Fancy a little Delia, rechauffee?

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The Independent Online
Christmas is over and Twelfth Night has been and gone, but there is still one agonising question left for all cooks: what shall I do with all those leftover Delia Smith recipes?

Yes (writes our leftover cookery expert Ludmilla Sabayon), we thought they would all get done and eaten, didn't we? And yet now we have all got so many Delia Smith ideas lying around the place that we can hardly move for dislodging them and seeing them all flutter to the floor.

That recipe for goose with prune and apple sauce ... the idea for apple fritters with goose and prune sauce ... the goose, apple and prune cheesecake which sounded so good - what became of them all? And, perhaps more importantly, where did they all come from?

Well, we can answer the second question first, because scientists have now discovered that Delia Smith recipes breed at an alarming speed in the windswept open spaces of East Anglia. They then migrate manically into television, the Radio Times, Sainsbury's Magazine and bookshops at a speed which can only be described as too fast to stop. This accelerates at Christmas when people say to each other: "If you can't think of anything else, why don't we give them the latest Delia Smith/that paperback Delia Smith/that Delia Smith that someone gave us last year which you've never looked at?"

The result of all this is plenitude during the festive season. There are some things we never seem to have enough of in the kitchen, such as coffee beans, milk, bay leaves, live yeast and tins of anchovy fillets. Then there are other things we are almost always overendowed with, including oat flakes, Tabasco-type sauces, out-of-date bouquets garnis, biscuit tins, packets of last year's wine-mulling ingredients - and, above all, Delia Smith recipes.

(It is hard not to blame the Radio Times a little here. There was a time when the RT was basically a television and radio listings magazine, but now it is almost all food. Mostly Delia, of course, but also things on what food to eat with which television programme - ugh! - that nice-looking young doctor telling us to eat less, that strange interview feature in which Clement Freud pretends to cook for celebs so that he can tell you what food they ought to like and so on ...)

Well, when you get to the middle of January and your larder is still overstocked with Delia Smith ideas, it is time to get cracking. It is time to say to yourself: either I use this up or I throw it away.

Yes, I said "throw it away".

Surely, you are thinking, she cannot mean that I should actually throw a Delia Smith recipe in the bin? Chuck it out? Get rid of it?

Yes, I do (asseverates our leftover cookery writer Ludmilla Sabayon). That is exactly what I am saying. There comes a time when we know in our heart of hearts that we are never going to use that recipe and that it is only going to go rotten if we keep it.

I am thinking of that Delia Smith recipe you have had lying around for ages for "Shoulder of lamb with rice and kidney stuffing" or perhaps that other one for "Rich lemon cream with frosted grapes".

Look at them carefully. Aren't they going a bit brown round the edges? Perhaps a bit mouldy, too? They are probably still edible, but the idea has been lying around for so long that it is soured by now.

Anyway, would you really want to spend some of your precious time stuffing lamb with rice, when rice could twice as easily be served separately?

Someone once said, memorably, that life was too short to stuff a mushroom. I think life is too short to frost a grape.

So be brave and chuck 'em out.

And if you have still got some leftover recipes, why not try amalgamating them to make your own new dishes? "Shoulder of lamb with grape and lemon stuffing", maybe? Or "Kidney with rich lemon sauce"?

Better still, get my new cookbook, What to do with those leftover Delia Smith recipes! by Ludmilla Sabayon, available at all good bookshops - and a lot of bad ones, too, with any luck.

If you cannot find it, just write to me enclosing a blank cheque.