Using up those Christmas leftovers

After all those celebratory dinners - Christmas, Epiphany, New Year´s Eve and New Year´s day - we finish up awash with food. With so much food shopping and making sure we´ve got plenty to eat, all we manage to do each year is end up with too much of everything. 

In many homes on the day following each blow-out, the leftovers are served up cold or heated up. Which doesn´t tend to go down too well since we all get tired of the same food two days running.

So what can be done? Quite a lot actually, especially bearing in mind that many dishes were invented with the express intention of using up leftovers. For example, did you know that the famous dish, duck á l´orange, was just a way to use up ducks that had been roasted for the previous sitting and not ordered?

If what we have left over is meat or poultry, we need to look at how much there is and how many hungry mouths it has to feed.

We could make a nice runny pisto (a sort of Spanish ratatouille), and add boned leftover lamb, cut into small cubes -to thicken it up again- and then pour in the juices from the roasting dish.

We could also make a stew of chopped onions, with carrots, garlic, tomato, olives, truffle or mushrooms and throw in those pieces of leftover meat or poultry. Then just let it cook for at least twenty minutes, with a splash of brandy and white wine.

We could also mince the meat or poultry, make a good, homemade tomato sauce, and put it all together with the roasting juices and we´ve got a traditional style bolognese. You´ll notice the different and in no time you´ll be making more roasts just to be able to use the leftover meat the next day.

Another alternative is to take some fat bacon (panceta), bread, milk and eggs, and turn it into a magnificent paté de campagne. It´s a bit more work, but it´s worth the effort.

If there´s some fish left over we can make some croquettes. These are always a useful standby to have in, and if we make too many they can always be frozen to be eaten at a later date.

Perhaps a fish pudding is what we fancy. With a little tomato sauce, cream, eggs and nutmeg it can be easily passed off as a "pudding de cabracho" (a classic fish pudding made with scorpion fish).

With a little onion and béchamel sauce, leftover fish can be used to stuff red peppers or tomatoes -either in cooked in a sauce or finished off in the oven. Or how about some easy to make macaroni au gratin, with béchamel sauce, tomato sauce, and filleted leftover fish. Delicious.

At Christmas time even sweets get left over. A mountain of sweets takes over the house and we don´t know whether to throw them away because we´re sick of the sight of them, or throw them at the head of the next person who so much as mentions them.

We can boil the marzipans in milk. Some of the milk can then be used to make custard with, and the rest just needs to be blended to make an almond dessert soup.

Or we could blend the marzipans with milk, add egg and put them to set in some moulds, and we have some interesting marzipan puddings.

As far as turrón (typical Christmas nougat) is concerned, the best thing to do is crush it and make cakes with it. They don´t turn out bad at all.