Try something different with ham leftovers


If you are a traditionalist who made ham for your Easter feast, you hopefully have some left for making delicious second-time-around meals this week. Diced ham and scrambled eggs has always been a favorite for me; my husband makes his quota of ham and cheese sandwiches; and some finds its way into noodle soups or at least one scalloped potatoes and ham casserole. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous this year, consider one of these recipes. Because even traditionalists need to try something different once in a while.

Ham mousse

Serve this make-ahead mousse with crisp thin toast or crackers and a dollop of sweet-and-hot mustard. Recipe from “Cold Cuisine” by James McNair; serves 8 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course.

1/2 cup Madeira or Port

4 egg whites

2 cups chopped baked ham (about a pound)

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons sweet-and-hot mustard

Salt and fresh ground white pepper

Fresh grated nutmeg

Pour Madeira or Port into a small saucepan; cook over high heat until wine is syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons — about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F. Put ham in food processor; mince until fine. Add reduced wine, cream, mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Transfer mixture to a bowl; fold in the beaten egg whites. Turn into a buttered souffle dish or ovenproof crock. Put dish in a larger pan and add enough hot — not boiling — water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake until top feels set to the touch, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.

Asparagus and mushroom fricassee with ham

Great use of spring asparagus, this makes a “meaty” entree with less meat. Recipe adapted from Food &Wine magazine; makes 4 servings.

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound mushrooms, large stems discarded, halved or quartered

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 shallot, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup vegetable stock or low-sodium broth

1 to 2 cups leftover ham, sliced or shredded into 1-inch pieces

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon minced chives

In a medium saucepan of boiling water, blanch asparagus until bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain; refresh in a bowl of ice water, then drain again. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add mushrooms in an even layer; season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir; cook until tender, about 4 minutes longer. Add shallot; cook, stirring until lightly browned. Add wine; cook about 30 seconds until evaporated. Add chicken stock and asparagus and simmer until liquid reduces to 2 tablespoons, about 2 minutes. Add ham, then stir in heavy cream; simmer over low heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and chives; serve at once.

Ham, fontina and spinach bread pudding

This savory bread pudding is a great one-dish dinner that can be made quickly or up to a day ahead. Recipe from Gourmet magazine; makes 6 servings.

1 large baguette

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 onions, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

About a pound of leftover ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 large eggs

1 quart whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

6 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

3/4 pound fontina cheese, grated

Diagonally cut baguette crosswise into ¾-inch-thick slices and brush both sides with butter. Toast on a baking sheet under a preheated broiler 3 inches from heat until golden, about 30 seconds on each side. Saute onions in oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until ham is lightly browned. Whisk eggs in a large bowl; whisk in milk, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Add toasted bread; toss gently. Transfer saturated bread to a shallow 3-quart casserole, slightly overlapping slices. Add any remaining egg mixture. Tuck spinach and ham between slices, reserving a little ham to sprinkle over top. Sprinkle cheese over pudding, lifting slices with a spatula to allow some to fall between slices. Sprinkle reserved ham over pudding. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake pudding on middle rack for 45 minutes to an hour, until puffed and edges of bread are golden; custard should be set in the middle. Note: if making a day ahead, cover and chill pudding before baking. When ready to bake, increase baking time to an hour and 10 minutes if pudding is cold when put in oven. Cover top with foil after 45 minutes to prevent too much browning.

Potato soup with ham and scallions

Not only easy to make, this soup is also economical and hearty enough to be the main course. Recipe from “Soups &Stews” by Food &Wine Books; makes 6 servings.

3 tablespoons butter

3 onions, chopped

4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices

3 cups chicken stock or broth

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (more or less to taste)

1 1/2 cups leftover ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 scallions including green tops, cut into thin slices

1 1/2 cups light cream

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot, melt butter over medium low heat. Add onions; cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, stock or broth, water and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add ham and scallions; cook until potatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes. Add cream, pepper and parsley and bring just to a simmer, stirring. Serve hot.