Smart ways to make your ingredients go a long way
Still on food blogging competition mode and all I think about is re-using. Last week I re-used my chickpea soup into chickpea burger, I had a few onions cooked into a sharp chutney and made my materials go a little further. This week, it is all about the pie and a bit of dessert, well, from leftovers fillo pastry. Making your ingredients go a long way, have something savoury and something sweet.
There are many ways of re-using leftover material in your kitchen. Grand-ma wisdom calls for preserves and chutneys, admittedly my favourites. I do prefer home-made from what I find on the shelf, especially when it comes to jams. Of course, we have the famous Greek spoon sweets as well, quince and tangerine and orange marmalade. Yum. It’s really worth the effort preserving fruit. Jams have made it in the everyday breakfast routine for many. Chutneys spice up veg making them a perfect choice for sharing with friends or just snacking.
But what do you do when you come back home and there is very little in the cupboards to make a quick meal? You might be an organisation guru and always keep your pantry well stocked, still, there are times that one can be left with very little supplies before the weekly grocery shop. Is it going to be omelette again? Not that I snob it, it is comfort food and super quick. But when I am left with a bit of cheese and a couple of eggs, perhaps the odd vegetable that looks a bit miserable in the fridge there is only one thought: Pie!
Over here we love pies. Greek cuisine features exceptional spinach and cheese pies, with traditional fillo or not, and these two are just the basic. When it comes to pies and using up leftovers, imagination is the limit. You can add pretty much any greens, meat cuts or veg and go for salty feta cheese or sweet and melting Gruyère. I made leek pie, with a bit of feta and kefalograviera, and because I have a very sweet tooth, I made a tiny dessert with my remaining fillo pastry sheets: kourkoubinia.
Kourkoubinia are the ‘poor cousin’ of baklava. It’s normally just the fillo pastry rolled and immersed in a light syrup for sweetness. A cheap alternative to baklava and mind you, much quicker. It takes very little time to bake and you can actually have both a savoury and a sweet snack using just one basic material – a pack of fillo pastry and any leftovers in your fridge. Now, you can share this with friends or have it just for you! It’s fine, I won’t tell anyone. Here is what you will need:
Leek & feta cheese pie
- 1 onion
- 4 large leeks
- 1 small bunch of spring onions
- 100 gr feta cheese, crumbled
- 100 gr kefalograviera, grated substitute with any yellow, gruyere style cheese
- 2 eggs
- olive oil
- 1 pack of fillo pastry – there are normally 10-12 sheets . Use 8 for your pie and 4 for the kourkoubinia.
- salt & pepper to taste
What to do:
- Finely chop the leeks, onions and spring onions and sautee with a bit of olive oil until translucent.
- Transfer them in a large bowl and mix in the crumble feta cheese, kefalograviera or gruyère and eggs. Mix well and season. If your feta is too salty you might want to omit the salt (I normally do).
- Oil your tray and place four fillo pastry sheets on the bottom. I have a 26×36 cm baking tray and normally fold my fillo sheets so that gives me 8 layers on the bottom and another 8 on top.
- Spread evenly the leek mix and cover with another 4 folded and oiled pastry sheets.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes on a preheated oven at 180 oC.
Kourkoubinia, for 20-25 small pieces use 2 fillo pastry sheets
- 2 sheets of fillo pastry
- 50 gr of unsalted butter or a bit of olive oil
- 50 gr pistachios or walnuts (optional)
For the syrup
- 440 sugar
- 330 water
- 1 unwaxed lemon, for its peel & juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
What to do:
- Start with the syrup. Add sugar, water, cinnamon stick and lemon peel and the juice of half the lemon.
- Stir to dissolve the sugar. Just as it starts bubbling remove from the fire, this is approx 7 minutes.
- Set aside and let it cool whilst you make your kourkoubinia.
- You need to fold 2 fillo pastry sheets in half, nested in each other and make sure each inner side has been brushed with a bit of butter or olive oil. So, take your first fillo pastry sheet, lightly brush, layer the second one on top, brush some more butter or olive oil and fold both in two.
- Press gently to release any air pockets created whilst folding. Make another fold, bringing the bottom towards the top, leaving an inch from the top.
- If you wish to add nuts, this is the time. It’s a little bit like making maki rolls. Place your filling of choice at the edge leaving just enough pastry to lift and allow for rolling.
- Gently lift and tuck the filling in whilst rolling up. Make a tight roll and brush the edges with a bit of butter or olive oil. Leave this end at the bottom.
- Cut the roll in neat half-inch pieces and bake at 150oC for 15 minutes or until golden.
- I submerge my baked kourkoubinia whilst warm for 5 minutes to soak the syrup and then pour the remaining on top
And a little word of warning, kourkoubinia are addictive! So proceed with caution!
I hope I have given you an appetite. But are you one for sweet or salty? I think I will be eternally divided, I cannot avoid a bit of dessert after my meals. Let me know which you prefer in the comments.
And if you have not voted for the competition yet, please follow the link by clicking on the picture below.
with love from Athens