Monday, June 22, 2009

Feeding the Freezer

Something I do whenever I get a chance is to feed my freezer. I "process" food so that I have it on hand for weeknights. This makes menu planning much easier! I'll keep adding to this post as I include things on my menu.

Rhubarb: slice up (1/4") in 1 cup portions. I usually use rhubarb to make a compote for ice cream: Put 1 cup rhubarb in a small saucepan with 1/6 cup of sugar for 10 minutes, mix or shake to coat. Cook it on medium high for 5-10 minutes until it becomes a chunky sauce. It's great hot, cold or room temperature over ice cream or yogurt. Doubling works well.

Strawberries: slice up in 1 cup portions. Use in smoothies, add sugar to macerate and use as a fruit sauce on yogurt or ice cream, over angel food cake, on pound cake. My favorite smoothie: ½ cup of strawberries, ½ a frozen banana, 2 Tbsp ground flax seed. Put it in the Magic Bullet or your favorite blender and add vanilla soy milk to the top (about a cup). Blend until smooth.

Fajitas: Real Simple magazine developed this amazing steak fajita recipe. It's great in the summer over arugula or other greens. I add guacamole from Trader Joe's if I can't find ripe avocados to slice up….also tomatoes and frozen corn.

Pizza crust: I make pizza crust, adapted for my bread maker (and my refusal to use all-purpose flour). Sometimes I freeze the dough as described in the linked article and thaw it to make calzones, but I find it so convenient to freeze the crusts like this.

1 1/2 cups warm (115 degrees) water

4 ½ tsp active dry yeast (2 packets)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 cups white wheat flour

2 cups whole-wheat flour

4 tsp gluten

Place all ingredients in the bread-maker in the order listed. Put it on the "pizza dough" setting. Turn dough out onto a floured surface (use some extra white wheat flour). Depending on the pizza size you want, you can use part or all of the dough. I usually do one large pizza that night, and then form the rest into individual-size pizzas for the freezer. If you use a rolling pin, your crust will be thin and crispy. If you stretch it the style will be more "hand-tossed". Here's what I do: Score the dough in half. With one half, stretch to fit on a 9 x 13" cookie sheet. Place it in a warm place to rise. With the remaining dough, score into 6 equal pieces. Place a piece of parchment (don't use wax paper, it will not come apart as easily once frozen) onto a cookie sheet small enough to fit flat in your freezer with about 2 inches of clearance on the top. Stretch dough to fit, no larger in diameter than what will fit into a 1 gallon freezer zip lock bag. Lay down another piece of parchment. Continue with each circle, laying it on top of parchment. Cover the last piece with parchment. Leave it in a warm place to rise, then place in the freezer. When frozen (wait 4 hours or overnight), transfer to a large, 1 gallon ziplock.

To use, thaw the number of pizza crusts needed (1 per person), cover as desired, and bake at 450-degrees for 18-20 minutes. It doesn't need to thaw first. These work well for grilling pizza, too!

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