Happy New Years, readers! I’m working on a few posts to celebrate the transition from 2011 to the year the Mayan Calender ends. At least we have a few months before we have to panic… I’m not going to bother until at least November.
What finally stimulated me to go hog-wild in the veggie stock-making department: I purchased the book, The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook (by Richard Hetzler), at the National Native American Museum in lower Manhattan, New York City this past Friday. It was the mushrooms, man. It was the mushrooms in the stock. I haven’t been aware of running into shrooms in veggie stock recipes before.
My treatment departs from the recipe from that book in many ways, especially seasonings. But then again, the book’s recipe wasn’t totally authentic, either — carrots and turnips and celery are certainly Old World. I had fennel in the fridge, and so, along with seasonings, this was another adaptation.
The resulting stock is spicy. Not hot, but savory-spicy. Would work well with dishes containing lamb or goat, or (hopefully) with the black-eyed pea dish that’s next up on my cooking agenda…
3-4 stalks celery, chunked
about 10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chunked
1/3 fennel bulb, chunked
2 portobello caps, quartered
about 10 white mushrooms, halved
1 large parsnip or carrot, peeled and chunked
1 medium turnip, peeled and chunked
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional — a bit of apple cider vinegar (1/3 cup) could work as well)
1 teaspoon peppercorns
4 bay leaves
5 cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon grains of paradise (meleguata pepper) (optional)
1 teaspoon cubeb berries (kabib-chini) (optional)
Salt to taste
Put everything into a large solid stock pot, add lots of water, to cover and more. You can order the grains of paradise and the cubeb berries online from kalustyans.com. Which is one hell of an excellent spice supply store. They focus on Indian and Middle Eastern seasonings, although I remember both these spices from my days back in a medieval recreation society. One must assume that Marco Polo brought these to Europe after his travels? Both spices look and taste somewhat peppery (the cubebs look like black peppercorns on steroids), but with a flavor of their own.
If you can’t find or choose not to use, add a little more of the other spices to compensate.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover or not as you choose. I chose not to cover — if I make a really strong stock, so much the better; I can always dilute in actual recipes, and the strong stock will save on storage space.
Simmer about an hour and a half.
Taste for flavor. I think it’s great.
Strain the results, and aliquot liquids into containers for storage in fridge and freezer. Use the refrigerated portions in three-four days.
I think in the future I’m going to go two different ways for diversity’s sake: a fully-mushroomed stock using dried mushrooms and saving their hydrating waters; and a mushroom-free one with extra celery, fennel and parsnips/carrots, and more of a Mediterranean seasoning mix. Although all the cookbooks write up just ONE vegetarian stock, I’ve come to believe a variety in one’s arsenal is essential.