What’s in your freezer? I’ll show you mine… Part 1

I am of course a fan of eating and cooking fresh ingredients from the markets. But the freezer is my go to when I’m super-busy – and with 3 kids under 4 years old that tends to be quite often. I try and keep my freezer packed with delicious comfort food. It doesn’t take any more effort to cook a bigger batch of something and store half in the freezer for another day.

Life is too short to compromise on taste or health and there is no need to compromise when you stock your freezer with thought and style.

I don’t eat takeaways often because I love cooking. I’m quite happy to start cooking at 9pm if I’ve had no time to cook during the day. I also find takeaways too heavy in fat or not as tasty as the version I make at home. I don’t always have confidence in the underlying ingredients or their treatment (has the restaurant ensured that cleaning chemicals don’t end up in the food, have the salad greens been washed)? Sometimes dishes don’t travel well either. Once the food reaches my house, the packaging has warped (what is the quality of the plastics?) or the food has overcooked or dried out. I may as well have dug into my treasure trove freezer and pulled something together because it can take 40 mins for a takeaway to arrive. If I don’t have the energy for cooking or cleaning up, I go for something in my freezer that requires neither.

My key tips for stocking a bountiful freezer, include making sure that your frozen food is well wrapped, well presented, well organised and well looked after. If the food looks good frozen you are more likely to delve in and use it often. Label and date everything as you go. And every now and again check to see if anything should be used so that nothing goes to waste (most things last at most, 3 months in the freezer). Also check if anything needs topping up, like your chicken stock reserves which I use lots of. And enjoy it, be creative, so that you can pull out the most unlikely meal in a jiffy.

Here are a few of my freezer must-haves:

Pasta Sauces, Lasagna, Chilli Con Carne, Shepards Pie, Meatloaf, Fish Pie (with poached fresh fish) and Moussaka: These dishes save you preparation time and mess. The flavours improve with time in the freezer and the nutritional content is high and well preserved. I make a 15 veg bolognaise which I freeze in kid-friendly portions (pop in ziplock bags once the bolognaise is cold) so I have a nutritious meal on hand which I know my kids will hoover up, especially on a day like today, when the kids are sick and I am busy administering cuddles and panadol.

Soups, stews and curries: I love soup suppers all year round – try a spring or summery minestrone when it’s not traditional soup season. I’ll post my minestrone recipe (complete with condiments) next week. I also love my traditional matza ball chicken soup and Chinese broth with prawn or chicken dumplings. I keep a few servings of Thai Tom Yum Soup in the freezer and some top quality frozen prawns on hand to cook in the broth.

– Meats: Freeze marinated meats (for example my South African chicken wings, honey/soy chicken drumsticks, herb marinated lamb shoulder, whole trussed roast chicken etc). I freeze pork baby backribs (I ask my butcher to vacuum-seal them) and I have in my pantry, a hand-made “rub” and spicy bbq sauce so that I can put together some incredible sticky ribs if we have people over last minute – these go amazingly with the Caprioskas and Mojitos (see below). I also freeze veal, chicken and pork schnitzel on a plate between plastic sheets. Once frozen, I remove from the plate and store in a large ziplock bag in the freezer. The schnitzels can be cooked from frozen: 4-5 mins per side on low/medium heat. Just check the meat is fully cooked through.

Sausages and Burgers: I always have good quality sausages in the freezer – Kamilla Johns Real Food will be working with suppliers to make our own signatures with the perfect balance of quality meat, texture and flavour. But in the meantime try Prime Quality Meats sausages (they are the butcher at David Jones Food Hall City and Bondi Junction, and have outlets at Leichardt, Northbridge and other spots – http://www.primequalitymeat.com).

– Pizza Bases: When I’m making pizza, I make a few extra bases (if I am in a rush I use the dough setting on my automatic bread maker to make the pizza dough), spoon on some tomato sauce and cook the bases in a very hot oven for 7 mins until cooked through. Once cooled, I vacuum seal (or put in ziplock bags) in the freezer. Later, I’ll put toppings on the frozen bases and reheat in the oven until brown and crispy.

– Pesto: Use a mini muffin tin lined with glad wrap to freeze little disks of pesto (which I make from homegrown basil – I have a few extra plants for the purpose). Cover the pesto with a little oil before freezing. Once frozen, remove the little pesto disks and store in a ziplock bag. Can be used as a condiment or tossed through pasta. Also delicious in a pesto muffin (which itself can be frozen) to accompany soup.

– Frozen Fruit: Raspberries particularly freeze well and at the moment I’ve also got some frozen sour cherries kicking about. Frozen fruit retains all its vitamins and nutrients and is so useful – make a coulis, add to a crumble, make into a compote to serve with French toast. There are organic options.

Stewed Fruit: I love stewed fruit for breakfast with granola or muesli, I love it also with some ice cream, baked in a crumble or made into a fruit pie with good quality butter puff pastry (I use Careme puff pastry which I also keep in the freezer). I stew the fruit, freeze it in one flat layer in ziplock bags so it defrosts quickly.

Crumble: I make crumble topping and store it in a large ziplock bag in the freezer. I then use it as a topping to stewed fruit, baked at 180 for 30-40 mins until bubbling and golden. The crumble can also add a crispy crunchy top to muffins and cakes.

–  Ice Creams: One of the best kitchen appliance investments you can make is a decent ice cream machine (I have a Cuisinart machine at home which is loud but as close to a commercial machine as you can get – just turn it on 10-20 mins before churning to ensure it is super cold when your mix goes in). Make sorbets, ice creams and frozen yoghurts. Flavour them with seasonal ingredients. You can always put together an ice cream dessert feast at a moments notice. Homemade always tastes best (and is better for you) – commercial varieties tend to have a higher ‘air’ content as they are sold by the volume and don’t taste as good.

Chocolate Fondants: These desserts freeze perfectly in their individual tins. Can be cooked straight from frozen in 11 minutes at 220degC and are crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle. Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Vodka, Bacardi and Lime: You never know when a night in watching the rugby or cricket will call for cocktails. If limes are cheap and delicious, I freeze some juice and thick slices of lime which I can then muddle and shake up with some crushed ice and vodka to make Caprioskas or with ice and Bacardi to make Mojitos – use the lime straight from frozen.

I also keep bread, seafood, stock, sauces, flavoured butters, pies, sausage rolls, quiches, tarts, frozen peas, corn and cooked spinach, egg whites, pastry, tiramisu, cakes, muffins, cupcakes, banana bread, cinnamon scrolls and cookie dough and much more. I’ll cover these in my next few posts.

If you can grow some of your own lettuces or rocket (ridiculously easy and possible in small spaces) and have a few herbs on the window sill or in the garden (parsley, thyme, chives, rosemary, sage) between your freezer, pantry and garden, you can always put something together that a good bistro would be proud of.

Check out recipes for 2 of my favourite freezer staples (just click on the links):

  • A delicious Moussaka which I made yesterday with our home grown eggplants – it tastes so fresh even cooked from frozen.
  • A Pear and Raspberry Crumble (or any other crumble that you feel like whipping up at short notice).

Kamilla x

 

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2 Comments on “What’s in your freezer? I’ll show you mine… Part 1”

  1. Bec
    13/02/2012 at 6:51 am #

    That reminds me I need to do a freezer stocktake!

  2. 14/02/2012 at 1:33 am #

    My freezer died recently and throwing out 99% of its contents was really annoying. But it was a great reminder to label meals properly as I had no idea what half the containers were. It’s also been great to re-stock it from scratch. Now I just have to make it look more like yours!

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