Stepford Ct Wife

Stepford Ct Wife
Art by Anne Taintor

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lesson 1.5 How To Make Vegetable Stock

 The quickness and the ease of the vegetable stock is a good reason to start making your soups with a vegetable stock. You also do not have to get organ meat nor do you have to boil for hours bones. I think however it would be wise to start off with the lessons for cooking soups with a vegetable stock. It is quicker and easier which would be the better way to understand how to make stock. Another thing that would be helpful for new cooks would be the weight or a visual size of what is a large onion. I think that was one of my down falls in the French Onion woah! Onion! soup. 

   This recipe made me so happy because I could make the stock then soak the cannellini beans overnight in the fridge (8 to 12 hours). Then that would mean the beans and the stock would be ready the next day for the Minestrone soup. Martha warns that you need to use fresh ingredients and avoid ingredients that have too strong a flavor but does not explain why. I am guessing because when you boil the ingredients the "less than fresh" or strong flavor can over power the soup and make it only taste like that regrettable ingredient. She gives advice to not use in multi-vegetable soups Cauliflower, cabbage, or broccoli which is good to know.

   I was happy with the vegetable stock and it was so simple to make. It really made me think that perhaps all of my future from scratch soups should be vegetable based.

Cookies From the Cookie Making Party

Cookies (start from the upper right cookie and then clockwise): Sticky Fingers , White Chocolate Oreo Bark, Cupid's Regret, and Stratford Toll House

 While I was looking through my pictures for the Cream of Broccoli Soup and the Minestrone Soup I found the pictures of the Cookie party that I hosted January 23rd 2010. I spent a lot of time making the night before/into the morning two different bases of cookies. I was thinking my guests could meet up at my condo and then we decide what to mix in the cookie batters the day of the party. I did not budget my time well which caused me not to get much sleep. I also spent most of the party in the kitchen next to the stove shoveling in cookie pan after cookie pan. Even with all of that wear on my body I have to say that it was great to have a lot of people together to make cookies.

  The process goes by so much faster with good friends and helpers! You also get a variety of sizes, variety of details and all with cookie recipes you have been making for a while. Also you get to introduce new people together that live near by and you get to catch up on all of the gossip. I am thinking about doing it again for around Christmas. Maybe have people bring either batter or cookies they have made ahead of time.

Cookies Top right are sugar cookies in the shape of the the Alphabet and the lower half are Cupid's Nipples
Left side cookies are the Crazy 8's and the right side cookies are Cupid's nipples

  It was really nice and convent that we did the cookie party. At the end of the night the guest left with different types of cookies and it was not as much effort as if I did it all myself. Cookies, especially Christmas cookies, have taken me forever in the past to make in my small/inefficient kitchen. When the remodel is done there will be more counter space and more areas to sit down and create. I spent a lot of hours the last two Christmases on my feet. My back would hurt, there was not a lot of space to work so I could not get a lot done and it was just exhausting.

  Not only did I give out some cookies to my guests but also for Valentine's Day to my friends/family that were in the local area (ie in the Northeast and two in Canada which is kind of local if you really miss the people that live there). It looked like I spent a whole week doing all those cookies but for the time I spent on two batches I got eight or ten batches. Of course I made sure to include the ingredients and the names of the cookies along with the names of the cookie party guests. It was worth the all the cookie scooping and the oven slave labor at the end.

  I packed the cookies  in small  inexpensive white pails with a covers that I got at the container store which I sent home with the dutiful cookie makers and out to the cookie fans. Now I know why Martha Stewart can do it all because she has all of those helpers. I would love to get for Christmas some interns or helpers because imagine all that I could do with all those helpers! Hubby if you are listening if you can fit two or three interns under the tree that would be fantastic! I just need them after Thanksgiving to plan and make the cookies. Or readers once again if you like cookies and cleaning then Stepford CT Wife has a spot for you!

  The advantage of baking with a group of people is that people have different strengths and make cookies differently. I do not have much experience with using cookie cutters and I like to make big hunky cookies. While my friend B was really good at doing details, made delicately detailed/small cookies and taught me how to use the cookie cutters correctly. M was very different from her wife. She wanted to get the cookies done as quickly as possible and helped a lot because she was very fast at making the cookies. Also she was very helpful in cleaning up and doing the dishes-- my kind of lady! M2 made medium sized cookies and did the crazy 8's and that led to a new cookie I named the Cupid's Nipples (a pun on Nipples of Venus the French Candy and they had little Cinnamon hearts in the middle of a round sugar cookie). Also M2 noticed that we were working on wax paper not parchment paper. Wax paper is not oven friendly at all. So that was discovered rather late so we had to transfer the letters/number and the big heart that B was making for M onto the silicone baking mats. Without that discovery there would have been a lot of mess and less cookies for the guests/ cookie fan club. Now I have more silicone baking mats so everyone should get those next time plus I have extras. It is true that too many cooks can be bad in the kitchen but outside the kitchen friends scooping out cookies/helping to clean up are just right.

  Cookie parties can be expensive so I had people bring materials: Butterfingers, cinnamon hearts, Oreos, white chocolate and etc. You could also have people bring appetizers or a main meal. I made some appetizers and we order from the best Thai restaurant Little Buddha. I made two cookie bases: a sugar cookie base and a chocolate chip cookie base without the chocolate chips (if that makes sense then you know the recipe for chocolate chip cookies). I recommend having people bring different ingredients so that the party does not have to run too expensive. Also to cut down on expense/time like I mentioned before have people either bring cookies or batter that they made at home.

 So on the day they arrived we decided on what cookies we would create with the mix ins we brought. I named all of the cookies because well that is just as fun as making up the recipes!


  The Cupid's Regrets are the sugar cookie base with white chocolate and Cinnamon hearts.

   Cupid's Nipples are sugar cookies the inside circles of the 8's from the crazy 8's with a cinnamon heart in the middle. The Cinnamon hearts were great addition to the cookies and they made a sort of sugar stain glass.

  Alphabet and number cookies were sugar cookies with either cinnamon hearts, sprinkles or decorating sugars (or some combo of all three).


  Sticky Fingers uses the chocolate chip cookie base minus the chocolate chips plus Reese peanut butter pieces and mini Butterfingers candy bars smashed in the batter. The name is of course a pun on the fact that Butterfingers were in the batter and I love the Rolling Stones. In fact Sticky Fingers was the first album that my husband and I ever listened to together.

  Stratford Toll House Cookies are chocolate chip cookie recipe with coconut, marshmallows and chocolate chips.

   The Oreo Bark I did incorrectly as I learned from chocolates and confectionery recently but I am going to melt the chocolate correctly next time. You can see in the first picture that it did not have that shine that I would have had if I tempered the chocolate. It did not have that correct breaking sound and texture that I would have had if I once again tempered the chocolate. I have to say that with my inexperienced taste buds  it still tasted really good and it was enjoyed by a lot of my cookie fans. White Chocolate Oreo bark is going to be better next time. The Oreo cookie bark is made with Oreo Cookies and White Chocolate. I crushed up Oreo cookies and put them in the melted white chocolate. Then I put down on plastic wrap in a jelly roll pan a thin layer of the product. Then I put in roughly chopped Oreos and in some parts even whole Oreos. I did this because the attempts to make chocolate covered Oreos did not work. It did not work because I used white chocolate chips instead of  white chocolate pistoles. Basically I heated up chocolate and then just stuck stuff in and then let it cool in a jelly pan. When I perfect tempering chocolate I want to then chop up the Oreo Cookie bark in a cookie. I want to use the bark in both a sugar cookie and in a chocolate chip cookie base. To the victor goes the spoil.

A Cinnamon Heart Sugar Cookie that did not make the transfer to the baking sheet.

 There were some failures at the cookie party and it was exhausting but it was a good time. I learned from the people that I worked with and I got  to experiment with recipes that I knew. I came up with new cookie ideas and used ingredients that I had never used in cookies. I am hoping that I can do it another time. I am hoping to recruit more people this time and be more efficient in the upcoming new kitchen.

Soups and Stocks Forgotten About Until Now

  So I cooked two soups soups and two stocks in February while it was still cold outside. With the start of the new job and the misplaced photos I never made any entries about the soups/stocks. And then as you may or may not know from the first August post-- I could not remember which email I put the blog under. The only pictures that I have are of a finished Cream of Broccoli soup which I just labeled "Pea Soup." There are four pictures and they look like the same shot. So there are pictures missing and this is very un-Martha- Stewart-like!

 I remembered that I did these soups when 1.) I looked over my last entry in January (when I was trying to reformat) which mentioned that I did a Minestrone Soup and 2.) the other day my husband asked if I could make him the Cream of Broccoli soup again. These soups I remember going rather smoothly even though I was beyond tired. I decided that after doing the Cream of Broccoli that I would finish the soup section and forget about the Cream of soup variations, pureed vegetable, the dashi, the consomme and the Fish Fumet. I had been getting up at 4:30 am in the morning to go through traffic to get to work before 6:45 am  and then I would come back at 5:00 pm.  Those were really long days at Labor and Delivery during my job training and  I just wanted to sleep. Now it is a long day but I do not have to go against traffic like I had to in the mornings and I work less hours.

 When I was looking through all of my posts I was wondering why there were so few entries. So I am going to make separate posts regarding those fallen soups and stocks.