Saturday, November 30, 2019

Vegetable stock

With our recipes for Chicken -, Beef- and Fish stock, you've got most bases for soups and sauces covered. Well, almost. There is one missing that some chefs will even refuse to call a stock as it does not meet the classic requirements for a stock (use of bones and vegetables) or broth (use of meat and vegetables). Some even refer to it as 'vegetable infused water'.

Nonetheless, we feel that vegetable stock has a definite place in the kitchen and not just in vegetarian dishes. Many dishes like risotto's, soups or stews of any kind benefit greatly from this mildly flavored and clean tasting stock. In addition, it is a great way of using vegetable leftovers that would otherwise be discarded such as peels, stalks and other less appealing bits.

Before we go to our ingredient list, we should mention that many vegetables can be used to make this stock. There are no strict rules here and you can use whatever you see fit, considering what you intend to use the stock for. So the recipe below is just a generic example.
The basis for any good vegetable stock is the classic mirepoix: onions, carrots, and celery. To this, you can add a whole array of vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, and spices. We would advise to not use strong tasting or starchy vegetables like cabbage, artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli and asparagus as these might result in a cloudy, strong-smelling stock. Also, be careful with potatoes. You can use the potato peels as these are the most flavorful parts, but the potatoes themselves will make a starchy stock.

As said, this is an excellent way to make use of leftovers such as the green parts of leeks, skins, and peels of onions, the leafy parts of celery and fennel, etc. etc. We simply store all of the leftovers in a bag in our freezer until we have enough to make stock. Please make sure you wash your vegetables thoroughly before freezing; you don't want sand in your stock.


(Yields approx. 2 liters of stock)
2 large onions
Green bits of 2 leeks
3 small carrots
Ends and peels of 2 turnips
10 mushrooms
Stem and leafy bits of 1 fennel
1 large tomato
Stalks of 1 bunch of parsley
2 cloves of garlic (lightly crushed)
1 small piece of ginger
2 bay leaves
Few sprigs of thyme
10 black peppercorns
5 cloves
1 tbsp sea salt

You could go ahead and coarsely dice the vegetables (no need to peel anything, just wash thoroughly to remove any sand), add everything to a large stockpot, add water to cover and simmer for an hour. This will result in a very light stock. We like to give our stock a deeper color and flavor and therefore we thoroughly brown some of our veggies in a frying pan before use. This is optional, skip if you want a light-colored stock.

Now, the tomato is a bit of the odd one out in this recipe. It was sitting in our fruit basket (don't store tomatoes in the fridge), getting overripe. The flavor is great, but it will definitely give a reddish color to your stock. Since we were going for a brown stock and intended to use this stock for a vegetable soup that has tomatoes in it anyway, we used it. It would have been a waste to throw out.

Put onions (skin on), leeks, carrots, turnips mushrooms, fennel, and tomato to your stockpot. Add 3 liters of cold water or until the veggies are just covered. Lightly crush the garlic cloves and add, together with the small piece of ginger. Be careful with that, ginger can be very overpowering. This goes for the bay leaf as well!

Bring to a boil and add the remaining ingredients. Turn down the heat to a nice rolling simmer.

Unlike our other stock recipes, this one has some salt. The reason for that is that salt helps the veggies releasing their flavor. But be careful, do not add too much.

Some recipes will call for a low and slow simmer for several hours, but that is a mistake. We do this with beef and chicken stock to keep the proteins from coagulating and clouding our stock. But in this stock, there is no animal protein so there is no danger of that.
Simmer for 60 to 90 minutes but not longer. After this time the veggies have released all their flavor and overly long cooking has the risk of your stock becoming bitter.
Remove the large chunks with a skimmer and put them in a colander placed in a bowl. Be careful to catch all the drippings. Squeeze out every last drop of vegetable goodness with a ladle.
Pass the stock through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the small bits.
Return to a boil and reduce to approximately 2 liters. This will deepen the flavor.

And there you have it! Just over 2 liters (8-9 cups) of nicely colored, flavourful vegetable stock that will be great in your vegetarian soups or sauces and many other dishes. And the great thing is: you know exactly what's in it. No hidden animal protein, very little salt, no palm-oil, no yeast extract,
no maltodextrin nor any other artificial stuff.
This stock will keep 3-4 days in the fridge or 2-3 months in your freezer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Culamis Cooking Event 22-11-2019

Following an 18 month hiatus, cooking club 'Culamis' reconvened in their new lineup as Culamis 2.0 to once again immerse themselves in a great culinary experience. Here's a small photo impression. Recipes will follow soon.

First course:
Soup of smoked trout and potatoes with Pistou.

Second course: Butternut squash with mussels
(courtesy of Robert Kranenborg)

The main course:
Partridge with sauerkraut 
'façon Margot'

 And for desert the classic: "Poire Belle Hélène"

Pistou - Pesto's French cousin

Confusing French Pistou for the more widely known Italian Pesto is not a big mistake. After all, the main ingredients are the same: fresh basil leaves and good olive oil. The biggest differences: there are no pine nuts in Pistou and the original French recipe doesn't even have cheese.


15 gr Basil leaves
15 gr Parsley leaves, stems removed
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled, germs removed
5 tbsp olive oil
20 gr cheese 'Parmigiano Reggiano'

Pistou originates from the Provence region where, in the local dialect, the word literally means 'pounded' . So a pestle and mortar should be your weapon of choice. But if you are all about convenience, you can surely use a food processor as well.

Using a pestle and mortar:
Grind garlic and salt until garlic becomes creamy. Add basil and parsley leaves – you may want to break them apart first – and crush leaves into garlic until a paste forms. Drizzle in olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, until the pistou reaches a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Using a food processor: 
Add garlic, salt, parsley and basil. Pulse a few times until leaves begin to break down. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, until the pistou reaches a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

We've used parmigiano but you can use any type of hard cheese you like. To keep it authentic you might add a French hard cheese like a gruyère, mimolette or a comté.

If possible, use small, young basil leaves only. If you can't get young basil and your pistou gets kind of dark green like in this picture, you can try a trick next time and that is to quickly blanche the leaves for 10 seconds in boiling water and then shock them in ice water. This will bring out and preserve the nice bright green color.

You can keep pistou for up to two weeks if you store it in a jar with a small layer of oil on top.

Pistou is mostly used in the Provence to flavor a local vegetable soup called 'Soupe au Pistou'.
But you can use it on almost anything from fish, meat, poultry to bread and even on pasta.

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