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In "Fast to the Table Freezer Cookbook," Becky Rosenthal who writes The Vintage Mixer and SLC Foodie cooking and lifestyle blogs gives cooks ideas on how to freeze items they might not normally expect, such as avocados, bananas and homemade quiche.
Rosenthal's first cookbook, "Salt Lake City Chef's Table," was a compilation of recipes from Utah's best restaurants, chefs and bakers. In her new cookbook, available Tuesday, May 31, she includes recipes as well as information about the best freezing supplies, shortcuts and methods for produce, sauces, casseroles, meats and baked goods; and what not to freeze.
Rosenthal recently answered questions about how she developed her cookbook, favorite recipe and tips for home cooks. Her comments have been edited for length and clarity.
How did you get the idea for the cookbook?
The publisher came to me. On my blog I write about fresh food, so I wasn't sure I was the one to write this book. In fact, our freezer was broken at the time. But as I started researching, I realized I could put a different spin on using your freezer, giving people ideas that they wouldn't think of, like freezing fresh avocados and peaches in season. Or making a big batch of pasta sauce or kid's snacks so you can avoid processed snacks.
In the past, you've encouraged readers to preserve/can fresh food. How does freezing fit in?
Freezing is the answer, if you have the space. There are fewer steps than preserving and things you don't have to worry about when you freeze, like preparing the water bath or worrying about whether you've done it right.
What's your favorite thing to have in the freezer?
I used to be good at freezing raw meat and never using it. Now I cook a big batch of pork, or roast a chicken, and freeze it in small portions. When it's time for dinner, I can defrost it in a skillet on low heat. There were several times during the writing process that my husband and I wondered why didn't we do this before?
What's your favorite section in the book?
Probably the breakfast. I froze a batch of banana waffles and gave them to a girlfriend who had her third baby and needed to feed her older children something quick and easy when the baby came. Quiche freezes really well, and so do granola and muffins. I also like the maple raspberry French toast and the sticky bun recipe. For the sticky buns, you freeze the dough right in the pans before the last rising. All you have to do is leave it on the counter overnight and put it in the oven to bake the next morning.
Did you ever fix your freezer?
Yes. We bought a chest freezer, too.
Maple raspberry baked French toast
This recipe can fill one large baking dish or two small, square pans. Bake one now and freeze the other for later.
12 cups sliced day-old bread, about 2 pounds (See note)
8 ounces mascarpone or cream cheese (optional)
3 cups frozen raspberries, divided
10 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
2 cups milk
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Pure maple syrup
To make the French toast, grease two 9-inch-square baking dishes or one 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Layer half the bread in the bottom of the dish/dishes. Spoon small amounts of mascarpone cheese onto the bread (this doesn't need to be spread out). Top with 2 cups of raspberries for the large pan or 1 cup each for the 9-by-9 baking dishes. Top with the remaining bread.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, half-and-half, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, spices and salt. Pour mixture evenly over the bread. Top with the remaining cup of raspberries.
To make the topping, melt the butter, then whisk in the maple syrup and brown sugar. Drizzle over the unbaked French toast. Refrigerate pans overnight and bake the next day or freeze.
For unfrozen pans: Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the custard is set and the top is browned. Check after 45 minutes to see if it's browning too much, as you might need to cover it lightly with foil. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with extra maple syrup.
To freeze: Wrap pan tightly with plastic wrap, then cover it again with aluminum foil. On top of the foil, label the French toast and include baking instructions and a reminder to remove the plastic before cooking (leaving it on is a messy mistake to make). Bake, straight from the freezer, at 350 degrees for 70 to 75 minutes, checking after 50 minutes to see whether you need to cover the top with foil to prevent too much browning. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with extra maple syrup.
Note • Keep a large bag in the freezer for leftover ends or dry, day-old bread. Once the bag gets full, make this French toast. Even leftover bagels, such as plain, cinnamon raisin, or blueberry, work great. You can slice the bread into cubes or thin slices before freezing, so making this dish is quick and easy. Also, check for day-old bread at the grocery store if you need to supplement the bread you have on hand. I usually use the random odds and ends of bread for the bottom layer and day-old bread from the store for the top layer.
Servings • 10 -12 servings for the 9-by-13-inch pan; or 5 -6 servings for each 9-by-9 dish
Source: "Fast to the Table Freezer Cookbook," by Becky Rosenthal