It's difficult not to buy far too much food during the Christmas season – all the food in the shops looks so tempting, and, naturally, one is always slightly worried about being left short if and when unexpected guests decide to show up.
Fridges are filled to bursting and larders and cupboards are brimming over with food – oh, and of course you have to have a great big ham as well as a huge selection of cheeses and mince pies and loads of chocolate for that mid-afternoon film while you relax in front of the telly.
But for me, the really interesting part of cooking at Christmas is what to make with all the leftovers. The secret is to be a bit subtle; in other words, try to avoid making dishes such as turkey soup with Brussels sprouts or curry made from sausages and stuffing!
I've made various versions of this corned beef hash-style dish over the years. You can use leftover roast potatoes or start all over again with fresh ones. This is a great breakfast or brunch dish which uses up the last bits of turkey meat on the carcass before you turn it into a broth.
About 250-300g cooked turkey meat, chopped into rough 1cm pieces
2 medium onions, peeled, halved and roughly diced
100g duck or goose fat or dripping
350g potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut into 1cm chunks or quartered if they are small (or roast potatoes if they are not too dry)
Salt and pepper
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
4 free-range duck eggs
Melt about half of the dripping in a heavy-based saucepan and cook the onions gently with a lid on for about 5-6 minutes or until they are soft, stirring them occasionally.
Then remove the lid and turn up the heat to give them a little colour; next, transfer them to a mixing bowl with the turkey meat.
Heat some more of the dripping in a frying pan (non stick or cast-iron, preferably) until it is very hot and cook the potatoes a few at a time on a high heat until they are lightly coloured.
Then add them to the onions (if you are using roast potatoes you won't need to do this, you can just add them to the mixture as they are). Season the mixture and add Worcestershire sauce to taste.
Divide the mixture and mould into four flat cakes (which are roughly 8cm in diameter) with the help of a stainless steel mould or just by hand with a palette knife, then refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
Press the breadcrumbs (you can use good-quality shop-bought breadcrumbs or homemade) into the cakes, then heat some oil in preferably a non-stick frying pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden and crisp. Keep them warm in the oven once they are cooked.
When all the hashes are cooked, fry 4 duck eggs, transfer the hashes to warm plates and slide a fried egg on to each hash.
Smoked salmon pâté
Makes about 20 portions
If you've over-bought on the salmon and you are wondering what to do with the bits and bobs, then try this simple dish that you can just put on the table and let people help themselves to. You can buy smoked salmon trimmings for exactly this sort of thing. You can also use a mixture of smoked fish such as mackerel or trout.
500g smoked salmon trimmings
500g crème fraîche
Salt and cayenne pepper
Lemon juice to taste
Blend the salmon trimmings in a food processor with a little water until you have a coarse purée. Add the crème fraîche and blend briefly until well mixed or mix by hand. Season to taste with salt, cayenne and lemon juice if necessary, cover and store in the fridge until required.
Serve with hot toast.
A Christmas mulligatawny
Something a bit spicy is always welcome to cut through all that rich booze and food during the Christmas festivities and making a mulligatawny soup would be ideal. You won't find any two mulligatawny recipes the same, however – as the recipe would have been brought over from colonial India and it all depended on whatever leftovers you had to hand. Note: this soup is not an excuse to just bung all your Christmas Day roast leftovers in a pot with a bit of curry powder, cross your fingers and hope for the best...
For the soup
1tbsp ghee or butter
1 onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
A small piece of root ginger, peeled and grated (save peelings for stock)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium chilli, finely chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
2tsp cumin powder
1tsp fenugreek seeds
1tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1cm of a cinnamon stick
A handful of curry leaves
A pinch of saffron strands
The black seeds from 10 cardamom pods
tbsp tomato purée
2-3ltrs stock from the carcass
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into rough cm dice
60g yellow lentils (dhal)
150g cooked chickpeas (optional)
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into rough cm dice
1 large potato, peeled and cut into rough cm cubes
4tbsp coconut milk
The meat from the carcass and legs of your turkey or goose
2-3tbsp chopped coriander
For the stock
The carcass from the turkey or goose, preferably with some meat on
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped and washed
8 cloves of garlic, halved
The peelings from the root ginger
20 black peppercorns
2ltrs chicken stock
First, make the stock: put all of the ingredients in a saucepan, add the chicken stock and top up, just covering the bones with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour, skimming every so often; then strain through a sieve and when the bones are cool enough to handle, remove all the meat you can and put to one side and discard the bones and vegetables.
To make the soup, melt the ghee in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently cook the onion, garlic, ginger and all of the curry spices for about 5 minutes without colouring and stirring every so often. Stir in the flour and tomato purée then gradually whisk in the stock. Bring to the boil then add the carrot and lentils, season and simmer for about 30-40 minutes until the lentils are beginning to get soft. Add the chickpeas (if using), parsnip and potato and continue simmering until the potato and parsnip are cooked. Add the coconut milk, meat and coriander, simmer for a couple of minutes and re-season.
Nick's mulled wine
This is one of my bar manager Nick Strangeway's concoctions. It's based on an 18th-century drink – loved by the fellows of Oxford University – called a Bishop. It's great for using up leftover red wine.
1 bottle of red wine
700ml of boiling water
The zest of a lemon
1 stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Stud the orange and lemon with the cloves, place on a tray and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until they begin to colour; then leave to cool a little, quarter the fruits and place in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain or leave as it is and pour in to mugs or heatproof glasses to serve.
Mark Hix is running a new series of events at Hix Oyster and Fish House in Dorset during 2010, including masterclasses with Richard Corrigan, Thomasina Miers, Mitch Tonks and Mat Follas. For full details see restaurantsetcltd.co.uk or call Jo Verberne on 01206 756388