What is your Christmas tradition? Whether you bedeck your tree with a star or a bee, or whether you drag a foraged yule log to the fire or dance in thermals for warmth, our Christmas rituals are personal and imbued with family tradition. Most of us have a rough idea what we’re planning to eat over the Christmas period, but for those meals in between, when you are a little bit sick at the thought of preparing another dinner, I have got a few easy peasy recipes that use up your Christmas leftovers but don’t involve much cooking or thinking. Because this Christmas less is more after all…
“I made too many chipolatas!”
Try Little Toad in the Holes
This recipe is a good one to have up your sleeve during the festive period as it comfortably feeds a family of four but if extra guests arrive, it can quite easily stretch to six or more. Just make more veg and no one feels like they’re missing out. Vegetarians can substitute the sausages for their favourite veggie variety, or omit them altogether. The batter makes amazing Yorkshire puds which is indeed a feat in itself and deserves celebrating.
Serve with mash, greens and gravy.
115g plain flour
6 sausages (you can use vegetarian sausages or 12 chipolatas)
Heat your oven to high: Gas 6/200°C.
Meanwhile, put the plain flour into a large bowl. Make a little crater in the middle of the flour and into it crack the eggs and pour in the milk. Use your whisk to mix the eggs and milk together first then begin to incorporate the flour until you have a smooth batter. Season well. You can add chopped herbs or bits of spring onion if you like. Transfer the mixture into a jug for easy pouring later on and leave to stand somewhere cool for at least 20 mins if you can.
Take a twelve hole muffin tray, and pour in a teaspoon of vegetable oil into each hole. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes. You can put a tray underneath to catch the drips.
Take the muffin tray from the oven, and in each hole carefully place half a sausage (or one chipolata). You don’t want to splash hot oil anywhere so be cautious. Put back in the oven for a further five minutes, or until the sausages start to brown. I sometimes turn them and give them a few extra minutes in the oil as, once the batter is poured in, they won’t get much more colour.
Then, again with care, pour over your Yorkshire Pudding batter, filling each hole nearly to the top. The hotter the oil, the lighter the pudding so try not to take too long doing this as the oil will cool down. Put back in the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until crispy and golden. Serve immediately.
“There is too much mash!”
So for dinner the next night make Fish Pies.
You will be surprised at how easy these are to make. Smoked fish adds a good flavour and means you don’t need to poach the fish before assembling the pies. Make a sauce from flour, butter, milk. Quantities depend on how much you are making, I would start with one ounce of butter to one and a half ounces of flour, and enough milk to make a fairly thick sauce. Fry a finely chopped onion and mix this in, cream, dill or horseradish are other optional extras. Hold back some onion to stir into your mash later.
Mix the sauce with flaked Arbroath Smokies, adding some lemon zest if you wish. You can make your fish go further by adding chopped boiled eggs or more veg; peas in summer would be good, leftover sprouts might be nice. Put this into a pie dish or use ramekins for individual fish pies.
Cover your fishy mixture with your mash. You could sprinkle some cheese on top too. Bake for 15-20 mins in a medium oven and serve with green veg or winter salad.
“We went beserk with turkey!”
No problem! Make chicken/ turkey Soup.
Using up leftover bird from a Christmas dinner, this easy soup is satiating and quick. If you don’t have leftovers you can make this with bought chicken thighs, roasted and cooled before removing the chicken from the bone. To make the soup follow your usual recipe, or if you’ve not done this before see below:
Chop onions (or leeks or celery and garlic), plus any root veg and greens. Make them the size you like to eat in a broth as this soup will not be blended. Gently fry the onion in oil or melted butter, until they soften and turn golden. If you are using garlic, or dried herbs or spices, add these for a few minutes just before the veg. Stir in the root veg and cook for a few minutes more. Pour over your veg stock or the chicken stock you made from the bones. I used about a litre, you can vary this depending on the quantity of veg you have. You could put your shredded chicken in now, adding flavour to the soup whilst it cooks. Bring the pan to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes or longer if your veg is quite chunky. Add your greens, such as shredded cabbage, broccoli florets or kale, and cook for another 3-4 minutes, so they retain their vibrancy and bite. Serve with bread, or make dumplings: you could use up some leftover stuffing, rolled into balls and quickly fried.
Eat this: Beans and Greens (and Chorizo).
This is a really quick recipe, somewhere between a soup and a stew, that uses chorizo as a flavouring (Puddledub make this in Fife). If you want to leave out the meat, use herbs and paprika and season to taste. You can use other veg that is left in your box.
Fry an onion in a tablespoon of oil until soft. Add chorizo, (about 100g) cut into chunks and cook until the oil is beginning to run out. Pour over 400ml of stock. Add two tins of butter beans, rinsed. Cook for 10-15 minutes over a low heat. Add shredded cabbage, kale or other greens, a few minutes before the end. Serve with chunks of bread to soak up the juices.
For the rest of the holiday period I will mostly be found with my nose in a jar of chutney and a fistful of cheese in each hand (oatcake balanced precariously on one knee). If you have any more ideas for wonderful in-between Christmas meals, please post them below or email me!