So many Eastern European recipes call for egg yolks only -- babkas, shortbreads, and crescents, among others -- leaving you with a plentitude of egg whites. What's a cook to do? First, here is a quick tip for freezing egg whites for future use and here are some suggestions that will help you be a frugal cook.
This recipe for Polish cake with meringue or ciasto z beza is from my cousin Teresa Jasiakiewicz, whom I met in Turek, Poland. The cake is versatile -- any fruit filling (fresh or canned) may be used and whipped cream is optional. The major components are sponge cake and meringue. The rest is at your discretion.
This meringue torte recipe is one of the best and most elegant ways to use leftover egg whites. A meringue cake in Czech is pĕnový dort bezé. Poles call meringues bezy and Hungarians say habcsók. When sweetened whipped egg whites are piped into round disks and baked, they become the "cake" layers for a torte filled with custard, mousse, whipped cream and fruit or flavored fillings.
This tomato tart recipe is versatile in that the cheese base can be varied to suit one's Eastern European tastes. Dry curd cheese, also known as farmer's cheese or baker's cheese, Bulgarian feta or ricotta cheese can all be used in combination or alone. The fresh herbs can range from dill to thyme to oregano. The egg whites bind the cheese filling together.
Steamed puddings, both sweet and savory, are popular in Eastern Europe. Since the fat in the nuts would inhibit the rise of the egg whites, instant flour helps to insulate them. Sometimes cornstarch is used. The pudding can be made in one 4-cup pudding mold or four individual 1-cup molds. Unmold and serve with a fruit syrup -- raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, sour cherry.
Potato pancakes, also known as placki kartoflane or latkes are usually fried, but in this favorite Hanukkah food, the pancakes are made with egg whites and baked. That means a guilt-free indulgence -- 0 grams fat and only 65 calories per pancake.