If your festive season was anything like mine you would have endured multiple Christmas meals, grazed over too many chips, dips and cheese platters and unwrapped more Ferrero Rochers than you needed. Now you’re left with a fridge full of leftovers that you’ve probably tried to reincarnate in an attempt to avoid wasting the much loved festive favourites.
This is great if it’s just you and the hubby or kids relaxing around the house watching the cricket, but more often than not this is the time when extended family are in town or the neighbours pop over for a celebratory drink to share the festive cheer. You can hardly serve them a ham and cheese toasty or mug of pea and ham soup.
I have the solution to gourmet entertaining, on a budget, using what’s leftover from the main event; a solution that will really impress your late December guests.
We are all so well mannered that we choose not to have the final piece of cheese from the well prepared, decoratively presented platter served right before the enormous spread of food. As a result you almost always end up with a half eaten cheese or antipasto platter that you put so much effort into creating, not to mention, spent a small fortune on triple cream cheeses and artesian bread.
My solution is to up cycle the leftovers!
1 baguette of artesian bread (French, sourdough, olive)
200g cheese (any sort)
50g semidried or sundried tomatoes
50g roasted capsicum
50g cured meats (salami, prosciutto, ham)
Plus anything else you has leftover Oil spray
- Preheat a frying pan or flat plate sandwich press.
- Use a serrated knife to cut 0.5-1cm thin slices of bread.
- Top bread with a slice or smear of cheese and any antipasto toppings of your choice.
- Place additional slice of bread on top to create a sandwich.
- Spray the pan or bottom of sandwich press with an oil spray of your choice.
- Place sandwiches on heated surface. Spray top slice of bread with additional oil and cook until crisp and golden. If you are using a frying pan you will need to flip the sandwiches once during cooking.
My BBQ pizzas are the solution for using up what’s left of the much-loved ham in a low fuss, minimal mess kind of way. You will need a pizza stone and a BBQ with a hood. If you don’t have one you can always use the oven at 200C. The pizza stone is the key to a crisp base. It cooks from below and absorbs any moisture to prevent the base form going soggy.
This is a seriously easy entertaining recipe that will blow the socks off your post Christmas guests. It calls for shared, communal dining. Get the kids involved, make half/half combinations and create your own flavor.
You will need to call on your trusty pantry staples for this four-ingredient dough – flour, yeast, sugar and olive oil. Jazz up a sachet of tomato paste by adding some dried oregano or freshly chopped herbs. Top with whatever you like, really. I used ham offcuts and a half used tub of bocconcini. If I had basil from the garden I would have torn a few leaves and scattered them over the top for extra flavour.
½ tsp sugar or malt powder
1 sachet dried yeast
200ml lukewarm water
400g plain flour
30 ml olive oil plus extra for greasing bowl
Sauce, toppings and cheese of your choice
- Grease a bowl with olive oil.
- Combine sugar, salt yeast and water in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Add flour and olive oil. Stir until dough comes together.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes.
- Place dough in prepared bowl. Cover and hold in a warm place for 1 hour. The yeast is now activated and the dough will double in size.
- Divide dough into 4 even portions. Roll out on a piece of greaseproof paper.
- To make pizzas, place pizza stone on BBQ plate and preheat BBQ by setting all burners to high.
- Spread base with sauce of your choice (passata, pesto, BBQ, hummus)
- Sprinkle with cheese of your choice (mozzarella and boconccini work well). This helps the toppings stick to the base.
- Add desired toppings.
- Reduce burners to a medium setting.
- Place pizza on baking paper directly on pizza stone. Close BBQ hood and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Successful entertaining calls for a glass or two of bubbles. It doesn’t matter if I’m entertaining with just a few close friends or holding a larger gathering, I’m always left with half drunk bottles of champagne (rather, sparkling wine) and the clean up involves pouring the party favourite down the drain. Instead of wasting the bubbles I’ve been freezing the leftovers to make a granita style dessert or even cocktail – Champagne Snow Cones!
I would absolutely save your Verve and Bollinger for drinking. Try this recipe with some of the cheaper sparkling wines available. A sparkling rose or moscato can also work a treat. Freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays. When you are ready to serve, place cubes in a heavy-duty blender and process until shaved to the desired consistency. Top with chopped fruit, fruit syrup or even a fancy cordial.
Champagne Snow Cones
Leftover champagne, sparkling wine or moscato.
Chopped fruit of your choice
Fruit syrup of your choice
Cordial of your choice (I prefer elderflower)
- Pour champagne or wine and water (3:1) into ice cube tray and freeze overnight or until needed.
- Place cubes in a heavy-duty blender and process until shaved to the desired consistency.
- Use an ice-cream scoop to form the snow into a ball. Serve in a cup or cone.
- Top with finely chopped fruit such as berries or melons.
- Drizzle fruit syrup of your choice. Raspberry or passionfruit are my favourites.
- Drizzle with a fruit cordial like elderflower or grapefruit.
There you have it. My three seriously easy entertaining recipes that will use up the leftovers and impress your post Christmas guests.