THE vast array of Christmas foods we are presented with these days is fantastic. The modern UK Christmas is now a gastronomic mix of what we regard as the traditional (turkey with all the trimmings, plum pudding and iced fruit cake) alongside a host of festive imports from other lands that are rapidly gaining in popularity (especially among people like myself who are not overly keen on the rich, spicy and fruity concoctions associated with this time of year).
It’s now becoming commonplace to consume German stollen and Italian panettone alongside the mince pies.
This abundance of seasonal food presents something of a headache (as well as an overfull stomach) if everyone has differing tastes.
Exactly what do you do with all the leftover food?
There are only so many ways you can make the turkey and honey- glazed ham palatable after the third or fourth day (please save me from yet another turkey curry).
And who wants to still be eating mince pies and Christmas cake in mid-January?
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Spanish tapas-style nibbles. They feature prominently on the Food Social menu and are great for those times when you don’t want a full sit-down meal but instead fancy picking leisurely at small bite-sized dishes while chatting amicably to friends over a glass or two of wine.
We don’t stick to Spanish classics here at the restaurant; our social nibbles are heavily influenced by Middle Eastern as well as Mediterranean-style foods like baba ghanoush with grilled pittas; hummus and home-made focaccia bread (courtesy of our new in-house baker Murray Rhind) with rapeseed oil and dukka; charred chorizo with roasted red peppers and falafels with a yoghurt dip.
The reason I mention tapas is that for the last few years I have earned myself a few festive brownie points at home by turning our leftovers into these impromptu morsels.
They have gone down remarkably well and fit in admirably with the Christmas theme of sharing and caring as it means we always have a selection of tasty and quick-to-prepare party-style snacks available when family and friends call around unexpectedly.
Even better, they cost pennies to make, take very little time to put together and allow you to be as imaginative or constrained as your taste buds and stomachs will allow.
Turkey and ham with leftover bread and vegetables like spinach, peppers and carrots all work well in tapas-style bites.
Cut the bread into bite-sized chunks, lightly toast and then spread with a sauce or condiment of your choice (pesto, tomato and aioli or work well).
Place on slices of ham or turkey and cover with either chopped vegetables or grated cheese and grill or bake in a hot oven for a few minutes until cooked through.
Roast potatoes can be reinvented as patatas bravas utilising store cupboard essentials such as chilli, tomatoes, garlic and onions. All you have to do is cut the potatoes into inch-sized squares and fry them off in a little rapeseed oil until golden brown.
In a separate pan fry a chopped onion together with a clove of garlic and a pinch of chilli powder before adding three or four chopped tomatoes, the juice and zest of an orange and a good splash of sherry (of which I am sure there will be plenty left if Aunt Mildred hasn’t sneakily drunk it all!) Stir in a good handful of coriander, pour the sauce over the potatoes and serve.