Need to use up leftover frozen Christmas fruitcake croutons? Make a panzanella Christmas fruitcake croutons salad. Use the leftover Christmas fruitcake cake croutons as the base for this very special panzanella salad.

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The recipe for the Christmas fruitcake croutons is here.

Now prepare ahead of time my original airlines dressing.

Whisk together 1:3 red wine vinegar:extra virgin olive oil. (You could choose to use a French brand of balsamic vinegar.) Add a little Dijon, salt, fresh ground pepper and just a tiny smear of your homemade oven-roasted garlic purée, and drizzle over a plate of fresh arugula.

Top with homemade candied walnuts from your pantry jar and sprinkle a little minced candied citrus rind from your pantry citrus sugar jar.

Strategically place twisted thin napkins of Norwegian smoked salmon, grind fresh peppercorns and sprinkle with thin shards of delicious fresh Sartino BellaVitano raspberry ale cheese.

Around the salad plate edges, position my marinated goat cheese log coins (scroll to end) that you have deep-fried.

Remove the marinated Canadian goat cheese coins from the oil jar. Place the log coins on a sheet of paper towel on a baking sheet pan and place the pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up the goat cheese coins.

Using two forks, turn the coins once in the freezer. Remove from the freezer and dip each coin into beaten egg and tumble gently in fresh-made coarse breadcrumbs seasoned with your favourite herbs and/or spices. Then place the frozen breaded coins on a fresh sheet of paper towel. You will need to work quickly so as to keep the cheese coins cold.

Heat Mazola Corn Oil to 350 F in a deep sauté pan, not more than halfway up the pan sides. Using tongs, carefully place the breaded goat cheese coins into the hot oil. Watch carefully and turn as soon as breadcrumbs are visibly golden. Remove and place on a fresh sheet of paper towel briefly.

Position the breaded deep-fried coins around the edges of a generous salad plate and serve while the cheese is still warm. If you enjoy sweet ground paprika or hot cayenne, carefully dust a little on each breaded goat cheese coin or add a little drop of honey mustard mix to the top of each coin, just when ready to serve.

ALTERNATE: You could substitute fresh sautéed shrimp, crab or lobster claw meat for the smoked salmon for a totally different but equally wonderful salad meal. If you have homemade lobster or seafood oil, spritz a little into the oil:vinegar salad dressing that you drizzle over the arugula.

This is a perfect opportunity to use the French classic sparkling champagne rose Royal de Neuville as it pairs beautifully, served in a tall, stemmed champagne flute.

Pan toast the frozen leftover Christmas fruitcake croutons in a hot oven on a sheet pan for maybe five minutes in the middle of the preheated oven at 400 F. Watch carefully.

Chop raw very fresh cauliflower flowerets and broccoli heads, rinsed well to remove any soil bits and pat dry. Cube mixed colour perfect beefsteak tomatoes in generous pieces.

Using your mandolin slicer, make paper-thin sweet radishes. Or alternatively make ice-cold water radish roses. If you enjoy cucumber, make rolled iced marinated paper-thin cucumber rolls to stand in the salad. Spritz the cucumber with your favourite gin.

Just when ready to serve, sprinkle with large fresh juicy blueberries.

Crumble refrigerated Cambozola cheese over the raw vegetables sprinkled with your favourite herbs and spices. Spritz with fresh squeezed lemon juice and tumble with my original airlines dressing.

Toss loads of the roasted Christmas fruitcake croutons into the veggie cheese mix.

ALTERNATE: Turn this panzanella Christmas fruitcake croutons salad into a seafood dish by adding room temperature generous lobster claw pieces and/or ready-to-eat frozen salad shrimp. The shrimp will have thawed by the time you eat.

You might want to re-read this column from last year.

Mustard greens salad panzanella

Retrieve from your freezer a cup of my special leftover Christmas cake croutons. Sear the croutons on all sides in just a little unsalted butter noisette made using a compound butter coin from your frozen coin reserve. Perhaps choose a garlic compound butter coin.

Rest the crisped Christmas cake croutons on white paper towel. Deglaze the skillet with a quarter cup red wine vinegar. You could use white if that’s all you have. Reduce and save to drizzle over salad when serving.

In a large salad bowl full of washed and dried mustard greens (or arugula), toss black olives, capers, tiny wine-marinated pearl onions (you can buy them at the deli or use your refrigerated pantry supply), pulled pieces of oil-marinated bottled artichokes and fresh from the garden pitted beefsteak tomatoes, chopped in one-inch pieces.

If in season, you could add chopped seeded perfect green tomatoes. Add a pinch of my oven-roasted homemade golden garlic purée. Add chopped bottled in oil sun-dried tomatoes if you have them on hand.

Sprinkle with a little equal part granulated sugar and kosher salt.

Split creamy Bocconcini balls and add to the salad greens. If you like, crumple crisped pancetta into the mix.

When ready to eat, toss with homemade mayonnaise mixed with a little of my homemade mustard sauce in the mayonnaise. Delight your tastebuds.

Mustard sauce mayo

To a cup of my homemade mayonnaise, add three tablespoons of Dijon, a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar or white balsamic and a tablespoon of fresh dill or dried fresh dill from your pantry jar, or use LiteHouse freeze-dried fresh dill and add a grind of fresh peppercorns and a flutter of sea salt flakes. Whisk gently to combine.

You could add capers.

If you prefer, add two tablespoons of mustard powder or even use plain French’s prepared mustard for a totally different mustard sauce. Dilute with a little half and half cream if you prefer a thinner sauce to drizzle over a whole lox platter when serving.

Serve the mustard sauce in a glass dish alongside your lox roses on your charcuterie board, in a tester dish with an espresso spoon tucked in. Avoid serving mustard sauce in a silver dish. The sauce is acidic. But so delicious.

The mustard sauce mayo is excellent to serve as a dip with my Perfect picnic chicken legs. Or alongside my Battered deep-fried vegetables salad.

Maybe even serve with these melt-in-your-mouth fish nuggets.

Or offer with my personal Bitterballen.

If you enjoy fried or baked liver and onions, this mustard sauce offered in a tiny tasting dish on the side ups the flavour to an extra special treat.

If you serve my chicken liver pâté as tapas, as crostini, a smear of this mustard sauce will attract special attention. Then drizzle with a few drops of your favourite hot sauce, maybe tabasco, or a spritz of Bacardi Lime when ready to eat. You could drizzle the Lime using an eye-dropper.

You might enjoy adding a scatter of crushed dry sage to my mustard sauce from your pantry jar or add a sprinkle from your LiteHouse jar.

Only when ready to eat, toss plenty of the crispy Christmas cake croutons into the panzanella-like mustard greens salad.

Here’s a differentiator: You can make croutons from many dried leftovers: try using my dried date bread or my Boston brown bread. You can also use dried leftover black olive baguette that dries out so quickly. Don’t toss it in the trash. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the baguette into large croutons and freeze it.

You can use any combination of fresh vegetables with the tomatoes and greens; maybe chopped chives and/or green onion. Have you ever used garlic “scapes”? It’s a shame the farmers toss them out in the trash bin. Supermarkets don’t know what to do with them. Same as they toss beet greens.

The crispy croutons absorb the natural liquids and are a wonderful, tasty addition to the salad.

Serve Christmas cake croutons as a side dish to bring a taste of summer to your autumn soups or even serve the salad as a generous meal on its own.

© From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: It’s Just a Salad ~ but it’s no Ordinary Salad…  

© Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Kitchen gets Saucy ~ Sauces, Aolies, Drizzles, Drops, and Puddles  

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. ”Christmas cake crumbs”

    Roast Christmas cake (light or dark cake) croutons on sheet pan on high heat on middle oven rack using your frozen/thawed Christmas cake croutons. Let cool. Pop the crispy croutons into your food processor and whiz to make homemade crumbs. Takes just seconds. Not too coarse but not fine crumbs.

    Set up your mis en place.

    Prepare your chicken dredging in seasoned flour, egg wash to which you have sprinkled crushed rosemary and a pinch of dried sage and thyme, and then in Christmas cake crumbs.

    You could use any chicken parts. You could even make pounded chicken schnitzel. (Hint: Use skinless boneless chicken thighs, pounded flat…) Or perhaps make pork loin schnitzel. Of course you could use these cake crumbs even on fish or lamb chops. Use your imagination. Over the moon… use duck breast… and serve my cigars alongside with dipping sauce.

    Pan-fried in sizzling unsalted butter and a bit of Mazola Corn Oil at 350 F. Or deep-fried in Mazola Corn Oil (not in olive oil). If you are using a skillet, (uncovered) use minimal amount of butter/oil, choose one with low sides to prevent steaming. Position not overlapping. You might need more than one skillet. I have a large paella pan that works well. Use tongs to move pieces. Deglaze skillet with Asbach Uralt brandy. Or use your favourite wine. Drizzle over resting plate along with a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

    When juices run clear, rest on white paper towel and plate. Cooking takes just minutes, turning only once, adjusting heat as needed. Timing will be determined by size of poultry or meat. Should create equal thickness size pieces. You might enjoy a drizzle of my Medjool date syrup or honey citrus caramel sauce, dipping sauce served in individual tasting dishes so there’s no double dipping.

    DELICIOUS for sure and obviously a surprise dish. Offer a bowl of my cranberry confit perhaps.

    Wonderful breaded dishes with any side dishes and or my whipped mashed potatoes, drizzled with whatever sauces you choose.

    If serving guests, for sure they will ask questions. Maybe print this recipe column on coloured paper, roll like a Christmas cracker tied with a bow, placed at each place setting so guests can take home.

    Of course we first eat with our eyes. Set a pretty but simple table. Suggestion: on a large dinner plate, centred, crisscross a knife and fork with the knife on top. Wrap the utensils anchored with a generous length of seasonal half-inch ribbon to stabilize and then tie in a bow. Such a pretty, simple table decoration on each serving plate. You might like to tie into the ribbon bow a generous sprig of fresh sage, rosemary and thyme. Fragrance is wonderful.

    As a simple table centrepiece simply line up a row of 6″ tall fresh rosemary pots covered in coloured tinfoil. Add a small bow to each. So simple yet beautiful. You might consider using tinfoil wrapped chocolate balls poked into the rosemary pots, as ornaments. I used three pots with just a little space in-between, in the centre of the table.

    If you are serving a group at table and prefer to designate who sits where, using a hole-punch tie on the crossed knife and fork, a plain business card with each person’s name calligraphy handwritten on, maybe using a red magic marker.


    (Must use if you are in Canada and decide to order, and use real computer, not smartphone). Perhaps visit and click the “look inside” button at the cover graphic for free reading if using a smartphone.

    © From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen to Canadian Expats: Inspirations and Ideas ~ from back home. Speaking to Canadian Expats home cooks relocated around the world… Our Kitchen Expats

  2. NOTE: You can use light fruitcake as well and or a mix of both. Let your frozen croutons come to room temperature on a sheet pan in a single layer to avoid getting soggy before crisping in the preheated hot oven on middle rack (watch closely) or sear in just a little very hot unsalted butter. You could stovetop sear in just a drizzle of duck fat if you have, or use reserved bacon fat from your refrigerated sterilized glass jar.
    Move quickly and toss using an egg turner or fish flipper.


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