Sunday, September 5, 2010

Easy Vegetable Stock AND Easy Cheese Sauce

You get 2 recipes today! Mainly cus I've been negligent in my posting lately, my bad.

These really aren't "recipes" as I think they are just too simple for ingredient lists and the like. Besides, I make each one different each time. Don't worry, I'll write all about various substitutions and methods.

We'll start with the veggie stock. Why make your own? Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients on powdered or liquid stock you buy at the shops? GAAACK! The rule is if you either can't pronounce it or don't know what it is then DON'T buy it. I happen to be able to do both and it scares me just what people put into their bodies.

*dave climbs off soapbox now*

Simple to make you own veggie stock. And you don't even need a bunch of high priced perfect-looking veggies. Cheap ratty-tatty ones on quick sale work great. So do scraps from your meal prep!

Potato peelings? Toss em in the pot. Corn husks? Ditto! Same goes for that corn cobb you just ate. Shriveled garlic or dried out onion? Wee-hoo! Skanky looking outer cabbage leaves? The more the merrier! Shriveled carrot? No worries!

Here's what mine looked like:
veggie stock raw

The pot contains half a dried onion plus it's brown skin and roots, a mashed up garlic clove, fennel stalks and fronds, outer leaves from a cauliflower, and a small handful of cumin seeds.

Added just enough water to cover things as I didn't need too much stock. I was going to use this stock to start the cheese sauce so I didn't need much. If you are making enough for soup then use a larger pot and more water.

After simmering, covered, on the stovetop for an hour, this is what it looked like:
veggie stock cooked

Just strain it and put it into a small saucepan to make the cheese sauce.

Sometimes I use beer to start the cheese sauce, other times white wine. This time I wanted to use the stock I just made. Which, after all, was the whole reason for making the stock in the first place.

I had around 3 cups of stock and to that I added 1/2 cup cream and a pinch of turmeric (just enough to turn it yellow about 1/8 tsp). Heated it up and whisked till it was all combined.

The saucepan should now look something like this:
cheese sauce01

At this point you can also grate in some chedder; you won't get as creamy a texture though.

Next I removed it from the heat (thick bottomed saucepan so it held the heat nicely) and whisked in cornflour (cornstarch in the US) 1/4 tsp at a time. It's important to REALLY whisk the sauce at this point as you actually want to aerate the sauce. Once the sauce is just less than your desired consistency (while constantly whisking) then return the pan to the heat for about a minute. Now add 4 or 5 tbsp cream cheese and stir/whisk till cream cheese in incorporated into the nice, fluffy sauce.

Here I am whisking away after the 6th 1/4 tsp of cornflour was added.
cheese sauce02
Notice the aeration already? That'll keep it from "gellifying" when it cools.

Whisk CONSTANTLY. This whole process will take 5 to 8 minutes to get the sauce thickened but airy.

Those cramps in your hand are worth it, trust me. Or you could just use an electric mixer the whole time if you so desire.

Once you've heated it back up for a minute or two (while whisking constantly) and added the cream cheese, then remove the saucepan from the heat and pour it into a bowl.

Now's when you get to add goodies! Chilli flakes? No worries. Cumin powder? Oh yeah! Fresh coriander (cilantro in North America) leaves? You betcha! You are only limited by your imagination.

For this sauce I chose bacon. Seriously, doesn't EVERYTHING taste better with bacon?
cheese sauce03

Then just gently stir it in!
cheese sauce04

Notice the creaminess of the sauce? This last photo was taken AFTER the sauce had cooled. Neat huh? So you can make a creamy cheese sauce using cornflour --cornstarch-- provided you whisk or mix well for a bit of time to really aerate the mix so it doesn't congeal as it cools.


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