Sunday, 23 November 2014

Leftover Turkey Casserole

Leftover Turkey Casserole

A magnificent roast turkey is usually the centrepiece of a festive table but what do you do when there's only four of you at that table? Since my family is in Greece and my husband's family far, far away in Canada you would think we would downsize somewhat and serve a roast chicken instead. But, no, nothing doing, it HAS to be roast turkey and even a small one results in absolutely tons of leftovers.

I personally love leftover turkey, warmed up with a little gravy and used as sandwich filling (don't forget a little cranberry sauce as well) but there's only so many turkey sandwiches one can eat. If you have lots of leftovers you would be better off making pot pies or a casserole which is were this recipe comes in. I came across something similar when I was researching ideas for a book I was working on – it is a very retro kind of a dish of the type that involves cream of mushroom soup. I have given it a thorough spruce however, no tinned soup in sight.

This is best eaten soon as it cools down enough to serve. It's very filling so all you need is some green salad or a few green beans to round off the meal. And since it contains stale bread and leftovers this ticks all the thrifty recipe boxes. Leave out the chestnuts if you prefer – I will add chestnuts to pretty much anything (see this one-pot chicken dish) given half a chance. Needless to say this recipe works equally well with leftover roast chicken. 

Leftover Turkey Casserole 
About 600g | 1 1/3 pounds turkey meat – preferably breast meat – sliced
8-10 slices dense wholegrain bread (stale is best)
2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 slices of pancetta, finely chopped
250g | 9oz mushrooms, sliced
200g | 7.5oz cooked and peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
4 tbsp butter plus more to grease baking dish
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp plain flour
430ml | 1 3/4 cups hot chicken stock
180ml | 3/4 cup whole milk 
3 tbsp sherry or Marsala wine (optional)
1 tsp mustard powder
1 bay leaf
60g | 2oz Parmesan cheese 
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease a medium ovenproof dish with a little butter.
  2. Cut the crusts off the bread and reserve. Slice the bread into triangles and line the baking dish, overlapping the slices slightly.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and fry the onion, bay leaf and leek with a pinch of salt over medium-low heat until softened – about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the pancetta, chestnuts and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf and set aside.
  5. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to make a roux. 
  6. Switch to a hand whisk and gradually add the milk, sherry, mustard powder and stock mixing continuously until you have a smooth sauce. Simmer over low heat until it thickens slightly (watch it doesn't boil over). 
  7. Add the vegetables to the sauce and stir to mix together. Check the seasoning.
  8. Spoon a layer of vegetables and sauce over the bread slices. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan.
  9. Arrange turkey slices over the vegetables to cover the entire dish.
  10. Spoon the rest of the vegetables and sauce over the turkey.
  11. Blitz the bread crusts in a food processor until you have small crumbs and mix with the parsley and rest of the Parmesan. Sprinkle over the dish and season with pepper.
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling – covering with foil if it is colouring too much. Let it cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Leftover Turkey Casserole
Leftover Turkey Casserole

This recipe was created for Sainsbury's Live Well for Less.

Friday, 21 November 2014

What are your Christmas traditions?

Christmas Hot Chocolate

I think we all have a set of Christmas traditions. The ones we grew up with and the new ones we create as grown ups – especially once children come onto the scene. Most of the Christmas traditions I can remember from my childhood seem to revolve around food – no surprises there! My mother and I would prepare large batches of traditional Greek cookies together – melomakarona (spiced honey cookies) and kourabiethes (snowballl cookies) weeks in advance. A number of these would be gifted and the rest would be piled high on a large platter in the living room – needless to say me and my bother would snack on them constantly.

My childhood Christmas tree went through a glitzy fake '70s disco phase then moved on to a minimalist wooden version in the '80s before reverting back to the classic real tree in the early '90s (phew!). But we always had homemade decorations and biscuits on our tree along with little chocolate baubles – which my dog would steal from the tree whenever they happened to be within reach.

Christmas dinner (usually on Christmas Eve) was always a massive feast – my mother would use the oven and stove so much the electricity would always cut out around the time the guests would start to arrive. We would have to light candles and transfer a couple of dishes to the neighbours oven to finish cooking.

Homemade Christmas
Festive Lindt Chocolate

These days Christmas is all about the children and it starts with a tree purchasing trip – me usually begging for a modest one while Anya and Sam always choosing the biggest one possible. The tree decorating session may be my favourite activity – always with Christmas songs playing and festive hot chocolate to keep us all going. We have several cookie, ornament and gingerbread house decorating sessions in the weeks leading up to the big day.

This year Christmas came early courtesy of Lindt chocolates – an enormous package filled with numerous chocolatey delights of all shapes and sizes arrived at my door and despite trying to hide it from the children they soon discovered it and were nearly apoplectic with joy. Rather than eating as many as possible really, really, fast which was what my kids had in mind we decided to create an advent calendar with the little chocolate figures – each bag containing 2 chocolate treats and small toys and other Christmassy bits and bobs to be shared between Anya and Sam. Word of warning: always include two of the same treats in each bag to avoid massive arguments later. Since the kids helped to label and fill the bags we are going to have a little advent bag treasure hunt each day in December. This was Sam's idea and a good one at that!

Homemade Christmas: Advent Calendar

Christmas Hot Chocolate
Serves 2
200g cold Lindt milk chocolate or a mix of milk and dark chocolate
400ml whole milk (you may need a little less or more depending on mug size)
4 tbsp softly whipped cream (or use cream from a can)
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 tbsp mini marshmallows
chocolate curls
caramel or chocolate sauce to drizzle
2 candy canes to stir
dusting of cocoa or ground cinnamon

  1. Roughly chop the chocolate and put in a mini chopper or food processor. Blitz in short pulses until the chocolate is ground almost to a powder.
  2. Add 2 heaped tablespoons of the chocolate in each mug and mix to a paste with a little boiling hot water. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Heat the milk in a saucepan or the microwave and pour over the chocolate. Stir very thoroughly or whizz with a milk frother.
  4. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of whipped cream onto the hot chocolate and top with the marshmallows, chocolate curls and a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce.
  5. Add a candy cane in each mug to use as a stirrer. 
  6. Store any leftover ground chocolate in an airtight container.
Supergolden Bakes: Christmas Hot Chocolate

Lindt are generously offering Supergolden Bakes readers a selection of their festive chocolates. Simply enter via the Gleam form below, making sure to comment on this blogpost first before completing any other entry options.

Win a selection of Festive Lindt Chocolates

Terms and conditions
> Giveaway open to UK residents over the age of 18 only.
> One winner will receive a selection of festive Lindt chocolates including: Christmas advent calendar, chocolate lover's bag, bear tree decorations and a Santa 5 pack stocking filler! 
> The giveaway ends on the 12th of December.
> Entries using an automated process or software to create bulk entries will be disqualified.
> The winner will be randomly selected, announced in the Gleam giveaway box and contacted via their provided e-mail address shortly afterwards. Please claim your prize within 4 days of being notified.