30 March 2008

Waiting for stock

One of my favorite things to cook these days is stock. There isn't much to do, but that is part of what I like about it.

I collect chicken carcasses in the freezer until I have enough to fill my 3 quart pot (I am going to get a bigger one soon, but start with what you have). In this method, the bones have been roasted; I will soon try with necks and backs from the butcher - those will have to be roasted first, but I might just toss them in the pan and see what happens.

Cover the bones with cold water water and add some other flavors - yesterday I added some leek greens, bay leaves, a stalk of celery, about 10 pepper corns and a few grains of salt.

Now here comes the waiting part - put the pot on the stove over the smallest burner and turn it to darn near the lowest it will go (if it won't go very low, turn it all the way down). The objective is to get the temperature in the pot to a very low simmer. You want the bubbles to just barely be coming up. Do not boil! You want to hold it at that barely a simmer temperature for a long time. You can watch it, you can adjust the heat a bit, you can run some errands and come back to a great smell in the house. The key is patience.

Once the liquid is a nice color and has a good flavor although perhaps a bit weak, the first part is done and it is time to strain the liquid. I use about 4 thicknesses of cheese-cloth in a strainer and pour from the pot into a bowl through the strainer. Toss the leftovers. Now if you would like a bit more kick in the stock return it to a cleaned pot and to the stove at the same very low heat and reduce, reduce, reduce...

23 March 2008


It is a sunny Easter morning here in the midwest. The snow from last week is still with us, but will diminish as the temperature soars into the mid-30s later today.

The light is beautiful in Francie's south-facing, farm-style kitchen and we have a big lot of folks here for brunch. My suggestion of leg of lamb was over-ruled by Francie's dislike of said meat and then by the timing of the need to serve her Mom at mid-day rather than late in the afternoon. We have settled on quiche and at mid-morning we added Anna had her 3 kids to the mix and so the group has expanded and we added a 3rd pie to the mix.

We have 3 out of the oven now - one with bacon, leeks and marjaram; one with asparagus, brocolli, bacon, and shallots; and one simply with asparagus. They are beautiful and have been replaced in the oven with scones of Anna's construction. We also have fruit salad with strawberrys (probably from Florida), lovely pears, apples, blueberrys and bananas.

The scones will come out shortly and then we will eat. (Camryn will need to be awoken (perhaps) and Andy will be fetched)

We ate them and they were good. So were the fruit salad and the scones

A couple of tips -
  • Use less milk than Moosewood or Joy of Cooking calls for in the custard.
  • Careful with the nutmeg!
  • Trust your instincts with the salt
  • Build the quiche from the bottom up: cheese, stuff, more cheese, then pour in the custard