Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Simple Pleasures

Really, on a warm, sunny evening, what better dish could you find than a simple, juicily inviting tomato and mozzarella salad. Ripe tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, sliced and artfully arranged, sprinkled with torn fresh basil leaves and seasoned with good, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Not flash or fancy, not fiddly or time-consuming; just straightforward perfection on a plate.  Enjoy!!
Cath xx

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Freezer Burn (Baby, Burn!)

I'm an avid fan of my freezer, seeing it as an extension of the store cupboard for all sorts of things.  A few things are just basic essentials for me and these live in the top drawer.  Ice cubes are obvious (I have reusable, water-filled coolers for the children's drinks and a burgeoning collection of novelty ice trays besides - lego bricks being the current favourite). I also like to keep frozen half-slices of lemons, limes and oranges bagged in the freezer for drinks.  Rinds of Parmesan are stored in a bag for adding to oven-baked risotti, simmering with soups or chucking into sauces (especially tomato).   A box holds stalks from bunches of parsley, so useful for infusing milk for white sauces; they freeze brilliantly and can be used from frozen. The RapidIce wine bottle chiller lives here, too, as does the clingfilm!  I find it so much easier to find the end of, and otherwise manage, clingfilm that has been kept in the freezer.
I buy a lot of things specifically to add to my freezer stock; joints of meat, fish, blocks of puff pastry, certain types of frozen fruits and vegetables.  I do actually 'shop from the freezer', to an extent, when I plan the meals for the week ahead on a Sunday.  This means that while things get use before their quality diminishes, there is usually enough stock 'held back', as it were, to allow for a week or so of meals without having to shop, if circumstances so dictate.  If you use the freezer to store portioned-up leftovers, as I often do - having a husband who works nights means that homemade, microwaveable meals must often be provided to compensate for the lack of 'lunch' options in the middle of the night, and the need for something rather more appealing than an unimaginative and hastily thrown-together sandwich.  The danger, I feel, that one must always guard against is using the freezer as an alternative to the bin because you feel guilty about throwing food away.  If nobody ate much of the casserole or whatever at supper, try to turn it into a meal for a night or two after; a pasta bake, say, or a soup - rather than shoving it in the freezer where it will take up space and eventually be thrown out anyway because you've forgotten what this enormous icy lump even is!

Soup is, I think, best frozen flat in zip-lock bags (labelled, of course!).  I use small ones that take two good ladlefuls of soup per bag (so one bag will feed two children or one adult). The flat bags then stack neatly, giving you a little library of soups to choose from; the large surface area also means that the packages defrost really fast, a total joy if, like me, you often forget about preparing lunch until the last minute.  Soup with bread and cheese also provides a great easy supper when you're up against it!

Speaking of which, I cut up large pieces of cheese and freeze them in portions the right size for the cheeseboard; cheeses frozen at the peak of their ripeness can be defrosted in the fridge and return to their same point of perfection - ideal to pull out ready for the following evening's supper rather than having to go to the shop for one thing, isn't it always the case that when you quickly pop to the shops for one thing (without a list) you come back with bags and bags of stuff, having spent an absolute fortune?
Cath xx


Related Posts with Thumbnails