Love your leftovers (and Happy New Year)

I can’t be the only person who is still fighting their way through festive leftovers, right? Why my parents still buy in enough food for an army when they feed a maximum of 4 people on Christmas is a mystery to me, but I end up with the bi-product of this overindulgence, and as such am still eating ham, turkey and various winter veg until I feel like I will explode.

I may not have been posting much here of late but that’s not to say I haven’t been blogging. Here are two of my very favourite leftover recipes for the festive season, as written for and posted on the Sainsbury’s Magazine blog:

Asian shredded turkey salad
Brussels sprouts and cheddar soup

Not normally one for resolutions, this year I’m determined to make (and stick) to some, but I still haven’t settled on any and it’s the 3rd already! Eek! But one resolution I can heartily recommend to everyone is this:

Keep Calm and read Sainsbury's Magazine

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way whatsoever. Even if I didn’t work for the above mentioned company I’d be buying the magazine. So there 😉

My fridge shame (and a puff-pastry pizzette)

I think it was probably my mother who instilled in me a fanatical horror of waste and subsequently a terrible habit to hoard.  My grandfather, her dad, was the same – in fact he was worse, something we only fully realised after he died – the man had a whole room of copies of Reader’s Digest spanning decades, and a garage full from floor to ceiling with tat he’d picked up at the local jumble sale and never used.

For me, hoarding is mostly focussed on food – I get twitchy if my cupboards aren’t full to the gills, I can’t stand getting rid of (‘wasting’) anything that is still edible, and combine that with my love of discovering new products and devotion to condiments in particular and you have a recipe for one hell of an overloaded fridge!

When I recently opened the fridge door and realised not only was there no room for the milk I’d just bought, but also that I had NO idea what was taking up all the space, I decided it was time for a major clear out.  Here is my shameful roll-call of the contents…

bread rolls celery white miso
gentlemen’s relish barley miso Swedish mustard
English mustard baby capers ground coffee
dill mustard tamarind chipotle chutney curry roux
coconut cream hot pepper jelly chilli sauce
mint sauce condensed milk fast-action yeast
pickled radish ghee No.5 umami paste
cheddar garlic mayo red leicester
eggs bacon lemons
dill corn cobs young garlic
tomatoes oranges limes
ginger red chillis damson jam
tom yam paste mojito cocktail mix horseradish
mango chutney tikka paste strawberry jam
schmaltz garlic butter 1/2 pck puff pastry
goat’s butter sweet chilli sauce mayonnaise
cornbread parmesan more cheddar
1/2 red onion cherry tomatoes unsalted butter

Ridiculous isn’t it?  See what I meant about loving condiments?  And this is not to mention the things that I had to bin which had gone mouldy whilst hiding at the back: streaky bacon, spring onions, pickled chillis, marmalade, mushrooms.  Binning those has earnt me at least a month in the circle of hell reserved for people who wantonly waste precious resources….

This clear out was a real wake-up call, I certainly can’t afford to waste all this food, so what was I going to do with it?  Well firstly, I made a resolution to use up ALL the items in my fridge.  When cooking as many eclectic cuisines as I do it’s easy to end up with dozens of jars opened for just a tablespoonful in a recipe, but I’m going to make it my mission to use up all the existing ones before opening new.  And secondly?  It was time to make use of those fresh ingredients whilst they’re still good.  And thus I present my puff pastry pizzette:

Puff-pastry Pizzette
Perfect for students, late-night fridge raiding dinners, or anyone who wants to use up the odds and sods in their salad drawers.  Quantities are up to you, and should be varied to use up whatever you have in the house.

Puff Pastry Pizzette
Serves 2

Puff-pastry Pizzette
– Take half a 500g block of puff pastry (the other half can be frozen), cut it in two then roll out on a floured surface into two rectangles (or squares, or circles) about 5mm thick, and transfer to a baking sheet

– Smear a generous blob of tomato puree or passata over the bases, leaving roughly a 1cm border around thPuff-pastry Pizzettee edge

– Top with whatever you like – I used thin slices of chorizo (skin removed), 1/2 a red onion finely sliced, a red chilli, and quartered cherry tomatoes

– Scatter over a handful of grated cheese: anything the melts well is suitable, cheddar and parmesan is a nice mix.

– Add a sprinkle of dried Italian herbs (oregano, thyme or similar) and a grinding of black pepper, and finally drizzle with a little olive oil

– Bake in a hot oven (around 200C/Gas 6) for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with a generous pile of salad to cut through the richness of the pastry and cheese, if you happen to have any!

Divine cheese and ham pie/tart

This isn’t a recipe so much as a formula, designed for leftovers. We still have a whole fridge shelf full of cheese from Christmas, plus the last of the Boxing Day ham, so I put them together in this super-indulgent tart/pie/turnover which is the absolute antithesis to the defacto January health food and diets. Yes it’s rich, but how often will you eat something like this? A little of what you fancy does you good……….

Cheese & ham tartTake 1 block all-butter puff pastry and roll out to a large rectangle (to fit your baking sheet), about 4mm thick. Brush the border of the pastry with milk, then brush with Dijon mustard all over the centre, up to the milk border.

Cover the bottom half of the pastry with a layer of finely grated cheese – I used Ossau-Iraty and Emmenthal – then top with shredded ham. Dollop small blobs of creme fraiche (if you have it in the house), or mayo (more likely!) at intervals, all over the ham. Grind pepper over generously. Top with slices of brie and any remaining grated cheese.

Fold the pastry top over the bottom half, and seal the edges with a fork. Chill for 20 minutes if you have time, then brush with more milk and bake at 200C/Gas 6 for 25 minutes or until golden all over.

Serve with a little something to cut through the richness – some tomatoes and pickles, or a fresh green salad with sharp vinaigrette.

Serves 4 people.

A fantastic leftover turkey curry recipe

Every Christmas my father carefully and conscientiously buys a turkey at least five times as big as needed for our small family gatherings, and this year was no exception – to feed just four people he purchased a bird weighing in at a massive seven kilos! I’m sure my dad is at the far end of the scale, but nearly all of us face the bother of leftovers at this time of year, and it can be quite overwhelming sometimes. There really are only so many turkey sandwiches one can choke down with genuine pleasure, after all. So for those of you who, like me, are still chowing down on leftovers, here is the perfect recipe.

I’ve always avoided turkey curry, as it seemed an obviously sneaky way of disguising bland, overcooked meat, but this one is really rather special. Adapted from Anjum Anand’s recipe published recently in Sainsbury’s Magazine, it’s quick to make, and therefore light and fragrant, and seriously tasty. Serve it with plain boiled rice and/or naan breads. Alternatively you can make this a one-pot meal by adding cooked new potatoes and a handful of green beans with the turkey at step 3.

Incidentally, this dish is so good that it’s worth making even if you don’t have leftovers hanging around. Turkey is a very economical and lean meat available all year round, and most supermarkets sell turkey breasts or leg portions, which you can roast briefly (skin-on to retain moisture), then cut up and use in this.

Leftover Turkey Curry
Serves 6

1½ tsp mustard seeds
2 white onions, finely sliced
20 curry leaves
8 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tsp root ginger, finely grated
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
600g cooked turkey meat, cut into large chunks or strips
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tin coconut milk

For the garam:
3½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 tsp cardamom pods
6 cloves
2 tbsp coriander seeds

1. Fry the mustard seeds in oil, add the onions and curry leaves. Fry gently until softened, then add the garlic and ginger and fry for a couple more minutes.

2. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and discard the husks. Use a spice grinder or pestle & mortar to grind all the garam spices to a fine powder, add the turmeric, ground coriander, chopped tomatoes and 1 tsp. salt and blitz to a rough puree with a hand blender or mini processor. Add to the fried onions, and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Allow to reduce until thickened, reduce the heat, add the turkey and cherry tomatoes and simmer until the turkey is hot through.