The party's over but the memory lingers on, as does the ham, an unused loaf of French bread, half of the salad, dribs and drabs of wine and heaven only knows what else.
Some leftovers can be put back in the refrigerator and used up during the week, or frozen for a later round of entertaining.But others are best recycled. New life for old chickens.
There almost always is bread to spare after a dinner party and rather than toss it out, make it into a chunky bread pudding, or put it in the blender and turn it into bread crumbs, plain or flavored with herbs. They keep a long time in a jar tucked in the back of your refrigerator.
Leftover bread also can be sliced thick and spread with a mixture of butter and herbs, or butter and grated cheddar, or olive oil in which you have let a curshed clove or garlic stand, and then toasted slowly in a low oven until they turn crisp. Store them in airtight containers and offer them spread with pate at your next party.
Leftover vegetables can become the neixt night's salad. Leftover salad can be thrown into the Cuisinart or blender with a handful of ice cubes and turned into a cold soup. The ham that, left to itself, would go on forever, can be boned and the bone made into the base of a split-pea soup; the meat can be ground up, and mixed with mayonnaise and hot mustard: deviled ham to serve with the soup. The same works with chicken or turkey.
To make vinegar properly, the books say, you need a barrel of a crock and a starter called a mother. You can, however, make it improperly. Add leftover wine to a bottle holding as much or more vinegar. Cheap vinegas is fine because you're after the acidity.
The falvor you add yourself with herbs like tarragon, basil, mint or dill in season, or lemon peels and coriader seeds duringd the winter. Cap the mixture and let it sit for several weeks. It may not be officially vinegar, but it tasts as good or better. You can even use a few raspberries that invariably are crushed in the bottom of the box to make your own raspberry vinegar.
Egg whites can be frozen and used later to clarify as aspic. Any extra egg yolks, like that bit of mayonnaise, alwayg get plucked immediately into a salad dressing, but if you have enough you could make a Zabaglione.
Gravy, once cooled, gets poured on top of stocks already sitting in the freezer. Cheese that has dried out gets grated.
There is even an afterlife for cigarette ashes. Mix them with a small amount of mayonnaise and spread the resulting goo on any heat rings your guests' coffee cups have left on the dining room table; it makes them disappear.