Friday, January 05, 2007

Frozen vegetables

Nigella Lawson made frozen peas respectable; fashionable even. Until How To Eat appeared, some of us had assumed that the starchiness of so many fresh peas was an indication of superiority, and the price we paid for worthiness. In the Guardian before Christmas, Marco Pierre White asserted that frozen sprouts were nicer than fresh ones (his comments are here). We had some frozen fine beans at Christmas; they were good, and far preferable to those muddy Kenyan ones. I wish they were more widely available.

I may have overstretched the envelope in buying a pack of frozen broccoli florets. "They're all mushy," a daughter complained; and it was true that I had overcooked them slightly. But I suspect that any vegetable with a tendency to mushiness will go mushy very easily if cooked from frozen.

I have read that frozen vegetables contain more nutrients than fresh ones, because the freezing takes place soon after picking. I wonder if anyone has tested this theory.


pablopatito said...

Marco Pierre White also says "I use Knorr stock cubes for Christmas dinner as well. They are one of the greatest inventions in gastronomy but, as with everything, you have to know how to use them."

This sounds interesting, but unlike Marco I probably don't know how to use them. Do you know how to use them? Any tips?

Nicholas Clee said...

That was a tantalising remark, wasn't it?

One thing he may have meant was that you should use stock cubes at a lower concentration than the packet suggests. Checking the Knorr packet in my cupboard, I see that it recommends dissolving the cube in 3/4 pint of water. I'd use about a third of a cube in that quantity of liquid while making, say, a soup.

On Christmas Day, we made a stock (for the gravy) with the turkey giblets and some vegetables. I didn't think of it at the time, but I might have added just a quarter of a stock cube. It would have enriched the flavour.

pablopatito said...

There was a full page advert in the Sunday Times for Knorr chicken stock cubes featuring a large picture of Marco Pierre White. In the advert, he recommends mixing a stock cube with olive oil to make a paste, and rubbing the paste over a chicken prior to roasting it.

I don't know if Knorr employed MPW because of his comments about them being one of the greatest inventions in gastronomy or vice versa.

Nicholas Clee said...

I am not convinced. If you try it, let me know!

If I don't have home-made stock, I use a cube (or rather, half a cube) in soups. Not being a vegetarian, I also use half a cube in vegetable curries. Cubes do add depth of flavour, I think.

pablopatito said...

I tried the stock cube baste last night (with butter and olive oil). I don't know if it improved the chicken or not, but I think it did.

I also had frozen sprouts for the first time (also thanks to Macro Pierre White), and they were superb! Definately the way forward for sprouts, I'll never buy fresh again.

Finally, I added half a stock cube to the gravy, again as recommended by Marco. This didn't work at all.