SUE QUINN's delicious and thrifty recipes make light work of leftovers (2024)

Cheese and chutney puff pastry tart

A divine tart – creamy loveliness in a flaky pastry case, with pickles to cut the richness. It’s ideal for using up scraps of cheese.

Leftovers: Bits of cheese, fresh herbs

Serves 4-6

  • 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 125ml full-fat milk
  • 125ml double cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200g grated or crumbled cheese, plus extra for sprinkling (see tip below)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives, parsley or other herbs, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 3-4 tbsp chutney or pickles (see tip below)
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Grease and line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry, pressing it into the edges. Trim off any excess (freeze and use again another time) and prick the base all over with a fork. Chill for 20 minutes.

2 Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and put a baking sheet inside. Crumple a sheet of baking paper, uncrumple it, then use it to line the pastry case. Fill with ceramic baking beans (or dried beans or rice), making sure they cover the base up to the edge. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until firm and pale gold.

3 Beat together the milk, cream, eggs, cheese and herbs with a fork. Season generously with salt and pepper.

4 Remove the tart case from the oven on its baking sheet – it will be easier to put back in the oven when filled. If the base has puffed up a bit, press gently with your hand, protected by a clean tea towel.

5 Spread a thin layer of chutney over the base of the tart case, then pour in the filling. Sprinkle the top with the extra cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set (the middle will still be slightly wobbly), then scatter with herbs.

TIPS Include a mix of cheeses, at least one with good flavour that melts well, such as strong cheddar, lancashire, gruyère, comté or taleggio, as well as a little punchy stuff like blue or parmesan.

Use up those near-empty chutney jars loitering in the fridge. Fruity chutneys – mango, fig or apple – are fantastic. Finely chopped pickled walnuts scattered over the base of the tart work very well, too, as do caramelised onions from a jar.

Peanut and tamarind vegetable curry with dates

Any leftover roasted veg can be given a glow-up in this tangy, fruity curry. If you don’t have quite enough, top up with frozen peas.

Leftovers:Cooked vegetables

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4cm piece of root ginger, grated
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp tamarind purée
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 70g toasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 8 dates, halved and pitted
  • 500g cooked vegetables, cut into
  • 3cm chunks
  • fine sea salt
  • boiled or steamed long-grain rice, to serve

1 Warm the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the mustard seeds and ground spices and cook for a few minutes more.

2 Add the ginger and chillies and fry until fragrant, then stir in the tomato and tamarind purées. Fry for 1 minute.

3 Add the tomatoes, sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Simmer over a medium heat for a few minutes until thickened to a rich sauce. Stir in the peanuts and dates. Taste and adjust for salt or sugar – the sauce should have a good balance of sweet and salty.

4 Add the cooked veg and cook gently until warmed through. Serve with the boiled or steamed rice.

Roast dinner sausage rolls

These are ideal to make after Christmas lunch or a Sunday roast; turkey, ham, pigs in blankets, lamb, beef, chicken, roasties and vegetables can all be wrapped in pastry with brilliant results.

Leftovers: Cooked meat and vegetables, vegetarian sausages or meat alternatives

Makes 16

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 plump garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 450g leftover cooked meat and/or vegetables
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste or other chilli paste
  • 2 tsp crème fraîche, cream or milk (if needed)
  • 40g cold butter
  • 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, about 35cm x 23cm or roughly 330g from a block
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 220C/ 200C fan/gas 7 and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

2 Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt over a medium heat until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and mixed herbs and fry for a couple more minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool to room temperature.

3 Chop the leftovers by hand or pulse in a food processor. Don’t overdo it; the mixture should be rough not smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper.

4 Transfer the leftovers to the bowl with the onions and add the chipotle paste and crème fraîche. Grate in the butter. Mix well.

5 Lay the pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface with a short side closest to you. Fold the top edge down to meet the lower edge and lightly press to make a crease along the centre. Unfold and cut along the crease to make two smaller rectangles.

6 Fold each of the small rectangles in half along the short side. Unfold and cut along the crease to make four rectangles 9cm x 23cm. Place a quarter of the filling along a long side of each pastry rectangle. Squeeze the filling as you go so it holds together. Brush the facing long edge with egg, then firmly roll into a log. Press to seal firmly. Repeat with the remaining filling and pastry.

7 Cut each log into four equal pieces and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Bake for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve hot.

TIP Add a small quantity of cooked lentils, rice or other grains to the filling if you need to stretch out your leftovers.

Honeyed wheaten bread with jumbled nuts, seeds and fruit

If your store cupboard is littered with half-used packets of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, stop here. This loaf doesn’t care if nuts are soft and past their prime, or whether you add particular seeds or dried fruit. Tumble in what’s lurking and you’ll be rewarded with a highly moreish loaf that’s heavenly spread thickly with good salty butter or served with cheese.

Leftovers:Nuts, seeds, dried fruit

Serves 8-10

  • 60g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 180g wholemeal flour
  • 180g plain flour
  • 30g porridge oats, plus extra for scattering on top
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 40g mixed nuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
  • 40g mixed seeds
  • 80g mixed dried fruit, roughly chopped
  • 60g runny honey
  • 250g greek yogurt, crème fraîche or soured cream (or a mixture)
  • 5 tbsp milk, or as much as needed

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a loaf tin, roughly 23cm x 13cm x 7cm, and line the long sides and base with one large sheet of baking paper that overhangs the sides.

2 In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, bicarbonate of soda and salt by stirring with a fork. Rub the cubed butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the nuts, seeds and dried fruit and mix to evenly distribute – hands work best for this.

3 Mix the honey into the yogurt, then stir into the dry mixture. Gradually add the milk, mixing with your hands between each addition, to make a sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the prepared tin and smooth the top with the back of a wet spoon, pushing it into the corners.

4 Scatter over a small handful of oats. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until risen and golden, and a skewer inserted at the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then lift out on to a wire rack to cool, using the baking paper as handles.

Ham and sauerkraut croque

Based on the classsic croque monsieur, this one uses a thick slice of good bread instead of the traditional two slices of fluffy white. I’ve introduced sauerkraut because I love the flavour thwack it adds to the rich cheese and salty ham combo. It’s perfect for using up post-Christmas ham but shredded turkey would be great, too.

Leftovers:Ham, odds and ends of cheese

Serves 2 generously

  • 20g butter, plus extra for spreading
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised with the side of a knife
  • 20g plain flour
  • 200ml full-fat milk
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • ¼ tsp dijon mustard
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 80g grated strong cheese – cheddar, gruyère or a mixture
  • 2 large slices of country-style or sourdough bread
  • 100g sauerkraut, or to taste
  • 150g ham, chopped or sliced

1 Melt the butter in a small pan, then add the garlic clove. Reduce the heat and cook gently until the garlic is pale gold. Scoop out and discard.

2 Add the flour to the garlicky butter and stir over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and gradually pour in the milk, stirring all the time. Stir in the wine, mustard and nutmeg. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until it is very smooth and creamy.

3 Add half the cheese and, when melted, take the pan off the heat. Now, set your grill on high.

4 Spread both sides of the bread with the extra butter and put in a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Fry on both sides until golden. (Alternatively, use a non-ovenproof pan then transfer the bread to a baking sheet lined with baking paper.)

5 Top each fried slice of bread with half the sauerkraut and the ham. Divide the sauce between the slices and spread it out (it will spread further once under the grill). Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

6 Grill until bubbling and golden in patches, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with a sharply dressed salad.

TIP Use kimchi instead of sauerkraut. You could also pop a fried egg on top to make it a croque madame.

Root veg and poppy seed cake with orange buttercream

Dig out that neglected root veg and make a cake. This is simple but moist and fragrant, and you wouldn’t know you’re getting some five-a-day in every slice.

Leftovers:Root veg, pumpkin

Serves 8-10

  • 100ml vegetable oil, plus extra for oiling
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 140g soft light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g root veg and/or pumpkin, trimmed, peeled and grated

For the orange buttercream

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 small orange

1Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil a 23cm springform cake tin. Line with baking paper.

2Using a fork, combine the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, poppy seeds and salt in a mixing bowl.

3 In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together. Stir in the maple syrup, milk, vanilla and oil.

4 Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, making sure everything is well combined, then fold in the grated veg. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes then release and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

5 Meanwhile, beat the butter for the buttercream with electric beaters or by hand until pale and fluffy. Beat in the icing sugar, then the orange zest. Gradually add enough of the orange juice to produce a soft and creamy icing that’s loose enough to swirl over the cake but still holds its shape.

6 Spread the top of the cake with the icing, swirling it if you like.

Second Helpings by SUE QUINN, with photographs by Facundo Bustamante, is published by Quadrille, £18.99. To order a copy for £!6.14 until 7 January, go to or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £25.

SUE QUINN's delicious and thrifty recipes make light work of leftovers (2024)
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