Homemade bouillon cubes

This is one of those cooking tricks that I’ve always done without thinking much about it, but it’s probably time to share. They say the secret is in the sauce, but these little gelatinous lumps are the secret to the sauce!

I had quite a bit of leftover pork stock from my head cheese project, and after freezing several jars, I decided to reduce the rest down further for a soup enhancer known as bouillon.

I tossed store-bought liquid and cube bouillon from my pantry a very long time ago. The amount of  salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and hydrogenated oil (trans fat) that they contain just isn’t something I want to feed my family. Why make a soup from scratch only to then add a highly processed ingredient? (Remember Shaina’s story?)

Instead, in addition to homemade stock, I flavour soup and sauces with natural aromatics – fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, dried mushrooms, chilies, garlic, spices, vinegars – and homemade bouillon like this.

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Harvest Corn Chowder Recipe

Corn is at its absolute peak right now, and we’ve been taking full advantage of the season. Last week we blitzed about thirty cobs to get a small part of the harvest packaged and in the freezer.

The boys -and Clara, as she is 18 months-going-on-eight-years and must be involved in anything we do – shucked, and I removed the kernels with my nifty trick involving a bundt pan and a chef’s knife.

If you’re wondering what do to with corn, aside from rolling it in butter and sprinkling it with salt, I may have a few good ideas. But first, you need to add todays harvest corn chowder to your weeks’ menu plan.

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How to make Roasted Brown Chicken Stock (and young love in the summer)

dark stock

The first summer we were married, our situation wasn’t exactly ideal for two starry-eyed newlyweds doing life together. I finished late at night at a popular fine dining establishment where I worked the line and Danny rose early to meander through the Plateau to morning class at McGill. One of us was always tired when we greeted each other at the end of a day, and one of us frequently smelled of soup, but I’m not telling who.

Fed up of only seeing my husband from midnight to 6 AM, I petitioned my boss for day position as a prep cook. I may have stammered, blushing, through my reasoning, but he only twinkled his eyes at me and agreed, that just for the summer, I could work days, and he would find someone to cook the fish and the foie in my place at night.

Stepping down the ladder rung of the competitive kitchen hierarchy was not a move that gained me respect among my co-workers, but I always have (and continue to do so) put family first over ambition. There were stares and a few snickers when the new work schedule came out, but I was elated. A ‘normal’ 9-5 job in fine dining is almost unheard of and these new hours suited me to a T.

Eight blocks north of the kitchen, in our tiny apartment on St. Denis street, I went to sleep and woke up in Danny’s arms. We went out for coffee and fresh croissants in the mornings before parting ways, with lingering kisses, at the corner of Duluth and St. Denis.

Making stock was always the first order of the day, for it required long hours of simmering at an unhurried pace. I cranked the ovens to 400 degrees down the entire line and set to roasting bones for duck stock, veal stock, venison stock, and roasted guinea fowl stock, the essence of which I’m sharing today. I attacked a tray of carrots, onions and celery for my mirepoix, those flavoring vegetables essential for every stock, and gathered fresh parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns. By 10 AM, the massive sturdy pots would be set over burners with bones, mirepoix and cold water, and I would assess my prep list, left for me by the cooks the night before, and organize my day. [Read more…]

Homemade Vegetable Stock 101

Your response to my recent post on Homemade Substitutes for Grocery Staples was explosive, encouraging and thrilling. I’m excited that so many of you wish to move away from pre-packaged items and invest in making more pantry ingredients from scratch.

As the comments showed, plenty of you are already on this journey. You are discovering that self-sufficiency is the way of both the past AND the future and are reaping the rewards of home preserved food.

And so, I want to share another really quick, basic pantry staple – homemade vegetable stock. Making your own vegetable stock serves two main purposes: it uses kitchen scraps that might otherwise go into the garbage (or hopefully the compost) and it yields a fragrant broth that is suitable for a myriad of dishes.

Need another reason to make your own vegetable stock? How about to control the sodium content of your food? Added salt: not necessary.

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