Full of food, love and leftovers from Thanksgiving

As much as I love Thanksgiving, I have to say I love the after-Thanksgiving days equally, and in some ways, even more.

The Thanksgiving feast is always wonderful; fine food, good friends, beloved family and new memories to add to the ever-growing store of treasured times. But then, when all is quiet and I’m alone in the kitchen, I open the fridge and what I consider one of the best aspects of Thanksgiving is there, in abundance.

It’s called “leftovers,” and I can’t wait to begin dealing with the remains of the feast. Not immediately, of course, because as I’m perusing the contents of the fridge, I’m still so full from the original dinner that food in any shape, manner or form is of little interest right at that moment. But I also know what a good time I’m going to have over the next few days coming up with ways to transform those remains into something delectable, and I won’t have to shop for food for at least a week, if I play my leftover cards well.

Yes, we all love the after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, probably accompanied by some of the leftover mashed potatoes and gravy and a bit of cranberry sauce, but it’s been so blasted cold this November, I’ve got soup on my mind: rich, hot soup such as a turkey and lime tortilla soup, maybe? Or perhaps an Asian style turkey noodle soup with lots of ginger and chiles to warm those heart cockles.

Turkey burritos with plenty of salsa and cilantro are certainly a tasty possibility for at least one night, but what about the leftover mashed potatoes? And the bowl of cranberry sauce perched on the refrigerator shelf next to the leftover stuffing? Well, I’m sure cranberry sorbet would be a welcome way to calm some of the heat from the burritos or the ginger/chile soup, so there’s a delicious and easy dessert for either of those meals. As for the mashed potatoes, one of my favorite Thanksgiving leftovers is a mashed potato cheddar and herb gratin.

As always, I have one very fat file titled “Thanksgiving Leftovers” and that’s the file lying on my kitchen counter as I mentally try to decide which recipes to use this year. I’m aware that there are people out there who find leftovers not only unappetizing but difficult to deal with, and if any of you are readers of this column, I can only say, with my apologies, what’s not to love about leftovers, except of course for that ghastly green bean casserole, which is nowhere to be found in my fridge.

THANKSGIVING RECIPES

I won’t have room to give you all of the recipes I’ve mentioned above, but if you’d like to get any of them not given here, drop me a quick e-mail telling me which one(s) you’d like and I’ll zap it back to you. Meanwhile, here are a couple that may help you with your Thanksgiving leftovers.

CITRUSY CRANBERRY SORBET

3 cups leftover cranberry sauce (most cooked cranberry sauces should work in this recipe)

1 cup fresh orange juice

½ cup fresh lemon juice (I use Meyer lemon when available)

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup water

2 T. grated orange peel

1 T. grated lemon peel

Bring all ingredients to simmer in a heavy med. pot over med.-high heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved (be very sure it’s all dissolved) and mixture is heated through. Transfer mixture to a 9×13 metal baking pan and place in the freezer. Freeze for at least three hours, stirring with a spoon every hour to break up ice crystals. When ready to serve, scoop into bowls and serve (a mint garnish is nice). Serves 6.

TURKEY AND LIME TORTILLA SOUP

4 five-inch to six-inch corn tortillas

2 t. olive oil

3 ½ to 4 cups turkey broth (or use canned chicken broth if you’re out of homemade)

2 cups water (or use all broth if you have plenty)

¾ cup canned Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, with juice

1 bay leaf

2-4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced (or to your garlic taste)

¼ t. ground cumin (I use a bit more because I like it spicy)

1/8 t. dried crushed red pepper (more if you like it hot)

12 oz. (or so) leftover turkey, shredded or cut into strips

2 green onions, sliced

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 T. fresh lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; brush 1 side of the tortillas with oil, cut in half. Stack the halves and cut crosswise into ¼-inch wide strips. Spread the strips on a nonstick baking sheet and bake until light golden, about 15 min. Allow to cool on the baking sheet.

2. Combine broth, water, tomatoes, bay leaf, garlic, cumin and red pepper in a saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 min. Stir in green onions, cilantro and lime juice then add turkey; simmer just until turkey is heated through and onion is softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with tortilla strips; serve. Serves 4.

TURKEY NOODLE SOUP WITH GINGER AND CHILES

3 ½ oz. rice noodles (linguine width), broken into about 6-inch lengths

6 cups homemade turkey broth (or low-salt chicken broth)

½ cup thinly sliced shallots

6 rounds (1/8-inch thick) peeled fresh ginger

2 T. fish sauce (or use soy sauce)

2 cups diced cooked turkey

Fresh bean sprouts, mint leaves, thinly sliced fresh serrano or jalapeno chiles, lime wedges

1. Place noodles in a large bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Let stand until noodles are soft (about 5 min.); drain.

2. Combine broth, shallots, ginger and fish sauce in a large pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover partially, and simmer 10 minutes. Discard ginger slices and return broth to a boil. Stir in noodles and turkey, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer until turkey is heated through, 3-4 min.

3. Ladle soup into bowls, serve, allowing your soup eaters to top their soup with sprouts, mint, chiles and lime, as they please. Serves 6.