Today I am stepping away from the foie gras headlines to something often forgotten,ignored or just totally abandonned and that is stocks, no, no, not the stuff you buy on Wall Street hoping to make lots more money,the stuff you simmer on your stove.
This sunday, I did a class on stocks and soups and with the cool weather it was just the right fit for the day. How times have changed and how little most people actually cook at home; work demands, always in a hurry,with the family agenda way overloaded who has time anymore ?
Well there is and always will be only 24 hours in one day, so it is for us to manage our time better and go back to something we use to love way back when and that is home cooked foods and ingredients that did not have mysterious components in it. Most people (that would be the ones who cannot actually cook) think that it takes too much time and in most cases that might be true. Still I would advocate taking a step back and make some simple stocks at home without having to switch careers just to learn how. Our mothers chicken soup was not a big deal,the only difference was that it was fresh and we knew what was in it. The canned stuff never even came close.
Being as thorough as I can be I overdid it again and made six different stocks for this class: chicken,beef,fish,vegetable,veal and lobster. You read it right ! it is a bit of work but you just can't get the stuff in the store or in some restaurants which claim to do everything from scratch. I am very happy when some of my students return for a new class and tell me that they did this or that and that it was great. Music to my ears ! Just the fact that they actually do it is plenty for me.
Soupe au pistou
Soups were also part of the class and using the fresh stocks simmering on the stove made for great stuff such as: a beefy chili con carne, a carrot ginger bisque, a soupe au pistou, a portuguese kale soup, a lobster bisque and a seafood chowder that was so loaded with various fish and shellfish that it could have passed for the best fish stew ever. The leftovers were dispensed equally and I of course dropped some off to a sick friend who had not eaten anything in three days ! Well the soup option did help some and I am glad.
Portuguese kale soup
For those of you who think that the same ingredients the Chefs use are not available to the retail public,here is my advice: get to know the Chef in some of your favorite restaurants and ask him/her to help you secure some of the stuff. You just never know and if you don't ask, you don't get ! Everyone should have a Chef on their list of friends. For me, I am just blessed to have my name on a lot of lists.