Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Freezer Finds

I am a big fan of the freezer and do not throw out any food or surplus ingredient if it can be avoided. Every month or so I do an audit of my freezer. Good use of the freezer can save a lot of time in shopping, preparation and cooking as well as money. Having taken on board all the horror stories about food in freezers for so long that no one knows what it is, I resolved to be organised and use things up reasonably quickly. I use wide masking tape as a label and write the date frozen and what the product is. Putting aside the usual things like meat, frozen peas and ice cream a hunt through mine will generally unearth enough treasures for a meal or range of things that I can use to whip up a meal. Today's audit found containers of soup, casseroles and curry.  These are easily defrosted and reheated in the microwave, small containers are perfect for a single serve dinner. Leftover cooked pasta (coated with a little oil) and rice freeze well. Small packages of diced ham or bacon, chorizo sausage, a slice or two of prosciutto or some salami. Curry leaves, lime leaves and fresh bay leaves are always there in a ziplock bag ready to go, fresh or green ginger in small knobs and fresh tumeric can be grated frozen. Little bundles of coriander stems and roots ready to turn into a curry paste. Croissants, breads of all kinds, frozen fruits, lemon and lime juice in small containers, mango for purees/ smoothies, chicken stock, puff pastry, some homemade chicken pies and lots of frozen bananas. A decision was quickly made to heat the pies for lunch. Defrost some lamb chops for dinner and use the rice, chorizo, some of  frozen peas and corn to make a savoury rice.

Whenever I have a banana that has gotten a bit ripe I put it in the freezer ready to make into banana bread. When there are enough to make a loaf or two I get them out of the freezer and put them on a plate to defrost. They skins go very black and the banana soft and soggy but are perfect to use, I have also been known to defrost them in the microwave. To get the banana out I cut of the end and squeeze the banana out into the mixing bowl, there is no need to mash them up as they are really squishy. This banana bread is ridiculously easy to make. I put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix with the electric beaters until just combined, then put it into the loaf tins. If you are using fresh bananas you will need to mash them. The aroma of this bread baking is irresistible. I like to toast it, however, it needs to be watched as it will burn quickly. I usually wait until I have enough bananas to make a double quantity. A good friend and former colleague gave me this recipe many years ago and it has become a favourite in my house where it is referred to as the best ever.

Fran's Banana Bread
2 large or 3medium over ripe bananas
2 tablespoons golden syrup
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour or 1 cup self raising flour. 

1 cup plain flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder can be substituted for the self raising flour 

Heat oven to 160C fan forced.
Grease and line the base of a loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, mash bananas then add golden syrup.
Add sugar and stir in.
Add egg, sifted flour and mix until combined.
Pour into loaf pan and cook for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes, and then turn onto wire rack to cool.
Enjoy it warm straight from the oven or allow to cool completely and spread with butter.
Can be toasted or lightly grilled.

This is a concept dish. Use the ingredients as a guide only. It is a a bit like fried rice and an excellent side dish or good as a light meal. I will often top with a fried egg. Today I made an omelette with some leftover egg yolks and then cut it up and mixed through the rice.

Savoury Rice
2 cups cold rice ( use from freezer)
1 cup peas and corn
1/2 -1 cup chorizo or diced ham or bacon
1/2 -1 onion
1 carrot diced
1 red capsicum diced
1 small zucchini diced
2 cloves garlic crushed
small amount of oil
small amount of water or chicken stock
finely chopped chilli

Heat oil in non stick pan if you have one, add onion and fry until starting to soften. Do not allow to brown too much. Add chorizo/ham/bacon and  remaining vegetables and stir around. to mix. Allow to cook until just soft.
Add rice and mix well.
Add  1/4 cup water or chicken stock. Allow to heat through. You may need to add some additional water or stock.

cooking mixture in non stick pan


  1. Yum. Love the herb idea in snap bags. Do you have to prepare it in any way (like blanching) or do you chop and freeze?

    1. Never bother with soft herbs as I have them growing all year round. Exception is basil which I will make into basil butter as I prefer this to preserved pesto. I use it in minestrone and pasta dishes. I also keep coriander stalks and roots frozen in bundles. When I have enough I use them to make a curry paste.