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


Kitchen Goddess said...

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

Linda F 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