Leftover Loveliness



For me there is a certain delight in eating up the post-Christmas goodies in as many ways as possible. Sausage and Squeak, sandwiches and curry take up most of it but there’s always that ragbag of bits and bobs which, in themselves, wouldn’t make a meal but if you stitch them together and add a few judicial extras this can make one of the best meals of all.

You just need to gather up all the elements – the last of the ham, some bits of stuffing, a few shreds of turkey or chicken, maybe a sausage or two, all the ends of the cheese, onions/potatoes/veg from the rack, a bit of cream left in the pot…and away we go.

This amount served five very generously.

Start by chopping an onion or a leek and frying in a little oil and butter until transparent then add any chopped meat/sausage/stuffing and stir and fry until heated through – I used 1lb of cooked diced ham, four cooked sausages sliced up, a few of slices of chicken and about 100g leftover stuffing.

Sprinkle over about two tablespoons of flour and keep stirring and frying for another minute or so… then add a pint of milk, stir until bubbling and add enough water, a little bit at a time, until you have a nice smooth sauce. Stir in the cheese, cream and some frozen peas if you have them and allow everything to meld together into a sauce. If you have some wholegrain mustard this is the point to stir it in. I didn’t. So I didn’t. But I did chop up all the leftover parsley and added that instead.

Tip the sauce into a shallow casserole dish – I used one of those brown ceramic rectangular ones, about 40cm x 30cm – and allow to cool.

Chop 2kg of maris piper potatoes into small cubes then place into a large saucepan, cover with cold water, bring up to the boil and simmer until just tender. Drain. Add a couple of knobs of butter to the pan and shake the potatoes until roughly covered in melted butter – some will be, some won’t.

Tip the potatoes onto the mixture in the casserole and spread out evenly. Dot with additional butter and sprinkle with extra grated cheese (from the New Year cheeseboard if necessary) and bake at 200ºc until golden brown on top and the filling is bubbling.

Allow to stand for 10 minutes. Then serve with a dressed salad/coleslaw/extra veg/baked beans (no judgement)




Rice Noodle Salad



This is truly lovely. The ingredients are pretty straightforward and it is a simple assembly job once you’ve fried the first lot of noodles – add the cold cooked noodles and the dressing and it’s delicious. It goes really well with the Speedy Thai Salmon but it does make a lovely light meal on its own – you could add some poached chicken, king prawns or a bit of cold poached salmon if you like.

I used Sainsbury’s own brand rice noodles, which come in neat cakes about the size of a decent fish cake. If you are using the ones that come in a pillow (like a huge Shredded Wheat) I’d use three large handfuls – or really as many as you think you will need, but just use one handful (or cake) for the crispy bit. Also, I quite like cold rice noodles which is why I rinse the soaked noodles in cold water before draining. If you prefer them warm then drain them quickly and assemble the salad immediately. Sometimes that hot/cold thing works really well – maybe I’m just weird and like cold rice noodles… Quantities are as specific as possible in this recipe because people like that but as ever, it is a moveable feast. You can up some, remove others or add whatever takes your fancy.


Serves 2


3 x ‘cakes’ of fine rice noodles

1 carrot peeled into ribbons

2 x 4cm pieces of Cucumber, quartered, seeds removed, cut into slim batons

8 mini corn cut into slim batons

4 spring onions, cut into 4cm lengths and then into batons

10 button mushrooms, thinly sliced

Thinly sliced sweet red pepper rings – about one long thin one

Baby spinach leaves – small bag

Pomegranate seeds

Watermelon cubes

Shredded mint leaves

Shredded coriander leaves

(finely sliced chilli, chopped peanuts, toasted coconut, Thai basil, King prawns, cold roast chicken –  would happily add all of these)



2 tbs dark soy sauce

1 tbs sesame oil

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs sweet chilli sauce

Juice and zest of a lime


You will need a deep fat fryer or a wok/saucepan with an inch of oil in it

Prepare all the vegetables and put into a bowl. Reserve the watermelon until ready to serve because it is very juicy and can spoil the rest of the salad if added too early, then toss it in at the last minute.

Make the dressing – simply combine everything together. I always use an old jar and shake everything like billy-o (?) but a small bowl and a fork or small whisk would work just as well.

Make the crispy noodles. Heat the oil in the wok, saucepan or deep fat fryer to 190ºc and crumble about a quarter of the noodle cake into the hot oil. The broken noodles will puff up and go white almost instantly, scoop them out immediately and tip onto some kitchen roll. Continue with the rest of the noodles then scatter them all with a good pinch of caster sugar and a good pinch of salt. Toss to combine.

Put the rest of the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 4 minutes then drain. If you prefer the noodles cold, rinse thoroughly in cold water. Once drained thoroughly, snip through them with scissors once or twice – it makes them easier to eat with a fork. Toss the noodles, hot or cold, with a couple of teaspoons of sesame oil to stop them sticking together.

To serve: put some dressed noodles on each plate, add salad and any extras then top with the crispy noodles. Use a fork to scatter the dressing over, it is quite strongly flavoured so use sparingly until you get an idea of how much you like –  it is essential to the final dish so add as much as you like once you have tasted everything together.