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How have I only just discovered this thread? My wife has been going on about cutting up and freezing veg for quick and easy receipes for ages. We have a few bags of stuff in the freezer at the moment labelled up for Rissotos and Stir Frys but nothing on this level. I think I could get her keen on this though. The amount of times our "what should we have for dinner?" chat ends up as "dunno" and we do something shit is stagering. Having meals like this means on those indecisive nights we could just select whatever we wanted and heat it up.


Have you tried Lasagne yet? That must be fine to make, freeze and reheat?


Great thread & work Gotters

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I find with batch cooking that Lasagne isn't particularly great for reheating. I prefer to prep sides on the day of service and just freeze the main. Lasagne often reverts back to its original state, or dries out, even if you've used fresh. You could deconstruct a Lasagne by freezing a separate Bechamel and meat sauce, then reconstruct with fresh pasta and top with cheese before bunging it in the oven.

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Yeah, the highlight for me with lasagna is the crispy bits, which don’t last in the freezing/microwave process


What worked very well was big tagliatelli noodles which i undercooked just putting in boiling water for a couple of mins - then covering in a hungarian paprikash stew.


To get my italian fix I’m planning a really thick luxurious ragu poured over tagliatelli with some grated hard cheese on top - think that will be great.

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.... and here is my Italian fix, its another Serious Eats special, few steps to build flavour but sampling straight out the pot it seems worth the effort, its a very thick very luxurious ragu with a lovely mouthfeel. Have to say its quite a pricey one to make, think using Ocado I got to about £30 for the ragu alone so its not a cheap meal, but I suspect its going to be worth every penny. 



(if anybody is tempted to try there is a serious eats vid showing this being made on their youtube channel, its worth watching)


Followed the recipe exactly apart from being a bit nervous about the chicken liver, so cut that back a bit to about 2/3 of what they said (couldn't taste at all in the final version overtly). Used my technique from a few weeks back to leave the pasta a bit under when portioning out, stops it getting overdone in the microwaving when heating. Veggies are some simple stir fried greens in lots of minced garlic done in my carbon steel wok to get that lovely wok char flavour going on. 



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This weekend is my 1st anniversary of starting doing this (the thread followed a few weeks after I got going).


I've got a few stats from first year, overall I've made 311 meals in pots, with 28 varieties of main course attempted and a grand total of 48 batches made (yielding an average of 6.3 pots).


Most importantly its now firmly established as a habit, neither of us would want to go back to the old days of getting home without an assortment of these sat in the fridge/freezer. 


Our most popular meals, which have both been remade 4 times are the butter chicken and sausage mash & onion gravy with mushy peas. I still can't believe how good that butter chicken is, I don't believe it comes out of my kitchen, the sausage is just pure comfort food.


Had a couple of duds, but only really in comparison to the great ones, nothing has been inedible or that much of a chore to polish off. 


Going into year 2 the only dilemma is how many great meals there are we miss I want to remake versus trying the large number of untried ideas I've got jotted down in notes for new ones - I am contemplating a big floor standing freezer to allow for greater stock to be held !

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Year 2 has started with one of our 10/10 favourites - the serious eats Japanese curry - I make up the spice blend day or 2 in advance then its a much quicker cook on the day itself (plus I think it needs a little time to blend together in an airtight pot). 


I prefer things a little less saucey than the original recipe so use their amounts of spice and liquid but add in more chicken, carrots, potatoes and peas. 





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13 minutes ago, Adrock said:

Has doing it saved you money? Are you generally eating better?


I've just not tracked the money at all, I'm not doing it with a budget angle but do often notice that 2 big bags of ingredients for 2-3 cooks on a weekend costs a lot less than 2 big bags stuffed with convenience food and ready meals used to. Its definitely not costing me more than ready meals and takeaways did (as long as I don't factor in my time of course).


Eating better is certainly a thing though, I've not done for calories or weight loss (as is probably obvious by the recipes) but I get far less heartburn than I used to and notice these meals 'sit' in me far more comfortably than something full of processed ingredients would, my other half noticed the same too.


Takeaway curry or chinese would often upset my stomach and give me shocking heartburn - far spicier but home cooked equivalents have no such problems.


Biggest thing its changed is our palettes, a lot of the recipes build flavour, are slow cooked or have a list of exotic spices or dried chillis, when we eat now in pubs or more run of the mill joints it's often disappointing in comparison. 

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Two cooks today to maintain stocks, an old favourite and something experimental.


I'm not a big fish fan but do like a bit of cod in parsley sauce, but rarely can be bothered to stink the house out to cook it. I've also had worries about how delicate fish is and wonder what will be left of it after cooking it, freezing it, then reheating.


Looks like a nice home cooked version of a school dinner though in the pot and I'm hoping the sauce protects the fish a bit, found this recipe in a couple of places, the amount of nutmeg is way too high (I did less than half of that), if the fish reheats ok (I have doubts) I have other sauce recipes bookmarked which are based on wine/stock with a splash of cream I may try next time.






Next was these really good teriyaki chicken balls - takes a bit of time to mince the chicken and form the balls, but is a worth it. Served on a bed of white sticky rice with some teriyaki poured over, and I made a bit extra and reserved in little pots to pour over on eating, as all soaks into the rice in the pot (tastes good, just fancy some to pour on the balls)









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Mexican week as not made these for a while. 


Like the rice recipe as it uses up the leftover enchilada sauce I keep from when I do the first step of the pressure cooker enchiladas, its really flavourful as is packed with mexican chillis and the chicken juices amongst other veggies which you blitz up to cover the enchiladas with before sticking in the oven. Just talking about it makes me want enchiladas now and I'll have to make again as need the sauce.


Slow cooker 10h pork which you pull then add a bit of colour to in a pan with some of the cooking juice.


Good pot this one and one of my other half's favourites.




This is a rare pot for me as has a side I don't make myself, but I won't improve on this little bread boats as the perfect way to stack up the rice, meat and corn. 



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The hairy bikers diet book (second one I think) had a way of making baskets out of tortilla by using a ball of tinfoil and roasting them over the tinfoil then using a tumbler to  make a flat base, I found the coke Cola tumbler was prefect for it. 


Gives a nice crunchy texture with corn tortilla. 

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Another I've had bookmarked for a while, beef and barley broth, I decided to go the pressure cooker route with beef short ribs. The short ribs are fall apart tender and my initial view is its quite nice but nothing spectacular. Had a lamb barley broth I made earlier on doing this and things that is probably nicer, but need to let this sit for a day or so and see how it ends up. 


Decided to put some boiled spuds on the side to make it more of a meal, but didn't cook them in the soup as they tend to disintegrate a bit. 




https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/10/beef-barley-soup-recipe.html?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily1022&utm_content=daily1022+CID_2038772f85eb4fc5f14168d5a6fdc104&utm_source=Email campaign&utm_term=Read More

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  • 2 weeks later...

The first ever curry I made from scratch in this thread, the butter chicken, overnight became the best thing I know how to cook. Ever since then I've wanted to make a different curry but have been a bit stressed at missing out on more butter chicken, and the high probability it won't be as good. I've spent hours watching YouTube videos looking for something that appeared equally great. 


In the end just decided to go for it and gone for a couple of new main meat dishes, chicken Madras and lamb rogan josh. I also had some new pots to use which seemed to suit the meal nicely.




The madras is all from scratch, there is a 14 spice madras masala mix I made up yesterday, a base curry sauce then you cook it all up with even more spices chucked in for good measure. I halved the madras spice mix as its seems far more than I'd use (still got quite a bit left over) and you could skip this step for speed and just buy a pre made mix of course.  


Out the pot its incredibly powerful, sets my mouth off tingling and made me break into an instant sweat (but doesn't overpower my tastebuds, and I'm not a spice nutter at all). It needs to settle in the pot before I judge it but it has a strong bitter back taste from the base sauce, I think its too much fenugreek in the recipe, I offset it with some sugar to try and calm it down.


Madras recipe comes from this very nice lady I found on YouTube (instructions in the video notes but its not super precise and I had to watch a couple of times)



The rogan josh is a bit simpler to make up, there is also a video for this on YouTube as well by the same person who put the recipe on the BBC site.


Again I'll judge it when its all aged a bit in the pot, these curries are pretty powerful with all these whole spices and taste quite different to the shop bought crap I've been historically used to. Initial taste though is positive. I did try to pick all the bits of cinnamon stick, clove and cardamom pod about the dish before serving up.




Saffron rice and pressure cooker daal are classics for me and shared those several times before in this thread.


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@Gotters  I'm having a go at Butter Chicken today.   The recipe has what seems to be a lot of chilli powder (1tbs for marinade 2tbs for sauce).  I'm making a big batch (1kg  of chicken) which would mean like 9tbs of chilli powder.   Do you use the full amount or should it be teaspoons?   Sounds like it would be super hot.   

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@JPickford below is directly copied from my personal note on Butter Chicken now - how I've tweaked and taken from the original youtube video - its pretty faithful with lots more chicken but the original quota of sauce, in the video its very saucy and I prefer more meat/sauce ratio - all the pics I've posted here are this exact recipe below.


the chilli I use is proper red kashmiri, not some generic shop chilli powder, think its important as its flavour packed but not that hot. 



hope it goes well


Chicken Prep

1.3kg Chicken breast

2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste

2 tbsp Red chilli powder

Salt to taste


For the gravy

500g roughly cut tomatoes

200g roughly cut onions

1 tbsp garlic paste

100g cashew

1 tsp kasoori methi (or dried coriander)

1/2 tsp garam masala

3 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder

5 tbsp butter

3 tbsp cream

2 tbsp malt vinegar / 1.5 tbsp white

Salt to taste



- Marinate the chicken with ginger paste, garlic paste, red chilli powder and salt and keep it aside for 15 to 20 minutes

-  In a pan heat some oil then fry the marinated chicken pieces, once done place it into a bowl.

- In the same pan add onion, oil, spoonful of butter and once the onions are cooked add tomatoes and cashew nuts

- Add some water (just under 1 cup) and garlic paste, salt, malt vinegar, sugar, garam masala powder and chilli powder. Evenly mix it and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes

- strain the mixture into fine puree thru sieve (takes time but essential to get smooth sauce mouth feel)

- combine cooked chicken and strained sauce back into pan

- Add butter, cream and kasoori meethi and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

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Report on last weeks madras is it wasn't very good - the fenugreek way overpowered it all as written and I won't be making it again in that form, got a plan today though and got a second Madras recipe lined up which will use the spice mix I made up for last week - as I kept it in a 3 segment pot I can just prise the frozen lump of duff Madras out hopefully and swap the new one in. Planning. 


Like having some quick one pot recipes up my sleeve and just knocked up 6 chilli mac n cheese in about 35m - its a variant on the burger mac I made a while ago from same site but appears to pack a bit more punch - followed recipe exactly apart from going 750g of mince rather than 500g.





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New stew time again, saw this recipe tweeted by Turner & George the other day and lead to an excellent website (finding a new food website now elicits the same response I had 20y ago to finding a new band with a big back catalogue I didn't know about. 


This is an interesting one, beef shin stew with chorizo and chickpeas, looks like a hybrid which is part stew part chilli. Smells good and cooked up exactly as described. 







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On 27/05/2018 at 06:36, Gotters said:

 the gear does ratchet up quite quickly as with all things, with some essential and some that you can work round with a bit of effort.


Places like Amazon, IKEA and Procook are great for cheap gear (you don't always need to be like Nigella with beautiful copper equipment sat everywhere and a £2 IKEA stainless steel bowl is perfectly good, but money is well spent on things like cast iron casserole pots) - as you mentioned if you're batch cooking size of things matters more than doing dinner for 1.

  • decent knives (doesn't mean expensive, kitchen devils are great if you sharpen properly and you can treat them a bit harshly without guilt)
  • couple of veg peelers, garlic press
  • big chopping boards (you'll need a couple at least to not be washing up all the time)
  • cheap stainless steel bowls (big ones to put stuff in whilst prepping or after browning, they clean super easily too and you can blend and bash and do anything in them)
  • decent pans with good sealing lids (a good 30cm high sided pan/wok style thing and a large saucepan with lid give you lots of options)
  • large casserole pot with good fitting lid (this is my best purchase, I got an 8l Staub on amazon and it was expensive but is worth every penny, stuff cooks different in it over a cheaper pan I had previously)
  • large high sided baking tray 
  • silicon tongs - most useful thing in the kitchen once you get cooking
  • silicon spoons/spatulas
  • measuring equipment (scales, teaspoon/tablespoon measures) and volume (you can get some great measuring jugs now that show fl oz, ml and cups on the side) 

I've posted recipes for things like a pressure or rice cooker, but they all have an alternative version elsewhere that cook more conventionally. Also posted recipes that use some form of blender (stick thing or vitamix type) or cast iron pan - but if you've not got just find something you can make, key thing with this is to actually get doing it (its like exercise in that respect).


Equipment shouldn't always stop you trying something either, you can buy harissa if don't have a pestle and mortar to make from scratch, and all spices can be sourced ground - its a question of how far and how much effort you want to put into things (I am impressed though by how much using whole spices adds to dishes but get why people wouldn't bother).


We've both agreed the reusable plastic pots from Amazon are really important for reasons we can't fully fathom, there is an OCD order neatness to them, and storage is easier, but I love eating out of them too. I think it adds to the no faff during the week with so little washing up to do, and it feels like a ready meal but doesn't taste like one.


Sure I've forgotten stuff but thats a starter for ten.


@Foxworth I wouldn't alter much of this from before when I was asked about gear - you can save on cheap scales, stainless mixing bowls, knives but things like pans and the cast iron big cook pot do benefit from a bit of quality I'd say


The storage pots are all Emerald Living on Amazon, tried a couple of brands and they are the best, very resilient, don't mark up and I've not chucked one yet thru wear or microwave/freezing damage


https://smile.amazon.co.uk/stores/node/11055464031?_encoding=UTF8&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=Emerald Living&ref_=bl_dp_s_web_11055464031

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2 new dishes this morning (though the chicken one is one I mentioned in the 'what's for dinner' thread last week. This one isn't photogenic but take a look at the recipe list and you get an idea of how much flavour/texture it has - I was unsure of this recipe and had bookmarked for months before trying last week, it may be heading right near the top of the favourites list as is savoury, sweet, fruity, crunchy, spicy - its really good (but doesn't show in the picture).


I've adapted her method a bit from recipe and use lots more chicken (a few bits in a side dish to not crowd the main tray - and cook the rice covered for 20m then add the chicken and go for 25-30m uncovered to finish it all.




https://www.recipetineats.com/oven-baked-chicken-and-rice-pilaf-cranberry-walnut-apple/  (the pics on this site do it more justice)


Second up is a pimped up serious eats corn risotto - it's another I've had my eye on for a while, this has come out pretty tasty, I'm never 100% on risotto as a main meal so jury out on this one (but the concept and recipe is pretty good)







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  • 3 weeks later...

After a few new ones I needed to go back to a comforting classic, jambalaya with maque choux side and cornbread (not pictured but in the oven)


Wish this one looked better in the pics, it tastes wonderful as is quite time consuming to make, all the effort goes into building the flavour step by step - there is carrot, onion & celery in there, 2 tins of whole toms, chicken stock and on the meat front chicken thighs, chorizo, polish smoked kielbasa, sausage meat and even a bit of pancetta this time, along with various spices.



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  • 3 weeks later...

This wasn't going to be a prep cook but a curry cookup had enough leftovers to make up 3 spares, what always impresses with homemade curry like this is not just how good it tastes, but how lightly it sits in you after eating - I've said before I gave up on takeaway and store bought as had killer heartburn after eating and stomach issues, this stuff tastes so 'wholesome' somehow and the flavour spice levels give us a proper curry buzz after eating. This was the best meal of xmas, It's hard to make curry pics look good its just brown meat in sauce but the flavour is immense. 


I keep going on about butter chicken being the best thing I can make and this new curry is one I'd never heard of, a Mughlai, it may not be a 10 but is a high 9 - I was taken by the onion based sauce. Also made some onion  bhaji from scratch (so light, and crisp and delicious but won't microwave well in the pots) and a new side potato & pea curry. 




Curry comes from link below, recipe is great but as I usually say light on meat to sauce, I went boneless breast (she uses whole pieces) and I used 1kg of meat, the sauce could taken a bit more 1.2-1.3kg. I really ground the pastes fine to get a nice mouthfeel (need a bit of water in nuts/chilli/garlic/ginger mix) and at the end of cooking I thought the sauce a touch thin, so added a tiny amount of xantham gum (just gives a lovely mouth feel and adds no flavour).




Bhajis came from the Guardian guide, recipe is good and they're light as a feather, but needed to cut onions smaller than they say and will try wilting in a little salt before next time to get more pliable (recipe needs salt too which they don't list).




The potato side is OK but nothing amazing, a lot of faff for the payoff I'd say and won't replace my pressure cooker daal as a veg side anytime soon.



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16 minutes ago, Stigweard said:

@Gotters you seems ot be cooking a lot of different things. Are you just having the same meals everynight over the course of 5 or so days, or do you freeze loads and just pull something new out every night?


Whole point of this is to have real variety in your dinners and never have the 'Monday is sausage night' thing  - I usually keep about 40 or so meals in a couple of freezers at any point so we can have real variety and never get bored of stuff - all the meals  are designed on the premise that they have to freeze and reheat really well in their pot in a microwave (so nothing crispy, pastry etc). Anything that is compromised by freezing and microwaving doesn't happen, so I adapt a couple of techniques leaving veggies a tad under cooked, same for pasta, so the reheat finishes them off. 


I'm up to over 30 meals now in my repertoire and keep a stock list to ensure that if I've got a lot of stew and mash or Mexican in then the next cook is something totally different, I also keep detailed notes of when we last had something so can see when something may need to come back into rotation. 


It all sounds like more work than it is, its just become part of life now and ensures that no work night cooking is ever required, I was out shopping today for 2 cooks tomorrow to get my stock levels topped up, 1 old fave we've not had since last Feb and a new variant on a ragu using beef cheeks.



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Higher up this page I posted my first attempt at a Ragu, it was delicious, but was I'd say a more US high end take on the dish. Had a go today at something far more classical, a slow cooked beef cheek version. I think I may have found our next 9.something rated recipe (we're very tough, there are only a few). I was really worried at the shredding stage as the beef cheeks were soft as butter but had a really strong beefy smell (like short ribs) but once in the incredible sauce it all becomes very harmonious.


These 2 recipes are basically the same, so I sort of merged them, taking the core recipe from the 'tin eats' one, but using the beef cheeks and cooking time from the other (beef cheeks are pretty much the last frontier in cow cuts for me I've not cooked) - I preferred the 'tin eats' recipe as has a more classic sofrito base. The 3h covered on low and 30mins was perfect timings in my big Staub casserole pot (mention this as has a very tight lid so you don't suffer much steam loss in the covered cooking bit).





I didn't finish as she suggested in a pan with pasta water as these are going in the freezer, but I did portion out and pre-mix the pasta and ragu to make easier on reheating. 




Oh, one final thing, if you like a bit of nice grated cheese on your ragu but find it a bit of a faff Sainsury's have got you covered





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Almost a year since this Hairy Bikers chicken stew and cobbler has been made, it was one of the original cooks when I was getting going.




Recipe works pretty well, the potato mash cobbler is witchcraft as I don't have a clue how potatoes can go into such light fluffy dumplings. As is traditional I use a bit more chicken, and replace the mushrooms as one of us isn't a fan (I used turnip this time)


Tried a slight tweak on the mash using sous vide to cook the spuds in a bit of butter, theory being you don't lose flavour in the boiling process - can't say on first bite there is much taste diff but the texture is very nice.



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On 13/08/2018 at 21:46, Jamie John said:

I had a go at making the prawn, chicken and sausage jambalaya @Gotters posted a few pages back. I followed the recipe as much as I could but had to use spicy chorizo instead of the sausage they recommend. I also used basmati instead of long-grain rice, but I'm not sure if that would have made a huge difference:




The recipe made six portions but the wife and I had two for dinner this evening. Flavour was okay - nice umami goodness and a generous amount of meat to rice. It was a bit stodgy, though; I'd have liked the rice to have been a bit fluffier. The texture of everything was pretty much the same. It was sort of like a hearty, slightly spicy risotto. I'd have preferred it a bit more saucy. Maybe next time I'll cook the rice separately and mix it through afterwards.


I've wondered before about how jambalaya is supposed to be having never eaten a proper version.


I've watched a few 'authentic' recipes and it comes out quite stodgy (a bit like risotto as you say). The ones below both look a bit stodgy. Personally I much prefer really nice fluffy jasmine rice, which makes me consider making the rice separately from the stew and then eating it together. Also I was under the impression that a dark roux is super important in cajun cooking. Toups makes it in the first one, but then Besh doesn't which is also confusing.




I made my own a few years back and I remember liking it (don't ask me for a recipe as I have no idea if I followed one or just made it up):



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