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What to do with Christmas leftovers

Christmas cake cherry trifle

Christmas, and then the detritus. Tawdry baubles suddenly looking out of place. Tinsel seeming much tattier than it did yesterday. The tree denuded, a parody of its formerly shiny, glittering self, like a party belle waking next morning with dishevelled ballgown and smudged mascara. And the delicious fare that was yesterday’s Christmas lunch now a sorry mess of bits of turkey, globs of leftover sauce, dank leftover roast potatoes and a fruit cake that’s seen better days.

Welcome to the Day After, Boxing Day, the Day of Goodwill, whatever you prefer to call it. The day when – if you mark Christmas Day the way many Christians and equal numbers of more secular folk do – you’re left with a pile of stuff that you don’t know what to do with or would rather ignore.

Let’s be honest, for us, Christmas and all the bawdy stuff that goes with it is a colonial hangover. These are traditions that came to our shores from Europe, and so the answers to what to do with the Christmas leftovers tend to come from there too. Coronation chicken, for instance. This was the recipe invented by Rosemary Hume and Constance Spry for the coronation of the present Queen Elizabeth when her ascent to the British throne (on February 6, 1952) was celebrated more than a year later, on June 2, 1953.

Over the years it has become the go-to recipe for what to do with leftover chicken, which is what I used to make it, but there is no reason why you could not use your leftover turkey in exactly the same recipe. If you’ve had roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts with your lunch or dinner, they can be turned the next day into little patties either as an accompaniment to a main event or as a simple starter in their own right. And for any Christmas cake (not including the marzipan and icing, Daisy) or Christmas pudding left over, both can be used as the base for a trifle.

Bubble and Squeak Patties

Leftover roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts (or cabbage) in equal quantities

Peanut oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste

Flour for dusting

4 or 5 rosemary sprigs

Bubble and squeak patties

Crush the roast potatoes and mash them. Chop up the sprouts or cabbage. Combine and mix well in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Shape into round balls, roll in flour and pat into patty shapes (which is why, Daisy, they’re called patties). Pour a little peanut oil into a frying pan and add the rosemary sprigs. Heat and allow the rosemary to infuse the oil for flavour, then discard (not the oil, Daisy, the sprigs). Pan-fry the patties on each side until golden, turning carefully. Transfer to a 180°C oven for about five minutes to cook through to the centre.

Coronation Turkey or Chicken

A fair amount of chicken or turkey meat (if you don’t much left, Daisy, there’s no point, is there?)

3 Tbs Mrs H S Ball’s peach chutney

2 tsp curry powder

50g dried peaches, chopped

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

100ml plain (Greek or Bulgarian) yoghurt

100ml mayonnaise

50g flaked almonds, toasted, to garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Coronation chicken (or turkey)

Discard any bones and skin and cube the chicken or turkey meat, and refrigerate until needed. Mix the chopped dried peaches with the chutney and curry spices (which you can first toast in a hot pan to release the flavours if you like), and add the yoghurt and mayonnaise. Season and stir well. Add cubed chicken pieces and combine. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan and scatter over.

Christmas Cake Cherry Trifle

Serves 4

Leftover Christmas cake (just the cake part, Daisy, putting marzipan and icing in a trifle would be just silly)

1 Tbs brandy for each serving (this is based on a substantial glass dessert bowl each, as in the picture)

6 to 8 maraschino cherries, stalks removed, per serving

500g vanilla custard

85g cherry jelly, whisked into 500ml boiling water, then brought to room temperature and chilled until it is half-set, i.e. still a little runny

200ml cream, whipped to soft peak stage

Fresh cherries on their stalks to garnish

Chop up the cake and place in the bottom of individual glass bowls, brandy poured over evenly. When the jelly is half-set, spoon it over. Pour in vanilla custard, and top with cream, decorated with fresh cherries on their stalks.

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