Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Christmas leftovers - part 1

I love Christmas leftovers! All those tasty things and so many possibilities. I don't think I need to go shopping for about a week after Christmas, although of course I do (just to see what Christmas stuff they have reduced to clear). Along with the cold meat there are those nice things you buy before Christmas because they are traditional even though you don't have a clear idea when you will eat them. My mother-in-law always arrives with a bag full of nice food that she feels we ought to have a Christmas too. I'm getting used to what things she might bring so I try not to duplicate but this year we somehow ended up with about 4 packs of ham, 12 pork pies and 5 lots of bacon. Could be worse!

Not only does goose make a tastier bird for Christmas dinner than turkey but it makes better leftover too. Firstly there is the fat that runs into the roasting tin whilst it is cooking. Once cool enough it can be poured into a plastic container and stored in the fridge. Whenever required, a big dollop can be spooned into a tin and potatoes roasted in it. Then there is the carcass itself which can be used to make a tasty stock. This is really easy, just put the carcass - whole of broken up a bit and including the sage and onion still inside the cavity - into a big stock pot, pour on some boiling water and let it simmer away for an hour or so. Just before you are ready to bottle it, place some glass jars in an oven at 80°C. Then remove the carcass from the pan, strain the liquid through a sieve to remove any bits and ladle it into the warmed jars. Put the lids on the jars immediately and as it cools down the stock should become heat sealed in the jars. This is particularly well illustrated when using jars with "safefty buttons" because the safety button gets sucked back down again with a satisfying "pop!" once cooled. I expect these would be safe to store in the food cupboard but to be cautious I store them in the fridge. Then any fat in the stock solidifies at the top, making a protective layer above the stock which can also be easily removed and discarded before using the stock so that the stock is less fatty. The stock can be used to make soups or in casseroles, or to cook rice, noodles etc. or to make gravy.

Cold goose is tasty too so can be eaten with salad, sandwiches or with chips. It can also be broken into small pieces and stir-fried. Very tasty with a Chinese sauce such as oyster sauce and served with stir-fried leftover vegetables and some rice. Cooked goose is fine to freeze too so if by the forth day of Christmas you are growing tired of it you can freeze it for later. My girls love goose but aren't keen on the oyster sauce dish so for them I make goose rolls. I make these on other occasions in the year using duck, which works equally well. Firstly, I shred some of the cooked goose into a bowl and to that I add one large closed cup mushroom, very finely chopped and some grated or finely chopped carrot. I have found that I can get these vegetables in without the children complaining but you could add other things such as shredded leek, peppers or even bean sprouts. Finally, I add a tablespoon of hoi sin sauce and mixed it all up. Then I roll out half a block of ready made fresh puff pastry and cut it in half. Then the goose mixture is dolloped all along it. Using milk to stick it together, I roll the pastry over as if I were making sausage rolls. Finally, more milk is used as a glaze and then they are cut into sausage roll size lengths. This makes about 12 rolls, which will feed my two children 3 times. These can be frozen then cooked from frozen at 200°C for 25 minutes until golden. Monday night I served these with some rice, a few noodles and some carrot and cucumber sticks and they were eaten with enthusiasm whilst Steve and I had goose in oyster sauce. In my pre-Christmas focus I had forgotten to buy prawn crackers but we discovered that Kettle Chips work well too!

Roast ham is another versatile leftover ingredient and goes particularly well with the remains of the cheese board. This year I bought a wedge of pre-cooked roast ham for Boxing Day to save on the cooking. It was very tasty cold on that occasion and we have also eaten it in sandwiches for lunch, along with some leftover pork, sage and onion stuffing. My girls love it with cheese in cheese and ham toasties. Then yesterday Steve cooked some ham up with vegetables and potatoes to make a ham casserole. Today it was my turn to pull a meal out of the fridge so I made one of my yummy quiches. If you have only ever tasted shop made quiche you would be forgiven for thinking you didn't like the stuff. It has a weird flavour but it is nothing like the delicious version you can make at home. I was fortunate enough to be brought up on my mum's home made version so I have always loved quiche. Unfortunately, in recent years I have developed a dairy intolerance which has stopped me eating it. Luckily, my discovery of soya alternative to cream has put quiche back on the menu. It tastes just the same once in a quiche and I figure with a lower saturated fat content, it is healthier too. Better still, I just happened to have some soya cream left in the fridge from the Christmas puddings.

Making a quiche from scratch is fairly time consuming but the pastry is much better if home made. Of course, like pizza, there are any number of different versions depending on what ingredients you add to it but here's my favourite recipe.

Ham & Mushroom Quiche (serves 4)

4 oz (110g) plain flour
4 oz (110g) wholemeal flour
4 oz (110g) butter or margarine
3 oz (85g) roast ham or 4 rashers of smoked bacon, finely chopped
2 oz (55g) mushrooms, chopped
2 oz (55g) tinned sweetcorn
Grated cheese (whatever is leftover from the cheeseboard)
250ml soya or single cream
2 eggs
Black pepper

Sift the flours into a bowl and mix in the butter/margarine until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Splash in a little cold water until it is wet enough to bind the mixture into dough. Wrap in Clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour. Preheat an oven to 190°C and grease a suitable tin or pie dish. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and line the tin with the pastry, trimming to fit. Cover the pastry with greaseproof or baking paper and weight it down with baking beans. Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes.Put the ham, mushroom and sweetcorn into the pastry case and grate in some cheese. Beat the eggs with the cream and season then pour this into the pastry case. Level out the filling and grate a little more cheese over the top. Bake for 30 minutes until the filling has set. Serve hot or allow to cool, cut into portions and freeze. Thaw and reheat in the oven or microwave.

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