February’s Third Thursday – No BULL-ion February 18, 2010Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking Challenge.
Will you look at that – February is just zipping by, isn’t it? It’s already the third Thursday of the month, and February’s the shortest month, so it will be spring before we know it, won’t it? Yay March!
Yet another of the blogs I read is called (are you ready for this?) A Veggie Venture.
I know, who’da thunk, right? Seriously, though, Alanna has recipes and tips for just about every vegetable under the sun, which is a good thing – and most of her recipes are very health (and budget) conscious. I’ll just say it – Alanna is a good influence.
Anyway, the other day, Alanna posted directions for homemade vegetable bouillon (which she got from another blogger who found it in a cookbook – the internet is like that, I guess!) – and I was very interested!
See, here’s the thing. I’ve worked in several restaurants over the years, and one “trick” I picked up in the kitchens was the use of beef and chicken base – they’re essentially bouillon, but more meaty than the stuff you think of when you think of “bouillon.” I like using base rather than salt, especially in soups and gravies, but Peeps, well, he doesn’t approve.
Well, a homemade bouillon – a super-easy homemade bouillon – and one that we know exactly what and how much, where’s the bad? I say there is none!
The main thing to keep in mind, I think, is proportions – there’s an awful lot of salt (which preserves the veggies and flavors whatever you ultimately use it in), and several different vegetables for a nice, well-rounded flavor. I like to use the scale (the metric one, no less!) because it’s just easier for me – and, although I’m not really being precise, I like that I can.
Saturday was my public market day, so I made a list and gathered all the veggies I’d need (with the exception of my oven-dried tomatoes from the freezer – from my very own garden and everything!) with the exception of celeriac.
I searched the public market – twice – and no one had it. I checked a couple of supermarkets, and no luck. I’d just about decided to substitute parsnips (which, actually, I probably will next time anyway), when, what do you know, page 5 of the Wegman’s ad had “celery root” splattered all over it – SCORE!
And, of course, in the spirit of waste-not-want-not, the trimmings from everything got shoved in the freezer for a batch of chicken stock this weekend.
All the veggies (along with a bunch of parsley and some cilantro) (literally, a whole BUNCH of parsley!) got washed and coarsely chopped up before getting tossed into the food processor – in batches – for their first run-through. I also included some salt in each batch I processed – I figured it couldn’t hurt to incorporate the salt sooner rather than later. And don’t worry about mixing the veggies up too much – they’ll get a second pass.
So basically, clean, and roughly chop, then process until roughly chopped:
- 150 gr. leeks (I used 3 leeks)
- 200 gr. fennel bulb (I used 1 plus maybe a quarter of a second one)
- 200 gr. carrots (used 2)
- 100 gr. celery (2 ribs)
- 100 gr. celeriac (less than half of the smallest one I could find)
- 30 g. dried tomatoes (a couple of handfuls)
- 100 gr. shallots (3, I think)
- 3 cloves of garlic (I have no idea why she didn’t weigh this)
- 250 gr. kosher salt (that’s just over half a pound!)
- And finally, 100 gr. of combined parsley and cilantro – I used about 5 parts parsley to 1 part cilantro, mostly because I don’t much care for cilantro, but also because parsley was 2 bunches for $1 at the market.
As you process the veggies, just dump them into a big bowl, and when they’re all done, stir them well, and dump them back into the food processor for another run – this time, you’re going to pulverize the DAYLIGHTS out of ‘em! You’ll want to end up with, essentially, a kind of coarse, chunky paste – don’t liquify it, but the bits of vegetables should be small enough that they wouldn’t be a distraction in a soup or stew or whatever you’d want to flavor with the bouillon.
So, you’re wondering how it tastes, aren’t you? I mean, it looks so appetizing, but we all know looks aren’t everything, don’t we?
Well, for purely scientific purposes, I took a rounded teaspoonful of bouillon and a mug of boiling water and made myself a cup of “soup.”
Apart from being a little on the salty side (um, duh?), it was darned good – full of nice, fresh vegetable flavor. It really makes me want to make a pot of vegetable soup now! I’m definitely looking forward to using this mix to season everything from soups and stews to roasts and even chicken!
I put a quart container of bouillon in the freezer (the salt should keep it scoopable), and I have about half a cup left in the fridge to use in the next few days – I’m thinking the salt will keep it fairly fresh in the refrigerator for several days. The ratio you’ll want to use is about 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon to 1 cup of water – I’d start with a tablespoon per quart – you can always add more, but you can never add less, right?
If you want to play along, leave a comment with a link to (or description of) your Third Thursday project – tell us what you’re up to! For loose guildelines, or if you just want to see past Thursdays, they’re right here!