A few years ago I was approached by some friends, who asked if I would be
interested in cooking pesach meals for them. I was hesitant because of the hard
work involved, but decided to try it. The buzz was immediate and soon people were calling and requesting to order food from my kitchen. They were delighted that they would be able to serve home-made delicacies without having to toil and labor over a hot stove.
A year later, with a Hoshgocho by Rabbi Aaron Mendelson, my catering business went into full swing. I consulted with experts in the catering industry and learned tips for keeping foods at their freshest and I was asked to share my experience.
In the beginning, I was wary of freezing a variety of foods but inquired and researched to learn more about what can be freezed so as not to alter the taste or texture of the food. I have also used some "tricks" of my own including the use of parchment paper (with a pesach hechsher). Once a dish is off the fire and cooled, it can be covered with parchment paper and then sealed with a hard foil cover. If you are traveling or would like to make sure your food stays extra fresh, in addition to the parchment and foil, place your item into a challah size ziploc bag for added sealing. When using this freezing process, the parchment paper acts as a barrier and retains the moisture so there is no frost around the food. It keeps it fresh longer. Many items freeze beautifully so you can prepare them in advance and beat the last minute cooking pressure.
Pureed soups, a variety of kugels, meats and poultry including baked chicken and shnitzel as well as blintzes, all come out great from the freezer. The trick lies in how to warm up the thawed items. Some prefer to take them out of the fridge the night before. I would not recommend thawing vegetable and apple kugels. They get soggy. Vegetable and apple kugels and anything with a crisp topping should be warmed uncovered without defrosting. Soups should be poured off into containers while hot. It will allow them to cool more quickly and evenly. If you have no time to wait for cooling, place the containers in your fridge, uncovered. Once cooled, cover and freeze. I've seen people freeze soup in ziploc bags and lie them flat as to save valuable space.
I like to take soup from the freezer, place it under hot water just to loosen, turn it over into pot with a little added water and reheat. Mix a few times with a spoon. Its almost impossible to tell it was frozen! Matzo balls can be prepared ahead of time. Make the balls, freeze the raw mixture and then drop into boiling soup at your convenience!
After baking a roast, allow it to cool, slice it (I like to slice with an electric slicer- worthy investment- cuisinart is great), and freeze using parchment paper method. Warm covered. Chicken (capons especially) freezes well. Stuff it with whatever filling you like.
Shnitzel can be frozen raw, baked or freshly fried. Whatever your choice, separate each layer with parchment paper so you can take out as many as you need. When making blintzes/crepes, first thaw frozen ones in fridge then fry or bake. Frying them before serving improves the taste. When making lukshen, make the crepes, roll, cut thin strips, separate with your fingers. Place in sandwich bags, freeze when cooled (stick in a piece of parchment paper). Take out and use as needed. Let it thaw. Then put in bowls and soup on top.
Butternut Squash Soufflé
3 cups cooked and puréed butternut squash
½ stick margarine
½ cup potato starch
1 cup sugar
1 cup coffee rich or whip topping
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix all ingredients together in mixer with a whisk attachment until smooth. Pour into a 9x13-inch pan. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and bake for 1 hour.