Livening Up Your Leftover Meals
Pates and pastes
Leftover meat, poultry or fish of almost any kind can be made into a tasty spread. Put the meat through a mincer, or flake the fish with a fork, mix in a little melted butter or cream, some finely chopped fresh herbs, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a tablespoon or two of brandy or sherry if you wish. Spoon into small jars or pots and serve with thin toast.
If you aren’t going to eat home-made pate right away, pour a thin layer of melted, clarified butter (butter that has been heated till foaming and then strained through muslin) into the jar before putting on the lid. Sealed like this, pastes and pates should last about three or four days in the fridge. Write a label for each jar with the contents and date so you don’t lose track.
Make your own version of this cold Spanish soup by whizzing up leftover salads with vinaigrette dressing in a blender or food processor. Refrigerate, and serve when cold. Add extra tomatoes, tomato juice or other salad ingredients if necessary. Use chilled chicken stock to thin the soup if it is too thick.
Rice the second time around
You can easily revive boiled rice to make a second meal: saute a finely chopped onion in a little oil until soft, stir in the rice and heat it up thoroughly. Alternatively, make a rice salad: toss the rice in a tasty French dressing and add a handful of fresh chopped herbs and a red pepper, diced finely. Serve cold.
Puree vegetable leftovers with a little stock to make tasty sauces or soups. Add a dash of cream for richness, if you like.
Leftover beer can be used to plump up dried fruit for a rich cake mixture or added to casseroles for extra flavour.
No need to waste wine
Even if it’s no longer any good for drinking, you can add leftover wine to wine vinegar to extend it, or freeze it in ice cube trays to add to casseroles or sauces.
Grease a pie dish and press leftover unfilled pasta such as spaghetti or macaroni over the base and sides. Fill with a mixture of chopped cooked meat, mince or fish. Add a layer of cooked vegetables and top with a white sauce or grated cheese. Bake in a moderate oven until thoroughly heated.
Use hollowed-out red and green peppers, aubergines or tomatoes for this recipe, or boil onions until soft and remove the middle. Fill with a mix of leftovers such as cooked rice and chopped meat or chicken, with some minced onion, seasoning and a little cream, melted butter or olive oil. Bake in a medium-hot oven for 20-30 minutes, or until soft.
Two uses for stale cake
If sponge cake has dried out, sprinkle it well with sherry, top with fresh or canned fruit chunks, and cover with custard and cream to make a quick trifle. Revive fruit cakes or sponges by soaking individual portions in fruit juice, liqueur or sherry, and warming them up in the oven. Serve as a hot dessert, with egg custard, cream or ice cream.
Flake leftover fish with a fork and mix well into about twice as much mashed potato, add a small knob of butter and a little cream or milk. Season with salt and pepper, shape into flat ‘cakes’ about 12mm (1/2in) deep, dip in beaten egg, coat with breadcrumbs and fry till golden brown – about six minutes – on either side. To use up mashed potato, add tinned tuna fish, mix well and finish as above.
Leftover meat and poultry needs to be reheated very thoroughly, always making sure that the heat goes right through to the centre. It’s easier to reheat meat without drying it out if it’s in gravy or a sauce – it can then be simmered for several minutes without harm. Never reheat meat more than once.
Sausages to spare?
Cut cooked sausages into thick slices to add to stews, soups or casseroles about 15 minutes before serving. Alternatively, wrap 25mm (1 in) pieces in thin puff pastry, brush with milk or beaten egg and bake until golden-brown. Serve as cocktail snacks or accompaniments to other dishes. Always make sure sausages are heated all the way through before serving.