Food Cubed

I hope the title of this post didn't make you think of spaceman meals or something. It simply refers to the fact that I'm including not one, not two, but THREE recipes in today's post. It also refers to my homemade stock cubes - one of the three recipes. Yesterday was a whirlwind in the kitchen. It started out with a little trip to planet organic (whyyyy does it have to be so far away from my home??) and ended up with a brilliant plan to use up some of the fresh produce I bought on Sunday to make homemade vegetable stock.

So let's start with that. By far the easiest of the three recipes today (although none of them are highly complicated, it has to be said). This was something I learned on my first day at leiths. The teachers emphasized how much better your food will taste with homemade stock rather than cubes or ready-made broth, simply because of how much SALT goes into it. I'll tell you right now, I'm already excited about making something involving veg stock, just to be able to taste the difference. The general idea on making the stock (and veg is far easier and quicker than any of the meat/fish stocks) is this: simmer a bunch of veg in a pot with a couple of simple herbs for 30 minutes and strain. At that point, it is ready to use in a soup or what-have-you. If you would like to keep it for 3-6 months and not use it right away, then you will have to boil it down to a "syrupy" consistency - and I mean BOILLLLLL - so that it is ready to freeze. Here we go.

Homemade Vegetable Stock Cubes

Based on the Leiths recipe, but is very flexible - I didn't have a leek so I didn't use one, but I don't feel like it was wrong not to. Here's what you'll end up with:

Hey it may not look like much, but it's going to be so much better than the foil-wrapped cubes I'm used to!

The particulars:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 leek, washed thoroughly and chopped
  • handful fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp fresh/dried thyme
  1. Throw all of the prepared ingredients into a pot (make sure you have a big enough one!) and cover everything with cold water. Do not bring to a boil. Instead, just keep it on a low heat so that it eventually simmers away. Leave it for 30 minutes, only occasionally stirring and removing any "scum" that appears at the surface with a teaspoon.
  2. After 30 minutes, strain the liquid into a new saucepan. You may use this stock now, refrigerate it for up to a week, or continue to step 3 to save for 3-6 months in the freezer as cubes.
  3. Bring this broth up to the boil and keep it boiling angrily and steadily for 20-30 minutes. You are looking for a syrup-like consistency, reduced right down from the original pot full of liquid. Once you have reached this point, take the pan off the heat and leave to cool.
  4. Once cooled, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen put the stock ice cubes into a freezer bag and keep in your freezer for up to 6 months. Each time a recipe calls for veg stock, take out a cube and dissolve it in hot water and use as normal!

Couldn't be easier. Please try this now.

This is already the longest blog post I've ever written I think. OK, on with last night's dinner. It requires a little bit of preparation ahead of time, but is super quick to make once everything is ready to go.

Tuna Steaks with Chermoula

I used this recipe from olive magazine - yes it's a summer barbecue dish, but we felt like having tuna steaks :)

The particulars:

  • 2 tuna steaks
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp  paprika
  • a small bunch coriander/cilantro
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • olive oil
  1. Put all of the chermoula ingredients in a food processer and whizz, adding enough olive oil to make a marinade.
  2. Brush the tuna with half the marinade and leave for 15 mins. Grill for 1 minute a side then rest for 3 minutes. Serve with the rest of the chermoula.

Kale and Roasted Potato Salad

As shown in the photo above, this recipe is based on one from martha stewart living.

The particulars:

  • 12 small potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 bag curly kale, rinsed
  1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Combine the potatoes, onion slices, olive oil, salt and pepper in a roasting tin. Toss and spread in a single layer. roast, stirring potatoes and scraping bottom of pan about every 10 minutes, until potatoes are brown and crisp. This should take about 40-45 minutes.
  2. Combine the mustard and lemon juice in a bowl. Heat up a wok with a little more olive oil and add the kale. Cook for about 6 minutes, until wilted. Add the mustard-lemon mixture; toss to coat. Cook until heated through. sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Toss with the potatoes.

Lessons learned: Homemade veg stock = easy and worth the short amount of time it takes to create. Learn how to properly sear a tuna steak (I didn't manage it last night under our little grill). And finally, make this potato and kale salad much more often.