Thrift may motivate us to use up leftover bread, cake and chips by making crumbs, however crumbs make food delicious too, providing a crispy coating or soaking up delicious juices.
Simply whirl cubes of bread, including crusts, in a food processor until crumbs form (Italian, sourdough, or French bread are best). Or simply purchase a package of panko off of the grocery shelf. One caveat, the finely ground, dried breadcrumbs found in many supermarket bakeries are not suitable for crispy schnitzel – or much else! Marilyn had broken tortilla chips from the bottom of the bag. They became “crumbs” on top of a Mexican inspired salad with avocado and lime vinaigrette.
Prudent cooks also find opportunity with leftover cake, plain cookies and squares. Here Joanna has used crumbs from a pound cake in a flaky fruit strudel. [Don’t be afraid to freeze that last bit of stale cake for a future use such as this!] She also had some leftover mixed vegetable chips from a party so she turned the last of them into a very attractive and delicious topping on lamb shepherd’s pie.
LEFT BRAIN: Schnitzel
Butchers and supermarket meat counters often offer cuts of pork, veal, chicken or turkey that are especially thin and perfect for schnitzel. A good substitute is thinly cut fast-fry pork chops or thin-sliced chicken breasts (horizontally cut medium-size chicken breasts with tenders removed into two thin pieces). The total weight of meat or poultry should be 600 to 800 grams (1 1/4 – 1 3/4 lbs).
Makes 8 schnitzels from 6 to 8 servings.
8 pieces schnitzel- or scaloppini -cut veal, pork, chicken or turkey, about 600 to 800 grams (1 1/4 – 1 3/4 lbs)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups fresh bread crumbs or 2 to 2 1/2 cups purchased panko
8-10 tbsp mixture of melted butter and olive oil
8 Kaiser rolls or ciabatta
Options: sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, crisp bacon, mayonnaise, sweet onion slices, etc.
- Place cutlets between pieces of heavy-duty plastic wrap or use a heavy plastic freezer bag. Pound cutlets using a kitchen mallet’s flat surface (not the side that is grooved); or use the flat bottom of an iron skillet until cutlet is between about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick.
- Place flour mixed with salt and pepper in one shallow dish such as a pie plate, eggs in another, and a heap of bread crumbs in a third.
- Dip cutlets, one by one, first into flour (shake off any excess), then into eggs (lift and let excess drain back into plate) and finally into the breadcrumbs, pressing into the meat. Use more crumbs as needed. Schnitzels can be covered and refrigerated for up to a half a day or frozen. [If frozen, sauté right from frozen.]
- Heat a tablespoon or two of buttery oil in a large skillet until shimmering hot. Add 2 to 3 schnitzel in one layer. Shake pan slightly so oil is distributed. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until bottom is golden brown; turn and adding more oil as needed, brown the other side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking platter or baking sheet; keep warm while frying more. Repeat with remaining cutlets.
- Place schnitzel on roll bottom. Top each with garnishes of choice. Add roll top. Serve immediately with baby greens tossed with lemon vinaigrette or a medley of cut raw vegetables with flavourful yoghurt or sour cream dip.
Veal schnitzel, or a schnitzel of any meat, makes a great light supper too. Add lemony rice pilaf and vegetables to round out this crispy entrée that is fast fried in olive oil and butter. Serve with a classic lemon slice.
RIGHT BRAIN: Fruit Strudel
This is one of those recipes where imagination holds court. A box of phyllo pastry is a great addition to your freezer. Check the box interior for instructions or see my notes at the end of the recipe. I make savoury strudels too jazzing up leftovers using a base of stuffing or breadcrumbs.
Serves 10-12 as a light dessert with ice cream or whipped cream.
600g (about 1-1/3 lb) package of fruit, thawed and drained over a bowl
2-4 tbsp maple syrup
Approximately 2 cups of sweet crumbles (bits from left over brownies, plain cookies or cake)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 box of phyllo pastry, thawed
125g (1/4 lb) or so of melted unsalted butter
- Place the thawed fruit aside in a bowl and pour the juices into a small pot with the maple syrup and ginger.
- Reduce the juices by slowly bubbling over medium heat until they have a thickish consistency and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Melt the butter and use 8-10 sheets of phyllo to make your wrap, buttering each sheet as you build a stack.*
- At the long side of the phyllo make a mounded log of the sweet crumbs. Top with the fruit and pour the juices over the top.
- Roll tightly and make sure the seam is on the bottom of the log.
- Paint the top with the rest of the butter, sprinkle coarse sugar liberally over the top and score the top horizontally with evenly spaced cuts for ease of serving later on.
- Bake on a parchment lined bake tray for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
*Notes for working with phyllo pastry:
- Don’t be intimidated!
- Thaw slowly in fridge for a few hours or overnight.
- Clear a sizeable space on your counter as you will need a place for two piles of pastry, one the unrolled sheets from the box and the other for the stacked and buttered sheets.
- Melt the butter and get a pastry brush ready.
- Open the package and unroll gently. Cover this with a large piece of parchment or waxed paper to keep it from getting brittle.
- Taking one sheet at a time, place the piece of pastry on the counter and lightly brush with the butter.
- Continue layering until you have a stack as thick as you like – I prefer 8 to 10 layers. Don’t paint the top sheet.
- When you have stuffed and rolled your strudel, brush with butter generously to keep the phyllo moist before baking and produce a lovely baked colour.
This dessert is elegant and without being a huge amount of work, given that the pastry and ready-to-use fruit is purchased frozen. Since there is often 20 to 24 sheets in a box of phyllo, roll up the leftover sheets, tightly cover airtight and refreeze for next time. Be aware that all phyllo pastry is not created alike so choose your brand wisely. In Canada, President’s Choice or Krinos works best.