Wonderful Ways with Leftovers
The thing with leftovers is that we don’t all have exactly the same leftovers and sometimes the leftovers we do have don’t immediately say “Hi, I’m still good and can be made into something wonderful” or we don’t even think of something as a leftover and just toss it, all the while thinking “What a waste!”
It’s now four days since Christmas and New Year’s Eve is looming and if like me your fridge needs space, but there still seems to be some good things in there, take a little time to sort it out and see what you can do with what’s there. Here are some ideas for some of those odds and ends that might not immediately seem to be worth keeping.
Mustard: There’s a spoonful left in the bottom of the jar, don’t toss it, rather make it into vinaigrette right in the jar so that you get to use every last bit of the mustard.
To the jar with that bit of mustard in it, add some oil and vinegar (the usual ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar – eg 3 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp vinegar), add any flavourings such as crushed garlic, fresh herbs, minced shallot or onion, screw lid on jar and shake well to emulsify. Store in the fridge and shake again before using. This works best with milder mustards such as Dijon or wholegrain.
Ham, Turkey, Pork or Chicken: In the few days after Christmas these meats can be turned into salads, sandwiches, wraps, frittatas, hash and any number of other delicious easy meals – here are some ideas to get you started:
Toasted Mushroom, Ham & Cheese Sandwich
Ham & Leek Pie
Ham & Vegetable Hash
Ham, Vegetable & Ricotta Fritters
Easy Chicken or Turkey Salad
Ham Bone: This is the perfect base for a hearty soup and there is probably still plenty of meat of on it – package up and freeze for when the weather turns cooler.
Pea & Potato Soup with Ham
Turkey Carcass: By now this is all you should have left of your
turkey. This carcass makes a wonderful base for a stock. No, I am not suggesting that you get out the stock pot now (you can, of course, if you want), but rather package up the carcass and bones and freeze it until you have more time and the weather gets a bit cooler. Any poultry carcass such as chicken or duck can be made into stock in the same way.
To make a simple stock, place carcass, chopped onion, carrot and celery, a bay leaf or two, maybe a sprig of rosemary or thyme, if you have it, and 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns in a large stockpot, pour over water to cover, bring to simmering over medium heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove pan from heat, strain off liquid and
discard carcass, vegetables, herbs and peppercorns. Allow stock to cool, remove and discard any fat, then transfer stock to suitable
containers and freeze until required. I usually freeze mine in 1 or 2 cup yogurt containers.
Cheese: Odds and ends of cheese can be mixed together and made into wonderful Potted Cheese.
Wine: “Yeah, right!” in our house! But, should you have some – freeze it. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. When frozen, pop out the cubes, put into a freezer bag and return to the freezer.
Whenever you need just a tablespoon or so of wine in cooking – use your frozen wine ice blocks. Never waste another drop of wine.
Vegetables: If you have a quantity of cooked vegetables – roasted, steamed or boiled or a mix – chop them into even-sized pieces,
drizzle with a dressing of your choice, toss to combine and serve on a bed of salad leaves for a delicious vegetable salad.
Bread: There are many ways to give bread a second life.
Breadcrumbs, crostini, croutons, strata, bread and butter pudding to name just a few options.
Dry breadcrumbs: Freeze any odds slices or pieces of bread until you have a quantity – I keep a bag in the freezer and add odd slices of bread to it when I have them. Preheat oven to 150°C. Place bread slices on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until dry – exact time is going to depend on how dry the bread is to start with.
Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. Break into pieces, place, in batches, in a food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs of desired texture. Store in an airtight container and use whenever dry breadcrumbs are called for.
Crostini: This is a great way to give new life to a leftover breadstick or baguette. Cut into slices, brush both sides of each slice with a
little oil, place on a baking tray and bake in a preheated 150°C oven for 15-20 minutes or until dry and crisp – as above the exact cooking time is going to depend on how stale the bread is to start with.
This savoury Breakfast Bake makes a great brunch dish – replace the bacon with some of your leftover ham and use whatever leftover bread you have:
I must confess to loving leftovers and my freezer has what I think of as lots of lunches in it – I will freeze just about any leftover and when I need a lunch for work, I will grab one of these frozen treasures and reheat it in the microwave at lunchtime.
I also keep a variety of rolls and bread in freezer and these are the basis for other lunches when there is leftover roast meat or chicken.
Using leftovers in these ways saves a fortune on buying lunches and keeps food wastage to a minimum.
So if you aren’t already doing it, take another look at your leftovers you might just surprise yourself.
Happy cooking and eating.
Compiled by Rachel Blackmore
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