Monday, May 11, 2009

Freeze with Ease

This is a dish made with canned pilchards, and being extremely inexpensive mean a meal that everyone can afford to make. As pilchards are just teenage sardines, sardines in tomato sauce (to the same weight) could be used instead.
Pilchard Pasta: serves 4 (F)
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 oz (75g) mushrooms, finely chopped
1 oz (25g) butter
1 lb can (454g) pilchards (or two smaller cans)
freshly ground black pepper
1 tblsp lemon juice
12 cannelloni OR 12 strips lasagne
1 oz (25g) butter
1 oz (25g) plain flour
15 fl oz (425ml) milk
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a pan and fry the celery and mushrooms until tender. Mash the pilchards with their sauce then fold in the fried vegetables, adding the lemon juice and pepper to taste.
Cook the chosen pasta in salted boiling water until just tender, drain well and rinse with cold water. Stuff the fish filling into the cannelloni, or lay a 'sausage' of filling across the lasagne strip and roll it up into a cylinder. Place the filled pasta in a single layer into a foil-lined baking dish or rigid foil container.
Make the sauce by melting the butter, then remove from heat, stir in the flour and gradually blend in the milk. Return to the heat, stirring all the time, then bring to the boil, and boil for 1 minute until thickened, adding seasoning to taste. Cool, the pour over the cannelloni so that the sauce covers it completely. Chill then freeze until firm then lift the foil from the baking dish, folding it over, or covering tightly with more foil (if using a foil dish, just cover that before freezing), then seal, label and return to freezer for up to 2 months.
To serve from frozen: unwrap, return to the original container (if necessary) and reheat from frozen at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 45 minutes.

This next is more a party 'nibble' that can be made weeks ahead, frozen, then just thawed before eating. However these would also work as a 'side' to go with salads, and because of the crisp coating, probably enjoyed by children. Other cooked fish could be used, but smoked fish is particularly tasty. The thought has occurred that kippers might be less costly but still enjoyable.
Fish 'n Chip Nibbles: makes about 30 (F)
8 oz (225g) smoked haddock fillet
2 slices lemon
handful parsley
6 oz (175g) cream cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 x 25g (1 oz) packs plain potato crisps, crushed
Remove the stalks from the parsley (reserving the leaves) and put the stalks into a pan with the lemon juice and fish, adding enough water to just cover. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the fish is just cooked. Meanwhile chop the parsley leaves finely and set aside.
When the fish is cooked, drain well, and remove the skin, membrane and bones. When the fish is cool, flake the flesh finely.
Cream together the cheese and the lemon juice, and when fully blended, fold in the chopped parsley and season to taste with the pepper. Fold this cheese mixture into the flaked fish until smooth.
Lightly flour your hands and take heaped teaspoons of the mixture (aiming for walnut sized portions) and roll into balls. Then roll each ball into the crushed crisps, pressing the crisps into the mixture, and rolling through the crisps again if necessary to cover the mixture completely.
To freeze: place in a single layer on a baking sheet and open freeze. When solid pack in a freezer bag, seal and label. Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
To serve: remove balls from the bag and lay on a baking sheet. Leave at room temperature for about 3 hours, then serve - each speared with a cocktail stick - as buffet fare or as a cocktail savoury with drinks.

Yet another fish dish - this time a cross between a Scotch Egg and a Chicken Kiev, but without the sausage and the chicken. Read on and you will understand.
Mackerel a la Kiev: makes 6 (F)
4 mackerel, filleted
2 eggs
fresh breadcrumbs
plain flour
4 oz (100g) butter
2 level tsp dry mustard
Poach the mackerel in a pan of simmering water for about 5 minutes or until cooked. Drain, and remove the skin and bones, then flake the flesh.
Add one beaten egg and enough breadcrumbs to bind, then divide the mixture into six. Using floured hands, flatten each portion into a 'fishcake', then chill until ready to use. Soften the butter and mix with the mustard, then form it into a roll and chill.
To assemble the 'Kievs', slice the mustard butter into 6, and put one portion on the centre of each fishcake, the fold the cake over the butter so that it is covered completely. Shape into balls or ovals, then dip into remaining beaten egg and coat with breadcrumbs.
To Freeze: open freeze on a baking sheet, and when firm, put into freezer bags or containers. Use within 2 months.
To serve: unwrap and place on a tray, cover loosely with foil and thaw for two and a half hours at room temperature. Deep fry slowly for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately while piping hot.

Final recipe is for those who like something sweet. Although digestives are mentioned, almost any unfilled sweet biscuit could be used. The dried fruit can also be varied, anything from sultanas to finely chopped no-soak apricots and dates, prunes and pineapple.
Frozen Chocolate Crunch Bar: (F)
8 oz (225g) digestive biscuits, roughly crushed
2 oz (50g) seedless raisins
3 oz (75g) butter
2 tblsp golden syrup
1 tblsp sugar
1 tblsp cocoa powder
(2 oz/50g grated chocolate to finish)
Mix the biscuits crumbs with the raisins. Put the butter, syrup, sugar and cocoa into a pan and heat gently until fully dissolved, stir togther to mix then pour into the crumb mixture. When well combined, pack into a lined and greased 7"(18cm) shallow square tin, and leave to set.
To Freeze: open freeze until firm, then remove from the tin, peel off the paper and re-wrap in foil, then overwrap tightly with more foil, label and return to the freezer.
To use: unwrap and thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour, then sprinkle with grated chocolate. Serve cut into squares or bars.