Using Up Christmas Leftovers


I love using up leftovers – turning odds and ends of this and that into something tasty and delicious. It’s a skill I learned early in life – Mummy could always whip up something delicious from a few miscellaneous ingredients and a bit of imagination.

So let’s see what’s in the fridge and the pantry after Christmas. Every scrap of left over turkey has been salvaged to make turkey sandwiches but there’s still the carcass which makes the best broth of all, add a couple of onions, a few stalks of celery, some thick chunks of carrot, maybe the green leek tops and a few peppercorns. Cover with cold water and simmer it gently for a few hours to tease out the delicious flavour. If your family and friends can’t be bothered, offer to take theirs too and if necessary freeze until you have the time to make a gorgeous pot of turkey broth.

Left over goose or duck is delicious in a salad with red cabbage and apples and maybe a few lentils or turn it into a shepherd’s pie with a crisp potato or potato and celeriac topping. Ham of course, can be used in a myriad of ways – even little scraps can be used in an omelette, in pasta sauces or a frittata. Left over cranberry sauce will keep for weeks, try it with goat cheese or a filling for a meringue roulade or add it to scones with some orange zest. Left over plum pudding will keep for weeks, just cover it and when the humour takes you, cut it into thick slices and fry it gently in butter and top it with a dollop of whiskey cream or Mrs Hanrahan’s Sauce. It’ll taste almost better than the original. Check out the Midleton Farmers Market website to discover what new and exciting local foods are on the stalls this week.

Brussels sprouts make delicious salads; even the outer leaves make a tasty bright green soup. Try slicing or shredding them thinly, toss in a little sizzling butter and extra virgin olive oil with a little diced chorizo and some diced cooked potato, add a sprinkling of parsley, some thyme leaves and salt and freshly ground black pepper and you will be surprised how delicious and fulfilling it is.

Marrons glacé also keep for ages but if you would like a quick pudding, eat them in the Italian way with Chantilly cream and crystallized violets – delicious.

Smoked salmon trimmings are equally versatile, even a little can be whizzed up with some butter and a few drops of lemon juice to slather on toast – packed into pots this mixture will keep for several weeks. Mulled wine reheats well but left-over wine also make toothsome granita or a jelly – you will need to dilute it with water, otherwise it will be too concentrated – 3 teaspoons of gelatine added to 1 pint of liquid, a little cinnamon added to the softly whipped cream is a nice touch.

Left over mincemeat has a thousand uses, it keeps for ages so there’s no great urgency (the Ballymaloe mincemeat recipe keeps for well over 2 years) but you might like to try this Mincemeat and Apple Meringue Tart our favourite new thing.


Turkey Stock or Broth


Keep your turkey carcass to make a stock that may be used as the basis of a delicious soup or in St Stephen’s Day pie. This is definitely the best-flavoured stock of all and it can be made in the same way as the chicken stock. I’m always discouraging my friends from making this so that they give me their turkey carcasses!

Stock will keep for several days in the refrigerator. If you want to keep it for longer, boil it up again for 5–6 minutes every couple of days; allow it to get cold and refrigerate again. Stock also freezes perfectly. For cheap containers, use large yogurt cartons or plastic milk bottles, then you can cut them away from the frozen stock without a conscience if you need to defrost it in a hurry! Makes about 3.5 litres (6 pints)

2–3 raw or cooked turkey carcasses or a mixture of both giblets from the turkey (neck, heart, gizzard – save the liver for pate)

2-3 onions, sliced

2-3 leeks, green part

4 outside celery stalks or 2 lovage leaves

2-3 carrots cut into chunks

a nice bunch of parsley stalks

2-3 sprigs of thyme

10 peppercorns

Chop up the carcasses as much as possible with the giblets. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cover with about 3.4 litres (7 pints) cold water. Bring to the boil. Skim the fat off the top with a tablespoon. Simmer for 3–4 hours. Strain and remove any remaining fat. Do not add salt. For a simple bowl of turkey broth add a little julienne of carrot and leek and fresh beans and a scattering of fresh parsley leaves.


Potted Smoked Salmon




This is a delicious way to use up smoked salmon trimmings.




Smoked salmon trimmings


Softened butter, unsalted


Hot toast




Remove any skin or bones from the fish. Weigh the flesh. Add three quarters the weight in butter. Blend to a smooth puree. Fill into pots and run clarified butter over the top. Spread on hot toast and serve.




Turkey, Tomato and Chickpea Stew


Serves 6

1 tablespoon mustard seed

3 onions chopped

1 tsp freshly grated fresh ginger

1-2 red chillies, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

8 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin tomatoes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper


2 x 400g (14oz) tins chickpeas

500g (18oz) cooked turkey, diced

250g (9oz) cooked ham, diced

lots of fresh coriander

Salsa Verde – see recipe


Salsa Verde


This green salsa is very good served with beef, lamb, and pork and also oily fish, like salmon and mackerel. It keeps for several weeks in the fridge.

1 bunch of rocket, mint, tarragon and flat parsley

1 tablespoon of capers

2 cloves of garlic, crushed to a smooth paste

8 anchovies, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

8floz olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

black pepper

Maldon Sea salt to taste

Chop the herbs and mix with the other ingredients. Taste and correct seasoning. Store in a covered container in the fridge or freeze.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat, add the mustard seeds, cook for a minute or two until they pop, add the onion, toss and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and continue to fry for 2 or 3 minutes. Increase the heat add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt, pepper and sugar and continue to cook for 6-10 minutes. Add the chickpeas, turkey and ham. Stir and let it bubble for 5 minutes. Add lots of fresh coriander. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Pour into a hot serving bowl. Serve in deep wide soup plates, drizzled with Salsa Verde. Garnish with sliced chilli and coriander leaves. Eat with naan or another flat bread and a bowl of yoghurt.


Frittata with Ham and Mushrooms



Serves 6-8


A frittata, the Italian omelet, is a brilliant recipe to have in your repertoire, doesn’t matter how many hungry lads arrive in, looking expectant, just look in the fridge and add whatever delicious little left over you can find.


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

a mixture of the above two cheeses or other leftover cheese

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons thyme leaves

25g (1oz) butter

2 tablespoons basil or marjoram chopped

225g (8oz)diced cooked ham

110g (4oz) sliced and sautéed mushrooms


450g (1lb) sliced leeks, sweated in a little olive oil or butter



To Serve


Rocket leaves

Tomato and Coriander Salsa

Non-stick pan – 22.5cm (10inch) frying pan


Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Mark 3. Whisk the eggs in a bowl; add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, grated cheese, ham, mushrooms or leeks into the eggs. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Then transfer into the oven for 12 – 15 minutes. Remove from the oven; allow to settle for 3 or 4 minutes.

Slide a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide onto a warm plate.

Serve with a good green salad and maybe some tomato salsa made with cherry tomatoes at this time of the year.


Marrons Glacées with Sweet Cream and Crystallized Violets


By the end of October the cafes and food shops of Turin are selling beautiful new season’s marrons glacées. They are arranged on little gold trays decorated with crystallized violets.

The Italians eat them for dessert on a bed of crème Chantilly. The combination of sweetened vanilla scented cream and marrons glacées with the crunchy crystallized violets is divine.

Look for them in specialist food shops during Christmas and enjoy them the Piedmontese way.


Crème Chantilly


Stiffly whip 300ml (1/2 pint) double cream, fold in 1 tablespoon castor sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence.


Mincemeat and Apple Meringue Tart


Serves 10-12

The pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from ‘hot hands’ don’t have to worry about rubbing in the butter. Use it for a variety of fruit tarts. It can be difficult to handle when its first made and benefits from being chilled for at least an hour. Better still, if rested overnight.



6 oz (175 g) white flour

1 oz (25 g) caster sugar

½ oz 10 g) icing sugar

1 egg, beaten



1 lb (450 g) mincemeat

1½ lbs (700 g) Bramley apples



3 egg whites

6 ozs (175 g) caster sugar


Egg wash


1 x 9 inch (23 cm) deep tart tin


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.


First make the pastry in the usual way. Beat the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the egg and beat for several minutes. Reduce the speed and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 1 hour otherwise it is difficult to handle.

Bake the tart base blind for about 25 minutes in the preheated oven or until pale and golden, remove the beans and paper.

Brush the prebaked tart shell with a little beaten egg and pop back into the oven for 5-minutes or until almost cooked. Cool. Reduce the temperature to 130ºC/250ºF/gas mark ½.

Peel and core the apples. Cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks. Place in a sauté pan with a tight fitting lid. Put on a very low heat and cook until the apples have broken down 25- 30 minutes approx.

Whisk the egg whites with the caster sugar until it reaches stiff peaks. Spread the apple puree over the cooked pastry base, spoon the mincemeat over the apple. Top with the meringue fluffing into peaks. Return to the oven and cook for 1 hour until the meringue is crisp. Cool on a wire rack and serve with a bowl of softly whipped cream.



Last minute dot com!

Ballymaloe Cookery School will be open today – Christmas Eve – for last minute gift vouchers. Decide on an amount or purchase a cookery course over the phone and we will email you a copy to print and we’ll post the actual voucher to arrive later. 021 4646785 or


Caherbeg Spiced Beef. A piece of spiced beef is a brilliant standby for any time not just Christmas and New Year. There’s lots of good ones but you shouldn’t miss the Caherbeg version which I have just discovered, beautifully balanced and not too spicy. Willie Allshire has been experimenting and I’d wager a bet that this too will be an award winner as well as their puddings – 023 8848474 – Caherbeg, Rosscarbery, West Cork.

Enjoy the Christmas Season to the full then join nutritionists Debbie Shaw and Linn Thortennson for their Wellness Programme in the Fermoy Youth Centre, for 5 Tuesday nights starting January 24th, 2012 to feel healthier and happier and to have more energy.  Tel: 086-3893768, or email: or visit

New Seasons Olive Oil – We have just got a delivery of the first of the New Seasons Tuscan olive oil, Capezzana, Fontodi and Selvapiana extra virgin olive oil ‘to die for’ – the ultimate present for a foodie friend.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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