Food wastage is a global problem and we can all do our bit to ensure that we make good use of the produce that we purchase during the crazy season.
I think we are all somewhat guilty of throwing out food, whether it is in the form of leftover meals or that wilted broccoli you didn’t use during the week. I do try to waste as little as possible during the year but I have to admit I am occassionaly guilty of this during the busy festive season. Fearless ambition seems to take over rational thought, and I plan to bake and cook everything from presents to elaborate Christmas Eve suppers. Most of this doesn’t eventuate and I am left with a pantry full of food and present-less friends. I do find comfort in a well-stocked kitchen, and when the calm of January hits there is nothing better than creating dishes using what you have on hand. Baked ham on the bone is not only perfect for the countless sandwiches it will provide throughout January, but also omelets, quiche and, possibly one of my favorites, spinach and mashed potato pie. If you find trays of roasted vegetables lingering around, chop into bite-sized pieces and add to cooked French green lentils. The addition of fresh herbs, goat’s milk feta and sharp vinegar dressing will instantly turn boring roasted veg into a vibrant summer salad. Left over fruitcake is not to be discarded after the main event. Crumble into a bowl, add a generous glug of rum or sherry, mix and form into bite-sized balls. Leave to set in the fridge and cover with dark chocolate; the perfect way of preserving Christmas long into the New Year. Food wastage is a global problem and we can all do our bit to ensure that we make good use of the produce that we purchase during the crazy season – who knows, you might even create some new family favourites!
This pastry dough is a very quick to pull together, and the best bit is it doesn’t require any resting. You can substitute the potato element of this dish with leftover mashed potato: just warm it slightly before adding the other ingredients.
Extra virgin olive oil pastry
• 250g strong plain flour • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil • Large pinch of salt • 100mL warm water
1. Place flour, olive oil and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. 2. Place half the water in the well and, using your hands, combine the ingredients. 3. Add enough warm water to form a ball of dough and incorporate all of the flour. 4. Divide into five sections and shape into rectangles thin enough to pass through the largest setting of a pasta machine. 5. Roll the dough through every third setting on the pasta machine, ending at the thinnest. 6. Lightly grease a removable-base pie tin with olive oil. 7. Line the base with the strips of dough, overlapping slightly and with overflow on the sides. 8. Once you have made the filling, add this generously to the shell and fold in the excess dough to create a border. 9. Brush the exposed pastry with olive oil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. 10. Leave to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and serve warm.
• 5 large creamy potatoes • 1 large white onion – chopped finely • 100g smoked bacon or leftover leg ham • 200g blanched and chopped spinach (frozen is fine but must be drained of any excess water) • 200g sour cream • 50g butter • 2 egg yolks • Fresh nutmeg • Salt and white pepper
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot of seasoned cold water, bring to simmer and cook until tender. 2. Sauté the chopped onion with a pinch of salt until translucent, add the bacon or ham and cook for a further five minutes. 3. Add the drained spinach and set aside. 4. While warm, drain and peel the potatoes, and transfer to a large bowl. 5. Mash the potatoes until all lumps are removed, and then add the sour cream, butter and egg yolks. 6. Add the spinach mixture and mix to combine. 7. Season to taste with fresh nutmeg, salt and pepper.