I collect cartoons and jokes about food, and one of my all-time favorites is a cartoon I clipped from New Yorker magazine in the 1950s when I was new to this country. In the cartoon, two Eskimos, a man and woman, are dining al fresco in front of an igloo on an ice block table. Before them is a large piece of fish, and behind them looms a giant fish about 10 times the size of the igloo, from whose back the piece of fish has been cut. "Don't worry, darling," the woman is saying, "I'll make croquettes from the leftover."

Croquettes from leftovers, if they are well-prepared, can be excellent.

The great thing about them is that they don't have to be made from the same kind of leftovers. You can mix them up--small amounts of beef, chicken and pork or turkey, chicken and beef. If croquettes are nicely done, well spiced with a good sauce, and served with fresh boiled potatoes, they can be tastier than a mediocre roast for a fraction of the cost.

The recipe that follows is for any kind of leftover poultry, but, as I said, a part of the meat can be something other than poultry and do just as well. POULTRY CROQUETTES (8 servings) 1/2 cup finely minced onion 2 tablespoons butter 4 cups ground cold turkey or chicken, or a mixture of the two 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon white pepper 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning or sage 4 eggs plus 4 tablespoons water 4 slices white bread 1 cup milk 1 cup flour 2 cups breadcrumbs Shortening, such as corn oil, for deep frying

Saute onion in butter until limp and translucent. In a larger bowl, combine ground turkey, salt, pepper and onions.

Add poultry seasoning and 2 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons water until smooth and light yellow. Trim bread and soak in milk until all milk is absorbed. Add to other ingredients and mix to medium consistency. If necessary, add a sprinkling of breadcrumbs to make a firmer mixture, or add a tablespoon or two of milk to make mixture somewhat looser; mixture should be easy to handle and shape.

(If you like especially light croquettes, separate eggs and beat whites with a small pinch of salt until very stiff. Then gently mix a small part of the croquette mixture into egg whites, and slowly fold egg whites into whole mixture. The croquettes will be as light as a cloud.)

Divide mixture into 16 portions. With wet palms, shape into small cone-shaped croquettes. Roll each first in flour, then in the remaining 2 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons cold water, and finally in dry breadcrumbs.

Fry in hot shortening. Be careful to let shortening heat again after you remove first fried croquettes. If you place croquettes in merely warm shortening, breadcrumbs will absorb shortening and will make croquettes heavy and greasy. Hot shortening fries crumbs without penetrating croquette.

Transfer fried croquettes to absorbent paper and keep in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.