Since my trip to Selimiye, I’ve been using a lot of tips our hostess at the hotel, Misket gave me. Since she cooks for large groups of people most days of the year, she has great solutions to cut back prep time. Here is some of what I’ve seen from her and more.
Onions & Garlic:
Onions are, easily, my least favorite ingredient to prepare. Just to avoid that stinging feeling in my eyes, I use 3 tiny shallots instead of one onion sometimes.
Shallots do have a much sweeter flavor and you can use them to highlight your dishes but for other times I use onions that I chopped and frozen before. Enduring this process once instead of every time you cook is, for me, worth the pain (f course if you have a knight in shining armor disguised as your brother nearby to offer to chop the onions for you, that’s even better!!)
This is easy but there are things to pay attention to:
- Onions may go bad in long periods of times if frozen. So make them in smaller batches and consume them quickly. I’ve had mine for 3 weeks now in the freezer and they are still ok, but still approach with caution.
- Onions are smelly little buggers, fresh or frozen! So if you don’t want you whole fridge(not just freezer, the whole fridge) smelling like onions, wrap them up really good and put them in a bag to freeze.
- If you don’t chop the onions and just out them in the processor, make sure to drain the juice before freezing, you don’t want that to leak in your fridge.
As for garlic, that is another issue. I personally love garlic and love to use it as much as I can in my dishes. But it does take time to peel and chop them, especially if you’re using them fresh, them you need to use a mortar. But for cooking, you can just peel and chop them in advance and freeze them. I used the chopper tool of my processor to not turn them into a puree but you can use it however you want.
Tips for freezing garlic:
- You can freeze and store garlic for long periods of time. I used an ice-cube tray to freeze them to only thaw as much as I want.
- Make sure to cover the chopped garlic really good in the first time. The smell goes away once frozen but the first time is essential.
- If you’re using uncooked garlic in your dishes (garlic yogurt, ingredient as dressing etc) try to use fresh ones and use frozen once for cooking. The freshenss of it will heighten your food.
- Garlic in masses has a burning effect. If you’re preparing large masses of garlic to freeze, make sure to use a glove of some kind, to keep your hands from blistering. This tips comes to you from Misket who says it is a heartfelt advice learnt from experience.
Orange and Lemon Slices:
I love to add a slice of lemon to a jug of water to make it a little bit fancy. I like that lemony taste in Coke too. And I love cold drinks with ice too. So why not combine them? That’s how frozen sliced lemons are born. I also froze some tangy oranges too. I’m looking forward to having an ice cold Coke with a slice of lemon!
- Make sure to have a tray that can fit in your freezer and lay the slices fruit on the saran wrap. Freeze them like this first then, put them in a bag for storing longer term. That way they won’t stick to each other and you can have single slices ready to put in your drinks.
- Don’t peel the fruit. The skin will give a nice acidic taste.
I also out some whole lemons in the freezer too. They are great for grating over salads and etc. When using, you can just grate all the way through, skin and all, and it will be a superb last touch to flavor your food.
Having store bought chicken stock is very easy and quick but when you cook chicken and have extra stock that you’re not going to use, it is a great idea to just freeze some for later use. You can either freeze it as a whole to use just that in the future or you can freeze the stock in ice-cube sizes and have you self homemade bouillon.
I haven’t got to making this yet but it is still a great idea. You may not be able to find fresh herbs all the time so whenever you buy them, chop them nice and again put into ice-cube trays. You have either have one variety of herb or you can combine them however you like. I understand there are pre-made frozen food already sold abroad but for anyone who does not have access to those or want to have some that are homemade, these are really helpful.
Aside from freezing chopped herbs, frozen dill has been one of the most useful thing I’ve been using. I hate the feeling of chopped, wet dill sticking to my fingers, this way you don’t even have to touch the herb.
I put the washed, dried dill in a ziplock bag and put straight in the freezer. Whenever I need to use it, I cut some with kitchen scissors and be done with it in seconds! Don’t leave the herb too long in the freezer though, if it is not finished in a few months, buy some new ones and freeze those.
Hope these tips are somewhat useful to you, personally I found that onions are far more useful than garlic to freeze. I haven’t chopped a single onion in over 4 weeks and I’ve been using more onions in my food than ever! You just try to find yourself the best fit and make your life easier. Enjoy!