Believe it or not, we had snow here in Athens over the holiday season – very different weather from last year. White covered our bitter oranges. The snow only lasted for a short time before the rain washed it away. A good thing, too, as it is almost marmalade season. However, snow is not the white I am referring to in my title.
Nor am I referring to the ubiquitous white powdered sugar coated almond biscuits – kourabiedes – of the Greek holiday season. I am not sure you can eat one of these treats without a subsequent white dusting on your clothing. It is rather surreal, when out and about this time of year, seeing people decorated with white powdered sugar.
The white I am referring to in my title is egg whites. My kitchen was awash in leftover egg whites stashed in the freezer from curd, custard, and ice cream making.
I have always known that holiday feasts and creative leftover recipes go hand in hand, a kind of a ying and yang relationship. One encourages abundance, the other frugality. It is also helpful to think of leftovers as les delicieux petites restes (‘delicious small remains’) as mentioned by Diane Henry in her fabulous book on leftovers, Food from Plenty.
However, this year, even before our holiday feasts, I had to deal with a substantial supply of leftover egg whites. In fact, some even went into treats that featured in those holiday feasts.
The ‘cheat’ florentines I blogged about last year used up a few egg whites, but not hardly enough.
Quite a few of those egg white frozen packets were used to whip up numerous batches of walnut meringes, a modification of my chocolate chip macaroons (replacing the chocolate chips with more walnuts and adjusting the sugar to half white and half brown). I made so many and although giving many away, it seemed the pile of these sweets would never diminish. Finally, just before the new year, the last of these were used in a winter version of Eton mess. The crumbled walnut meringues and baked cinnamon flavoured apple slices were folded into a hefty dollop or two of whipped cream.
Last, but not least…
Sweet & Spicy Roast Pecans
Great nibbles for cocktail hour or for a party.
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 400g pecan halves
- 100g sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 90 degrees C (about 200 degrees F). Lightly whisk the egg white and water together in a large bowl. Add the walnuts, sugar, spices and salt. Mix until the nuts are covered. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the nuts are slightly sticky, but dry. Remove the tray from the oven and let them cool on the tray. Pick them off the paper and separate any clumps.
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After those sweet (and, in one instance, sweet and spicy) indulgences, it was time for a little healthy moderation. Just recently my sister reminded me that egg whites are high in protein, very low in calories and, of course, cholesterol free. Subsequently, they are said to be excellent for making nutritious savoury dishes that might also incorporate other leftovers.
Egg white soufflé was the first to be tried. I had some leftover smoked trout spread from our New Year feast – a good choice for a flavour addition. However, the texture of the soufflé was a bit chewy. I should have remembered that egg whites are ‘tougheners’ and ‘driers’ and need to be offset with tenderising and moisturising ingredients such as fats and emulsifiers.
Other egg white savoury choices include omelettes, crepes and quiches. I’ll have to try for a texture balance next time I experiment. The quiche sounds like a good choice.
Meanwhile, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year. We have adopted a few Greek New Year practices and, as we did last year, we cut the Vasilopita then smashed a pomegranate on the doorstep and put up a new γούρι-γούρι charm for 2017 in the kitchen. Ten little matia (evil eyes) on the tree of life should keep us protected throughout the year!