23 November 2010

Chicken Stock

1 remarks
I've been saving chicken carcasses for a while (what a weird statement) in hopes of one day making my own chicken stock.  My biggest issue was trying to find a time where I could be home all day to keep my eye on it.  That day finally came, so I took my carcasses out of the freezer and got to work.

I put all my ingredients in a 12-quart stockpot and brought it up to a boil.  I didn't really take that many pictures because most of the steps look the same, for the most part.  What I wish I could share is the amazing aroma the filled the house.  It reminded me a lot of Thanksgiving, only about ten times better.

After simmering for about 6 hours, I strained out the solids and packaged the stock in some 1-quart Ziplock containers.

It was really quite easy to make the stock, albeit a little time consuming.  Plus, it is really cost effective, since a quart of good quality chicken stock at the grocery store usually costs about $3.50.  The question is, what is the first thing I should make using my own chicken stock?

Chicken Stock
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

4 pounds chicken carcasses, including necks and backs
1 large onion, quartered
4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2
4 ribs celery, cut in 1/2
1 leek, white part only, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
10 sprigs fresh thyme
10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
2 bay leaves
8 to 10 peppercorns
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 gallons cold water

Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Set opened steamer basket directly on ingredients in pot and pour over water. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer. Skim the scum from the stock with a spoon or fine mesh strainer every 10 to 15 minutes for the first hour of cooking and twice each hour for the next 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.

Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Prior to use, bring to boil for 2 minutes. Use as a base for soups and sauces.

15 November 2010

The Item Block

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So, Ari walked into his room the other day to find an item block hovering in the air.

Naturally, he did what any red-blooded American boy would do when faced with the same situation.

He punched the bottom of it.  I mean, who wouldn't punch the bottom of it?  There could be so many amazing things inside.  Would it be a coin?  A super mushroom?  A 1-Up?  A star?  As it turns out, it wasn't any of those things, but he was quite pleased regardless.

It was our latest reward from Club Nintendo!  A figurine featuring Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, and a Goomba.  We registered enough games last year to reach platinum status with the club, which will probably never happen again since we registered four years worth of games to get there.  They sent this to us for free, and we didn't even have to use any of our reward "coins" to get it.  What a sweet deal, huh?  I can't think of a nicer reward, especially since Ari has it proudly displayed in his bedroom.

03 November 2010

Apple Crisp

3 remarks

Warm, crunchy, sweet, and comforting.  Apple crisp warms the soul and is truly a celebration of the season.  I wouldn't go as far to say I like apple crisp more than apple pie, but it is right up there in terms of culinary autumnal delights.

Apple crisp comes in so many different forms and just about every recipe I found for it is different, sometimes drastically.  From the amount of crisp topping, to whether or not to use a thickening agent in the apple mixture, the preferences vary greatly.  Such differences are what inspired me to come up with my own apple crisp recipe.

I prefer my apple crisp to have a thicker crisp topping, but not too much to overpower the apples.  The topping for my apple crisp is sweet and crunchy with just a little salt to enhance and bring all the flavors together.  I like to use regular rolled oats because I think they make the crisp look and taste better.

I add a thickening agent to the apples, in this case tapioca flour, because I don't like the apple juices to be runny.  The apples are seasoned in much the same was as the filling in Nonna's apple pie, with the addition of lemon juice and apple cider.  The apple cider adds a depth of flavor, and the lemon juice adds a bit of tartness that counters the sweetness of the topping nicely.

I've been tinkering with a recipe to call my own for the last couple apple seasons, and I am very happy with the end result.  This is truly my idea of what apple crisp should be.

Apple Crisp
Printable Recipe

4 pounds Jonathan apples (or your favorite baking apple)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and chilled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into small wedges. Combine the apples with the lemon juice, cider, sugars, tapioca flour and spices. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

For the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly.  (This can also be done by hand or with a fork).  Scatter the topping evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on the middle oven rack and bake for 1 hour or until the top is lightly browned and the apples are bubbly.


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