Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Spanakopita pancake-omelette

I felt a tinge of horror as I read the T-shirt logo: SAVEFOOD, with links to the websites of Boroume (= we can) of Kalyteri Zoi (= better life). Cutting down food waste has been a rule of life for me for a long time.

Ventures like these are of course an outcome of the crisis, although I would argue that the effects of the crisis would not have been felt so strongly if we had always believed in a better life, with an emphasis on cutting down waste of any sort.

The Kalyteri Zoi site leads to a pdf e-book entitled: ΔΕΝ ΠΕΤΑΜΕ ΤΙΠΟΤΑ! (= we don't throw anything out), containing 25 recipes submitted by home cooks on how to use leftovers in a new meal, again something I'm well versed in; I've had a leftovers label on my blog since its inception. (And again, I can't help thinking that no one was listening when they should have been.)

The recipes include fritters made from leftover boiled potato, savoury loaf filled with whatever's on hand and carbonara made with leftover bifteki (meat pattie), to cite a few recipes. What's more, some of the recipes include English names, eg αμπελοφάσουλα reloaded, never the same pie and harlem cake. There is a clear emphasis on making something new with something old, based on the desire to keep life interesting despite its sameness.

You can make Greek pies the lazy way by rolling out just two pastry sheets and using one layer of filling as listed here. In this way, you will get more than one pie (one for eating and the others for the freezer), as each pie turns out thinner.

Cooking with leftovers has never frightened me. I find it a very challenging way of being creative int he kitchen, together with finding free food sources. Last Sunday, after making spanakopita (spinach pies) both for eating and freezing, I had some leftover mixture which I couldn't use because I had run out of pastry. (Pie-making is one of those things where you may end up with leftover pastry or leftover filling.) I turned it into a dinner for two that evening, adding some kitchen staples.

You need:
2 cups of uncooked spanakopita filling (spinach, herbs, seasonings, onion and soft white cheese - I rarely add egg to the mixture, but it may contain some)
1 egg
3-4 tablespoons of flour
3-4 tablespoons of water
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Mix the leftover spanakopita filling witht he egg, flour and water. Mix in just enough water and flour to make the mixture sticky but not doughy. but don't worry if you add too much flour or water; the end result will either be a pancake (if you add too much flour) or a filling omelette (if you add less flour). I think mine came out to something in-between.

Heat the oil in a medium shallow frying pan till it's very hot. Spoon the mixture over the hot oil, spreading it to cover the whole pan. Let it cook on high heat on one side, then turn it over to cook on the other side. Becauce the pancake-omelette will be too thick to flip, turn it out onto a plate, then turn the plate over back into the pan. Don't worry if it breaks up - it will reshape and stick back together in the pan.

All you need to go with the pancake-omelette is some bread and wine. And even if you don't have that handy, this leftovers meal will still taste like one of the best meals you have ever had. And if the spinach came from your garden, and the eggs came from a local farmer, such a meal will also be one of the most localised, seaosnal and frugal meals you have ever eaten.

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