This is one of my favourite times of year – the in-between bit of Christmas and New Year. There is no necessity to rush about, the sofa and books beckon, with tea and slices of Christmas cake. New Year’s resolutions are days away, so the guilt over calories and inactivity can take a back seat.
It’s a time when I enjoy being extra creative in the kitchen – if you’re anything like me, you’ll have over-catered for the festive period, leaving you with a fridge and larder full of random leftovers and odd items. I can never throw food away – it’s hard wired in my DNA via my frugal Scots grandparents and my Hungarian father who lived through a time of great food shortages when young. Have a look at the excellent www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for more ideas to use up your leftovers. Current items in my kitchen include parsnips, egg whites, pecorino cheese, Stilton, Brussels sprouts, carrots, stale bread, ham, honey roasted nuts and Christmas pudding.
So, what’s for lunch today?
Parsnip Soufflé with a bread crumb gratin topping, with a side of carrots, Brussels and nuts.
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into small pieces.
Half a pint of milk
1 bay leaf
100g plain flour
250g Pecorino, Gruyere, or cheddar cheese – something full flavoured
Put parsnips, milk and bay leaf into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the parsnips are soft and tender. Drain, reserving the milk to make the base for the soufflé. Puree the parsnips and put aside.
Pre heat oven to 400F/200C/ GM and butter a 4 person soufflé dish or 4 individual ones.
Melt butter in a saucepan, and add flour to make a thick roux. Gradually add the milk from earlier and cook until you have a thick, smooth sauce. Fold in the parsnip puree and season with white pepper and a pinch of salt. Grate the cheese and add 200g to the parsnip mix. Separate the eggs (unless like me you are just using up egg whites), and add the egg yolks to the parsnip sauce. Whisk egg whites until stiff, and fold into the parsnip mix in three lots, being careful to keep as much air as possible in the mixture. Spoon into your dishes. Sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese mixed with the breadcrumbs and put into the oven for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and puffed up. Serve immediately.
Variations on a theme – use thyme or sage, add chopped ham or use carrots instead of parsnips.
Carrots and Brussels Sprouts
1 small onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1lb carrots, peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces
½ lb Brussels sprouts, halved lengthways
1 tbsp cider vinegar
50g honey nuts
Cook onion in butter and oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add carrots, Brussels sprouts, ¾ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add water and cover pan, then cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in vinegar, honey nuts and season to taste.