Monday, April 06, 2009

Food for The Freezer

The great advantage is being able to cook for the freezer is the cooking can be done at a convenient time, when we feel more inclined to do so, when prices are low enough to take advantage of a bulk buy, and nothing else is tugging for our attention.

The recipes given today eat well together (choosing either of the main courses), and the first helps with one of the queries raised in a recent comment, such as using vacuum packed beetroot, although ordinary cooked beetroot can be used instead.
Beetroot Soup: serves 4 (F)
1 lb (450g) cooked beetroot, diced
12 oz (350g) potatoes, peeled and diced
1 oz (25g) butter
1 onion, chopped
2 pints (1.5 litres) chicken stock
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion and potato. Fry gently for four minutes, then add the beetroot and fry for a couple more minutes before adding the stock and seasoning to taste. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender. Rub through a sieve or blitz to a puree in a blender.
To freeze: pour into a rigid container, cool, cover, label and freeze.
To serve: thaw overnight in the fridge, then pour into a saucepan and heat gently. Taste and add more seasoning if required. Serve piping hot, with a swirl of thick cream or creme fraiche dolloped in the centre (optional).

This next is a main dish that makes use of the cheaper chicken joints, and when it comes to the bacon, suggest buying one of those packs of bacon pieces/offcuts as the recipe chops up the bacon anyway. As regards using wine, use any red wine you have (you may already have some frozen away in cubes) and dilute with water if you haven't the full amount. Alternatively, if no wine available when cooking for the freezer, but the plan is to open a bottle when serving the dish, then use a couple more fluid oz. of stock and add the wine when reheating the dish. As it takes almost as long to re-heat as it does to cook, it hardly saves on the fuel but if there are raw chicken joints in the freezer (once thawed then cooked thoroughly it is safe to refreeze them) they could be used to make a bulk amount of this dish which could then be divided up into family or portion sizes before being frozen.
Country Chicken: serves 4 (F)
8 chicken joints, skin removed
1 oz (25g) butter
4 oz (100g) smoked streaky bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 oz (25g) flour
5 fl oz (150ml) red wine
5 fl oz (150ml) chicken stock
half teaspoonful dried thyme
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the chicken until browned, then place into a casserole. Add the bacon to the fat in the frying pan and fry the onion until softened, then stir in the garlic. Fry for a further minute then stir in the flour. Stir/fry for 2 minutes to cook the flour then add the wine, stock and thyme. Add seasoning to taste. Bring to the boil and pour over the chicken.
Cover and cook at 160C, 325F, gas 3 for one hour - or until the chicken is tender. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside to cool.
To freeze: put contents of casserole into a rigid container, cover, label and freeze.
To serve: thaw overnight in the fridge, replace into the (clean) casserole, cover and reheat at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 45 -50 minutes.

Although only one type of fish is used in this next recipe, a mixture of white fish, salmon and smoked haddock (as sold as 'fish pie mix') could be used instead. Make it family size in one dish, or make individual servings using smaller dishes. Use less peas and add some sweetcorn if you want to ring the changes.
Fisherman's Pie: serves 4 (F)
1 lb (450g) cod or chosen fish (see above)
8 oz (225g) frozen peas, thawed
16 fl oz (450ml) milk
2 oz (50g) butter
2 oz (50g) plain flour
2 - 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 tblsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs cooked potatoes, mashed with butter and cream
Remove skin from the fish and put in a pan with the milk. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer and poach for up to 10 minutes or until the fish can be flaked with a fork (if using smaller fish pieces, this will probably take only 5 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, remove fish from the milk and pour the milk into a jug. Set both to one side.
Rinse out the saucepan and then put in the butter over a low heat to melt, then add the flour and stir for 2 minutes, then gradually add the reserved milk, whisking to remove any lumps. When it comes to the boil and has begun to thicken , boil for 1 minute then turn out the heat. Flake the fish, removing any bones, and add the fish to the white sauce together with the peas, eggs, mayo and seasoning to taste.
Sp0on/turn into a 3 pint (1.75 litres) foil dish and leave to cool, then spread or pipe a border of mashed potato over the contents.
To freeze: cover, label and freeze.
To serve: thaw overnight in the fridge, then remove lid and reheat at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 40 - 45 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with sprigs of parsley.

Final freezer recipe today is a dessert that would eat very well with many main courses. There are more complicated versions of this, but why make things more difficult?
Easy Lemon Mousse: serves 4
4 eggs, separated
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
zest and juice from 2 large lemons
half ounce (12g) gelatine
3 tblsp cold water
Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the sugar and beat until thick and creamy, then add the lemon zest and juice. Put the gelatine in a small bowl or teacup with the water and leave to stand for 3 - 5 minutes until it has turned 'spongey', then stand the bowl/cup in a pan of simmering water until the gelatine has dissolved completely. Cool slightly then stir into the creamed egg/sugar mixture. Leave to stand for a few minutes until JUST beginning to set, then whisk the whites until stiff and fold into the lemon mixture. Put into a 2 pint (1.25 ltr) glass dish or other freezer-proof container.
To freeze: cover with foil, label and freeze.
To serve: remove foil and thaw overnight in the fridge, or for 4 hours at room temperature.