How to use up the last of your Christmas food

Cosy Home guide to using up Christmas food leftovers

We’ve all done it – opened the kitchen cupboards in February to find a last, leftover Christmas pudding that we’d forgotten about at the time, or thrown away the last of the turkey rather than eat it any more.

New research carried out in 2014 by Unilever suggests that as a nation at Christmas we waste:

* 17.2m Brussels sprouts

* 11.9m carrots

* 11.3m roast potatoes

* 10.9m parsnips

* 9.8m cups of gravy

* 7.9m slices of turkeu

* 7.9m cups of stuffing

* 7.5m mince pies

* 7.4m slices of Christmas pudding

* 7.1m pigs in blankets

Phew! While some of that waste is unavoidable, much of it could be saved.

Here are our top tips for imaginative ways of using up the last of your Christmas food!

1. Make turkey and vegetables into soup or pies

Cooked, uneaten vegetables can be frozen then used to make soup, added to pies or pureed together to make vegetable cakes for frying. If you have cooked turkey left in the freezer, this plate pie is ideal for using it up – you can also make use of any uncooked bacon that didn’t get eaten over the break.

Turkey plate pie

Turkey plate pie is a great way of using up leftovers

Start by lining an enamel pie plate with bought shortcrust pastry. (If you don’t have a pie plate, you can make individual pies in Yorkshire pudding tins – just adjust the cooking time accordingly.) Then, cut six rashers of smoked streaky bacon into strips, and fry them until cooked. Meanwhile, finely chop one onion and 10 to 12 mushrooms.

Once the bacon’s cooked, take it out of the pan and put it to drain on some kitchen paper, and add the onion and mushrooms to the pan. Gently fry until cooked, then add 30g of butter and 30g flour to the pan.

Stir everything round until the butter’s melted, and add 75ml milk and 75ml chicken stock. Once the sauce has thickened, add the bacon back in and take the pan off the heat.

Stir in some chopped, cooked turkey meat and tip the whole mixture into the prepared dish.

Top with a pastry lid, pinch the sides of the pastry together to seal it and prick some holes in the top with a fork. Bake at 220 degrees Celsius for around 30 – 40 minutes, until the pie is golden and crisp. Serve with green vegetables.

2. Transform Christmas pudding into ice cream

Christmas pudding ice cream makes an unusual dessert

There’s only one way to use up Christmas pudding once the moment has passed, and that’s with Christmas pudding ice cream! Here’s how:

For the ice cream, put 600ml double cream in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Meanwhile, beat 3 large freerange egg yolks together with 100g caster sugar.

Let the cream cool slightly, then tip the egg mixture in with the cream and heat everything gently together for five minutes until it starts to thicken. Pour everything through a sieve into a large freezerproof container,and freeze for five hours, occasionally taking the bowl out and stirring in the frozen edges.

Meanwhile, unwrap the Christmas pudding, and turn it out into a bowl. Break it up as much as you can with a fork, so you have a bowl full of crumbs.

Line a large freezerproof plastic or Pyrex bowl with clingfilm. Stir the Christmas pudding crumbs into the ice cream mix, and tip it all into the pudding bowl. Freeze for at least 6 hours, and remove from the freezer 20 minutes before required. Serve with fresh raspberries.

3. Turn mincemeat into tart or cake

Mincemeat cake

When you really can’t face making any more mince pies but there’s still a jar of mincemeat left in the cupboard, how about one of these alternative ideas?

For a teatime treat, try making a giant mincemeat tart for cutting into slices and serving with custard. Mix the mincemeat with an equal quantity of fresh white breadcrumbs, and line a flan dish with sweet shortcrust party. Pour in the mixture, and spread it out evenly. Cover with a lattice top made of interwoven strips of pastry, and bake at 220 degrees Celsius for 20 to 25 minutes.

Alternatively, try this easy mincemeat cake. Put 100g butter or margarine, 130g self raising flour, 200g mincemeat, 120g sugar and 4 freerange eggs into a large bowl.

Mix everything together until fully combined. If you’ve got any other dried to fruit to use up such as glace or sour cherries or dried cranberries, they can go in too. Grease a deep 20cm square tin, and line it with greaseproof paper.

Pour the batter in, and level it out with the back of a spoon. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for around 30 to 35 minutes until well risen and golden.

Tip: If you don’t have a cake tin of the right size, you can make the mixture into fairy cakes – just divide the batter between 12 to 14 paper cases, and cut down the cooking time to around 15 minutes.

(Top image credit: Shutterstock)

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