Finally we’re back to our leftovers discussion which I started way back when, when I told you about using the gone-off milk… couldn’t remember even when! So let’s carry on with our introduction into the Soviet creativity and practicality (yes, yesterday we talked about Soviet food stupidities, but those were coming from the state, not from common people who had to cope with all that).
Rule number one of a typical Soviet kitchen – and a very green one too – never throw away today that what you can use tomorrow =) Let’s see what a Soviet housewife would normally do with the leftovers:
Have some pasta left over after your lunch? Take an egg, break it over a hot frying pan with the pasta already there. Season to taste, or add some extras such as crushed tomatoes or ketchup, lard etc. etc. You’ll get a very quick dinner for busy working people or students!
Rice / buckwheat leftovers? or perhaps even rice & buckwheat together, as when making Druzhba Narodov porridge (Friendship of Nations, the nations being apparently Russia and China, growing respectively buckwheat and rice) which is also sometimes made with rice & millet and is a sweet version. This porridge was a desperate way of inventing something new out of usual ingredients, to avoid the routine of ‘rice – buckwheat – pasta – potatoes’, but at the same time, if you use both cereals at once, then what different lunch are you going to make tomorrow? The answer is – make rice and / or buckwheat fritters (kotletki in Russian)! here they are:
and here’s the procedure: take 1 egg, some salt, and mix with your cooked rice and / or buckwheat. heat some oil in a pan, form patties from your mixture and fry them several minutes on both sides. No need to add flour, nor some agents like baking powder or soda, they will come nicely just like that. This is the way to use the leftovers in case you were too generous with your lunch cooking=)
Stale and even VERY stale bread? Remember that bread is the head for everything? You never throw away bread, not only because for quite a long time this was the only food available for peasants. There was also the 250 g piece of bread distributed each day for the starving people of Leningrad during the sadly famous Siege of Leningrad in 1941-44. So especially the people who still have this in their veins have also a very particular attitude towards bread. When I was in Greece and saw all that bread being wasted and just dumped in huge bags, I was really sad. They however fed bread to birds (as in Strasbourg, when I was jogging in the morning along the river, there was a man arriving with enormous bags of stale baguettes to feed the swans), but mostly just disposed of the leftovers without ever using them!
So, in case of stale bread you have several options, today it seems we’re investigating more into frying all the left over things, so here’s what to do if you opt for an easy-peasy breakfast / dinner:
Break an egg (you should have quite a lot of them in your Soviet pantry, but if not – try using powdered eggs… yep! the same can be applied to milk), add some milk, season with salt, mix well and prepare bread slices for frying in the following manner: dip a slice (not too thin but not too thick, the wedges work well too, don’t throw ANYTHING away!) in the mixture for some time, not too long though, and fry on a pan with some oil, flipping your toast on both sides. Thus you will get the Soviet grenki – something similar to French toast, but usually not sweet. My Granny is the best grenki maker, I just loved eating them for a dinner at our dacha! (for the lack of my photo, I can refer you to Wikipedia – see the first photo)
The second variant of using stale bread would be to make a stock of sukhari (very much like biscotti, might be even with raisins) or a smaller version – sukhariki, meaning rusks (before the ovens became widely spread, they were prepared by simple drying – hence the name, sukhar meaning something which is dry and stale). Here’s how to get one of the survival foods for soldiers, tourists, sailors, as well as just a nice snack for your glass of
beer kvas=) Or try adding them to your soup! Preheat the oven for, say, 180 ‘C, cut the bread in rather smallish pieces, place them on a baking sheet and bake till they become crispy. Some prefer also tossing the bread pieces in some salted oil first, before baking. The best bread for such rusks is the sourdough rye, for sure, but I do remember making rusks from stale white bread called baton (which I never liked that much as it had this very rubbery crust, very difficult to swallow especially when you have a sore throat! ah, childhood memories…).
So this is it for today! I’m glad I managed to proceed with my Leftovers saga =) there are more parts and sequels and prequels to be presented here, so stay tuned!