Sunday, October 01, 2006

Freezer believer

When we first moved to Paris, I never used the freezer, except for making ice cubes and keeping frozen shrimp and Chinese dumplings ("raviolis" in French). I was lucky enough to have an American fridge/freezer, too, which meant I had twice the capacity of other Parisians, even though we brought over the smallest one we could find. I believed in fresh meat and produce, and wanted to give my family the healthiest and tastiest food possible. I'm a whole foods kind of cook. Few processed foods. I'll allow a can of diced tomatoes or a jar of pesto once in awhile and I won't feel guilty about it.

I think I started taking advantage of the freezer in June. Just for freezing fresh salmon because we were trying to eat less meat and more fish. And I was getting too lazy to go every other day to Champion, a supermarket on the outskirts of the neighborhood which has the best pre-packed fish in the area. And I wanted to avoid the markets where the male merchants can make you uncomfortable with their flirting or ogling. Maybe the French women are used to that, but I don't know if I'll ever get used to that.

I discovered frozen filets of halibut and sole, and found them to be quite good. Then I ventured into frozen vegetables which weren't bad either. I used to stress about meals because I often needed to run out for some forgotten ingredient. But now that my freezer is stocked up, I can whip up meals quickly and easily. They're not equal to fresh, unless you freeze your ingredients from their fresh state yourself.

Tonight, we had a simple, but yummy, meal of halibut steaks and peas. The halibut steaks found in the supermarket freezer are often found in individually sealed packets -- sliced into uniform pieces, approximately 3 x 4.5 x 0.75 inch. You don't even have to defrost them. Heat your pan well with some oil and butter, then add your fish, cooking them for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Half of the way through I added my sauce (which you could just as well add at the end) which was a reduction of butter, Dijon mustard, milk, onions (really lazy me used frozen slices this time), vermouth, salt, and freshly ground pepper. The fish browned beautifully in the butter. On the side we had frozen peas cooked on high in the microwave, covered, for three minutes. It was all delicious and required minimal effort (and zero prep time!). I don't think I would use frozen for dinner guests, but for us it was quite satisfactory.

And I'm just so happy I don't have to go to the store every other day anymore.


Samantha said...

You shouldn't feel guilty about using frozen foods, they don't have any preservatives added to them, and they can save so much time in meal preparation. I use frozen onions (among other veggies) all the time - we were going through so many that I permanently smelled like onion, and now all I have to do is open up the packet and dump them into the pan!

Sarah said...

If you enjoy pesto, then try adding some extra lemon juice to the pre-packaged kind and spreading it on the fish as you bake or saute it. That gussies it up a bit while keeping it super-easy to prepare.

Caroline Jou Armitage said...

Thanks for the comments! Just wanted to say I enjoy your blogs and am tickled pink you are visiting mine!