Sunday, October 9, 2011

One for Now, any Number for Later

I'm certainly not the only woman who has been spending a lot of time in the kitchen thanks to yom tov and Shabbos coming out connected. In addition, like many others, I have been preparing some items that I don't cook all that often during the year, mostly because of time constraints or the amount of work involved. And then there are the items that I do use a lot of during the year as well as for yom tov but that can take hours of prep time and can be messy as well. And once again my freezer comes to the rescue.

If you're still not sure that frozen food tastes as good as fresh, it may be time to get over that idea. With some items there is simply no way to tell the difference, and in some cases the frozen food actually tastes better.

For one thing, plain chicken broth, to be used as a basis for any type of soup desired, has zero noticeable difference from the fresh broth. I made up about 30 quarts of the concentrated broth, about half of which were frozen plain, a few weeks before yom tov. The others I made up into three kinds of soup--traditional vegetable chicken, split pea and barley and winter squash and vegetable soups. I purposefully make them thicker so they take up less space in the freezer and can have liquid added after defrosting. No boredom over yom tov as I have three different soups for variety. And there's plenty of broth ready prepared which will cut down on prep time for soups after yom tov, when the Friday's are shorter.

Now lasagnas. Here I actually prefer the frozen variety. I don't freeze the lasagnas already cooked, just ready to bake. I find that the frozen variety gives a slightly softer noodle when baked, with no dry spots at all. And for those who don't freeze lasagna because those lasagna-size pans may work for a holiday crowd but give you too much for regular meals, here's some ideas. If your family is only 2-4, try using the 8x4 small aluminum loaf pans available. One lasagna noodle fits in just perfectly lengthwise. Keep layering and you have a lasagna loaf that will give you the amount you need without leftovers that might go to waste. If you need a bit more, then try an 8x8 square aluminum pan, which will hold two noodles side by side. If some in your family like only the traditional-type of lasagna and some like variations such as vegetable lasagna, making them in the loaf tins allows you to please everyone's taste.

I made kokosh for yom tov, and any bakers out there know that making yeast dough can be a pain in the neck and mess up the kitchen. As long as the kitchen was going to get messy anyway, I made double the amount of dough needed and froze away packages of the dough in one-cake portions. Way easier to defrost one piece of dough, roll and fill and bake then to have to handle all the dough at once. And no, no one is going to be able to tell from the taste or texture that the dough was frozen. I also froze away readymade cakes and I got zero complaints when they came out to be served. If you bake any type of milchig cakes, such as cheese cakes, making extra and freezing them saves a lot of time as well. I have only one oven, so cleaning and turning it so I can use it for milchigs and then cleaning it and turning it back for fleishigs is time intensive.

No matter how careful you are, you are liable to see leftovers that you just aren't going to be able to use up immediately. If those leftovers are chicken or meat, remove the skin and bones, tear the meat into small bite-size pieces, put into a baggie or container with a few spoons of the cooking juices and freeze away. With cold weather coming, a paprikash or stew makes for a welcoming dinner. Just pop the contents of one of those baggies into a pot with your starch of choice and with some veggies and spices, and cook up an appetizing dish in less than half the time.

There are lots of other dishes that freeze well and which are appreciated when time is short and people are hungry. You're doing all that work now anyway, so why not let that work and your freezer save you some time later on.

6 comments:

SubWife said...

Thank you for the tips!

sima said...

meatballs and meatloaf freeze well too. I like to buy a huge family pack of ground beef and spend a morning making those two dishes over and over. Sometimes I save some meat to brown with onions, and I freeze that separately to fill bourekas.

Ruth said...

The freezer saves you time but can also save you money. Dairy products have gone up in price really high--ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese, farmers cheese. In August a local store had a buy one get one free on the cream cheese and farmers cheese. With farmers cheese at $3.30 for a 7 oz. package and 8 oz. cream cheese bars at over $2 this was a real savings. I've got plenty of blintzes and cheesecakes and stuffed shells now in the freezer and I didn't have to pay top dollar for the ingredients.

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Another thought - If it's available and affordable, use nice plastic for a meal or two and save yourself some of the dishwashing. Yes, the table should be set beautifully. But no, not at the expense of עונג יום טוב and the energy to daven nicely and spend some time learning Torah.

tesyaa said...

I broiled 3 pounds of salmon and froze half - the frozen tasted identical to the fresh. On the other hand, my frozen noodle kugels were a little mushy when defrosted and reheated. Any tips?

ProfK said...

Tesyaa,

If you are preparing for the freezer using any noodle products then undercook them just a bit. As you noticed, they get softer after being frozen. If they are just a little bit stiffer before being frozen they should come out perfectly after being frozen.