“Delicious Small Remains”

Waiting for me under the Christmas tree was Food from Plenty, a cookbook by one of my favorite food writers, Diana Henry. According to the book jacket, leftovers are the heart of this book. Diana Henry, who has a knack of turning prosaic things into extraordinary things, points out that the French eloquently term leftovers as les delicieux petites restes. This roughly translates as “the delicious small remains” – a decided improvement over thinking of them as plain, old leftovers. No doubt, when I’ve had a more through perusal of the book, I will write it up in detail, but for now, immediately post-holidays, it seemed appropriate to talk of les delicieux petites restes.


I have always loved leftovers. They truly are delicious small remains. As ingredients, they present both a challenge and a creative adventure in the kitchen. For the most part, I rely on spicy curries, original pasta sauces, savory pies, pilaffs (& other grain based dishes), rustic salads and soups to form the basis of my leftover adventures, transforming the “small remains” into something different, something special.

In our house, immediately post turkey-heaven Christmas, there is the obligatory turkey curry (remember Bridget Jones?) which I make from a 20 year old recipe cut from a Bon Appétit magazine, spicy turkey enchiladas and dill-laden turkey croquettes. Combined with the leftovers from the Boxing Day ham, is a traditional turkey and ham pie with lots of leeks in a creamy mustard sauce under a puff pastry lid.


Turkey & Ham Pie
There any number of variations on turkey and ham pie, traditions from the length and breadth of the UK (like British Blokes Cooking’s Turkey, Ham & Sausage Stuffing Pie). This is equally good with chicken from the leftover chicken roast.

  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 3 leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 Tablespoons potato flour
  • 2 cups turkey stock
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups cooked ham, cut into chunks
  • Puff pastry
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a frying pan, sauté leeks in the oil until soft. Add the fresh dill and sprinkle on the potato flour. Stir until the flour has been absorbed into the oil. Pour on the stock, stirring so the mixture does not become lumpy. Add the mustard. Simmer until the mixture thickens. Add the sour cream and stir until it is blended. Gently fold in the turkey and ham chunks. Turn off heat and let cool slightly.


Put the mixture in a shallow baking pan, Roll out puff pastry. Cover the pie with the pastry, sealing the edges with beaten egg. Trim the edges and brush the top with egg. Make decorations from the trimmings and add these, further brushing with egg. Cut several slits in the top and put in oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.



    • When I read your entry for turkey, ham and sausage stuffing pie, I wished I had more turkey and ham (let alone the stuffing) to try your recipe. It reminded me of pork pies. Although, being here in Yorkshire, we had our fill of traditional pork pies over the holiday! I’ll save the recipe for next year! Happy New Year!


  1. Leftovers. — that’s where the real creativity comes in. Your photos are great. Sue


    • Thanks! That is, about the photos – I feel they are sometimes fuzzy and not quite up to snuff! And, I’m a bit lazy – taking the shots with my iPad rather than a camera. But, on more important things, leftovers really do stretch your creativity. That’s why I love them!


    • You mean les delicieux petites restes? 🙂 I think I’m going to start calling leftovers “small remains”. Yes, I agree absolutely, they do bring out the creativity in a cook. Happy New Year!


  2. I am a total left over queen! I look forward to my little plates of leftovers, it just saddens me when I go to fetch them and they have already been devoured by constantly hungry growing boys. I look forward to hearing more about your new cookbook.


    • My “little” boy, now 24 and 6 foot 4 inches in height, has finally learned to ask before he devours! He still hoovers thing up, but likes the the idea of creating something new from les delicieux petites restes. Leftovers are the best!


  3. Lovely pie! I once heard somewhere that the true test of a cook is how they make use of the leftovers…well done! Except…I never have leftover ham LOL
    Last night I made a cider brined pork roast. It’s roasted atop a bed of potato and onions but I had a leftover apple and fennel salad so I mixed that in as well….phenomenal!


    • The pork sounds delicious! Yes, I heard that about leftovers as well, but there seem to be other sayings out there about the true test of a cook. One I heard in Greece was how a béchamel sauce was made (thick or thin) was the true test of a cook. I wonder if I should start collecting the sayings?


  4. I like Diana Henry too… I have her gastropub cookbook…and the cavolo nero frittata i posted recently is inspired by one of her recipes she post on the telegraph!
    I really like this pie you made and now i add the book on my amazon wishlist 😉


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