No, I'm talking about filling up your freezer to make life easier during Christmas week- and spreading the cost too. Forget diamonds, at Christmas the freezer is a girl's best friend.
Already, many of the recipes featured on recent blogs have been safely tucked away in the freezer- chicken liver parfaits from last week, celeriac gratin from the week before, melba toasts, mince pies, breadcrumbs for stuffing and bread sauce, crispy wontons for mille feuilles..
This week however I made some extra starters, mains and puddings to have on hand when I need them, as guests arrive: tartelettes a l'indienne, cakes aux olives for starters, a massive ragout with minced beef for making chili, lasagne, spag bol or whatever people feel like, and some chocolate and coffee expresso cups in case people can't manage a Christmas pud on the big day.
|Tartelette a l'indienne|
The cake aux olives have featured often on the blog, as they are without doubt my my most popular recipe. If you missed it before- here is how to make them.
Mix 100g of self raising flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt, 100g of grated flavoursome cheese (mature cheddar, gruyere, emmental), 80 ml of olive oil, 3 beaten eggs, 150 g of chopped olives, 1 pot of natural yoghurt and a splash of milk together in a mixing jug. If the mixture is too stiff, mix in more milk. You are aiming for a thick spoonable cake batter.
Spoon or pour into muffin cases and bake at 200 degrees until risen and golden.
|Cakes aux olives|
Next, I prepared an enormous batch of beef ragout to go in the freezer. I used the slow cooker to save effort (and let it cook away whilst I'm busy with other stuff.) Soften 2 white onions and a teaspoon of minced garlic in some olive oil, then brown 1 kg of minced beef. Put it all in the slow cooker with 2 cartons of chopped tomatoes (I like the ones with extra olives added), a splash of red wine, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a good squirt of tomato puree and plenty of salt and pepper. Leave to bubble away for a few hours until rich and thick.
|Slow cooker beef ragout|
For the puddings, break up 150g of dark chocolate (70% cocoa solid) in a bowl and pour on 90ml of hot strong coffee. Finish the melting process in the microwave for 1 minute and then stir in a tablespoon of rum. Meanwhile separate 3 eggs and beat the whites to the very soft peak stage. When the chocolate has cooled a bit, whisk in the egg yolks and then fold into the whites. Pour the chocolate mixture into little espresso cups, cool and then freeze these in
|Chocolate and coffee pots|
Now, like the USS Enterprise, my freezer cannae take much more.
All I need now is for the guests to arrive - and for the festivities to begin!