookbooks for little chefs, and gave them to the kids. They found a recipe in one that showed them (pictorially) how to make chocolate-walnut pancakes (the book stated that the recipe came from Hungary). So they asked to cook it themselves! The pancakes cleared my fridge racks of cooking chocolate, butter and eggs, products whose expiry dates I don't always check on a regular basis, a good excuse to buy some fresh stuff!. To make the pancakes, you need to mix together 225g flour, 40 ml milk, 2 tablespoons water, 3 eggs, and 100 grams sugar. Let the mixture rest for an hour to make smooth pancakes. Now grind 100g walnuts and mix in 50g double cream and 2 tablespoons sugar. I used Greek yoghurt instead of cream. Set this mixture aside.

Cook the pancakes, one by one, by melting a dab of butter in a small pan, and pouring two large tablespoons of the runny egg mixture into the pan. They need a high heat and constant watching over the element so as not to burn. Aftr you cook them on both sides, take them out of the pan, and place a tablespoon of walnut mixture on one side of each pancake. Fold the pancake in half so that it sticks to the other side with the walnut cream. Melt 100 grams of cooking chocolate in 120ml of milk. When the milk and chocolate have blended together well, pour over the finished pancakes. These pancakes can be eaten for breakfast the next day, heated up a little in the microwave (and just how safe that is is anyone's guess).

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