Bonnie Stern: Thanksgiving leftovers done right

We all have leftovers. But the trick is never call them leftovers. Food left over from holiday dinners can become delicious meals in its own right as long as you don’t put that leftover label on them. Here are lots of ideas and a few yummy recipes for the food in your fridge the day after Thanksgiving.

Puréed vegetable soups are very popular around the holidays. If you have leftover soups such as puréed squash, cauliflower, tomato or carrot, freeze it and serve it in shooter glasses for an appetizer at your next party. Even small amounts of puréed soup can be used to garnish other soups of contrasting colour — for example, picture a drizzle of brilliant squash soup on a neutral-coloured cauliflower soup. Leftover soups can also be thinned out with extra stock, cream or water and used as a sauce over chicken or pasta.

Mashed potatoes or mashed root vegetables can be made into all kinds of savoury cake from fish cakes and croquettes to the delicious pancakes (see recipe right). They can also be used as toppings on pot pies or shepherd’s pies. Leftover stuffing can also be made into pancakes.

Some of my favourite ways to use leftover roast turkey and vegetables are in pot pies, shepherd’s pie, fried rice, stir-fries,  poutine, burritos, tacos, hash, frittatas, quiche, salads and sandwiches.

And even pieces of pumpkin pie, fruit pies, cakes and cookies can be used to create new desserts such as trifles by cutting everything up and layering it with ice cream, custard or whipping cream in a glass bowl or individual wine glasses with fruit and chocolate, caramel or raspberry sauce drizzled over top.

Serve pancakes topped with sour cream and smoked salmon or serve sweet style with bacon and maple syrup.
– 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes or other mashed vegetables
– 2 eggs, lightly beaten
– ½ cup milk
– ½ tsp kosher salt or more to taste
– 1 tbsp chopped fresh leafy herbs (e.g. parsley, cilantro, chives, basil or dill), optional
– ½ cup all-purpose flour
– ½ tsp baking powder
– 2 tbsp unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1. Whisk eggs into mashed potatoes until smooth. Add milk, salt and herbs.
2. Stir flour with baking powder and stir into batter. Mixture should be fairly thick.
3. Heat butter or olive oil in a large skillet. Use a medium ice cream scoop (or two spoons) to drop batter into pan. Flatten slightly to form 3-inch pancakes. Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on thickness until nicely browned and cooked through. Repeat until all batter is used. Makes approximately 12 three-inch pancakes

With frozen puff pastry you can easily make a professional-looking pie. Mushrooms can be added to the filling by cooking them with the onions and celery. The pot pies can be frozen.
– 3 tbsp unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
– 1 onion, cut into chunks
– 1  rib celery, sliced
– ¼ cup all-purpose flour
– 2 cups chicken or turkey stock
– ¼ cup cream or more chicken stock
– 2 cups diced cooked vegetables
– 2 cups diced cooked turkey
– ½ cup frozen peas, optional
– ½ tsp kosher salt or to taste
– pinch of black pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper to taste
– 8 oz. frozen sheet puff pastry
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add onions and celery. Cook on medium heat 5 minutes until tender. Sprinkle with flour and cook gently 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add turkey and vegetables. Add cream or stock if mixture is too thick and heat thoroughly. Season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne.
2. Divide mixture between four
ovenproof bowls or a 2 L casserole.
3. Defrost pastry 30 minutes at room temperature. Unroll and cut to fit top of dishes. Brush with egg, but do not allow egg to drip down sides of pastry or it will not puff as much. Prick dough. Bake in a preheated 375F/190C oven for 25 minutes until puffed, browned and heated thoroughly. Makes 4 servings