Leftover Potatoes

No need to eat the same old potato leftovers every night when you have so many delicious ways to make them look freshly cooked.

It's happened to everyone. You throw a party and you cook too much food. Especially things like potatoes. And potato salad. If you're thrifty by nature, you'll want to eat those leftovers rather than throw them out. But who can face the same potato salad every day for a week? Or even reheat baked or mashed potatoes every night?

All you need is a little imagination and you can turn those leftovers into nearly gourmet dishes that no one will recognize. And it doesn't matter whether the potatoes are roasted, boiled, mashed, baked or in a salad. Here are ten ideas, all for about 4 people.

It helps if you have a food processor. That allows you to grate or puree food with ease.

1. Let's start with a creamy potato soup. You can make this with baked, mashed, boiled or salad potatoes. Puree the potato with an equal volume of liquid, either water, or vegetable or chicken bouillon. If the potato looks like two cups' worth, add two cups of liquid. Then add about half as much again milk, and stir in some cream and fresh herbs like parsley or rosemary. Season to taste, reheat and wait for the compliments.

2. You can use the same principle to make a chowder. Make up the creamy potato soup as directed, without the herbs. Chop up some bacon, and fry in a deep pot. Add your creamy potato soup, then add a can of creamed sweet corn for corn chowder, a can of drained clams for clam chowder, a can of drained mussels for mussel chowder ... You get the idea.

3. There's also the option of a chunky potato soup. If you have baked, boiled or roast potatoes, dice them into cubes of about 1/2 inch. Fry an onion with some sliced sausage or bacon. Add 2 cans of water, a can of tomato, a can of drained beans and the potato, also about a can's worth. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Recognize the leftover potato? If you have mash, use about a can's worth instead of the potato dice.

4. Mashed potato makes a good topping for an oven-baked casserole. Make any kind of casserole you like, and cook it through. Then top with mashed potato, dot it with butter, and bake in a medium-hot oven until the potato topping has begins turning golden brown. You could probably mash up any potato salad or boiled potatoes and do the same thing with it. You can puree baked potatoes with a little cream for the same effect. If you only have roast potatoes, slice them very thinly, layer them over the casserole and brush well with extra oil.

5. A sausage and potato bake is another way to use up most kind of potato. Slice boiled, baked or roast potatoes, and put in the bottom of a greased ovenproof dish. If you have mash or potato salad, just spread it out along the bottom of the dish. Fry one or two onions (depending on the size of your dish) and some sliced sausage, all until golden brown. You can even use hot-dog sausages for this. Allow about one sausage per person. Then layer the onions and sausage on top of the potato. Add a layer of tomato, cover with cheese sauce, and bake in a hot oven till the cheese sauce looks golden brown and bubbly.

6. For breakfast, why not try potato cakes? Grate two roast or baked potatoes, or measure out about a cup and a half of mash. (Don't forget you can puree your salad if you want mash, but you can also grate it, dressing and all.) Mix together 3/4 cup of milk, 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 egg and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the mashed potato. Ladle about 1/4 cup of mixture at a time onto a hot, greased griddle or large frying pan. Medium heat is best. This quantity will make about eight, or two each. Once the little cakes bubble, flip them over and cook for about the same amount of time so that both sides are golden brown. You can serve with bacon, or eggs, or sausages or tomatoes or sour cream, or just eat them on their own. They're delicious.

7. You can use exactly the same mixture to make potato waffles. Just ladle into a waffle iron and cook until done.

8. Use a similar mixture to make fish cakes or rissoles. Use less milk so that your potato mix is stiff. Add flaked cooked or canned fish, finely cooked chicken or meat, and shape into cakes. Roll in bread crumbs, then fry in deep or shallow oil.

9. If you're adventurous, make a potato soufflé. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. The oven must be hot when the potato goes in. Measure out about a cup of mash, or puree your leftover potato with a little cream to get the same effect. Season. If you like, add some sharp cheddar cheese or even some blue cheese. Beat three egg yolks well, and add to the potato. Beat the egg whites (left over from the three yolks) until stiff, then fold into the potato. Divide into four soufflé dishes and bake for about 20 minutes until puffy and golden. Eat these as soon as they come out the oven. If you only have roast potatoes, grate them and add to about 3/4 cup of white or cheese sauce. You'll get a more textured soufflé this way.

10. If you're not so adventurous, how about a simple potato omelet? This works with everything except mash, but even then read on. Cube any potato you have (except mash). You need about 1/2 to one potato per person. Cut up bacon into little squares. Allow about a tablespoon per person. If you have some peas, so much the better, also a tablespoon per person. Fry the bacon. Add the potato and brown. Add the peas. Beat two eggs per person and pour over the vegetables. It's your choice if you want to make one large omelet or several small ones. When the egg has set, turn the omelet over to brown the other side. If you only have mash, heat it in the microwave and add the cooked bacon and peas. Maybe even add a little cheese. Make the omelet, and when you turn it, spread the savory mash over half the browned egg. When the omelet is set on both sides, fold the omelet in half and serve.

There you go. Ten quick delicious ways to serve leftover potatoes. And nobody will guess they're eating leftovers again.

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