3 January 2018

How to Stretch Your Holiday Leftovers

In case you are wondering exactly how to cope with all the leftovers now that your Christmas and New Year’s feasts are behind you – and perhaps your holiday guests have left with you an overflowing fridge – we asked Mary Rolph Lamontagne to share her brilliant ways with holiday season leftovers.

Mary – who writes a regular column for Fresh Living and is the blogger behind Savour & Saves recipes for frugal feasting – trained at the Ritz Escoffier school in Paris. But it was her experience as an adviser to remote bush lodges in Botswana and South Africa that resulted in a lightbulb moment: “Working in bush lodges pushed me to think out of the box – fresh produce only gets delivered once a week and you have to make it last even if there are problems like monkeys getting into the kitchen and eating the produce, or the refrigerators breaking down. I was inspired to motivate people to be creative and to do more with their food.”

Think out of the Box

“I love creating dishes out of leftovers and blowing people away. Whether braised carrots that are reused into a luscious carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting interior or a watermelon gazpacho with watermelon that was going off, I have never had anyone send anything back or be unhappy with their meal! Another favourite is leftover corn. I always remove it from the cob before putting it in the fridge, otherwise it will be thrown away. I make corn fritters that I use or freeze to be served later with a lemon crème fraîche and some smoked salmon wrapped around a little rocket.”

Recipe by Cupcake Richard

The Festive Freezer

“The freezer is your best friend. People do not realize how many items could actually find their way into the freezer. Here are my top tips for reducing waste:

  • If vegetables are reaching their best-by date, roast them up and refrigerate them to use for salads during the week, or freeze them for later use.
  • Eggs can be frozen to be used in a frittata or scrambled. Just break them into a container, whisk them up, label the container and freeze for later use.
  • Store-bought puff pastry is a wonderful item that can be used to make hand pies with leftover meats and vegetables and even some fruit.
  • I often make a jam or a coulis for ice cream from leftover fruit that needs to be used up before it goes off. Any leftover coulis can be poured into an ice tray, frozen and dropped into a labelled container for future use.
  • Leftover gravy usually finds its way to the bin or down the drain so why not pour it into an ice-cube tray and freeze the gravy for later. How perfect to have a yummy gravy ready for use on a roast chicken breast.”

Save and Savour

“Leftover lamb is perfect to chop up and mix with a little ricotta and mint. Use this mixture in a hand pie made with puff pastry. Roll out the puff pastry, cut out a circle, place the mixture on one half of the circle and turn the pastry over the mixture to create a half moon. Brush a little water along the edge, use a fork to glue the two sides together, brush with egg wash and bake.”

“I often reinvent the cake into truffles by chopping it into crumbs then mixing it with some melted chocolate and a drop or two of rum or brandy. Form balls with this mixture and later roll them in cocoa powder to create tasty truffles. What an elegant offering for another after-dinner treat!”

“A favourite trick of mine if I have an over-supply of berries or fruit is to dry them: spread them out (whole or sliced, depending on the fruit and size) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave them to dry in a low-heat oven for 3–4 hours. I then use this to make my freezer shortbread: a fantastic recipe that can be made ahead and frozen (see recipe below). When guests arrive, slice and bake these cookies for the perfect tea snack. This pastry could also be perfect as a base for an ice cream sandwich!”

Mary’s Recipe for Freezer Shortbread

This dough is perfect for storing in the freezer for future use.
(Makes 48 biscuits)

½ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup castor sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup dried berries or other chopped dried fruit
zest of 1 lemon


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together sugars, butter and vanilla.
  2. Mix in flour until well blended.
  3. Gently fold in the dried berries and lemon zest.
  4. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface and tip the stiff batter onto it.
  5. Spread the batter out to resemble a log.
  6. Wrap it in the plastic wrap and roll it so that it is evenly shaped and rounded.
  7. Store in the fridge for 30 minutes before slicing and placing the cookie rounds on a prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes at 180˚C, until cookies are light brown in colour.

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How-To, Interviews