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How to throw a freeze ahead dinner party!

With Christmas and all that surrounds it just around the corner, the thought of entertaining guests for a dinner party is pretty stressful. MOLLY MAID, the professional domestic cleaning service, suggest that one way to reduce the worry about whether it will be all right on the night is to prepare the food in advance and then to freeze it.

Why not try and avoid the last-minute scramble with some of our favourite easy to freeze ahead recipes for us time-poor entertainers. This way you don’t have to spend all night in the kitchen either!

You will see that some of the recipes below come with the added bonus of being able to be cooked straight from frozen, such as the Salmon en croute and iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce avoiding the need to remember to remove food from the freezer – even better!

Double baked goat’s cheese soufflés

Ingredients:

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 600ml warmed full-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 large eggs, separated, plus 1 large egg white (use the yolk, see below)
  • 175g crumbled rindless goat’s cheese
  • For the parmesan glaze
  • 50ml double cream
  • 25g grated parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)
  • 1 large egg yolk

Preparation:

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan and use about 1 tbsp to grease 6 x 200ml soufflé dishes.
  • Place the remaining butter back on the heat, then scatter over the flour and mix well.
  • Cook for 5 mins, stirring constantly, then gradually whisk in the warm milk, a little at a time, until you have a thick, smooth mixture – this is essentially a roux.
  • Stir in the Parmesan, mustard and thyme then allow to cool.
  • Beat in the egg yolks, fold through the goat’s cheese, season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a large bowl.
  • In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they just start to stiffen and hold peaks. Use a metal spoon to fold them into the cheesy mixture, in 3 additions.
  • Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Spoon the mix into the soufflé dishes, then sit them in a roasting tin.
  • Pour boiling water into the tin to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes (otherwise known as a Bain Marie.) Bake the soufflés for 20-25 mins until they are risen and coloured.
  • Remove the dishes and set aside for 10 mins. Run a knife around the edges, then turn out onto an ovenproof tray.
  • The soufflés can now be kept covered in the fridge overnight or frozen for up to a month.
  • Defrost fully before reheating as below. To make the Parmesan glaze, whisk the cream, Parmesan and egg yolk until combined.
  • About 15 mins before you are ready to eat, heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Drizzle the tops of the soufflés with the glaze. Bake for 10 mins, then finally flash under the grill until the tops are golden.

 Salmon en croute

Ingredients:

  • Approx 750g (1lb 10oz) puff pastry
  • 2 salmon fillets, skinned, from a whole salmon around 800g to 1kg (1lb 12oz to 2lb 4oz)
  • 400g (14oz) spinach
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3tbsp crème fraîche
  • 2tbsp polenta or cornmeal
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten

Preparation:

  • Before you begin making your salmon en croute recipe, heat the oven to 200 C, 180 C fan, 400 F, gas 6.
  • Trim off the tail end of the salmon fillets. Cut off a quarter of the pastry (chill the rest) and thinly roll out on a floured board, to a shape just larger than one fillet.
  • Place the pastry on a baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and flatten gently with a fish slice. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden, then allow to cool.
  • Heat a sauté pan and add the spinach, tossing continuously to prevent it catching. When wilted, squeeze out any excess water and put in a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and crème fraîche. Season well. Set aside.
  • Sprinkle the pastry base with the polenta and put one fillet, skinned-side down, on top. Season the fish, spread the spinach mixture evenly over it, making a peak in the centre, and top with the other fillet, skinned-side down again. Season again.
  • Roll out the remaining pastry to about the thickness of a £1 coin.
  • Brush the edges with the beaten egg and lay over the salmon, egg-washed side down. Tuck the edges under the base. The egg wash should stick the edges and form a seal. If the base is crumbling, use a fish slice to hold it up while you tuck in the pastry.
  • Scallop the edges by pushing back the pastry with a wooden spoon handle, held between your first and middle finger, and brush all over with the beaten egg.
  • Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  • Freeze for up to a month wrapped in foil.
  • When cooking from frozen, glaze with the egg wash again and bake in the oven at 220 C, 200 C fan, 425 F, gas 7 for about 60 minutes, covering with foil after 30 minutes.

 Or if fish doesn’t take your fancy, why not try…

 Vietnamese Lamb Shanks with Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 4 lamb shanks, about 350g each
  • 2 onions, halved and cut into half moons
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 red chillies, both deseeded, one chopped and one thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar, plus 1 tsp
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, then bruised
  • 2l lamb stock
  • 1½ tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Big handful mint leaves, torn
  • Handful basil leaves

 Preparation:

  • Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole, season the shanks.
  • Brown them 2 at a time on all sides, adding the remaining oil for the second batch.
  • Remove the lamb and add the onions. Fry them quite briskly, about 30 secs, add the ginger, garlic and chopped chilli, then turn the heat down and cook for 1 min.
  • Add 1 tbsp sugar, stir, then add the star anise, lemongrass, stock, purée and seasoning.
  • Bring to the boil.
  • Cover and cook in the oven for 1½ hrs, then add the sweet potatoes and cook for 1 hr more.
  • The lamb should be completely tender and almost falling off the bones.
  • Allow to cool and then freeze.
  • Defrost thoroughly before cooking, then heat through thoroughly adding the fish sauce, lime juice and 1 tsp sugar to just lift the flavour, then scatter with the mint, basil and the sliced chilli to serve.

 Iced Berries with Hot White Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 150ml (¼pt) double cream
  • 150g (5oz) white cooking chocolate, such as Menier, broken into small pieces
  • 400g (14oz) frozen raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants

Preparation:

  • Put the cream and chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Let it melt, stirring occasionally. When it’s hot (this will take around 20 minutes), it’s ready to go.
  • Divide the berries between 4 serving plates and leave for 5 minutes.
  • Put the sauce into a jug then allow your guests to pour at will. The sauce will thicken and become gooey once it hits the coldness of the berries.

 Et Voila