my thrifty kitchen

a recipe for a more resourceful kitchen

No More Turkey!

As the first full week of 2013 dawns I am pleased to report that my thrifty kitchen is, finally, a turkey-free zone. Ordering the biggest turkey you think you can squeeze into your oven seems to be as traditional as sprouts and party hats at Christmas. There’s the sense of anticipation as you head to your butcher or farm shop on Christmas Eve: how big will it be? Then the crisis when you proudly return home with your bounty: where on earth are you going to store it overnight? (Of course, it’s not going to fit in your fridge, already fit to burst with all of your other lovely Christmas goodies – smoked salmon, maybe, a selection of cheeses to make the Frenchest of fromageries proud, as well as the brandy butter for the Christmas pudding and mince pies.) And finally, the dawning realisation: just how early are you going to have to be up on Christmas morning to get it into the oven to make sure it’s cooked in time for lunch?

The excitement quickly subsides once the main event is over, and as you strip the turkey of all its meat late on Christmas night, it feels like you’re staring down the barrel of meal upon meal of leftover turkey. With this in mind, it’s no wonder it’s a once a year purchase for so many. This year we were nine for lunch, and in the best Christmas tradition we hugely over-catered with a 15 LB bird (even taking into account that we wanted some leftover meat). It was, however, a superbly economical purchase – here’s a list of the meals that one fowl contributed to:

December 25

* Christmas lunch for 9

* Christmas tea for 9

December 26

* A lunch of cold cuts and pickles for 4

* Turkey curry for 4

December 27

* A lunch of cold cuts and pickles for 3

* Turkey, leek and mushroom risotto for 2

December 30

* Turkey curry for 2

December 31

* Spicy turkey peanut stew for 2

January 2

* Turkey curry for 2

January 3

* Spicy turkey peanut stew for 2

So, out of one 15 LB turkey, we got 23 main meals and 16 lighter meals, which works out at £1.33 per serving – not bad at all for locally-reared free-range poultry. And that’s not counting the pints of stock we made out of the carcass, now waiting in the freezer to be put to use in soups, stews and risottos.

Keep an eye out over the next couple of days as I’ll be posting some of my recipes that you might find handy for using up your turkey mountain next year (and into which you can also substitute leftover roast chicken throughout the year).

Oh, and one final tip – if you really don’t enjoy turkey leftovers, resolve to try a smaller bird next year!

Note: As you can tell from the above, we were using up leftover turkey over a week after it had been cooked, and are still here to tell the tale. However, the British Turkey Information Service recommends that it’s safe to store cooked, cold turkey in the fridge for up to three days – see I am happy to go by the appearance, smell and taste with most foodstuffs to check whether they are still useable, but you might not want to!


Gently Spiced Parsnip Soup

Here is the very first my thrifty kitchen recipe. It’s a filling, mildly spiced parsnip soup, great for using up leftover parsnips (raw or already roasted) and the half used tub of crème fraîche in your fridge. You can substitute some of the parsnips for celeriac if you have some that needs using up, and you can add in a potato or two if you need to bulk your parsnips out a bit.


Serves 4 (generously)

700 grams parsnips, or mix of parsnips, celeriac and potatoes, either raw or leftover already roasted

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 onions, quartered

2 tomatoes, quartered

3 cloves garlic

1.2 litres vegetable stock

Crème fraîche, to serve (optional)


The following method assumes you are using raw vegetables. See below if using pre-roasted vegetables.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C (Gas 7).

2. Mix together the olive oil, cumin and coriander seeds and ground turmeric in a large mixing bowl. Add the vegetables, onions, tomatoes and garlic and mix to coat in the oil and spices. Place in a roasting tin and cook for around 30 minutes, until tender.

3. Place the roasted vegetables into a large saucepan and pour on the stock. Blend until smooth with a hand blender. Season to taste and then heat gently until just simmering.

4. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and freshly ground black pepper.

If using pre-roasted vegetables, combine the olive oil and spices as in step 2 above. Mix in the onions, tomatoes and garlic to coat, then lift from the mixing bowl into the roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes as above. Meanwhile, mix the pre-roasted vegetables in the spices and oil remaining in the mixing bowl and add to the roasting tin for the final 10 minutes of cooking. Continue from step 3 onwards.

Gently Spiced Parnsip Soup

Gently Spiced Parnsip Soup

Welcome to my thrifty kitchen

A warm welcome to my thrifty kitchen.

As the festive season of peace, goodwill and over-indulgence subsides once again, thoughts on this New Year’s Day turn to change as we ride into 2013 atop a wave of optimistic willpower and good intentions. What to do this year: lose weight? do more exercise? watch less pointless television and read more of the classics? All of these resolutions have been embraced in previous years, and all have, sooner or later, fallen by the wayside.

This year I wanted to do something different, to set myself a challenge I could really get to grips with and hopefully get some enjoyment out of along the way too. It came to me as I tackled my fridge a few days after Christmas. Having hosted Christmas Day for the first time this year, I was faced with a mountain of leftovers: turkey, roast vegetables (potatoes, parsnips and celeriac), steamed vegetables (carrots, broccoli and, of course, Brussels sprouts) and cranberry sauce. Half-used pots of crème fraîche, the odd rasher or two of streaky bacon (the surplus from the home-assembled pigs-in-blankets) and foil-clad nuggets of twenty different kinds of cheese. What on earth to do with it all?

Here was the beginning of my challenge: to turn all of this into acceptable family meals without any of it going to waste. And as I thought about this, I realised that, in general, I throw far too much food away. Whether it’s the bag of salad that has sat in the salad drawer a couple of days too long, now pooling into a green gloop, the half-eaten jar of pesto sauce growing a little furry coat or the stale third of a loaf languishing in the bread bin, it seems there is always something to be thrown away when I come to re-stock the fridge and the cupboards after the weekly shop.

I don’t intend to do this – I meal plan every week, so I’m not impulse-buying items which aren’t needed and won’t be used, and most of the meals we eat are home-cooked from scratch so I certainly intend to use what I buy, but somehow this isn’t enough. Maybe it’s because food is nowadays so readily available – a replacement bag of salad or loaf of bread is so easy to get hold of it somehow ‘doesn’t matter’ if I have to throw some away. Or maybe it’s simply laziness – not giving enough thought to what we’re buying and eating, the end result being that we’re left with half a pot of crème fraîche here and a couple of tomatoes there that are surplus to requirements and end up in the bin.

So my challenge for 2013 is this: to waste less food; in fact, to not throw any food away for the whole year. I will be documenting my efforts here on the my thrifty kitchen blog and sharing my hints, tips and recipes for a more resourceful kitchen.

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