Recently I have been reading about something that is referred to as a “Super Saving Baking Day” where you bake a selection of items for the freezer. I’m not sure why it should have suddenly become popular, when I got my first freezer back in 1973 while I didn´t necessarily have a “Baking” day I did have a ‘cooking’ day and have been cooking this way ever since. At weekends, I prepare meals in large batches and then freeze in suitably size portions to be defrosted as the fancy takes.
It helps, I suppose if you like cooking but even if you don’t by preparing in bulk things like bolognaise sauce, stews and various kinds of soup in the long run, it saves a lot of time in the kitchen and there is always an answer to the “what are we having for dinner?” question.
If you cook what is in season it also saves money and for me, buying in bulk is not a problem. I find it quite therapeutic skinning tomatoes, peeling apples and chopping leeks although I do draw the line at onions and always chop these in the food processor.
I cooked a few things this weekend, the quiche has been eaten, the soup frozen and the lemon curd is in a cool cupboard where it will sit for several weeks.
I had bought a large bag of onions at the farmers market and spent some time chopping and bagging these for the freezer, a few I kept to one side to make one of my favourite soups and the rest were turned, with the help of some mature cheese, into a tasty quiche.
CREAMY ONION SOUP WITH CHEESE CROUTONS
1 tbsp olive oil
2 oz butter
4 large onions, halved and sliced
6 fl oz white wine
1 pint water
Splash double cream
Handful fresh chives, chopped (optional)
For the croutons
3 slices baguette, toasted
Handful cheddar cheese, grated
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and butter to the saucepan and fry for 4-5 minutes to soften. Add a pinch of mace and cook for a further two minutes.
Add the wine and water to the saucepan and simmer for a further ten minutes, finally add cream and whisk to mix if using the chives pop these in the pan now.
Meanwhile, for the croutons, place the cheese on top of the toast and place under the grill for 1-2 minutes until bubbling. To serve, pour the soup into bowls and top with croutons
Pastry can sometimes be a bit boring so I like to give it a zing with maybe some cayenne or paprika, in this instance I had peanut butter in the pantry which adds a nice crunch. I also don’t make my own shortcrust but buy a packet of ready-made which saves time and always turns out perfect.
CHEESE AND ONION FLAN WITH PEANUT PASTRY
1 packet ready-made shortcrust pastry
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
2 onions, sliced thinly
¼ pint milk
salt and pepper
3 oz cheese, grated
Place the pastry mix in a bowl and stir in the peanut butter and water and mix to form a firm dough. Knead lightly, then roll out and line flan case.
Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and fry gently until soft, about 5 minutes. Beat together the egg, milk, salt and pepper.
Place the onion in the flan case and pour the milk mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry golden brown. Serve warm or cold.
I love the sharpness of lemons and now there is a glut of these, friends are more than happy to hand over a handful or even a bagful as their trees are laden and I am happy to accept them.
Lots of recipes for Lemon Curd will say cook in the microwave but as I don´t have a microwave I find this bowl and water method quick and easy.
EASY PEASY LEMON CURD
zest and juice of 4 lemons
Put the lemon zest, juice, sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the basin doesn’t touch the water. Stir from time to time until the butter has melted.
Whisk the eggs lightly then stir into the lemon mixture. Let the curd cook, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes until it is thick. It should feel heavy on the whisk.
Remove from the heat and stir occasionally as it cools. Pour into spotlessly clean jars and seal. It will keep for several weeks, but it must be stored in a cool place.
Of course I don´t profess to be a professional cook but I have cooked for the family for the past 40 years they are still alive and keep asking for more, so I can only assume that while the finish product may sometimes leave a lot to be desired in the looks department, it obviously tastes pretty good.