Amanda got me thinking about freezing. Her question about how best to freeze bean patties left me puzzled. I don't do much freezing. I cook so much and so often that I rarely rely on freezing as part of my kitchen routine. The biggest problem for me is not putting food IN the freezer, but taking it OUT. By the time I realize that I might want something from the freezer I don't have the time to defrost it. I use my freezer for long term storage of perishable ingredients, particularly things that come seasonally like tomatoes and peaches.
I like to puree mangos when they are in season and freeze for future use.
These little treats, wild picked blueberries will freeze perfectly well when left whole or pureed.
Pamela Yee at Hook Mountain Growers freezes her home grown tomatillos whole.
SO- I decided to set up a quick test on the bean patties to see what freezing strategy might work best. I made a quick batch of bean cakes from some white beans on hand. I made two patties, rolled one in breadcrumbs and pan fried it, and the other I left without the bread crumbs, un-cooked. Once the pan-fried patty cooled to room temp both patties were put in the freezer. I want to emphasize here that it is crucial to let cooked foods cool completely before freezing, to prevent them from getting soft and mushy when thawed.
Pan fried white bean patty on left, un-cooked patty on the right BEFORE freezing.
Later that day I removed the two patties from the freezer and baked the pan-fried patty in the oven at 400F for 10 minutes. The other patty I rolled in breadcrumbs and pan fried it. The results?
AFTER freezing: Pan fried white bean patty on left reheated in oven and the un-cooked patty on the right after breading and pan frying .
They both came out fine. The one that I pan fried after freezing was definitely moister than the baked patty. That moisture could work against you or for you, depending on what you are dealing with. Bean cakes tend to be a little dry so some moisture is good. I thought they were both fine and either method would work. So I learned something and I understand how freezing meals can really help a busy family get dinner on the table.
Speaking of leftovers, yes, I am still speaking of leftovers. Yesterday I was cooking in a client's kitchen when I came upon a stash of acorn squashes that never got cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. The challenge was to come up with a recipe using the squashes that the whole family would enjoy, their two school aged children included. The idea of acorn squash fritters crossed my mind. I decided to prepare them as if they were potato pancakes and see what happened. Using the grating blade of a food processor rather than a box grater is essential for this because the squash is HARD. I am happy to report that the recipe was a success. Grated onions and a little flour and an egg were the only additions. The fritters came out pretty and lacy with a golden orange color and they tasted really sweet and flavorful. I loved them and would definitely try that recipe again. AND they would taste great with LEFTOVER cranberry sauce!
Acorn Squash Fritters
1 acorn squash peeled and shredded (use a food processor to do this)
1 onion grated
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup canola oil
Mix squash, onion, flour and egg in a bowl. Heat oil in a skillet. When oil is hot, working in batches, carefully drop squash mixture by the tablespoon in to the pan. Flatten each fritter slighty with a spatula. Fry on one side for 5 minutes until golden brown. Carefully turn fritters and cook another 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towel.
sometimes a label is just a labelOk, one more thing. In a prior post I commented on the signage at Whole Foods, complimenting them on their labeling in the fish department, but criticising the labeling of their produce. Well, I have to admit that it had been a while since I actually looked at Whole Food's produce labels and I am here to tell you that they have mended their ways and in fact now list where every fruit and vegetable comes from. So, sorry WF. I am taking it back. I have other issues with the store, but I will save that for another time.
Deb - great (and educational) post! Two things about the bean patties. I made them last night for dinner. (By the way - they are amazing!) I had some of the bean mixture left over. So, coincidentally, I froze it as well. I shaped two patties and froze them individually wrapped in saran wrap. I wasn't sure at the time when I would get to make the rest, and I didn't want it to go to waste. Turns out, I wanted them for dinner tonight. So, I took them out of the freezer this morning to let them thaw before my return home from work. They definitely got a little mushy. I actually held them over the sink and squeezed them out a bit. (They were much firmer last night). Then, I rolled them in panko. I am enjoying them at this moment and they taste very good. However, I am rethinking my wine pairing. I am not drinking anything at the moment. But now I am definitely thinking Rose - one with lots of fruit and wonderful spice. I have prepared a little salad to go along with the bean cakes. It is a basic but delicious salad of mixed greens topped with a little bit of crumbled Danish Blue cheese, and a touch of toasted walnut oil, balsamic vinegar and a small amount of Dijon. Yummy! If I only had that glass of Rose!
The acorn squash fritters will be on tomorrow night's menu! I'm thinking a Rose will work with that recipe as well. Perhaps I'll try it out and let you know how it goes!