When your freezer dies Let’s Get Cooking!

Let’s Get Cooking!

July 19th

What happens when your freezer dies? You get cooking.

So here’s what happened…my brand new Thermador Freezer either couldn’t take the quantity or the quality of the foodstuffs I had stacked in there, packed to the gills, and got sick—literally started dying a slow death. Of course I called Thermador, and two appliance companies—do you think I’m a ninny?

However, it wasn’t a dark, and stormy night, forsooth, just my luck it was the day before the 4th of July. Yes, today’s date is the 19th…you can count—it took that many days for the total demise. I kept the poor patient sucker going with dry ice.

After several visits from two different doctor techs from two different companies…the prognosis was pathetic. New fan, new computerized panel board, new ice maker, new wiring, new, new, new transplanted everything. Trust me, I wouldn’t be writing this ever so cavalier description if the dang thing weren’t under warranty!

Needless to say, I’ve been cooking lately—for the neighbors, for friends and relatives, for complete strangers, for the uninvited guests from the wedding of Caanan, for the two techs who came to call, for the dogs who come visiting. I only wish that the 4 doe who come to feed on neighborhood flowers were interested in meat or fish. I’d be fattening up their haunches and skinny butts under those white puffy tails for sure.

So here’s what I made—huge pots of sauce with 3 different types of sausage (several pieces of each kind, natch) bought at Caputo’s in Salt Lake City—Barolo, funghi porcini, and parmigiano and fennel—plus two filets of pork, some beef filets and steaks!

Then I made a humongous fish soup: 3 lbs of shrimp, 2 lbs of scallops, 5 lbs of clams (these were fresh), 2 lbs. of mussels (these were clean, out of the shell that I had frozen in their own juice only a week ago!), 2 lbs of calamari, 1 lb. of white sea bass, 1 lb. of halibut. You can see that my freezer doesn’t lack for quality items! You can, of course use other fish, other quantities! Experiment.

All you need to do is make a broth of tomatoes, (I had some fresh, but canned will do), fish stock, a generous glass of white wine, onions, garlic, parsley, basil, a dash of oregano, salt, hot pepper (if desired, but don’t know how anyone could do without it for a zuuppa like this one!) and a healthy serving of good olive oil.

Since I had defrosting peas and corn, I added them to the soup, and since my refrigerator (also Thermador in excellent health, thanks be!) produce drawer held celery and carrots, I added them also, along with one fat Yukon gold potato and two sweet potatoes. Not orthodox, you say? Hey, remember this is my soup—you can do it anyway you like. I almost threw in some cannellini and kidney beans, but thought it might be overkill.

This soup fed the Johnson family of 5, Uncle Chris, Nick’s friend, Nick, Christina’s friend, Natalie, and the ‘Chefess,’ me! There were leftovers for head of the crew, Darrell, and whomsoever opens the fridge at the Johnson’s. You can serve this soup by itself, over rice or small pasta, like tiny shells.

Next exciting episode in my life as hermit-for-a-week in the mountain retreat of the Trails of Jeremy Ranch is the Johnson Family loaded up their camper, 3 kids, a guest, the dog, Cyrus, one guitar, Uncle Chris in another car and the boat in tow and are headed out to Oregon. As a send-off, I naturally gave them two lovely pies—still semi-frozen to take with them. One of spinach and ricotta and one pizza rustica: ham, prosciutto, cheeses, salami, and love! They can “zap” each individual piece…for the hungry and the bored as needed.

Now I’m off to make another sauce: this one with my frozen small meatballs, veal and lamb. My guys should be home from soon the wilds of Idaho, where they were incommunicado for a week of white-water rafting on the Salmon River…guess what’s for dinner, guys? My freezer is now working, but completely empty, washed and dried, and ready for overload once more.

Ciao for now…
La Cuoca (AKA Chefess) di Casa Romano

P.S. Here’s a link—it has a great picture of a typical Italian market stall–not unlike Mercato Trionfale, where I shopped at for my 20 year sojourn in bella Roma.