Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My Fabulous Freezer

I simply don’t know where I would be without it! Since having a family I have come to rely on it heavily as it makes planning the week’s meals so much easier. A couple of times a week when I make meals I will double the recipe so there is enough left to freeze in meal size portions for when I don’t feel like cooking. Yes, I absolutely have days where I can’t face the idea of cooking so having a freezer full of ‘ready meals’ means we don’t end up getting takeaways - the options of which locally are chinese or fish and chips, neither are very appealing! Plus it is infinitely better for us and cheaper!
As I have been making a lot of things with pulses lately I have been soaking and cooking them and freezing them in meal size lots to effectively give myself the same convenience as having them in the pantry tinned (again at a greatly reduced cost!). I currently have black eyed peas, butter beans, brown lentils, chick peas and kidney beans hiding away ready to use.
I recently made a meal around some chilli con carne I had made double of and froze. I used the following Jamie Oliver recipe from Happy Days with the Naked Chef – I like the fact that you mince your own meat (which I just do in the food processor and it turns out great!) because I can make it nice and lean, also I think the addition of sundried tomatoes to this recipe gives it a deeper tomato flavour which is really lovely. I do dial back the chilli for my children, Jamie Oliver really loves his chilli, but my kids don't! I baked a couple of huge kumara (sweet potato), split them in half and topped them with the chilli con carne and sour cream, it was a quick, easy and satisfying meal!

Chilli Con Carne

2 medium onions
1 clove garlic
Olive oil
2 level teaspoons chili powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin (or crushed cumin seeds)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (455 grams) chuck, minced or ground
7 ounces (200 grams) sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes (400 grams)
1/2 stick cinnamon
5 ounces water
2 (14 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained (400 grams)

If you are going to use the oven method, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Chop up the onions and garlic in the food processor and fry in some olive oil until softened. Add the chili powder and cumin and a little seasoning. Chop up the meat in the processor and add to the pan, cooking it until slightly browned. Place the sun-dried tomatoes and chile in the processor with the oil and blend to form a paste. Add these to the beef with the tomatoes, cinnamon stick, and a wineglass of water. Season a little more, if need be. Bring to the boil, cover with greaseproof paper and a lid, then either turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours or transfer the pan to the oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Add the red kidney beans 30 minutes before the end of cooking time.

I also often make up hummus for the kids to have as a snack to tide them over until dinner is ready. I make it with peanut butter as we always have it in the house, I found tahini used to sit unused for eons in my fridge so have converted to this recipe and have never gone back to the original! It is a recipe from Simon Holst (Alison Holst son!) and means we get through quite a lot of the stashed frozen chickpeas!!!! Use these quantities as a guide only, I find sometimes I need more lemon or olive oil, maybe its just the mood I’m in at the time!

Easy hummus

1 ½ c cooked chickpeas (or 1 300g tin)
1 garlic clove crushed
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4c olive oil
1-2 tbsp peanut butter
salt to taste

Whack it all in the food processor and blitz til smooth! We serve it with carrot and celery sticks and rice crackers!

I am off now to start really planning my Christmas cooking/baking to within an inch of its life!!! Hopefully my next update will let you in on what’s in store


Georgina Ingham | CulinaryTravels said...

Absolutely wonderful Linda. Looks so tastey. Loving your blog.

Thinking About Food said...

Thanks KG, it is a lot of fun isn't it!

pistachio said...

Nice idea to serve the chilli con carne on top of baked kumara .... I do so love baked kumara!

pi xxx