Ask Peter: New baby prep
I'm going to be a first-time dad in a few weeks. I have an empty deep freezer to fill, and am short on inspiration. In the past, I have cooked a huge amount of soup and mini lasagnes to pull out of the freezer and microwave or pop in the oven for a quick meal. I'm after something gourmet rather than price-conscious, as we're going to be busy enough with the baby, so something morale-boosting would be ideal. Aaron
Congratulations Aaron — what a busy time you and your partner have coming your way. Best of luck with that and hopefully you’ll be bringing another foodie into the world.
I’m a fan of the freezer and putting my leftovers in it for a rainy day, but every now and then I will buy a ready-meal (back in London) when I know I don’t have time to cook an actual one from scratch. There’s only so much toast a person can eat, and I probably eat pasta only once or twice a month — I know for many people it is the best option for a quick meal. Heating a ready-meal obviously doesn’t fulfil my culinary needs, but it provides me with a tasty no-hassle no-brainer supper.
You, on the other hand, have purpose and time — until the young one turns up. The problem I think you might face is having something incredibly gourmet at hand that will cope with being frozen in advance. It depends what gourmet means to you. A chunk of hapuku or 250g piece of fillet steak cooked to perfection is going to be nigh on impossible if you’ve had to freeze it. However, if we’re talking a lovely fish pie packed full of scallops and mussels, in a creamy bechamel sauce, we’re on to something. A slow-cooked beef short-rib, seasoned with sweet miso and ginger, served with mashed kumara and potatoes, will also do well in your freezer. Perhaps you could make batches of side dishes, then once or twice a week pop out and buy a fillet of fresh fish, a free-range chicken or a rib-eye steak?
I’d suggest you make a few batches of, for example, Thai-style pumpkin coconut curry, probably not too spicy (you can always add some chilli sauce when reheating) and once defrosted add frozen peas and chorizo, or serve alongside steamed fish, a grilled lamb chop, or with rice for a veggie moment.
Bake a few roasting dish-sized puff pastry-based pies (chicken and mushroom, beef and ale, mutton and parsnip), cut into portions and freeze — then serve with a salad, or even a small amount of the curry.
Brine and roast a pork belly, cool and cut into fat slices, 1-2cm thick, before freezing. Defrost then reheat over low-medium heat in a frying pan until golden on both sides (12 minutes each side max) adding a chopped apple (or chopped canned pineapple) and some grated ginger to the pan in the last 10 minutes for a lovely compote.
For more, see the meals that freeze well recipe collection on bite.co.nz