By now the Christmas frenzy is building up. Hopefully the cake and plum pudding are made and you’ve decided whether its turkey or goose. Maybe you’ve plumped for a fine roast chicken, maybe a pheasant or a nice glazed ham. One way or the other you’ll probably have some little scraps left over that can be added to salads, a gratin or even a bubbly ‘mac and cheese.’ The latter is delicious cooked in tiny muffin tins lined with parchment till the edges get crispy – serve with drinks.
Fresh Brussels sprouts make delicious salads, peel off the outer leaves and mix with a good dressing and maybe some pumpkin seeds. The classic Croque Monsieur is a posh cheese and ham sandwich – a real favourite with the French and a brilliant way to use up some thin slices of left over ham, everyone including kids will love it.
Offer to take your friends turkey carcasses, they may pity you but you’ll have the last laugh. The carcass makes a brilliant stock, good enough to sip as a soothing broth but also great as the basis of a light soup embellished with shreds of leftover turkey, pheasant, or chicken.
Left over pannetone or even barmbrack makes a terrific bread and butter pudding, you may want to add a few more sultanas and perhaps a scattering of diced ginger.
Mincemeat keeps well but it can used in so many yummy ways, with apple in tarts or tartlets, in a crumble or tray bake or even as a stuffing for a baked apple. Here’s a few suggestions to use up left overs in dishes I enjoy.
A Happy Christmas and hope 2013 brings much joy and the blessing of many delicious meals with family and friends around the kitchen table.
Turkey, Orzo, Pea and Spring Onion Broth
Super light and refreshing, a particularly delicious way of using up scraps of cooked turkey or other poultry.
1 litre (1 ¾ pints) turkey, chicken or pheasant stock
50g (2oz) orzo pasta
2 tender stalks celery, finely sliced at an angle
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
150 – 175g (5 – 6 oz) shredded cooked turkey, chicken or pheasant
110g (4oz) frozen peas
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 – 6 spring onions, sliced at an angle (depending on size)
lots of fresh coriander and/or fresh mint leaves
Bring the stock to the boil; add the orzo, celery and chilli flakes. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the pasta is just cooked, add the peas and shredded chicken. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with spring onions and lots of fresh coriander and/or mint.
Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado and Toasted Pecans
Pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts would be good here also. If separating the leaves of the Brussels sprouts is too much of a mission, just shred them finely instead, however the individual leaves look and taste great.
(450g) 1lb fresh Brussels sprouts, leaves separated
2 ripe but slightly firm avocados
1 – 2 blood oranges (depending on size)
25 – 50g (1 – 2 oz) pecans, toasted
salt and freshly ground pepper
flat leaf parsley sprigs
finely grated zest of 1 preferably organic lemon
2 tablespoons squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk all the ingredients for the salad dressing together.
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Mark 4. Toast the pecans in a single layer for 8 – 10 minutes. Peel the outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts (keep the centres for another dish) Put into a bowl. Segment the blood oranges, add to the bowl. Whisk the dressing, add any spare orange juice and sprinkle some over the salad and toss gently. Turn out onto a wide platter, halve, stone and slice the avocado, arrange haphazardly op top. Sprinkle with warm toasted pecans, hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds and lots of flat parsley sprigs. Taste and correct seasoning.
Mac and Cheese
Macaroni cheese is all over menus in the US, once again, comforting and delicious. We often add some cubes of cooked bacon or ham or a dice of smoked salmon or mackerel to the sauce with the cooked macaroni.
8 ozs (225g) macaroni
6 pints (3.4 litres) water
2 teaspoons salt
2 ozs (50g) butter
2 ozs (50g) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 1/2 pints (850ml) boiling milk
1/4 teaspoon Dijon or English mustard
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ozs (150g) grated mature Cheddar cheese
1 oz (25g) grated Cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top
¾ – 1lb (350 – 450g) diced cooked ham, turkey, chicken, pheasant or a mixture
1 x 2 pint (1.1 litre) capacity pie dish
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the salt. Sprinkle in the macaroni and stir to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Cook until just soft, 10-15 minutes approx. drain well.
Meanwhile melt the butter, add in the flour and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk gradually; bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the diced cooked meat, mustard, parsley if using and cheese, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the cooked macaroni bring back to the boil, taste, correct seasoning and serve immediately.
Macaroni cheese reheats very successfully provided the pasta is not overcooked in the first place. Turn into a pie dish, sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Reheat in a preheated moderate oven – 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. It is very good served with cold meat particularly ham.
Top Tip: Macaroni soaks up an enormous amount of sauce. Add more sauce if making ahead to reheat later.
Roast Apples with Mincemeat
Use Irish Bramleys and make sure to cook them until they burst.
4 large cooking apples, preferably Crimson Bramleys
4 tablespoons of homemade mince meat
a little water
softly whipped cream or crème fráiche
Core the apples and score the skin of each around the ‘equator’. Put the apples onto an ovenproof dish large enough to take them in a single layer without touching. Fill the center of each apple with mincemeat.
Pour a little water around and roast in a preheated moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4 for about 1 hour depending on the size. They should be fluffy and burst slightly but still be fat and puffy not collapsed. Serve as soon as possible with softly whipped cream or crème fráiche.
A croque-monsieur is the quintessential Parisian sandwich. It’s really no more than a grilled ham sandwich topped with grated cheese, but it appears in many different guises. Sometimes a croque-monsieur is topped with a thick Mornay sauce, or transformed into a croque-madame with the addition of a fried egg on top.
a dab of butter
2 thin square slices best quality white bread (pain de mie in France)
1 slice cooked ham, cut to fit bread
1oz (25g) sliced Gruyère cheese
1 beaten egg and some cream or milk
Butter the slices of bread on one side. Place the slices of ham and cheese on one buttered side and cover with the other slice of bread.
Whisk the egg with the cream or milk. Dip both sides of the sandwich into the mixture.
Melt a little butter on a pan over a medium heat, cook first on one side, then on the other until the surface is golden and the cheese is soft and bubbly. Eat immediately while hot. Serve alone or with a good salad – Bon appetit!
Pannetone Bread and Butter Pudding
Bread and Butter Pudding is a most irresistible way of using up leftover bread, croissants, brioche or barmbrack – this is a particularly delicious recipe made with pannetone.
12 slices Pannetone or good-quality white bread, crusts removed
2 ozs (50g) butter, preferably unsalted
1/2 teaspoon 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 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or a dash of Eau de Vie or brandy
6 ozs (175g) sugar
1 tablespoon 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, 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4, for 1 hour approx. or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve the pudding warm with some softly-whipped cream.
Find of the week: I loved the Atlantic Seaweed Salt from the Organic Herb Company that I found on the tables at the glitzy Good Food Ireland Awards at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin recently, a perfect stocking filler. www.organicherbco.com
Rattling your brains for a last minute present? Why not give a gift that will last a lifetime, a Ballymaloe Cookery School gift token, you too will get the benefit! phone 021 4646785 or purchase online www.cookingisfun.ie
The sublime new seasons Capezzana Extra Virgin Olive oil has just arrived from Tuscany, at Ballymaloe Cookery School shop. There is no greater treat for your foodie friend, a drizzle makes everything into a feast! Also at the Ballymaloe stall in the Midleton Farmer’s Market on Saturday 22nd December from 8:30am to 2:00pm www.midletonfarmersmarket.com
Bridgestone Guides make a great little gift – 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland, 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland and The Irish Food Guide – evocative prose, no house should be without one even if it’s only to dream…
Five Stocking Fillers for the Wine Buff
Hugh Johnson’s pocket Wine Guide – a little gem for the wine buff in your life. Vacu-Vin Wine pump is a brilliant toy, you can extract the air from a wine bottle and keep the wine in perfect condition for another night! Drop Stop – non drippers, a brilliant invention – flexible silver discs that be inserted into the neck of the bottle to avoid drips. Screwpull Cork Screw – a very expensive bottle opener but once again it’s a gift for life – I still have one after 20 years, while at least 10 others have come and gone. Available in all good wine and kitchen shops.