Friday, January 23, 2009

Planning Ahead

Monday I am leaving for Asia. I'm lucky enough to be going on a culinary adventure in Thailand after stopping in Tokyo to visit a friend from cooking school. I've never been to Asia and, while I really have no idea what to expect, I've been assured by my savvy traveler friends that it will be amazing.

Before I leave I want to make sure my boys are well fed. I promised to put a few things in the freezer and tackled that job this morning. While cooking, I realized how much I got done in one short hour and wondered why I didn't plan ahead like this more often. Occasionally I get into a good run of making things in advance but I am definitely more the cook who buys what looks fresh today and figures out what to do with it when I get home.

This morning I made a batch of meatballs (pork/veal/beef) in a thick tomato sauce. This whole recipe took about 15 minutes to prep and then it simmered on the stove while I made chicken pot pie. Homemade chicken pot pie is a snap. I sauteed carrots, celery, and onion then gave them a sprinkle of fresh garlic and thyme. After coating the veggies with some flour, I deglazed with a little Vermouth then whisked in chicken stock and some milk. Once the sauce thickened I added chicken pieces and let them simmer slowly in the sauce. I've got the mixture cooling in a pan and, once it's cool, will top it with an all-butter pastry crust
(store bought this time, I must admit-a rarity for me but hey, a girls got to pack today too!).

Both of these things will do great in the freezer. I recommend taking them out the night before you want to cook them and letting them defrost in the fridge. At that point, just heat the meatballs until they are warmed through or bake the chicken pot pie until the crust is nicely brown and the filling is bubbling.

Even if you're not headed across the globe, doesn't it make sense to cook like this once in a while?

I hope to post some pictures and notes while on my trip....stay tuned.

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