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Beca bakes: vegetable & Welsh rarebit tart

Categories: Expert guidance

Expert baker Beca Lyne-Pirkis on making the most of Christmas leftovers

I am the mother of two young girls, and this is the first Christmas that they’ve started to understand what’s going on. Seeing my daughters’ faces light up with sheer wonderment whenever they see fairy lights twinkling, or an image of Father Christmas is utterly heart-melting.

The painstaking countdown to the big day is made slightly easier with the opening of another door on the chocolate advent calendar and the threat of calling the main man when one of them is a little cheeky is a big help to parents the world over. It is truly a magical month for the young.

If December were a day of the week, it would definitely be Friday. The month of parties, mince pies for breakfast, ridiculous Christmas jumpers and the only vegetable that can divide a crowd: the brussels sprout. Let’s face it, it’s the month of over-indulgence and promises of January diets and detoxes. Food plays an important role at this time of year—the all-important Christmas lunch with all possible trimmings, Christmas baking in all its guises and enough canapes and finger food to feed an army. 

Carbon-like shade
I hear stories of poor root vegetables being boiled to near death or overly-sweetened with honey and roasted to a carbon-like shade and served as an ‘alternative’ festive vegetable side dish, completely disguising its natural sweetness and true taste. Cauliflower and sprouts are cooked for so long that they are no longer recognisable, usually because so much is happening and they’ve been forgotten about. 

In our family, we usually tend to forget that the cranberry sauce is in the microwave and find it later that night, and once we actually managed to completely forget about the pigs in blankets in the bottom of the oven—not sure how we managed that! I’m sorry to say that we found them a few days later, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

We all spend far too much money on buying far too much food, but then, inevitably, leftovers last the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve or until everyone is fed-up of cold meats and chutney. Everyone has their own tradition, from turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwiches for Christmas tea, to bubble and squeak for Boxing Day lunch, it’s part of the tradition to feast on leftovers, ensuring that Christmas lasts for as long as possible.

Mountain of cheese
We usually have a mountain of cheese to munch through and although cheese, crackers and chutney is a staple, I’ve also turned ‘leftover’ cheese into a fondue made with beer, Christmas pickles, charcuterie and bread crusts to dip into the gooey cheesy goodness. I’ll also whip up a batch of my deliciously savoury stilton and fig sables, served warm with a chilled glass of fizz for a quick and easy canape.

Why not be a bit creative with your leftovers this year—you may end up with a new family favourite and a tradition to enjoy for years to come.

Read Beca’s recipe for roasted vegetable & Welsh rarebit tart