Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Monday, November 13, 2017

Master the art of great soup from six simple broths. Broth to Bowl by Drew Smith.

Master the art of great soup from six simple broths.

Broth to Bowl by Drew Smith.

“You might find your definition of the word soup somewhat stretched in these pages but that is the way of my kitchen.” 

So says author Drew Smith in the introduction to his new book, Broth to Bowl. The word soup is “stretched” here, in many delightful ways as he shows us how to master the art of great soup from six simple broths. 

And, by the way, Drew is adamant: “a stock cube will not do”. “For soup to be nutritionally optimal and full of flavour, you must begin with a solid foundation – a good broth.”

“Soup is the heart and soul of the kitchen. Menus invite you to think that a soup is a single event, which it is if you are running a restaurant. But at home, probably the last thing you want is 75 bowls of cauliflower cheese soup. 

What we want is evolution, so one recipe leads logically into the next and so on. Less work. One job = three or four or more, completely different meals, a vegetable tea becomes a chunky vegetable broth becomes a creamy soup. The same liquid can find its way into ragouts, stews, casseroles and all manner of sauces.” 
Ingredients I gathered for vegetable tea and vegetable broth

If you are on a budget, this book is for you. “It may seem at first glance that we are using humble, cheap everyday ingredients, but for the most part these are what our bodies need and crave. We have become very wasteful as a society. We like our meat to be neat little red fillets. 

But much, if not most, of the nutritional benefits of eating meat at all are to be found in and around the bones, the marrow, the collagen-rich elements like cheek and trotter. We buy breast of chicken and ignore the rest of the bird, despite knowing through history that a soup made from the carcass has always been given as a restorative. So too was beef tea.”

Vegetable tea, the basis..

Let us go through the section headings. We’ll start with Vegetable Tea. It is the first recipe you’ll see and that is the start, and also the basis, for many more, including Potassium Broth (“If you had to live on one simple recipe, then this might be a good choice”), Kale Vichyssoise, Laksa and Gazpacho (for when the temperature rises above 25 degrees!).

... for the broth
Now we move on to Chicken (Drew is not a fan of buying poultry in pieces) and other birds. Start here with chicken broth, roast or poached. Then hop around the world with Quick Tom Yum, Cockaleekie, and the French St Hubert’s Soup (pheasant with lentils).

The red meats are next, beginning with the Basic Beef Bone Broth and that can be the basis for so much more. There's a Proper Borscht, a Rich Man’s Pho, a French Potée (a soup, broth and stew all in one), and the legendary Italian bollito misto.

There is a shortish, but no less interesting, chapter under Fish, including Fish Chowder, Jane Grigson’s Lobster Bisque, Dalston Bouillabaisse, and a magnificent Oyster Soup!

And we stay with the sea as we turn the focus to Kombu. How about a Japanese Bonito Broth? Monkfish in dashi with ginger? A Tonkotsu Ramen? 

My chunky vegetable broth

It is much the same pattern all the way through. Start simply and build from there. So, in the end, it may be more to accurate to say that soup (the food that is), is expanded, enhanced, deepened, in this well laid out, well illustrated, book, while happily admitting that soup (the word) is well and truly stretched.

* In addition to the recipes, there is advice on buying your produce and on the equipment you’ll need. And a list of various garnishes too.

  • Drew Smith is the author of Oyster: A Gastronomic History with Recipes and translator of La Mère Brazier. The former editor of The Good Food Guide, he has been a restaurant writer for the Guardian and has won the Glenfiddich award three times.

* Broth to Bowl: Mastering the Art of Great Soup from Six Simple Broths by Drew Smith - Modern Books, published October 2017, Hardback, 4 colour with photographs, 160 pages, RRP: £20.

Vegetable Tea

This is a sequence. It starts out as a light tea, becomes a soup and then transforms itself

again and again. You can drink this first-stage broth as an alternative to tea and coffee.

Once you get the hang of it, vary the spices, vegetables and herbs with the seasons.

Put 4 litres of water on to boil in a deep pot or saucepan while you deal with the vegetables. Peel and trim the carrots and cut into thirds. Peel and quarter the onions. Dice the leek. Quarter the potatoes – you can leave the skin on. As the water comes to the boil, drop the vegetables in and add the spices. Trim the top leaves off the parsley, save for arnish, and throw the stalks in the mix. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain and discard the vegetables, keeping only the liquid. Warm through, garnish with a few leaves of parsley and add a slurp of olive oil if you like. Serve in a mug or glass or take a thermos to work.

COOK’S TIP: There’s nothing wrong with the leftover vegetables. You can have them for dinner, dressed with a little meat broth. Or take out the potato and carrot, dice and mix with mayonnaise for a cold salad.


Bunch of fresh PARSLEY
SEA SALT to taste
OLIVE OIL to serve (optional)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Mare’s Fart and Dirty Dick. All found in Herbarium

The Mare’s Fart and Dirty Dick
All found in Herbarium

Shortly before Christmas I bought the newly published Herbarium by Caz Hildebrand. It covers 100 herbs with text and illustration. The Mare’s Fart and Dirty Dick are among the details
Most of us will know that Pissabed is a common, very common, name for the Dandelion. But it is also called Naked Ladies, Twitch ballock, Hounds-piss, pen-arse, Bum towel and, yes, Mare's Fart.  Its proper name, and this is given for every herb in the book, is Taraxacum species.

And Dirty Dick is one of the names for Fat Hen, also called Lamb’s Quarters, and White Goose. In Latin it is Chenopodium Album and was “the food supplement of primitive peoples”.

Herbs are used in cuisine but also for their curative properties. Got the hiccups? Then get yourself some honeysuckle. A headache? The Meadowsweet is what you need as it contains the key ingredient for aspirin.

And then there’s Alecost, originally very popular in the 16th century and used for flavouring ales and spiced wines. Herb celery is grown for its leaves and speaking of leaves. Ramsoms (Wild Garlic) is a favourite food of brown bears (be careful when foraging!).

It is a fascinating subject, with the odd myth or two. Take Tarragon, for example. If you use it, do so sparingly. Had Catherine of Aragon been less reckless in its use, her marriage to Henry VIII have had endured. At least, that’s the poet Ogden Nash’s version, though perhaps he just needed a word to rhyme with Tarragon! After all, he said “too much Chablis can make you whablis"!

It’s not all fun in Herbarium. Some serious bits. Takes Monkshood for example. This is extremely poisonous, the toxins once used to kill wolves.

And then there’s the Wasabi alarm! It may not wake the dead but, in 2011, a group of chemists won an Ig Nobel Prize for inventing a “wasabi alarm” to wake deaf people, using the herb’s powerful scent!

Each of the 100 herbs in the book has a page of text devoted to it, mostly a general history. Practical information is listed on the side, under four headings: Grow, Eat with, Try, Heal.

For instance (and I’m being very brief here), you are told that dandelion grows freely, Eat them with beetroot, lettuce, bacon…, Try them sautéed as you would spinach, and for Heal, a concoction of dandelion can be helpful for osteoarthritis, acne and psoriasis.

At the back of the book, there is a quick guide with headings such as Wellbeing, Beauty, Symbolism, Flavours, Cocktails (try mint with strawberry, kiwi and rum), Salads, and many more.

Herbarium is colourfully illustrated with each herb having an illustration to itself. The author says herbarium “echoes the history of herbal illustration, but with the intention of taking it forward, achieved by using a contemporary style, inspired by Modernist design, simple geometric forms and vibrant colours. I love the patterns that come through.”

I must say, I love the patterns too. But, beware, while they are gorgeous and striking, they are not necessarily true to life. You’ll definitely need an illustrated growing/foraging guide as well as this lovely and worthwhile book if you are to journey among the herbs.

Herbarium by Caz Hildebrand
Published by Thames and Hudson
RRP £16.95