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Mama Deb
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Knives and Fire V (Week 2)

You can go to my blog here or see below (sorek's request.)

Today was stock day.

First, however, we had a lecture on kashrut from someone from O-K Laboratories, one of the big four of certification companies (the others are O-U, Star-K and Kof-K).

This time, besides the basics of kashrut itself (no pork, kosher slaughtered animals, fish only with fins and scales, approved birds and no mixing of milk and meat, plus utensils either not used for anything but kosher OR rendered kosher by cleaning and appropriate heat), he talked about some of the difficulties - items not listed in ingredients, such as release agents (oils, for example) for baking or candies, or backhauling (the tank trucks hauling oj to New York don't want to go back empty. They might not carry kosher items back.) he talked about steam jackets - the steam is reused and is used for both kosher and unkosher products and there may be some exchange of taste (this, I'm not sure about, but okay.)

It's also a lot easier to certify a factory than a restaurant because factories don't change on a daily basis, while the best restaurants start each day with no food at all.

After the lecture, we took a quiz on utensils, and then we moved to making stock.

Stock is the basis of everything in the classic kitchen - it makes sauce and soups and stews, it's an ingredient in practically everything. It's also expensive to make, so most kitchens don't anymore.

It's composed of four things - water, BONES, mirepoix (usually, but not always, onions, celery and carrots - 1/2 onions, 1/4 each of the others BY WEIGHT - about 1lb mirepoix to 7-8 lbs of bones) and aromatics - peppercorns, parsley stems, bay leaves, and thyme. These can be tossed in, because they'll be strained out, or tied into a cheesecloth sachet or tied together in a bouquet. We made sachets today.

NO salt. Never put salt into a stock because stocks are often reduced and then you have too much salt. This is especially true for kosher stock, since the bones might be salty already.

So, we each had to make a pot of chicken stock today. That means that we had to wash about 5 lbs of chicken bones and put them in a pot and cover them with cold water - at least two inches over the top of the chicken, and let it simmer.

Meanwhile, we made our mirepoix. Since we were using less than 7 pounds of chicken, we used less than a pound of mirepoix (at least, my partner for the day Solly and I did that.) We decided to do 7/8th pound. Yeah, not that different, but good practice. So. 14 oz. 7 oz of onion, and 3.5 oz each of carrots and celery, in medium (3/4")dice. That's about one large onion, half a carrot and one stalk of celery, as we weighed them. I also put together a sachet of aromatics,making sure to leave a long string so it could be pulled out.

At this point the scum was rising in our stock pot. While Solly gathered the mise en place for our pico de gallo (salsa) to be made after the mirepoix - separately, but, hey, it never hurts to help each other - I moved the stock pot to the front of the stove and began to skim it using a small ladle. Mendy gave me advice on how to herd the scum to one area so its easier to get out. Once it was clean (I cleared the top and then stirred it and cleared it again), we added the mirepoix and the sachet. Note that I never let the stock come to a boil. It must stay at a slow simmer the entire time.

And then, we made pico de gallo. This was a concassé of tomato (two tomatoes blanched, shocked and peeled, then chopped finely), half an onion in small dice, half a scallion in small dice, a garlic clove minced, 1/2 jalopeño pepper minced (slice pepper lengthwise. Remove core and seeds and white ribs. Slice into thin strips and then crosswise into tiny strips.)1 tsp minced cilantro (not as fine as parsley and, sorry, Doctor Science, no squeezing), juice of half a lime, 1/2 tsp cumin plus olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Chef wanted to see the knife cuts (in bowls or on a sheet tray) before mixing them together, and those poor souls who can't eat cilantro could make theirs without. Because of the poor quality of winter tomatoes, we all added a little tomato juice as well.

He liked my knife cuts and Solly liked my salsa.

Chef then demonstrated how to make soy-honey chicken wings (except he used boneless, skinless thighs.) The recipe calls for chicken stock, so it was appropriate. Dredge the meat in flour, brown in peanut oil. Add garlic and chiffonade of ginger. Add honey and then soy sauce - cook until the honey gets thick. Add chicken stock and then some shredded scallions. When the sauce is the right consistency, toss in bias cut scallions and take off the fire. Serve on rice.

He made Sri Lankan rice,which includes cardamon pods and cinnamon sticks and is delicious with the chicken.

Other people cooked, but I didn't.

We then used a saucepan to start straining the stock, which was vented (cooled) in the sinks surrounded by ice water.

We then discussed sauce thickeners (roux, pure starches, eggs, butter/margarine, potatoes, legumes) and the sauce we'd make tomorrow, velouté. This is stock plus roux. Roux=fat and flour in equal parts. Very useful in the kosher kitchen.

And I'm bringing in some unsweetened soy milk tomorrow to use instead of coffee whitener in one of the sauces.


1. Coffee whitener is a culinary sin second only to Rich's Whip. Thank you for replacing it with soy milk.

2. Do you know a recipe for a good vegetable stock? It's one of those things which has always elided me.

1. You're welcome. Chef says he's never used it, but I have a friend, a convert, who uses it successfully for Swedish meatballs. I've used it myself, but in a casserole so I have no idea if it worked or not. (I use sweetened for cereal.)

2. My favorite current recipe? Imagine's Low Sodium Vegetable Broth. :) Otherwise - it's the same as for meat stock, without the bones. Same proportion of mirepoix, for example, and same aromatics. I'd sweat the vegetables (cook slowly over low heat with very little liquid) to make them sweet and concentrate the flavors, and I'd add mushrooms and caramelized tomatoes - both are good sources of umani (meatiness) plus the tomatoes will add some color and a bit of acid for balance. Cover the vegetables with water by two inches and simmer for about an hour. Strain.

I have a question, and maybe you'll know the answer. Is it possible to make a roux and freeze it in 1 Tbsp portions to thicken things at a later date?

I know it's kind of a strange question, but someone asked me and I just didn't know.

Yep. Make sure it's tightly covered because it will pick up flavors, but yes.

(I like making roux, but that's me.)

I do too, because it's fascinating to stir and stir and watch it darken to exactly where you need it. I actually think my friend wants me to make her a good dark roux and she'll just pull it out when she needs it. *g*

Thanks for the help!

I don't let it darken. I just cook it for five minutes (by timer.) However, I use it almost entirely for bechamel.

Turns out that the darker the roux, the less it thickens, so you need to use more if your recipe calls for brown roux. I learned that today.

Really? I didn't know that (my roux is almost always for étouffée, so I've made it nice and dark). I'll have to remember that next time.

I'm sorry I haven't been commenting - it's not because you're a boring writer, trust me! :) I intend to go back and read all the entries Real Soon Now.

Where do you find soy milk that's actually hechshered parve?

I don't know about refrigerated soy milk, but Edensoy Organic unsweetened is O-K pareve.

I'm glad you're enjoying it. Don't worry about commenting unless you have an actual question.

Stay out of the dairy sections and instead go to the natural/organic non-refrigerated section. You can also try the following links to find soy or rice milks that are pareve.

At http://oukosher.org/ you can do a search on the type of product you want in their product database and get a list of brands of that product that the OU certifies and also lists whether the products is dairy, meat, or parve.

At http://www.star-k.org/ you can see a list of companies that the Star-K certifies but it is not an easy website to find things

At http://www.ok.org/ you can either browse by category or search for specific products certified by the OK

At http://www.kof-k.org/ you can search for brands/categories certified by the kof-k

I'm enjoying these -- you're learning so much, so fast, and it sounds like you're having fun.

What are "steam jackets"?

Steam jackets are a way of heating enormous pots of food products more efficiently than just heating the bottom. Instead, these vast vats are wrapped in steam pipes that heat the entire thing far more evenly.

The problem is that it's more energy and cost efficient to reuse the steam and to use it for multiple pots, and these pots may not contain kosher foods, or if the food is kosher, some may be meat and some may be dairy. And there can be leakage. There are solutions, including making the steam nasty tasting (bad tasting=not food=no kashrut problem.) Of course, some companies don't want this...

It was fascinating.

I'm really enjoying your posts. Thank you so much for sharing them.

It's purely selfish. I get to review my day's work and make you all read it.

Okay, not really make you guys read it, but I'm glad you do.

It's also expensive to make, so most kitchens don't anymore.

I'm surprised -- I was brought up to believe that All Serious Cooks make their own stock.

I admit, I cheat -- I use a mix of bones (bagged up in the freezer as they accumulate) plus meat still on bones. I don't know if it's the case for kosher poulty, but non-kosher producers often sell large quantities of leg quarters (i.e. including part of the back) at cost or even below, because the demand for white meat is so much higher than for dark. So I can buy 10 lbs or more for no more than $8, carve off the drumsticks & thighs I want to use in dishes, and dump everything else in the Big Pot.

Hm, traditional French stock as I learned in involved a few whole cloves (studded into an onion). Nowadays I use leek tops instead of onions whenever possible (I freeze them every time I get leeks) and a few whole allspice instead of the cloves. I wonder if leaving out the sweet spice has become standard?

All Serious Cooks who can afford the time, materials and storage do. When your profit margin is, at the BEST, 8%, "afford" becomes a big word.

You're making broth, not stock. Stock is made with *just* bones, which have more flavor and all that lovely connective tissue. I can get cheap dark meat as well, but I can also get packages of chicken bones for all of the bird.

This stock is supposed to be a chickeny but otherwise neutral ingredient in other preparations. If you put in a sweet spice, you limit the applications. This is also why chefs avoid garlic in this. It allows the chef to precisely flavor the final product - same reason there is no salt.

Wanted to thank you again for documenting stuff. I've been saving some chicken bones from my roasted chickens as well as got some beef bones from KOL Foods with my latest order and wanted to make up broths to freeze and I thought - hey I can go to mamadeb 's journal and find out what I need to pick up at the store today for making them.

Wow! Yay!

That is - I'm so glad it was helpful.