After all the excitement of Christmas I’ve got lots of delicious bits to be eaten up. I am always full of good intentions to buy just what I need but despite my calculations all-be –it on the back of an envelope, I have a fridge and pantry full of miscellaneous bits, some will last but others need to be used up in the next few days. Provided they are not grey and overcooked, Brussels sprouts can be chopped and used in turkey and ham pies or fricassees, but I include an easier way to use them up deliciously. Try the bubble and squeak recipe and serve it on thinly sliced spiced beef or ham, if you’re only got a few morsels of the spiced beef add them to the mixture and you’ll have a whole meal in one. A dollop of grainy mustard mayo with each bit adds extra oomph.
Leftover ham is rarely a problem; it’s so easy to use in sandwiches or salads. When it comes to the end of the joint, there are just little scrappy bits left on the bone. None the less every last morsel can be used up in pasta sauces or added to soups, frittata or macaroni cheese (how comforting is a big dish of bubbling golden macaroni after Christmas)
Macaroni is a terrific basis for all sorts of tasty bits; its mild flavour is the perfect foil for a dice of smoked fish – smoked salmon, mackerel or eel.
Left over cranberries keep for weeks in the fridge and freeze perfectly. A few added to muffins give an appealing tartness and of course they can also be added to many salads including winter red and white cabbage coleslaw. The bitter sweet flavour of cranberry sauce also makes a delicious filling for a meringue roulade or a Christmas sponge.
Stale bread can be used up in a myriad of ways. Eggy bread, made in minutes can be sweet or savoury and will be gobbled up by hungry kids and peckish grownups alike.
Bread and butter pudding is another goodie, a terrific way to use stale bread and if you have half a pot of Christmas mincemeat still hanging around, slather it over the bread instead of butter and dried fruit. Serve it on hot plates with a dollop of softly whipped cream.
Slices of left over plum pudding are divine fried gently in a little sizzling butter on the pan. Left over brandy butter keeps for ages but why keep it, melt in over the plum pudding or spread it on toast.
A happy, healthy and delicious New Year to all our readers.
Bubble and Squeak
A little finely chopped left over ham is delicious added to the potato and sprout mixture.
left over mashed potato
cooked Brussels sprouts chopped
lots of chopped parsley
extra virgin olive oil
white flour with lots of salt, pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg
Mix all together in a bowl. Shape in 2 ½ – 3 inch rounds about ¾ inch deep. Heat a little olive oil in a pan. Coat the bubble and squeak with seasoned flour. Fry until golden on both sides, serve hot with cold ham or bacon or a few crispy rashers.
Pannetone Bread and Butter Pudding
Bread and Butter Pudding is a most irresistible way of using up leftover white bread – this is a particularly delicious recipe. Here I use the Italian Pannetone but if you don’t have that use good quality white bread instead.
12 slices pannetone or good-quality white bread, crusts removed
2 ozs (55g) butter, preferably unsalted
½ teasp freshly-grated nutmeg or cinnamon
7 ozs (200g) Lexia raisins or plump sultanas
16 fl ozs (475ml) cream
8 fl ozs (225ml) milk
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 teasp. pure vanilla extract or a dash of Eau de Vie or brandy
6 ozs (170g) sugar
1 tablesp sugar for sprinkling on top of the pudding
1 x 8 inches (20.5cm) square pottery or china dish
Butter the pannetone or bread and arrange 4 slices, buttered side down, in one layer in a dish. Sprinkle with half the nutmeg or cinnamon and half the raisins, arrange another layer of bread, buttered side down, over the raisins, and sprinkle the remaining spice and fruit on top. Cover the raisins with the remaining pannetone or bread, buttered side down.
In a bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, eau de vie or brandy if using and sugar. Pour the mixture through a sieve over the pudding. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and let the mixture stand, covered loosely, at room temperature for at least 1 hour or chill overnight.
Bake in a bain-marie – the water should be half way up the sides of the baking dish. Bake in the middle of a preheated oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 1 hour approx. or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve the pudding warm with some softly-whipped cream.
Goose, Pomegranate and Pecan Salad
You can also use up left over morsels of turkey or duck in this delicious way.
1 1/2-2 lbs(700-900g) freshly cooked goose, duck or turkey
a selection of salad leaves including watercress, frisée and rocket leaves
1-2 pomegranates depending on size
3-4oz (75/110g) fresh pecans or walnuts
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
2 tablespoons best quality wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
If the goose has been refrigerated, bring back to room temperature. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together. Cut the pomegranate in half and flick the seeds into a bowl – careful not to include any of the astringent pith.
Roast or toast the walnuts or pecans briefly, chop coarsely. Just before serving, sprinkle a little of the dressing over the salad leaves in a deep bowl. Toss gently. There should be just enough dressing to make the leaves glisten. (Save the rest for later) Taste. Add a little dressing to the pomegranate seeds, toss and taste, correct seasoning if necessary. Slice the goose into chunky pieces. Sprinkle a little dressing over and toss gently. Combine the three ingredients. Divide pleasingly between 8 large white plates. Sprinkle with roughly chopped pecans or walnuts and serve immediately with crusty bread.
Turkey and Stuffing Wraps
6 flour tortillas
12 – 16oz left over turkey cut into strips, try to include some crispy skin and stuffing
6 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise mixed
3 tablespoons of Ballymaloe Country Relish
2 avocados peeled and sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper
12 cherry tomatoes sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper
salad leaves and fresh coriander leaves
Warm the tortillas and mix the cooked leftover turkey meat and some stuffing if available with the mayonnaise and some relish. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Divide between the tortillas. Add some sliced avocado and tomato to each. Top with salad leaves and coriander and tuck into the ends and roll into a wrap. Enjoy.
Frittata with Ham and Cheese
A frittata is an Italian omelette. Unlike its soft and creamy French cousin, a frittata is cooked slowly over a very low heat during which time you can be whipping up a delicious salad to accompany it! It is cooked on both sides and cut into wedges like a piece of cake. This basic recipe, flavoured with grated cheese and a generous sprinkling of herbs. Like the omelette, though, you may add almost anything that takes your fancy.
10 large eggs, preferably free range organic
1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
75g (3ozs) Gruyére cheese, grated
25g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
25g (1oz) butter
2 tablespoons basil or marjoram chopped
225g (8oz) diced cooked ham
Non-stick pan – 22.5cm (10inch) frying pan
Whisk the eggs in a bowl; add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, and grated cheese into the eggs. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs. Turn down the heat, as low as it will go. Leave the eggs to cook gently for 12 minutes on a heat diffuser mat, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny. Alternatively put it into a preheated oven at 160ºC (320°F) gas mark 3, for 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat a grill. Pop the pan under the grill for 1 minute to set but not brown the surface.
Slide a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide onto a warm plate.
Serve cut in wedges with a good green salad and perhaps a tomato salad.
A delicious way to use up left over cranberries.
225g (8oz) white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 level tablespoon baking powder
140g (5oz) caster sugar
75g (3oz) butter
1 organic free range egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
170ml (6floz) milk
110g (4oz) cranberries, blueberries or raspberries
1 muffin tray lined with muffin papers
Preheat the oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 4-5. Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Combine the beaten egg, vanilla extract and milk and add to the dry mixture. Combine with a fork to give a wet consistency. Fold in the cranberries gently. Spoon into the muffin cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.
Mincemeat Pear Tart
This is certainly one of the most impressive of the French tarts, it is wonderful served warm but is also very good cold and it keeps for several days. Splash in a little kirsch.
4-5 ripe pears, poached
200g (7oz) flour
110g (4oz) cold butter
1 egg yolk, preferably free range and organic
pinch of salt
3-4 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons of homemade mincemeat
100g (3 1/2oz) butter
100g (3 1/2oz) castor sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 egg yolk, preferably free range
2 tablespoons kirsch
110g (4oz) ground almonds
25g (1oz) flour
150ml (1/4 pint) approx. apricot glaze
23cm (9inch) diameter flan ring or tart tin with a removable base
First make the Shortcrust pastry
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop. Whisk the egg yolk and add the water.
Take a fork or knife (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect the pastry into a ball with your hands. This way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although slightly damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper shorter crust.
Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes or better still 30 minutes. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.
Next poach the pears and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry, line the tart tin with it, prick lightly with a fork, flute the edges and chill again until firm. Bake blind for 15-20 minutes.
Next make the frangipane. Cream the butter gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and soft. Gradually add the egg and egg yolk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the ground almonds and flour and then add the kirsch or calvados. Pour the frangipane into the pastry case spreading it evenly. Drain the pears well and when they are cold cut them crosswise into very thin slices, then lift the sliced pears intact and arrange them around the tart on the frangipane pointed ends towards the centre. Arrange a final half pear in the centre.
Turn the oven up to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Bake the tart for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is beginning to brown. Turn down the oven heat to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the frangipane is set in the centre and nicely golden.
Meanwhile make the apricot glaze. When the tart is fully cooked, paint generously with apricot glaze, remove from the tin and serve warm or cold with a bowl of softly whipped cream.
Spiced Beef with Guacamole and Rocket leaves
Serves 8 to 10
8 – 10 oz cooked spiced beef
1 ripe avocado
1-2 tablesp. freshly squeezed lime
1 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tablesp. freshly chopped coriander or flat parsley
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
wild rocket leaves
First make the guacamole, scoop out the flesh from the avocado. Mash with a fork or in a pestle and mortar, add lime juice, olive oil, chopped coriander, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Otherwise, cover the surface of the guacamole with a sheet of plastic to exclude the air. Cover and keep cool until needed.
A little finely diced chilli or tomato may be added to the guacamole.
To serve put a blob of guacamole on each warn crostini, top with a little spiced beef and sprig of wild rocket, serve as finger food with drinks or three as a starter.
Fool Proof Food
Eggy Bread or French toast is so good that you forget how economical it is The French don’t call this French toast. They call it pain perdu or “lost bread”, because it is a way to use up leftover bread you would otherwise lose – the only bread you’ve got on the baker’s day off. French toast is actually better if the bread is a little old or sliced and dried out overnight, so perhaps for using up stale bread after Christmas.
3 free range eggs
175ml (6 flozs) whole milk
tiny pinch of salt
6 slices white or light wholemeal bread
4 tablespoons clarified butter
Whisk the eggs, milk and salt together until well blended. Strain the mixture into a shallow bowl in which you can easily soak the bread. Dip both sides of each slice of bread in the batter. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan. Fry the bread over a medium heat until very lightly browned, turning once. Serve warm sprinkled with cinnamon or caster sugar and alternatively, serve with crispy streaky rashers and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.
Serve with bananas and butterscotch sauce.
Resolve to grow some of your own herbs, salad leaves and vegetables this spring. Pore through the gardening catalogues as sit by the fire. A great beginner’s book is ‘Going Organic’ by Bob Flowerdew, published by Kyle Kathie.
Seville Oranges are now in the shops so pick some up. These bitter sweet oranges produce marmalade with a unique flavour. If you are making 2 or 3 batches you might like to add some freshly grated ginger to one and some Irish whiskey to another.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Give a foodie friend a New Years gift of a bottle of really good extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over salads, bruschetta and just about everything.
Mani from Greece, Colonna from Italy and from Spain Laudemnio and Marques de Valdueza. Morgenster from South Africa and Dundargan from Australia are all exceptionally delicious. Available at the Ballymaloe Cookery School shop, Urru in Bandon 023 54731 and other good delis.
One of my best finds this Christmas was a delicious Irish Panforte made by Richard Graham-Lee of Patisserie Regale in Dunmanway. For my taste it beats vitually all the mass produced Italian Paneforte hands down. Try to find one to enjoy over the festive season, it’s packed with candied peel, nuts and fruit, a tiny slice with a cup of coffee satisfies the urge for a little something sweet – – sublime. Tel. 023 55344