Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Broth and Stock

Today my house is filled with the enticing aroma of chicken, onion, carrot, and spices, but I've spent only about 2 minutes in the kitchen. "A stock is the liquid obtained from simmering together of meat, bones--or fish trimmings--with vegetables, seasonings, and water," writes Julia Child in Volume One of Mastering the art of French Cooking. Homemade broths and stocks increase the flavor and produce a silky mouth feel in many recipes. Stocks usually refer to liquids made with bones and a broth refers to those without bones. Put together anything that you like and have on hand to make a broth or stock. In my recipes, broths and stocks can be used interchangeably. Here is one that I'm cooking right now from leftover bits in my refrigerator. I've also given you my tomato soup recipe (what I had for lunch) that uses the chicken broth.

Chicken Broth
Chicken carcass (mine is what's left the organic chicken that I cooked in the slow cooker)
1 celery stalk
1 carrot, cut into pieces
1 bunch fresh chives (these are just coming up in the beds around my house)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cup spinach
Put all the ingredients together in a large pot and add enough water to cover ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer until the ingredients are thoroughly cooked and look spent and limp, usually for several hours. Train the liquid, and allow it to cool in the refrigerator. Scrape off the fat that solidifies on the cooled broth or stock and discard. Keep broths and stocks in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for a year.

Tomato Soup
1 cup stock
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Note, if your stock is very rich (it congeals solid in the fridge) you may want to dilute it and use1/2 cup stock and 1/2 cup water.

Update: I have to make this without the chives because they are high in sulfur.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What's Cooking Today

Today I made warm butter bean and spinach salad, slow-cooked chicken, olive oil mashed potatoes with wilted spinach gravy, hot cocoa mix, and apple butter.
For lunch I made warm butter bean and spinach salad as a leftover remix of yesterday's butter beans. I added fried onions and spinach to change the flavor and texture, and I enjoyed it with a square of leftover cornbread. See the recipe below.
The organic chicken I got from Soho's, the local organic grocery, cooked up tender and juicy. It just fit into my one-quart slow cooker with a rib of celery, a carrot, and 1/4 cup of pureed tomatoes.
The mashed potatoes were disappointing. I usually don't enjoy russet potatoes mashed, but did not think of this until I was eating them. When mashed, they lack flavor and have a gummy texture. I favor yukon golds for mashed potatoes.
I enjoyed a cup of my hot cocoa (see previous recipe)with my dinner and my apple butter is still simmering in my mini crockpot.

Warm Bean and Spinach Salad: Left-over Remix for the Pork and Butter Beans
I made this recipe after I had made a pot of beans the night before. I ate it with cornbread as a quick light lunch when I was home by myself. Double or quadruple the recipe to serve more people.

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ onion, sliced thinly
½ cup cooked giant lima beans with cooking liquid
2 cups baby spinach
1 teaspoon grated carrots
1 slice of lime

Saute onion slices in olive oil until dark brown. Add beans with liquid and simmer until hot and thick. Stir in spinach and remove from heat. Continue to stir until spinach welts. Plate and garnish with grated carrots and the juice of the slice of lime.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring is in the Air

We got a new tank for the gas grill yesterday and took advantage of the warm spring weather we are having today. After church, I heated up the giant lima beans that we call butter beans in the South. I cooked them with a pork rib over night in my slow cooker and whipped up a quick cornbread to have with lunch. But for dinner, I wanted something that fit the great weather we have this weekend. So I put two steaks on the grill and served them with baked potatoes and a spinach and citrus salad. Yum!
I have posted the Butter Bean Recipe Below.

Pork and Butter Beans

1 pound package of dried giant lima beans
1 pork rib or other 4 ounce piece of fresh pork
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Soak beans in 4 cups of water overnight or boil for 2 minutes and let soak for 1 hour. Drain water.
2. Place beans, 4 cups of filtered water, pork, and salt and pepper in a slow cooker. Cook 8 hours on low. Serve topped with diced onions if desired. A side of cornbread completes the meal.