Food: Christmas Leftovers
At that tricky time of year just after the Christmas indulgence period but on the cusp of the new year (and new work out plan), we all desperately cling to the tastes, smells and full bellies that we won’t be seeing again for some 360 days. Christmas dinner just isn’t the same when banged in the micro on Stephen’s Day, so what do we do with the leftovers?
Christmas Dinner Leftover Sandwich
The leftover sandwich seems to have got a bad rap in recent years – every celebrity chef has their own version of bubble and squeak, roast veg frittata and turkey hash, amongst other leftover monstrosities. The simple fact is, you cannot beat a good, old-fashioned leftover sandwich.
As with any sandwich, you can’t expect to throw it together carelessly and end up with a sensational result – you need to show it love and care and use a bit of imagination. Put simply, a delicate balance of crisp and soft, as well as warm and cold will ensure a sandwich that is (almost) as good as Christmas dinner itself. Allow me to share my top tips for creating the ultimate Christmas leftover sandwich.
- Use soft, untoasted bread (my personal choice is Brennan’s Sliced Pan). Toasted bread will only disguise the crispiness of the fillings.
- Speaking of crispiness, if you’re using leftover roast potatoes or any root veg, use a potato masher to flatten them into a sort of thick pancake in a frying pan with a little oil to create a crisp disc of starchy goodness that will soak up any juices in the sandwich.
- Thank the Lord for Ross Geller’s sandwich secret – The Moist Maker. Procure yourself a third slice of bread, cut off the crusts, and soak in some reheated gravy. Make this the centrepiece of your sandwich; your mouth will thank you for it.
- If you’re running low on bread, a thick slice of stuffing dipped in gravy makes one hell of a Moist Maker alternative.
- Don’t reheat any meat. It will only end up tough and taste slightly strange. Instead, allow the other ingredients in the sandwich to gently warm it through.
- Don’t be afraid of sprouts: slice them up thinly and toss in a frying pan, preferably with some bacon and chestnuts to heat through and crisp up before adding to the sandwich.
- Multiple use of sauces is encouraged. Gravy and cranberry sauce work very well together and if you’re in any way bothered with bread sauce, spread that shit all over too.
- Most importantly, sandwiches of this calibre simply must be cut on the diagonal.
Christmas Cake Trifle
Christmas cake is probably the longest-running leftover item in the history of food. No matter how much time has gone by after Christmas, there is always a sad looking chunk of it that pops up in the kitchen now and then. Using it in place of trifle sponges is the perfect way to finish it off and enjoy it.
Slice the cake up and press it down into the bottom of a trifle dish or deep bowl. Pour over some heated booze of your choice; cherry brandy, whiskey, vodka, anything. You want the alcohol to be hot if the cake is cold, and vice versa. This ensures that it will be completely absorbed instead of sloshing about and ruining everyone’s day.
Feel free to throw in some winter berries for a bit of freshness before pouring over some thick custard (preferably homemade) and topping off with whipped cream. Although entirely optional, some crushed Amaretti biscuits scattered over the cream really adds a beautiful touch, both in presentation and flavour.
Christmas Pudding Truffles
In my personal opinion, Christmas pudding is one of those foods that is a dream ingredient for many recipes, but rather ‘bleh’ on its own. This is one of my favourite ways of using it. The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t need to measure out the ingredients – use whatever amount you want, as long as you use more dry than wet.
Crumble whatever amount of leftover pudding you have in a bowl. Add a spoonful or so of golden syrup and some melted chocolate along with some chopped, roasted nuts. Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into small balls and place on a greased baking sheet in the fridge to cool. Once they’ve firmed up, dip the balls in melted white chocolate and return to the fridge to set.
Ok, this one isn’t so easy. It helps if you’re a baking fiend, or at least mildly interested in perfecting your baking skills. Either way, it’s a damn tasty way of bastardising a French classic.
- Sift together 240 grams of icing sugar with 140 grams of ground almonds. Once this is done, beat 100 grams of aged egg white (egg white that’s been left out at room temperature for 24 hours) to stiff peaks.
- Fold the sugar and almonds into the egg white and pipe the mixture into little circles on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Leave them to sit at room temperature for a good half hour, which will help them form a crust.
- Place the baking sheet in a preheated oven at 140°C for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the shells on a wire rack to cool.
- Spread the flat side of one shell with mincemeat and sandwich together with another shell. Makes 12-15 macarons.
Mince Pie Ice Cream
Very simple if you make your own ice cream. Extremely simple if you buy it. Either way, get yourself some good quality vanilla ice cream and allow it to soften, but not melt. Crumble over a few mince pies and fold in gently. Put the mixture in a sealed box in the freezer and serve with warm whiskey butterscotch sauce.
Featured Image ©2008 Katie Inglis and used under a Creative Commons licence
Christmas Cake image ©2007 Cameron Incoll and used under a Creative Commons licence