Fruitcake keeps for ages, but you could always freeze the leftover fruitcake, cubed. Slice it or cube it first. Package in small bags so you can unfreeze overnight in the fridge, and then do your leftover Christmas fruitcake thing.
But I discovered an additional use: stuffing! Whether for big-bird or to roast in a separate pan, you will find it’s delicious.
Thaw the frozen leftover fruitcake on the counter overnight. Slice in thick slices, then crosscut into small pieces, random-sized. Cut enough to make a few cups. Soak the Christmas cake in liquid, just enough to moisten … use milk, half and half cream or even boiled cooled water. Drizzle a teaspoon of maple syrup into the moist cake pieces. Add a few tablespoons of your most loved spirits. You might use deep dark full-flavoured Marsala wine. Ahhhha, the bouquet travels all through the house and maybe even up the chimney. Or add Asbach Uralt cognac. Or Bacardi Martini and Rossi vermouth. You could even use a favourite very dark beer.
In the meantime, mince onions or shallots or even leeks, and finely chopped fresh crisp celery. I suggest about a half cup mixed, to add to four cups of moistened fruitcake. Sprinkle with any or all of your spices and available herbs, fresh or LiteHouse.
Sauté in any choice of your compound butter reserve coins until fork tender, stirring often. How does the jerk coins choice sound? (Add a little extra mustard.)
Add a half cup of my fresh or frozen coarse cranberry-orange sauce and combine with the moistened cake.
Move the mix to a butter-brushed glass loaf pan. Pack it a little so when you remove it from the 350 F preheated oven, you can slice it in generous pieces. A typical loaf size pan will need maybe an hour in the oven.
You could also make firm generous fruitcake stuffing balls and poach just briefly in homemade chicken stock. Remove the balls from the broth using a slotted spoon. Using two forks, pull each ball into two segments. Top each steaming hot segment with a frozen compound butter coin. (Maybe choose my cranberry compound butter coins) and let the coin melt and ooze down through each stuffing ball half.
Either way you choose to cook, let cool and then you can freeze. Thaw and reheat to serve as an entree side any time of year. Even in the summer barbecue season. Christmas in July, anyone?
By the way, the thick sliced stuffing makes a great fragrant mouth-watering sandwich. Especially on toasted or grilled artisan olive bread thick slices smeared with a generous coin or two of any of your compound butter choices in reserve.
Perfect cranberry sauce all year-round
I try to keep a sterilized glass jar of sugar syrup on hand, refrigerated. It has lots of uses. A jar of thick, medium and thin. But the syrup only keeps a short time. Make a few days ahead if you know you will be needing it.
Start by putting equal parts water, sugar and fresh-squeezed orange juice in a pot and bring to a simmer. If using cup for cup, add a half cup of pulsed or finely chopped homemade candied citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar. Just a hint: if you don’t have homemade candied orange, lemon and/or grapefruit rinds on hand, you might substitute a little finely rasped zest.
Note that the oil in the zest will dominate, so be a little cautious. You might want to add the citrus zest to a bit of boiling water and let it sit awhile and then strain the zest before adding to the sugar syrup. (Add the bitter water to your gravy jus.)
You could actually use sugar from your pantry jar of citrus sugar if you have it. Simmer until the liquid reduces by a third and the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add frozen or fresh cranberries, perhaps four cups. Simmer until the berries are mashable. Sprinkle a little finishing sea salt flakes. Maybe simmer 15-20 minutes. You want the skin texture. Use a potato masher. Spritz the hot mashed berries with just a pinch of fresh minced basil or use LiteHouse.
Add a teaspoon of Bacardi Fiero vermouth. Its orange undertones are delightful. The alcohol evaporates leaving just the vermouth notes.
The cranberries are best made a few days ahead of serving. Cover in a glass sterilized container and freeze or refrigerate.
You can refreeze leftovers in portions after first use. Maybe fill segments of an ice cube tray. Freeze rock hard and tumble the frozen cubes into a zip bag to freezer store and use the cubes as needed. Frozen, the cranberry sauce keeps for up to a year.
Cranberry sauce is not just made for serving with poultry. It goes wonderfully well with pork or even with venison or rabbit and other hunter’s finds. Maybe try it alongside your salmon recipes or other whole stuffed fish.
Cranberry sauce is even interesting puréed in a blender and served over homemade vanilla ice cream, or on individual servings of panna cotta, even ones made with lobster and set up in individual servings in shot glasses, served with espresso spoons or other small spoons.
Dressing a formal table? Put each small panna cotta glass on a small paper doily on a see-thru glass pie plate with a sprig of fresh rosemary on the plate for a wonderful holiday fragrance.
The cranberry sauce tartness quality offsets any sweetness if used as a purée. You can even make homemade cranberry sauce ice cream.
Hint: Add a spritz of Fiero vermouth in your turkey jus gravy/sauce for instant gourmet. You might like to add a tiny dab of your homemade golden oven-roasted garlic purée. And add a few frozen coins of compound butter from your reserve. Don’t stir the butter coins. Just swirl.
Maybe choose citrus compound butter coins; you could even make crushed cranberry compound butter coins and add crushed rosemary; any coin choice will enhance the gravy/sauce jus (spoon off any floating bird-fat residual). Don’t stir the jus after you add the frozen compound butter coins. I repeat: Just let the butter coins melt and swirl on top.
Maybe add a cranberry butter coin from your coin reserve to your regular bread stuffing; a delightful surprise. You can see the crushed cranberries in the stuffing. For a different stuffing, also add crushed pistachios. The green bits peek out in stuffing served as ice cream scoops. Make loads of extra Christmas cake stuffing and freeze for another day. Serve generously. Most people love stuffing. Even add it to your favourite sandwiches.
You could mix a quarter cup of the cranberry sauce into a cup of Celebrity cream goat cheese and serve in a side dish with your cheese board or charcuterie and offer toast points or crackers or even serve with parmesan tuiles. A fabulous holiday hors d’ouvres, all year long.
You could also top a warmed brie or Camembert wheel with the cranberry sauce and serve warm. Scatter pistachios on top. Place a cheese knife on the board. A bite of this and a nibble of that. See my recipe for a treat-for-one cheese or charcuterie board.
If you have a tall, stemmed bitters tasting glass that holds about an ounce, it’s perfect for serving the Fiero to sip alongside the formal panna cotta at table for a pretty holiday celebrating table service.
You can always serve your favourite fish for a wonderful holiday celebration if you or your guests don’t enjoy turkey. And still make stuffing baked and served alongside with your amazing cranberry sauce.
You could even serve your cranberry sauce as a side dish for a charming switch up in an old-fashioned open face champagne glass maybe stored away when flutes became the way to serve champagne, with a slanted pie fork positioned across the glass mouth.
Ornaments for the tree
Go shopping for clear glass decorator cup-size balls, the kind of ornaments you hang from your Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush.
Using a very tiny funnel, maybe a miniature make-up funnel or a small syringe plunger, fill each plain, clear glass ball only one-third full with powdered herbs and spices. Perhaps make a half dozen, using a variety: particularly fragrant fine ground real clove powder, nutmeg powder, real black and even pink ground peppercorns. Maybe allspice, dried ground mint, basil or sage, and seasonal fresh crushed pulverized rosemary.
Slip a generous length of various coloured ribbon through the metal tree-hanging loop where you would otherwise place a tree-hook. Make sure the metal loops are strong, not fragile. And don’t fill more than a third.
You could hang the ribboned balls from your tree or from the front door decorator wreath. You could carefully arrange on the mantel but keep the glass balls away from direct heat.
Using a dowelled adjustable kitchen cloth drying stand (spray painted silver or gold perhaps) twist the dowels so they are separated and hang a ribboned ball on several dowels, spaced at random, different lengths. You could use a tall homemade pasta dryer but once painted, kept away from food.
You could even hang balls in your bathrooms on wall-mounted or counter towel stands, minus the towels. Or hang from a wall-mounted extendible enlarger make-up mirror.
You could even fill some balls with various citrus zests, dried and ground: orange, lime, lemon and/or grapefruit. Others with real, not instant, fresh coffee grounds. You could even grind, or pulverize, fresh dried pine needles.
These hanging balls make a great craft gift or a wonderful buffet or table centrepiece. You could even hang the scented balls from overhead dining room chandelier arms above your table instead of a centrepiece.
Note: this is not a project for children to do.
Match your ribbons choices to your decor colour scheme or use a striking contrast. There’s always holiday reds and greens or shiny or muted silver and gold ribbons. You might even choose a copper colour theme. Craft-makers in a country-style or farmhouse style home might even crochet special loop strings instead of using regular ribbons.
A delightfully different fragrant air freshener.
© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience