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Review: ‘The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook’

"The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook" by Ghillie James

"The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook" by Ghillie James

I’ll admit it: before kids, the only things in my freezer were ice cubes, vodka and a pint of gelato. Oh how the mighty have fallen. With kids, I use my freezer for everything: homemade baby food, meat, vegetables, ice cream, chicken stock, shrimp shells, fruit and yes, ice cream. Forget making 30-minute meals every night; with two kids, I want to be able to pull a meal out of my freezer.

So I welcomed the addition of The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook to my kitchen. I needed more inspiration (and more instruction) about what is (and isn’t) freezer-friendly. British cookbook author Ghillie James gives recipes and detailed instructions for stocking the freezer with weeknight meals and party food. And parents of young children, take note: There’s an entire chapter devoted to homemade baby and toddler food.

What I love most about James’ approach is her no-nonsense tone and factual information. She gives her many “reasons to freeze,” with guidelines on freezing and thawing. You don’t need a microwave to thaw frozen food, by the way. I don’t use one, I just use the refrigerator.

Freezer cookbook has adventurous side

I’m crazy about the idea of freezing as way of preserving the fruit of the season. Who doesn’t love the taste of a juicy summer peach on a cold winter morning? And James tells you how to freeze things you might otherwise have thrown out, such as excess egg yolks and white wine. There are flavorful recipes for everything from the more familiar (gazpacho, beef and spinach lasagna, sausage rolls with mustard and poppyseed, and quick double chocolate sheet cake) to the more adventurous (lamb and prune tagine, smoked fish, crab and watercress tart, and mojito sherbet). There are some decidedly British recipes — mincemeat, and orangy syrup tart that won’t be on the top of my must-try list — but there are plenty of others that are now in permanent rotation.

I was skeptical about losing flavor and any icicle freezer burn, but recipe after recipe thaws perfectly and you would never know it came from the freezer. The gorgeous photos and cheerful design add to the appeal.

Here’s a comforting recipe to transition into fall that the whole family will eat. And it’s the perfect way to try out your new freezer skills because the leftovers freeze beautifully. Note: Flageolet beans are immature kidney beans and can be hard to find in the United States; Great Northern beans are a good substitute. The recipe doesn’t call for a specific cut of meat, but I used pork shoulder, which worked well.

Pork and Flageolet Bean Stew

Serves 4


Pork and Flageolet Bean Stew

Pork and Flageolet Bean Stew. Credit: Laura Holmes Haddad

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large onion, cut into wedges, or 3 good handfuls of frozen chopped onion

1 pound frozen cubes of pork leg, or fresh pork, cut into bite-size pieces

1½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium baking apple, peeled, cored, and sliced, or a handful of frozen apple slices

heaping ⅓ cup white wine

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1¼ cups vegetable stock

6 mushrooms, sliced, or 2 handfuls frozen mushroom slices

1 (14-ounce) can flageolet beans, drained and rinsed

1 medium zucchini, trimmed and sliced


1. Preheat the oven to 300 F.

2. In a heavy-bottomed casserole dish, heat the oil and add the onion. Soften over medium heat for 5 minutes.

3. Increase the heat and add the pork. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic, carrot, and apple and cook, stirring, for an additional 5 minutes.

4. Add the wine, Worcestershire sauce, honey, soy sauce, and vegetable stock. Season, stir, bring to a boil, and then cover and cook in the oven for an hour.

5. Remove the casserole from the oven and add the mushrooms, beans, and zucchini. Stir, cover the casserole, and return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes, or until the pork is tender.

6.Taste for seasoning and sweetness, then serve.

 Top composite image:

“The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook” cover. Credit: Courtesy of Kyle Books

Author Ghillie James. Credit: Tara Fisher

Zester Daily contributor Laura Holmes Haddad lives with her husband, daughter and son in Northern California, where she writes about wine and food and runs her website, Her latest collaboration is "Plats du Jour: A Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country" with the girl & the fig restaurant in Sonoma, California, released in November 2011.

  • Robin Chesser 10·2·12

    Looks like an excellent book!

  • Hannah 10·4·12

    Looks like a great resource! Thanks!