How to make broth

Making your own broth is dead easy. Have you read the ingredients on a can or box of broth lately? Do you know what that stuff is? Me neither. Please please PLEASE make your own, freeze it and keep it on hand for soup, gravy, stew, in place of water when you make rice.

I covered making beef broth when I shared my french onion soup recipe, but I’ve had some questions recently about broth in general.

The very laziest way to make broth;

buy a pack of chicken necks and backs
or use the carcass from a roasted bird

Put the bones in a large pot, cover the bones with cold water. Bring to a gentle simmer and let simmer about 4 hours. Cool, drain and you have broth.

When I was in cooking school I learned many rules to making a good broth. In fine french cuisine what’s important is having a clear broth. Flavour was secondary. I am not going to pass on any advice about how to make a broth to impress a french cooking instructor. I would rather help you make a broth that is full of flavour.

The Bones;
-raw bones (from any animal-chicken, beef, fish) make a different broth than roasted bones. If you’re using the bones from a cooked bird, don’t roast them, but if you’re using raw bones, oil a rimmed baking sheet, then oil the bones and roast them at 425F for about half an hour until they’re golden. Making stock using roasted bones gives a richer, deeper, sweeter flavour to your broth and a darker colour.

The Veggies;
-traditionally carrots, celery and onions are used to flavour broth. Peel them if you want and cut into large chunks. Use the papery onion peel too if you want-it will add a nice colour, but cut off the root end as it sometimes has dirt in it.
-same as with the bones you can choose to use raw or roasted veggies to enhance the flavour of your broth. Adding veggies to your broth adds a nice complex taste to your broth and using roasted veggies gives a deeper colour.
-pretty much any veggies can go into a broth. Try fennel, parsnips, tomatoes. Be careful not to use a strong vegetable like cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli as the flavours tend to be fairly bossy and will overpower the broth. I often save the tough bottom parts of asparagus in my freezer until I’m ready to make broth.

The Flavourings;
-traditionally, a bouquet garni is used to flavour a broth. You may use any combination of fresh or dried herbs to season your broth. Usually I save parsley stems in my freezer for broth and/or use dried parsley. I will also often season the broth with thyme, sage and bay leaves. Maybe some basil.
-whole peppercorns may be used as well
-do NOT add salt to your broth. Since you are making a general, all-purpose broth you don’t know what you’re going to use it for so leave it unsalted and salt the recipe you’re using it in.

Putting it all together;
-the above mentioned ingredients are suggestions. My broth is usually dictated by what I have on hand more than anything else, but you can feel free to do what makes sense to you. Be not afraid!
-put the bones, veggies and flavourings in a large pot. Cover all the ingredients with cold water. Put the lid on and turn the heat to medium. Once it’s simmering, turn it down to the lowest temperature you have and leave it to simmer. If you’re using big beef bones you’ll need at least 4 hours. Chicken necks and backs; 3 or 4 hours. Fish bones; 1 or 2 hours.

Turn off the heat and let it cool, then strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. This makes sure all the little chunks are out of your broth, but the flavour stays in.

Pour it in freezer baggies or plastic containers and freeze to use as you will.

Cottage Wheat Rolls

(adapted from Company’s Coming bread cookbook, which I highly recommend)

2 eggs
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups cottage cheese
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp molasses (or honey)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 pkgs/4 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp baking soda
2-3 cups whole wheat flour

Beat eggs in a large stand-up mixer. Beat in sugar, cheese, oil, molasses and salt. Add first amount of flour, yeast and baking soda, then gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes or so, either by hand or in your mixer.

Place in a greased bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled-about an hour and a half or two hours.

Gently deflate, shape into 2 dozen buns. I push the dough into a rectangle the size of my cutting board, then use my pizza wheel to cut into little squares. Shape the little squares into balls/buns. Let rise until doubled; about an hour and a half.

Bake at 3775F for 10-12 minutes.


Lentil Soup

Motivated to clear my cupboard of extra dry goods I searched for a lentil soup recipe. Of course I didn’t find one I liked, so I found one that came close and played with it. Here’s what I came up with;

1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 onion, diced fine
1 large carrot, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
some fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 coffee cup of red lentils
about 2 litres of homemade chicken broth (make your own, please-don’t use canned or powdered)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp parsley
1 packed frozen chopped spinach, thawed

Cook the onion, carrots, garlic and ginger until soft. Throw in the curry. Rinse the lentils, then add them. Add the broth, tomatoes and parsely. Simmer until the lentils are soft. Add the spinach and bring back up to heat.

Banana Tea Bread

I was in the mood to use up some bananas from my freezer but not with my usual recipe, so I pulled out a cookbook I don’t use all that often; The 99% Fat-free Cookbook. Of course I tweaked it a bit…

1 egg white
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 ripe bananas, smooshed with a fork
1/4 cup light corn syrup (I think next time I’ll use honey)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1+ tsp cinnammon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Beat egg, egg white and milk until frothy. Beat in yogurt, brown sugar and vanilla. Add bananas and syrup. Beat together until mixed.
Mix together dry ingredients, then add to the banana mixture and stir just until mixed.

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan until the pan is about half full. Put the rest of the batter in a muffin pan. Or make 2 loaves. One big loaf might not work as well-I advise against that.

Bake at 375F about 45-50 minutes until it’s done.

It actually turned out a little dry. Yup, baked goods need fat.

Dutch Babies ?

Occasionally I look for a quick easy recipe and occasionally I even follow a recipe. This morning I did both and it turned out great.

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 dash ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter

Put your cast iron skillet inside oven and heat oven to 475F. Beat eggs with a whisk, then add milk, then whisk in flour, nutmeg and salt.
Remove skillet from oven and reduce oven heat to 425F. Smear butter in hot skillet so that inside of skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour all the batter in the skillet and return skillet to oven.
Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
I threw some fresh strawberries and maple syrup on top.