If you consult the weekly blog below, it will be very clear that I needed food therapy this week. Luckily, I had a lot of raw ingredients that needed converting into elements of great dishes. Fortunately, the buying frenzy of last week left me with a lot of material to work with and many chores that allowed for almost a meditative state. I have become obsesses with perfecting stocks. And it turns out, that that's not such a bad thing for a serious cook. Julia child states in Mastering the Art of French Cooking that the French term for stock, Fonds de Cuisine 'means literally the foundation and working capital of the kitchen.' [page 106]. She was not so much of a snob as to say never use the canned stuff or even bouillon cubes in a pinch. I have several varieties of stocks in boxes for emergencies. But the gravy or sauce or soup is always tastier if the stock is from scratch. I finally have a source for all manner of soup bones last week. Thus, I lost myself making fresh batches of chicken stock and beef stock. Simmering stock always makes me feel relaxed, and the smells are mouth watering.
I love doing something that is so familiar even though I'm always trying to improve on my technique. That's a matter of getting just the right balance of veggies and herbs and just the right amount of reduction and straining. Yes, it's fascinating. I did do some new things along with the stock and roasting garlic and asparagus and other veggies. I made a variation on a pasty that I saw on Aaron McCargo, Jr's Big Daddy's House. His recipe was closer to an Empanada which I adore, but not so exotic that Jon wouldn't go for it. I chopped up more veggies in my version of the dish. I even added finely chopped fresh spinach (something I've been adding to almost every ground meat or sauce of late). Thus, this grand scale hot pocket was a whole meal wrapped in pastry dough. Jon really liked it. He said it was like a hand held pot pie. He'll never know how healthy it was! Keeping the meals wrapped in flaky dough theme, I also made Spanikopita. One box of frozen spinach and a half a box of phyllo dough will make a whole lot of pieces. I freeze them and bake them as needed. See, I can do dishes that aren't meat intensive. Lastly, I made mushroom Confit from a recipe Kim sent me from a Vancouver newspaper. I had made garlic confit (poaching garlic cloves in olive oil) quite often after reading Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. It's a great trick that yields lots of soft, sweet garlic and garlic infused olive oil. This recipe had mushrooms, garlic cloves and jalapeno peppers. I really liked the results. The mushrooms were very tasty and could go in a cooked dishes or in salads, I had roasted garlic and a sweeter, milder jalapeno pepper along with the infused oil. I'm going to use all of those in a batch of pasta sauce today.
Even with all of that cooking, I still haven't had a second whack at making soft pretzels though I've had all of the ingredients for more than a week. Jon and I will try today, I hop. And I also have a hankering for chocolate cupcakes with real butter cream icing. I have not been very successful in making that in the past – the icing, I mean. There is a recipe in Julia Child's book that looks simple ...too simple. I'm going to have to give it a try again. I really don't like the store bought frosting, especially after sampling the rich butter creams at the food fare a few weeks ago. I'm not likely to do that well, but it's worth a shot.