29th June 2011
Emptying The Freezer
Slowly but surely my, or rather my cute landlady Aline's, fridge-freezer is dying.
It started with one of the shelves cracking and breaking, scattering broken glass and jam all over the floor, then I noticed that my gin is no longer coming out of the freezer compartment as syrupy as I like it, and that my beers aren't cooling quickly enough while I wait for my baths to run. Then the freezer failed to make sorbets for the Hobbes' crew's Mexican Meal, and now it's all dark in there.
It might be the lightbulb, or it might be the little button which is supposed to pop out to turn the light on when you open the door, but is all cracked and broken on my fridge, and sometimes pops out, and sometimes just gives you an electric shock when you accidentally touch the exposed metal terminals inside.
Well, at least it still has power!

So I'm in the process of inventing ways of using up all my frozen food before the fridge turns itself off or explodes.

Broad Bean Couscous
main veg
A hot broad bean salad with cucumber, peas and mint
Since I'm clearing out my freezer I happened to have whipped up some yoghurt sauce earlier to eat with one of my fabulous frozen Spicey Cottage curries. I added a dozen sliced finger chillies (rolling out their seeds first) to the curry before microwaving it so I really needed the yoghurt sauce.
I basically whizzed up
  • juice of half a lemon
  • half a red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • teaspoon or two of tamarind concentrate
  • teaspoon mint sauce
  • teaspoon amchoor (mango powder)
  • teaspoon or two garam masala
  • half teaspoon ground cumin
  • half dozen green chillies, seeds removed
  • half teaspoon chilli powder
  • large bunch coriander, stalks removed, leaves washed
  • salt and ground mixed peppercorns
and then mixed it into a large pot of yoghurt.
I know it sounds like I added a lot of chilli to what ought to be a cooling sauce, but I just kept throwing stuff in until I liked the taste. So I like it hot. So sue me!

But now I have a tasty yoghurt sauce that I thought might go well with couscous, and some broad beans...

Serves 1 greedy bastard

Roughly chop the white onion though I'm sure spring onion would do, but you probably wouldn't want to boil those so much and set it to simmer with the bay leaves in a little water.
Peel, crush then chop up the garlic.
Add the garlic to the pot, followed by the broad beans, followed by the peas.
Peel, deseed and chop a cucumber and add it to the pot.
Cook everything together briefly until the cucumber starts to soften and the beans are tender.
Add the chopped mint, season and stir the mixture into your couscous.
Add enough boiling water to just cover the couscous and leave to stand for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed. to be honest I just chucked mine on top, but I think this would leave less juice behind
Fluff the couscous, season and stir through a little walnut or avocado oil and serve with a yoghurt sauce.
Not too bad.
I decided to try out just boiling the onions, rather than frying them up for a change. The result was slightly anaemic-tasting, but quite delicate and summery.
I think it would work just as well chilled as a salad, though with probably a bit less boiling of the onion, cucumber and mint.

Beef Tagine
main meat
A quick and dirty stewing steak tagine
Since I am emptying the freezer, the meat and the mixed veg came right out of frozen packages. Otherwise I might have been inclined to add chickpeas, flaked almonds, squash, maybe prunes.
I was deliberately trying to stay away from tomatoes though.

You'll need couscous (feel free to throw some onions and herbs into it) and a yoghurt sauce with this too.
Here's another perfectly tasty yoghurt sauce I made earlier (though really, it's hard to go wrong!):
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded
  • 1 teaspoon mint jelly
  • 1 scant teaspoon dried mango powder (amchoor)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • generous handful coriander leaves and some stalks
  • yoghurt
  • salt
Whisk up the non-yoghurty ingredients first, then stir into the yoghurt.

Serves 4

Rub the steak all over with the spices and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight or longer.
Since my cheap frozen stewing steak was already in thin slices, I didn't bother cutting it up before seasoning, but you might want to.
Heat some oil in a large pan, fry the meat until it is browned, add garlic fry briefly, add lemon juice and tamarind, add the mixed vegetables and lime leaves. Cover tightly and cook on low for a couple of hours until tender.
Towards the end, add some chopped herbs and thin slices of preserved lemons.

Serve with couscous.
It was all a bit too tamarindy for my taste (I used 2 or 3 teaspoons of tamarind concentrate), but it was easy enough, and I think I could make something nicer out of it.
Actually, on a second try with a batch I had frozen, and with the addition of some more frozen mixed veg, I've decided it is really rather nice!

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