Where did stocks come from?
In the Middle Ages, the primary cooking method involved cooking over an open fire with a large cauldron. Often the contents of these cauldrons were a mix of leftover meals and scraps, fresh foods and tid-bits foraged throughout the day.
Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old
Stocks were cooked down, removing water from the stock and leaving behind collagen rich gelatins which were used for garnishes and for preservation of other foods. These gelatins are called aspics. Some French cookbooks still have recipes calling for aspics.
Science behind stocks:
Animal bones contain proteins called collagen, reticulin and elastin. These proteins are what help hold our bodies together. Reticulin and elastin are stretchy but tend to stretch even more they are heated. Often they stretch so much they break. Collagen does not break. It acts as a tenderizer when heated and helps make stocks richer and have a silky mouth-feel when hot and becomes elastic when cooled. Collagen becomes gelatin. The flavor comes from the bones and the ingredients added to the stockpot. Collagen has to be unlocked by heating and the use of an acid, like tomato paste helps unlock these proteins from bones. If heated too quickly and intensely, collagen can cold glace and that means to be “locked” inside bones. High temperature roasting adds flavor – the long simmer time coaxes out the collagen and melds flavors.
The supreme flavor agent in French cuisine is glace, made from the reduction of a stock until nearly all the water is evaporated and only the collagen rich flavorful liquid remains. If a cut into a cube and bounced across a table you know it will be rich.
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Buying your first nice knife is an investment. Andy will give you any guidance or information about knives. Email Andy.
We had a discussion about creating healthy, easy and tantalizing food pairings for holiday parties and made several deceptively healthful dips that cut the calories and didn't skimp on flavor. Remember the knife handling techniques we learned several weeks ago when making your holiday platters!
A basic Hummus recipe
You can always change up your hummus by using different types of legumes, like Great Northerns or even Black Beans.
The only difference between the recipe I made and this one is that I sauteed 1 diced onion with 8 cups of finely chopped kale and 2 cloves of smashed garlic and folded it into the ricotta mix once it had cooled. Just remember to squeeze out as much liquid you can from the kale once it cools!
Pairing Cheese - I decided to share this page, which tells you what doesn't go well with cheese. I found this to be more helpful.... I'll be honest, almost everything goes well with cheese!
We had a question about the different types of olive oils. Here is a link to a website that is very helpful.
We talked about the origins and cooking techniques of several ancient grains, including Spelt, Farro, Millet, Teff, and Quinoa.
Doing some simple research about the origins of some of our food products, will tell us so much about the origins and people they have derived from. It might help us feel more connected to our ancestors when cooking ancient grains. I would suggest checking out your local library or Amazon to find the book...Why We Eat What We Eat- By Raymond Sokolov
This time of year, one of my favorite applications of these grains, is stuffing them in squash and baking them with or without cheese. Wilt some spinach or arugula with asiago cheese and sauteed grape tomato. Fold that into quinoa or any of the grains we talked about (all besides Teff) and bake them in a spaghetti, acorn or delicata squash cut in half and de-seeded.
Check out our "resource" section for some quick links to more info!
If you have any questions or need some menu ideas, just let me know...I am more than happy to help!