The Cook’s Challenge: Leftovers


What do you do with leftovers? Do you have a favorite recipe using leftovers you would like to share with our readers?

The young bride set her luncheon casserole down with a flourish and waited for her husband to say the blessing.

“It seems to me,” he murmured, “that I have blessed a good deal of this material before.”

Leftovers! Occasionally they can stand simple repetition, but more often leftovers challenge any cook’s ingenuity and imagination.

Sometimes leftovers can supply the needed fillip for a special dish. Leftovers can be combined to make a vegetable soufflé; they can dress up an omelet; or they can turn an ordinary can of soup into a real delicacy.

It is wise to limit the number of leftover ingredients in any one dish. If there is too much of a mishmash, the flavors cancel out one another. Leftovers often have a tired color. Freshen them with the more positive accents of red tomatoes or bright greens, or with a sauce of a contrasting color. Leftovers take on an added appeal when one has been careful to create some contrast in texture. When leftover textures are soft, contrast can be achieved by adding minced celery, nuts, water chestnuts, crisp bacon, or freshly minced herbs.

Leftover foods can be used in small or large amounts. Bits of cake, small pieces of bread or bread crusts, or cracker crumbs can be added to many dishes. Bread can be used for melba toast, in bread pudding, in bread sauce and stuffing, and to thicken soups and gravies. Many recipes call for dry bread crumbs or cracker or cake crumbs. Leftover cake can be used in such dishes as cottage pudding, trifle, and icebox pudding.

Leftover cooked cereals can be used in quick breads and muffins. Cooked meat, fish, and vegetables can be used in casseroles, soufflés, timbales, meat pies, salads, and creamed over toast or rice.

Use leftover gravy and sauces with vegetables, with pastas and meats, and with hot sandwiches.

Leftover grated cheese can be used in timbales and soufflés, in sauces, and au gratin. Raw egg yolks are used in sponge cakes, cookies, cakes, salad dressings, and custards. Cooked eggs can be dressed up as deviled eggs, sliced as a garnish, riced and used in salads, or creamed and served over toast. Egg whites can be used in angel or white cakes, meringues, fruit whips, dessert soufflés, and icings. Sour milk, buttermilk, and sour cream have endless uses in cooking.

Leftover fruit juices can be added to gelatins, can substitute for water in cakes and cookies, can be used for meat basting, and can be combined in sauces or fruit salad dressings.

Surprise your family with your imaginative use of leftovers.

Muffins with Leftover Cooked Cereal

2 eggs

1 cup leftover cooked cereal (oatmeal or whole wheat)

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons melted butter or oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

Preheat oven to 400° F. Separate the egg yolks and whites. Put whites aside. Beat the egg yolks. Add the cereal, milk, and butter or oil. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add to other ingredients. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into mixture. Fill well-greased muffin tins about two-thirds full. Bake at once for 20–25 minutes. Serve hot with butter or margarine and honey. Makes 30 two-inch muffins.

Fruit Whip

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

7 7/8 cup sugar

1 tablespoon gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup boiling water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup crushed fruit

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 egg whites

Combine lemon rind and sugar. Soak gelatin in the cold water, then dissolve in the boiling water. Stir in the lemon-sugar mixture until dissolved. Add lemon juice, fruit, and vanilla. Place the pan holding these ingredients in ice water. When chilled to a syrupy consistency, whip with eggbeater until frothy. Whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the fruit mixture and whip all ingredients until the gelatin holds its shape. Pour into a wet mold, and chill four hours or more.

Brown Betty

1 cup dry bread or cake crumbs

1/4 cup melted margarine

2 1/2 cups peeled, sliced apples or peaches

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine the cake or bread crumbs and margarine and line the bottom of a baking dish with one-third of the mixture. Prepare the fruit. Sift the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and add vanilla. Place one half of the fruit over the crumb mixture in the baking dish. Cover with one half of the sugar mixture. Add the water. Repeat with one-third of the crumb mixture, the fruit, and sugar mixture. Place last one-third of crumb mixture on top. Cover the dish and bake for about 40 minutes. When the fruit is nearly tender, remove the cover, increase the heat to 400 degrees, and brown the top of the pudding for about 15 minutes. Serve hot or cold with whipped cream, ice cream, or top milk.

Hash with Vegetables

1 cup leftover gravy

1 1/3 cup tomato puree

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup cooked potatoes, diced

1 1/3 cup cooked onions, diced

1 1/3 cup cooked celery, chopped

1 1/3 cup chopped green pepper

2 cups cooked meat, cubed

Combine gravy, puree, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper; heat to boiling. Add the meat and vegetables. Pour hash into one large baking dish or into six individual baking dishes. Cover the top with grated cheese or with a light layer of bread crumbs. Brown in 350° F. oven for 30 minutes.

[illustration] Art by Richard Hull

Sister Izatt, a housewife and the mother of five children, holds a B.S. degree in foods and nutrition from Utah State University and has both a teaching and a librarian’s certificate. She is a member of Oak Hills Fifth Ward, Sharon East Stake.