Get your freezer ready. It is your best friend over the festive period. Start going through all the draws and compartments, using up as much as you can over the next week and a half. Sadly, most people will have a few very old and probably unsafe random scraps right at the bottom of the freezer – just make sure you recycle them, rather than just binning them.
Useful festive freezer hacks
Stock the freezer with bread and biscuit dough (like the shortbread recipe below), flavoured butters, soups, berries, bananas (which make a splendid ‘ice-cream’ blended straight from frozen), vegetables or even raw pastry cases and baked profiteroles, (simply defrost these, crisp up for a couple of minutes in a hot oven, cool and fill) .
Ice cube trays aren’t only useful in the summer. You can freeze leftover juice and add to drinks to liven them up. Adding berries or flowers into the water creates visually stunning ice cubes. Freeze milk and coffee and either use as emergency reserves, if you run out and shops are closed or on cocktails! If you happen to have any leftover red wine, freeze and add to sauces and stews for extra depth of flavour. For a really ‘dirty martini’, freeze pickle brine with pickles or olives in ice cube trays, add to a glass and pour your martini over (we like to combine 2,5 measures of good quality gin and 1/2 a measure of dry vermouth).
Most importantly, space in the freezer means no throwing away of any leftovers! Chopped up meat will work brilliantly simply added to a soup, stew or risotto right at the end – just to thaw and heat through (same goes for most other ingredients).
Having a couple of logs of flavoured butter is really useful. For a sweet version, combine softened butter with cinnamon, honey or maple syrup and soft fruit (mashed). This butter can be added to pancakes, crumpets or toast. A classic flavour is a combination of finely chopped or blended anchovies with butter and served on hot toast. Flavoured butter is also a great way to utilise any leftover herbs – just roughly chop them and combine with butter, salt or seaweed, pepper, turmeric (or another spice); shape into a log, wrap in parchment, label and freeze! Then slice into soups, risottos or just on hot toast.
These biscuits are amongst the most scrumptious of them all. Here is the ‘stock recipe’. You can add extra flavour by adding 1 tablespoon of both lemon and thyme, 1 tablespoon of lavender, handful of chocolate chips or dried fruit.
50g caster sugar
Combine all ingredients in a mixer and pulse until combined
Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
Roll into 1 pound coin thickness and cut into desired shapes
Bake on 180C for 10 minutes or until golden brown