Roasted Vegetable Stock V.2 (Erin)

vegetables for vegetable stock
You know how in a lot of recipes, they’ll direct you to use “good quality soy sauce,” and if you are like me, you are like “whatever” and pull out your bottle of Safeway soy sauce, or god forbid, the packets you get with your Chinese takeout. I’m here to tell you that there is a difference among soy sauces, and my favorite is San-J. It’s not too expensive and you really can taste the difference.

wash your leeks

Make sure you wash your leeks thoroughly! These were about the least muddy leeks ever, which means I only rinsed out a half cup of grit. The cashier at my local supermarket asked me if these were large green onions. Hey, I guess I should count myself lucky that old Ray’s grocery store had leeks.

vegetables in pan
Aren’t vegetables beautiful? So colorful, and the varying textures of each just make a beautiful picture. I could look at this all day. Oh, here is where I ran into the famous Mark Bittman lack of direction. He calls for six cloves of garlic, but doesn’t say if you should peel them or not. I decided to smash and peel, because I worried that the papery covers would burn in a 450 degree oven. I can deal with the ambiguity, but I worry that a novice in the kitchen would be intimidated by his hazy directions.

mixed vegetables
So I am looking at these beautiful, fresh veggies, and I am smelling the intense roasting smells that come of this dish. But it is no match to the 8,000 commercials for Big Macs shown during my annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life. I want a hamburger.

Ok, there is something I have to talk about. It’s this:
white wine for cooking
What self-respecting cook uses this crappy 2 dollar wine for cooking? A cook that has basically lost a taste for all wine (except Prosecco) in the past year. I never believed the old-wives tale that your tastes change every seven years, but apparently I am living proof. I used to love wine, red and white, and in the past year I’ve just lost all desire and taste for any sort of wine. Could be due to migraines, a bad experience that I had in April—whatever. So now I don’t want to buy a bottle that just sits in my fridge. Thank goodness for crappy, small bottle wines.

Bad white wine
Of course, I am not going to let the rest go to waste! A few ice cubes made this quite palatable.

Roasted vegetables
After 15 minutes at 450 the veggies are starting to lose water and char. Was I supposed to include the leek tops?

Rosted vegetables after 30 minutes
30 minutes and these veggies are definitely cooked. I snuck a bite of parsnip. I really love parsnip, and should include it more of my cooking.
(George Bailey was just offered $20,000/year and is amazed at how much that is. My, how times have changed.)

Roasted Veggies 45 min
45 minutes and the leek tops are completely charred. To avoid setting my kitchen on fire, I decide that they’ve roasted enough.

Deglazed pan
Isn’t this a great pan? Erica bought it for me as a present years ago, and it has survived many moves. It’s actually a griddle, but I use it as a roasting pan about 95% of the time. I am famous for ruining pans—in fact, the pan that Erica used to roast her vegetables has marks from when I decided to roast lemons (dumb)—but this pan will take anything that I’ll give it. I could only use 2 cups of water for the deglazing process, but it worked perfectly.

I dumped everything in the pot and then ran into the “oh crap, I should have used a bigger stockpot” problem. This is a 5.5 quart pot—use a bigger one if you have it! Because I used this pan, I couldn’t add the remaining 2 cups of water. Oh well. This is also another “wtf Bittman” problem, because he calls for you to use one small bunch of parsley plus 10 sprigs. Does that seem like an odd measurement to anyone else? I just split my bunch of curly parsley (yay, rural living) in half and called it a day.

Ghetto Strainer
After cooking the stock for 45 minutes, I set up my ghetto strainer system. It worked perfectly!

Squished Vegetables
You ladle all the stock and vegetables into the colander and press down to extract the yummy liquid. I was going to use my potato masher, but it seems to be MIA after my move (along with my tongs!). I stood staring at this squished vegetable mess, trying to think of a use for it. Bread? Puree? Meatloaf? (oh, right…I don’t eat meat). I ended up throwing it away.

dark Vegetable stock
And, there you have it—roasted vegetable stock! Mine didn’t separate like Erica’s, so I am convinced that I did something wrong. It tastes very flavorful and rich, even with just a little salt. One concern I have is how dark it is. What if I am making a light-colored soup? It’s just going to look like muddy crap. Oh well.

While this was a great project for a quiet Christmas Eve, I’m not sure that I’ll be doing this every time I need veggie stock. It was a lot of work for a small reward.

Recipe: Mark Bittman’s Roasted Vegetable Stock

Up Next: I am not sure, stay tuned for details!


Oregon Speaks! (Erin)

Hey there, welcome from the other E. The one that eats fish, and is currently moving from southern Oregon to coastal Oregon. What wacko decides to start a blog in the midst of a move? This one, apparently.

I thought about sharing pictures from a pre-move meal as a blog entry, but who wants to see stuffing reheated in a frying pan or a bowl of cereal? That’s about my cooking level right now. Rest assured, however, that once I am 100% set up in my very well-lit kitchen, I’ll be posting more often.

Here are ten random facts about the Es, because we are list-oriented people:
1. We have been friends for almost 10 years.
2. Between us, we have had six cats. Right now the count is four.
3. Our favorite slot machine is Invaders from the Planet Moolah, aka Alien Cow. It’s the only one I can actually figure out.
4. I’m pretty confident that our favorite herb is dill (correct me if I am wrong, other E).
5. We used to throw grand dinner parties when I lived in PA – we even made homemade tortillas and hand stuffed chile rellenos one time.
6. We’ve also had our share of dinner party disasters — drinking too much and serving dinner late and/or cold mostly.
7. We agree that grocery store cake with Crisco-flavored icing and pumpkin pie are pretty foul desserts.
8. We both can, although the Erica is the OG in our canning circle. I’ve made more jam (jam addict here).
9. I miss going tomato picking in the hellishly humid August summer in PA more than I ever thought.
10. We both garden, however, I have been on hiatus for the past two years. I hope to start up again in 2010, but I’m unsure how to garden 1/2 mile from the ocean when you have sand for soil and the temperature never gets above 70 degrees.

That’s it for now! I hope to tackle Bittman’s roasted vegetable stock first thing when I am finally moved in. Thanks, Erica, for figuring out his fuzzy measurements for me!

Roasted Vegetable Stock, V.1 (Erica)

I’ve never made a vegetable stock before so this was new territory for me. We decided to start with the Mark Bittman roasted stock rather than his quick and easy stock so the resulting liquid would have more depth of flavor for future (soup!) recipes we’ll make this winter.

Realization #1: my kitchen has horrible lighting and it’s dark in Pennsylvania in winter. I’ll work on that! I almost left the parsnip out since it’s optional and I never follow a recipe to the letter but I forced myself to do so here.

Since this recipe is posted on the New York Times website and, I can share it at the end of this post. I want to show how his wording is misleading and playing fast and loose with measurement terms is very confusing. Yet another example of why we should use the metric system! Who can remember how many cups in a quart? I should note that the version of the recipe I used differs from the 2005 NYT The Minimalist column. In that version, cups were used consistently and the word ‘quart’ never appeared.

Let’s get started! Wash and chop all the vegetables p, toss with oil and put in roasting pan. I never use this pan since it’s so big but is was perfect for this pile o’ veggies.

I ended up roasting about 15 min longer than his recommended 45 minutes to really darken the vegetables. By this time, the house smelled wonderful.

Here’s where things get confusing. I moved the vegetables to the stock pot, added the herbs, wine and whatnot and promptly forgot how many cups of I’d already added to the pot. I might have added 4 cups, it may have been 8. I was too busy trying to do cups to quarts conversion in my head while listening to a Star Trek podcast. Hey, we all have our dirty little secrets.

Deglazing the pan with water worked great. There were a ton of little roasted on bits and it all came off in a minute or two.

I cooked the veggies in the water for about an hour which is longer than the recommended and it worked out well. The veggies were very mushy with the exception of the mushrooms. I pressed them with the back of a ladle in a metal strainer.

I ended up with exactly 2 quarts of stock leading me to the conclusion that I didn’t add that second quart of water after all. The stock tastes just about perfect and would be too watery with the extra liquid. We’ll see how v.2 turns out once the Oregonian finishes moving to her “beach” house on the coast.

You can see it’s already separating and this photo was taken about one minute from ladling into containers. If one were concerned about this, and this one isn’t, I suppose one could strain it again through cheesecloth if one wanted.

Roasted Vegetable Stock
(from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman, Page 102)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 trimmed and well-washed leeks, cut in chunks (or 2 large unpeeled onions, quartered)
4 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks 2 celery stalks, trimmed and cut in chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut in chunks (optional)
2 potatoes, washed and quartered
6 cloves garlic
15 to 20 medium white mushrooms, trimmed and halved
1/4 cup soy sauce
10 sprigs fresh parsley 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
10 peppercorns
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine oil, leeks, carrots, celery, parsnip, potatoes, garlic and mushrooms in a large roasting pan; stir to coat vegetables with oil. Roast, shaking pan occasionally and turning ingredients once or twice, until everything is nicely browned, about 45 minutes.

2. Use a slotted spoon to scoop all ingredients into a stockpot; add the herbs, 1/4 cup soy sauce, peppercorns, wine, salt to taste and 2 quarts water. Turn heat to high. Meanwhile, put roasting pan over a burner set to high, and add 2 to 4 cups water, depending on depth of pan. Bring it to a boil, and cook, scraping off all bits of food on bottom. Pour this mixture into stockpot (along with 2 more cups of water if you used only 2 cups for deglazing).

3. Bring stockpot to a boil. Partly cover, and adjust heat so mixture sends up a few bubbles at a time. Cook until vegetables are very soft, 30 to 45 minutes. Strain, pressing on vegetables to force out as much juice as possible. Taste, and add more soy sauce, salt or pepper if necessary before using or storing.

Pennsylvania vs. Oregon

What do you do when the friend you cook with moves 2300 miles away? Start a cooking blog to test and experiment with recipes of course!

We plan to each prepare the same recipe and present our results with photos in side by side blog posts. Though one of us has pescetarian leanings, all recipes here will be vegetarian or vegan. Since most of the recipes we’re using are from published cookbooks, we will not be posting them here but will tell you where we found them and on what page. And, regardless of who creates the original dish, our “secret ingredient” will be usually be cat hair.