The witty writer Dorothy Parker once aptly described eternity as “two people and a ham.”
Chances are, if you just celebrated Easter or Passover you are now saddled with a variety of leftovers: matzoh, hard-boiled eggs, brisket, perhaps ham or lamb . . . and margarine, plus a weird selection of candies, the kind that only appear at Easter, such as the vile Peeps, little neon colored chicks made of the most obsequiously mushy marshmallow coated with sugar crystals with such a ghastly dose of food coloring you actually get a bitter aftertaste. More on what to do with Peeps later, besides just throw them out.
Passover seders were over a week ago, so I am hoping you carved up some one-pound chunks of your leftover brisket and popped them in the freezer. Now what? Sloppy Joes with barbecue sauce on an onion roll with coleslaw. Shred some and add it to a rich, beef broth-based vegetable soup. My favorite method of using leftover brisket is to make layered tostadas with fresh pico de gallo.
Figuring out what to do with leftover hard-boiled eggs is easy: Make egg salad or deviled eggs. Cobb salad is another good alternative. When making egg salad or deviled eggs, doll up the eggs with lots of fresh herbs like parsley and chives, or add a pinch of curry powder and mango chutney. Top them with crisp bacon bits or smoked paprika.
Remember the delicious, salty ham salad from Dreesen’s? It was hard to beat but homemade is easy. Simply grind ham in a food processor or finely chop by hand and add a bit of mayo to bind it and some Dijon or yellow mustard. If you want to go really retro, add Durkee Famous Sauce, a vinegary concoction with just the right balance of sharpness from the mustard and egginess from the mayonnaise.
Matzoh can be transformed into matzoh balls, best made with good rendered chicken fat and simmered gently in a rich chicken soup. Matzoh brei is another favorite but is so often made poorly. While it can be made as simply as water-soaked matzoh added to scrambled eggs, it is an outstanding breakfast or brunch dish when started with sauteed onions and served with sour cream and cherry jam or applesauce.
Some people are perfectly happy with cold leftover lamb in a sandwich. You can make a gyro inspired sandwich with a yogurt cucumber sauce spiked with garlic. I prefer cutting the lamb into small cubes and making either an Indian curry or Thai green curry and serving over basmati or jasmine rice. Homemade chutneys on the side, such as pineapple or mango, add some sweetness to tame the heat of the curry.
I am not prone to using margarine but if you bought some to make a dairy-free dessert for Passover, such as flourless chocolate cake, now you have leftover margarine. Fortunately, nowadays there are many tasty brands. If you have stick margarine you can make pastry crusts or any other baked goods that call for butter. This won’t work with the tub variety, however, as this has added water.
As for those leftover Peeps (which now come in pink and purple and blue, along with the original electric yellow), a popular use, posted on the Baking Bites blog and picked up by The New York Times, is Peeps infused vodka. You put about 30 Peeps into a glass jar, fill it with 750 mls of vodka, steep for four days, then strain. You now have sweet yellow vodka, which you can serve to your unsuspecting friends in a lemon drop.
When it comes to jelly beans and chocolate bunnies and Cadbury cream eggs I don’t think there’s much use for them. Just chuck them in the trashcan and focus on creative ways to use up your eggs and brisket and ham and lamb and matzoh. Here are some delicious recipes to get you started. No Peeps s’mores, I promise.