Recipe: Vegetable Stock

~ This is Day 151 ~

I always try to make my own stocks if possible because stocks shouldn’t contain salt in them. Every store-bought stock contains salt or low-sodium levels and it’s better to add your own salt in your cooking process.

Makes 3-4 quarts.

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled & cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 head fennel, cut into large chunks
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 TBS whole black peppercorns
  • Parsley stems
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally

In a 7.5 quart dutch oven, on medium-heat, sweat the onions, carrots, celery, and fennel with the olive oil for 5 minutes. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and sweat for another 2 minutes before filling the pot with cold water. Bring up to a boil and reduce to a simmer and reduce by half.

Strain and cool. If you’re not going to use it immediately, you can freeze it.

Duck Breast with Carrots & Cumin

Remember Lamb Loin with Carrots & Cumin? This is exactly the same dish except instead of lamb loin, it’s duck breast.

Here is Roasted Duck Breast with a Heirloom Carrot, Carrot Cumin Purée, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Coffee Soil, Meat Jus, and Micro Parsley.

Which presentation do you like better?

Lamb Loin with Carrots & Cumin

Cumin and lamb… so delicious together! A classic flavor profile! Cumin is native to the east Mediterranean and South Asia. Cumin’s distinctive flavor is strong and to me, it smells like a homeless person (ha!!) but it doesn’t taste like one!

Here is Lamb Loin with a Roasted Heirloom Carrot, Carrot Cumin Purée, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Coffee Soil, Meat Jus, and Micro Parsley.

Diver Scallop with Pickled Rainbow Carrots

Sometimes things work out but the cost of having it to come to fruition is another matter. I’m not talking about money in this sense of cost. I don’t know about you, but I despise cracking quail eggs because I suck at it. I am terrible with quail eggs, raw or cooked. I just can’t remove its shell without damaging the egg. A quail egg is leathery and doesn’t crack open easily, like a chicken egg is. When it’s raw, the whites always projectile-squirt out and then the cracked bits and pieces of the shell damage the yolk, thus breaking the yolk, and tiny bits of pieces of shell are everywhere. I know you’re supposed to use a knife but it doesn’t really work for me either. When it’s cooked, the first removal of the shell always ends up removing some of the cooked white so then the egg looks ugly.

I just can’t.

However, when I do manage to get it out of its shell intact, magic happens.

This is a seared Diver Scallop with a Carrot Purée, charred pickled Rainbow Carrots, a sunny-side Quail Egg, Bronze Fennel, and Espelette Pepper.

Turkey Romaine Wraps

We, the cooks and chefs, the back of house, make staff meal everyday for all restaurant staff, sometimes called family meal. I believe in eating a nice family meal – meaning some kind of carb, veggies, and protein. A lot of high-end restaurants that I’ve trailed at served some really unhealthy family meals, e.g. hot dogs and dried French fries. So disappointing.

I found out that the only protein everyone eats is chicken. Some people don’t eat beef, some people don’t eat pork (nor bacon, can you believe that?!), some people are vegetarians, etc…

I made these one day with a sample of romaine lettuce. These Turkey Romaine Wraps turned out especially well in its photo-op.

Recipe: Anise Jus

I get asked this question a lot, is “star anise” pronounced as “ah-niece” or “ah-nus”? According to the dictionary, the correct pronunciation is the one that sounds like anus… which is why most people prefer to pronounce it as “ah-niece”.

To make anise jus, it is almost identical to Recipe: Red Wine Jus except, remove the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves and add a handful of star anise.

  • 6 duck carcasses
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • Handful star anise
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bottles red wine

Method is exactly the same; add star anise with black peppercorns.

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Red Wine Jus

Red Wine Jus is a meat sauce that is made with reduced red wine and reduced meat stock. I prefer using duck bones instead of the usual veal bones because duck bones are more flavorful and not overpowering. And also, I’m allergic to cow.

  • 6 duck carcasses
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bottles red wine

For the duck carcasses, add in the neck and wings too if you don’t plan on using them for other purposes. Try to trim off as much fat as possible. Roast duck carcasses with some olive oil and salt in an oven at 450°F until nice and brown. In a large stock pot, add browned bones and fill water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by half.

Remove bones and continue to reduce in a clean pot until gelatinous. On average, 6 carcasses will give you 1.5-2 quarts of gelatinous reduced stock.

Peel the onions and carrots and chop into 1-inch pieces. Cut celery stalks into the same length pieces. In a clean stock pot, heat up some neutral oil and sweat the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir, once soft, add garlic, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves until aromatic. Add in red wine vinegar and continue stirring.

Cook until almost dry and add in the two bottles of red wine. I prefer using deeper, drier red wines with hints of berries. Reduce until almost syrupy.

Strain red wine syrup into a clean pot, discard solids, and add in 1 cup of gelatinous reduced meat stock.

The jus should have some body to it and taste slightly acidic from the red wine. If you want more body to the jus, continue to reduce meat stock, or add some butter. Usually, you don’t need any salt but always taste to double-check.

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Sauce Américaine

As promised, here is my recipe for this amazing sauce.

If done right, this Sauce Américaine is one of the best things in life. Sauce Américaine is a traditional sauce in classical French cuisine, consisting of onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, cayenne pepper, butter, and fish velouté. In my interpretation of this sauce, I make a rich lobster stock first, reduce that down until almost syrupy, then mount in the butter, add in a touch of lemon, and et voila!

This recipe is for restaurant quantity, feel free to cut in half or by four to make for home use. Full recipe makes around two reduced quarts of stock.

  • 5 lbs lobster bodies, around 3-4 bodies per pound
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 2 Spanish onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Handful garlic cloves
  • Handful parsley stems
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • Neutral cooking oil
  • Salt

Fresh lobster bodies are best but if you get them frozen, thaw them before use. Smashing frozen bodies is more difficult but it can still be done – it’s just tiring. Trust me. I prefer them fresh so the pounding is instantaneous.

In a rondeau (a wide, shallow pan, similar to a stock pot or a Dutch oven but not nearly as deep, the pan has straight sides), turn heat to high and heat up cooking oil. Add the lobster bodies when oil is about to smoke. Toss and turn and using a hammer or blunt instrument, crush/smash the heads until the coral comes out. Continuing tossing and turning so that it doesn’t burn. Add brandy and flambé aka light on fire. Be careful not to burn your eyebrows – because that does happen, never to me but I’ve seen the damage!

Once lobster bodies are red, add a little bit more cooking oil and add in the chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices (onions, carrots, celery, thyme, tarragon, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stems). Sauté the veggies until soft, add a little salt to breakdown cell walls. When onions are translucent and soft, add in the dry white wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc) and cook off wine until almost dry.

Add in tomato paste and toss paste to spread all around everything in the pot. Cook tomato paste for 2 minutes. Next, add enough water to fill the top of lobster bodies. Cover with lid or with foil and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium low, and simmer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, water levels should have reduced by half. Using a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer, take solids out and discard. Then using a chinois or mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, stain liquid into a clean new sauce/stock pot. On high heat, reduce liquid until very dark and syrupy, about four-fifths.

Store lobster stock in pint containers and place in fridge. Best used within two weeks.

Serving ratio for two people:

When serving, heat up ¼ cup of stock, do not continue reducing, add in 2 TBS melted butter. Add a few drops of lemon juice and serve with accompanying sea creatures.

Sample dishes: